PlantCam Review and Giveaway

– Posted in: Tools and Equipment
53 comments

Okay, I’ll admit it: the first time I came across the TimeLapse PlantCam, I thought it was a gimmick. But this past September, when I attended the Garden Writers Association annual symposium, a thought struck me as I passed the PlantCam booth at the trade show. I asked the woman at the booth: “Could you use one of these cameras to figure out which animal was eating your garden?” The answer was yes, so I made arrangements to get one to review.

Included in the Box

Contents of PlantCam box

Everything you need is in the box

I was very impressed with the completeness of the kit. They include three different ways to mount it: a bracket, a strap, and stretch cords. There are also tripod nuts so it can be mounted on a tripod. There is an A/V out cable to connect to your TV for viewing the images or video directly from the camera. There is a USB cable to enable you to view or transfer the images on the 16MB internal memory. The batteries are included, and they even give you a measuring tape so you can measure the distance from the camera to your subject, and adjust the focus ring accordingly. You truly could set this camera up right out of the box, but 16MB of memory would only allow you take a short clip at low resolution, so I advise using an optional SD memory card. If you don’t happen to have one, a postcard for a free memory card is included.

Setting It Up

Strapping the PlantCam to a porch post

Easy setup

Unfortunately, the PlantCam is not the best device to use if you want to catch a critter in the act. The BirdCam 2.0, which is motion-activated and has a flash for nighttime photos, is best for that job. And frankly, by the time the PlantCam arrivied in October, the vegetable garden was already harvested, so there wouldn’t be much point to catching an animal in the act of eating what we were going to compost anyway. But I had a hillside of autumn foliage right in front of me, and the PlantCam was perfect for chronicling the changes there. First, I entered the correct date and time. I set it to wake up at noon, take one picture, and go back to sleep at 1pm. Since it was only taking one picture a day, and I had put a 2GB card in there, I set it at its highest resolution: 2560×1920. I turned the focus ring to 3ft or farther. Then I turned it on, latched the door closed so it was weatherproof, and used both the strap and one of the stretch cords to attach the PlantCam to a porch post.

Creating The Slideshow

After all the leaves had dropped, plus a few days extra for good measure, I took the PlantCam down. I tried the Convert to Video feature, but it created a slideshow that switched from one picture to the next very quickly, and there was no fade or other transition from one slide to the next. It would work well if you were tracking a flower blooming, but seemed too choppy for the more gradual changes I was recording. So I copied the individual shots to my hard drive and made a slide show with Windows Movie Maker. Windows Movie Maker is a simple program to use, but I don’t think it manages memory well (I have 4 GB in my computer) and every so often it would choke up or start dropping slides when I previewed the slide show. So I saved my project and restarted my computer numerous times. If you have a favorite video editor for Windows, I’d love to hear of it.

At any rate, I finally got it made, and this is how it came out:

You can tell by the telephone pole tilting that the camera shifted a couple of times. I was disappointed that bright sunny weather gave the images an orange cast. I suppose I could have edited the individual images before creating the slideshow, but I wanted to show you how it worked without any fussing. It is kind of neat to see the weather changes. It wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped to see the foliage changes, at least, not the subtle changes. But it was still interesting, and would have been even better if I had started before the leaves had started turning. (But I hadn’t gotten the camera in September.) I can see real potential for school gardens and science projects, and any other project where you want to show changes over time.

I’d really like to get the BirdCam 2.0 with Flash. Since it is motion activated and can take night photos, this would be perfect for answering those pressing questions, such as: what is getting into the garbage cans every night? Who is nibbling the parsley down to nubbins? Why are the chickens raising a ruckus at 3 a.m.? Well, they have been pressing questions around here in the past. Oh, yes, and it would be excellent for getting closeup pictures of birds at the feeder, especially the ones that always fly away before you get your camera out.

