Mean Green Time Lapse Photography Machine - Brinno's GardenWatchCam Reviewed

Written by Paul Moons on . Posted in Video

Brinno GardenWatchCamThe GardenWatchCam is a portable, weather resistant camera that takes 1.3 Megapixel time lapse photographs and seamlessly stitches them together to create time lapse videos of your Garden growing. Green thumbs rejoice!

Read on for our review.

While the idea of a weatherproof camera that takes a time lapse video is cool in and of itself, Brinno's aesthetically conscious design really takes it to the next level.

The GardenWatchCam's bright green and black body is punctuated by neat white labelling along with an oversized orange power button. All in all, this product looks like it belongs in a garden and is reminiscent of the Gardena brand of hose accessories.

Matching its neat looks, the build quality is impeccable with nice tight seals giving weight to Brinno's claims of weather resistance. Above the lens are three small LEDs for low battery, power and (low) memory respectively. On the rear is a large battery door as well as a light sensor - which cleverly avoids having the GardenWatchCam inserting black images into the video feed due to darkness/night.

Brinno GardenWatchCamBrinno GardenWatchCamBehind the battery door is a small USB port (to connect the included USB drive which acts as storage while in operation), slots for the 4xAA batteries required to power the unit as well as a small dial to adjust the unit's time interval. As with the exterior, the GardenWatchCam's internal design is neat, and well built: Optimised, might be the best way to describe it.

In the Box
The GardenWatchCam comes with a number of plastic pipes which join together to form a 65cm high pole which can easily slip into relatively soft ground. At the top of the pole is a tilting mechanism, allowing the GardenWatchCam to be angled within a 180 degree vertical plane.

Brinno GardenWatchCamWhile the included pole is ideal for Garden use, Brinno have cleverly included a regular camera screw hole on the GardenWatchCam's base allowing it to be placed securely on a camera tripod and opening up a whole raft of possible alternative uses for this device.
 

Brinno GardenWatchCamBrinno GardenWatchCam


Beyond the multi-part mounting pole and the unit itself, the GardenWatch Cam came complete with a User Software CD-ROM, warranty card, detailed manual and a 2GB Transcend USB flash drive.

SetupBrinno GardenWatchCamThe included CD-ROM contains a small application (Windows only) to set the date and time as well as configure GardenWatchCam's custom photo time interval. Once configured, the software writes a small file to the included USB flash drive which then needs to be inserted into the GargenWatchCam. After switching the unit on (and a few obligatory short beeps) we were ready to start recording.

The GardenWatchCam can be set to take photos at 6 different default intervals:

  • 1 Minute
  • 5 Minutes
  • 30 Minutes
  • 1 Hour
  • 4 Hours
  • 24 Hours

The additional custom time interval can be configured via the software and can be set to anything from 5 seconds to 11 hours and 59 minutes.

With the back cover removed, selecting which interval you want is as easy as turning a small dial inside the unit. Externally, the only configurable item is the lens itself: Around the lens is a large dial which can be set to Macro Image or Standard Image. The macro setting (represented by the familiar flower icon) can be used to focus about 0.5m while the standard image setting extends the depth of field to 1 metre and beyond.

Usage
After turning the unit on (and after a minute's grace period), the GardenWatchCam began taking photos at the predetermined interval - five minutes in our sample (YouTube) below.

Video sample (You Tube)

At the end of the recording, pressing and holding the GardenWatchCam ensures the recorded data is saved to the USB flash drive. The USB flash drive then needs to be removed from the unit and placed into a PC for playback. It's literally that easy.

The GardenWatch Cam's resulting AVI files were playable on both Windows and OS X machines (VLC listed the codec as MJPEG) and their 1280 x 1040 images were both bright and fairly well detailed.

Our test video was shot using the macro lens setting at five minute intervals over a period of five days.

Specifications
Camera Sensor:  1.3 Mega Pixel CMOS
Field of View:  54
Focal Length:  20" to infinity
Macro Effect:  20" with background unfocused
Photo Rate Settings:  6 predetermined time settings, 1 custom

‧ 1st: 1 minute
‧ 2nd: 5 minutes
‧ 3rd: 30 minutes
‧ 4th: 1 hour
‧ 5th: 4 hours
‧ 6th: 24 hours
‧ 7th:Customised setting is created by the user through Brinno software

Time:  All photos are time and date stamped
Format:  A JPEG image stored in a single folder for easy playback and viewing as an AVI file.
Portable Memory Storage:  Up to 8GB on any standard USB Flash Drive (2GB USB Flash Drive included)
System Memory:  8 MB SD RAM
Power Source:  4 AA Batteries (Included)
length of battery usage:  4 - 6 Months depending on time setting
Size (DxWxH) inches:  2.08 x 3.66 x 7.55
Weight:  0.75lbs (without batteries)
Housing Material:  Weather resistant plastic
Accessories:  Custom designed adjustable mounting stake

Conclusion
The Brinno GardenWatchCam is an excellent idea, well implemented. While green thumbs around the world will be keen to get one of these planted in their gardens, we can't help but think that camera screw hole beckons an epic Lego building session.

Brinno GardenWatchCamThe Brinno GardenWatchCam is available directly from Brinno for $219AU. For more information about the GardenWatchCam, visit Brinno's product page.

8.5/10

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