Friday, July 9, 2010

My new favorite garden tool- a time lapse camera

My wife recently surprised me with an early birthday present- a time-lapse, outdoor, waterproof camera for the garden (Brinno Gardenwatch Camera). If you recall, last year she got me another garden camera- a couple of nest box cams. Those have been so much fun and educational, and by the end of this week, our flickers will be fledging so check out the nest camera.

I am totally captivated by this new camera, though. And astounded by all the applications. Suddenly I have so many uses for this one camera that I will have to buy more. I was originally going to write about what garden tools I like and why (I’ve gotten a few questions about that), and I will get to a post about that shortly, but right now, I have to write about this time lapse camera.

This time lapse camera is very easy to use and seems really durable. Right out of the box, it is easy to set up and start taking videos.

At this point, I must digress and reveal that I am in no way benefiting from this review- it is not a paid endorsement, nor did I receive one of these for free to demo or anything- though I do wish someone would contact me about demos, tool reviews or tool trials or something that my other blogging peers seem to get!

Anyway it is really easy to use and I look forward to lots of applications like watching evening primroses, bitterroots (Lewisii rediviva ) flowering, to large long-term changes in our garden, to watching animal heads decompose, to planting and building projects in the garden. I would love to set up one to watch the entire backyard (we have a small yard) for an entire year. The possibilities are endless.

It is easily adjustable and simple to program the camera to take pictures on set intervals from 1 minute on up, and you can even set custom time intervals. You can zoom in to focus in on a single flower or zoom out to look at a landscape. The camera takes remarkably good pictures and has a forgiving depth of field. The camera and housing seem really well built, durable and waterproof, so I suspect I will get many years of use from one. It comes with a 2 GB USB flash drive and I suspect you could plug a much larger one in for huge files or very long term videos. The camera records the videos on the flash drive and you can easily load it to your computer for viewing (without any special software) and editing (with the software provided).

My only complaint or suggestion is that the camera has a photo sensitive shut off so it does not take pictures in the dark, but that is a time I’d like to see what is going on, especially with the evening primroses (see below). It would be great if it came with an infrared camera or option to capture nighttime viewing, like the nest box cameras I have.

At the beginning of the post is a short clip of a white evening primrose (Oenothera cespitosa) (my first video). I recently wrote a post about its cousin and a neighbor in our garden the yellow evening primrose (O. flava). The video would have been better but a neighboring horsemint (Mondara fistulosa) hogged the camera! Nevertheless you can still see the primrose flower's bloom, and the flowers fade, and all that happens with a plant over the course of a couple of days as it tracks the sun across the sky.

Above was my next video, a test, aimed at the flicker nest box (see below for how I mounted it on the side of our house aimed at the flicker box). After I recorded this video I readjusted the camera, zoomed in and changed the record interval from 5 min- 1 minute. When the flickers fledge, I will upload a video with all the action. Now that it is adjusted, it is capturing images of their impending fledging (fledging is scheduled for around July 10).

So exciting. I’ll need to get some more.

Updated July 10:

Here is a better (and shorter) time lapse video of the nest box:


  1. Here's a link to a better time lapse video of the nest box and the comings and goings


  2. I'm delighted with your new camera and look forward to many great videos. I have enjoyed your Flicker Cam and the time lapse videos of them was an added treat. On the Flicker Cam I go by Rose.

  3. Thanks so much Barbara. Watching the flickers inside the box has been so much fun and educational. It is amazing how much you can learn from just watching them in the box.
    Thanks again,

  4. Hi, I'm a new visitor to your blog. Thought your videos were interesting and I am now inspired to get a time lapse cam to use for our bat problem! We're trying to figure out where they are all coming in and out from...we have a major bat problem right now!

  5. Wow- what a great idea! I need to pick one of those up. What a fantastic perspective.

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