Look What Others Have Done

My little experiment is just the tip of the iceberg. Check out these links to see what others have done with the various Wingscape products. I also linked to their article archive so you can get an idea of how easy it is to configure.

Wingscapes Videos on YouTube
Wingscapes Photo Gallery
Wingscapes Video Gallery
Tips and Articles

PlantCam Giveaway

Now that you’ve heard all about the PlantCam and seen what it can do, I’m going to give you the chance to win a Timelapse PlantCam. Just comment below to say which of the Wingscapes products you’d like to have and what you’d like to do with it. This giveaway is limited to residents of the continental United States, and you must be 18 years old to enter. Contest ends on Sunday, December 12, 2010 at 9pm Eastern time. I will use a random number generator to pick the winner. The winner will be contacted via email, so make sure you enter a valid email address in the comment form.

Wingscapes provided the camera for me to review and the one to give away. Of course, if you can’t wait, or want one of the BirdCams, you can click on one below (affiliate link to Amazon).

We have a winner! Jennifer M’s comment was picked by the random number generator. Thank you all for your comments. Comments are now closed and the giveaway is over.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

Now, the digging and dividing of perennials, the general autumn cleanup and the planting of spring bulbs are all an act of faith. One carries on before the altar of delayed gratification, until the ground freezes and you can’t do any more other than refill the bird feeder and gaze through the window, waiting for the snow. . . . Meanwhile, it helps to think of yourself as a pear tree or a tulip. You will blossom spectacularly in the spring, but only after the required period of chilling.

~Adrian Higgins in The Washington Post, November 6, 2013

Comments on this entry are closed.

R Hicks December 12, 2010, 6:00 pm

I would love to have the bird cam. Birds have fascinated me since I was a little boy and still do.

ardy22 at earthlink dot net

kathy pease December 12, 2010, 5:39 pm

Thats so cool I would also like to try the bird cam I would capture all the feathered friends that fly into my yard 🙂

Gianna December 12, 2010, 4:02 pm

The BirdCam would be fun.. we get loads of birds here.

Tina Page December 12, 2010, 1:06 pm

I think the BirdCam would be cool. My best friend has a garden that has a wide variety of wildlife and I think it would be a great present for her!

loni December 12, 2010, 12:23 pm

I would like the Bird Cam to check out all the birds that come to the feeder here…

trippyjanet at hotmail dot com

Chrysa December 12, 2010, 11:25 am

I would love the Weatherproof Motion-Activated Audobon BirdCam for my mom. She has tons of bird feeders on her deck and it would be great for viewing all her visitors!

Erin G December 12, 2010, 11:11 am

I would like the PlantCam the most

Karen December 12, 2010, 9:32 am

I would love to focus on a particular tree where a barn owl visits!

Mary December 12, 2010, 7:49 am

I really love the bird cam and would love to put it near the new strawberry bed. I composted in place last year to make the soil and will put strawberries in this spring…….I live in zone 3 where there are plenty of critters trying to eat my garden. I have ‘cages’ over the vegetable garden, but the strawberries will be closer to the house. I would like to observe whatever is interested in it

Anna Wolak December 12, 2010, 7:43 am

I would love to have have the PlantCam. When I was in college, I took time lapse images of a gladiola opening in the studio. I took images every 4 hours for a week and lost a lot of sleep doing exactly what the PlantCam could do for me!

trish December 12, 2010, 12:36 am

The BirdCam 2.0 looks so cool!

Roy Pike December 11, 2010, 10:47 pm

WOW. The plantCam would be so cool for my grandkids. To see and have a perminate record of how their garden grow. Very nice idea.

karen December 11, 2010, 8:57 pm

I’d like the Plantscapes Timelapse Cam, so I could film my garden growing. Thanks for the giveaway.

Kim H. December 11, 2010, 6:48 pm

The Weatherproof Motion-Activated Audobon BirdCam is another camera I would love. We feed hummingbirds on our porch and they have such different personalities that I’d love to keep better track of them.

I love the video you put up. I would never had been interested in any of the cameras if not for that. I would love to get the TimeLapse Plant Cam!

Michael December 11, 2010, 6:35 pm

They all sound great but would reaaly like the waterproof cam

Ed Nemmers December 11, 2010, 4:12 pm

I like the PlantCam; it would be fun to have the family watch the green peppers and tomatoes in the backyard come forth!

Joan Lance December 11, 2010, 7:29 am

I am starting up a small backyard nursery and was thinking how great this would be when I start up my website! I was thinking of taking a glass container and planting a seed (maybe a bean, something that roots quickly) and use the plantcam for a video for my site! My nursery name is “Roots to Shoots”…and I’m thinking…..how unique that could be!

Jenn S. December 10, 2010, 3:27 pm

They would all be neat to have. The Weatherproof Motion-Activated Audobon BirdCam would be neat to get some great views of the hummingbirds we always seem to miss.

Monica @ Garden Junkies December 10, 2010, 2:22 pm

The PlantCam would be just perfect! I have some wonderful sun drops that my neighbor gave me last year. The petals unfurl in the evening – takes about 1-2 minutes. And I very rarely get a chance to see it happening. So a PlantCam would let me watch the show each evening – even if I don’t get home until after the flowers have opened.

Theodore Powell December 10, 2010, 1:59 pm

I have just started raising pitcher plants and I would use this camera to see how it grows and produces the “pitchers”. It seems like they magically appear in the morning, but I know that’s not true.

Sammi December 10, 2010, 11:45 am

The waterproof cam sounds awesome – you could catch footage of pondlife

Sarah December 10, 2010, 9:49 am

The birdcam 2.0 would be great for photographing our resident possum at night.

Maeve Matthews December 9, 2010, 9:13 pm

I am interested in the plantcam. I would like to use it to record tide rise and fall. Where I live the beach is broad and quite flat; the difference between low and high tide is dramatic and surprising. Rocks and troughs appear at low tide that you’d never know are there! It would be fun to see through timelapse photos. Also interesting to record through the phases of the moon to see if the tides are more extreme at different phases of the moon.

Jennifer M December 9, 2010, 4:29 pm

I’d like the Audubon Bird Cam. My daughter’s class could keep track of the birds in the tree outside their window–birds are part of her curriculum this year.

Jenn December 8, 2010, 8:48 pm

What a great device…I would love to own a plantcam!! I would place it to keep watch over my raised veggie beds. It would be really nice to capture a full growing season from the same perspective.

Craig @ Ellis Hollow December 7, 2010, 7:54 pm

Well I’ve done a bunch of time-lapses from still images pieced together with PhotoShop and iMovie. Would love to fiddle around with a tool actually made to do this.

Laurel December 7, 2010, 2:23 pm

I would actually like one of each — a PlantCam to keep at home to watch my garden grow, and a BirdCam to give to my dad, who wants to be able to spy on the nocturnal animals that pass through our backyard!

shay December 7, 2010, 10:52 am

I would love to have one of these cameras I bet I could catch tons of critters in our garden that I didn’t even know were even around! Also I would love to try doing a time lapse video of the garden like you have done here! Thanks for the great giveaway!

Shelli December 7, 2010, 2:30 am

I’d love the Weatherproof Motion-Activated Audobon BirdCam! I bet I could catch some fun pictures of all the beasts and fowl that visit my garden. Thank you for the giveaway!

Donna B. December 6, 2010, 11:36 am

I love how the BirdCam is appealing to everyone, but it’s the PlantCam that’s being offered!
I, for one, would use it on my front porch post in a way that it would be angled to get a general view of my front yard’s garden [ornamentals and edibles!] as it grows during the season… that way, on those cold bitter winter mornings, I can look back on my garden and reminiscence about those delicious summer squashes, and shiny eggplants on the grill and the smell of basil and tomatoes as I brush up against them… ugh, I’m missing that already! [zone 5 here, already got snowfall…]
I don’t really care for catching critters eating my veggies… I have a “pet” squirrel whom leaves me my own vegetables at my front step, and takes some for himself – which I do not mind so much. Rabbit nibble my lettuce but as long as there’s enough for dinner I’m happy…

Elaine December 5, 2010, 9:21 pm

I would love the PlantCam, it’s actually on my holiday wishlist. I would use it to track the growth of a plant throughout the growing season or try to catch the squirrel that’s been messing with my rooftop garden.

John December 5, 2010, 4:47 pm

Kathy,

I am not sure if you use any adobe products, but if you have flash then you can’t beat slideshowpro.net for making slideshows. There is a great beginners tutorial that walks you through how to create your first slideshow and you also get all kinds of control on how fast it goes, looks, layout… Worth a look.

Schmidty December 5, 2010, 2:25 pm

I would love the Bird Cam to see what I miss in my yard, especially the hummers!

Jennifer Patterson December 5, 2010, 1:51 pm

OH I would love that Bird Cam! My hubby and I are avid bird watchers. And maybe I would figure out what eats my flowers when I am not looking.

Kat Wolfdancer December 5, 2010, 1:36 pm

OMG! I would SOOOO love the BirdCam! I have been trying hard to gather pictures of the Gardens at Wolfdancer Creek and our fellow inhabitants.. We have a bear (or maybe two!) a small herd of elk, a small herd of Black-tailed deer, and birds galore! Sparrow hawks, three breeding pairs of Woodpeckers (one ladderback, 2 red-heads) a frequent visitor Great Blue Heron, several species of ducks, wood ducks, mallards, and another really showy fella! Canadian geese, and even sometimes a Bald eagle and an osprey come to visit! (Wolfdancer Creek is a certified wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation) many coyotes, and a couple of bobcats… I’ve been *drooling* over these cams for a while now… so… OMG! I hope I win!

>^,,^<

Kathy Purdy December 5, 2010, 3:06 pm

Yes, but what I have to give away is the PlantCam, NOT the BirdCam!

Kat Wolfdancer December 6, 2010, 2:37 pm

OOOOOOPS! My e-mail address is
wolfdancer@cascadeaccess.com

>^,,^<

Kat Wolfdancer December 6, 2010, 2:45 pm

*sigh* OH if I only followed instructions better.. I’d pick the BirdCam 2.0 to track the wildlife, because of the extra megapixels for increased quality of pictures… and for the TimeLapse and night flash capabilities. It seems to be a much more versatile camera. But [when/if] I win the PlantCam, I’d install it in my “garden bathtub” and track the seasonal flowering so that I could get a better idea of what is “working” in my attempt to have something of interest doing something interesting throughout the season’s change. :~)

>^,,^<

Kat White December 5, 2010, 10:03 am

Great review. Although the Birdcam would be really cool, that PlantCam would still come in pretty handy. I could catch the culprit who has been stealing flowers our of my front yard for the past year. The only thing I know about this varmint is that they bring scissors.

Clayton December 5, 2010, 9:16 am

What I noticed aside from the good article was that you seemed to have many grey days as did we. It has felt like one of the greyist summers I can remember.

I wonder if some of the cams used for hunting would give a better quality. All in all though you generally get what you pay for.

Merry Christmas.

Debbie McMurry December 5, 2010, 9:10 am

I would love to get the plantcam! Would love to see my plants and flowers bloom when I am not around. May catch a butterfly now and then too. I am a garden addict so could really put this to great use!

Jenny C December 5, 2010, 8:07 am

I like the PlantCam and the BirdCam. Both would be fun to view what happens in you garden and yard that you would miss. I like how the story gets put together. Was putting the slides together difficult?

Kathy Purdy December 5, 2010, 10:56 am

Using the built-in Convert to Video feature, it was extremely easy, but I didn’t like the results–the slides went by too fast. So I used Windows Movie Maker, and I now officially hate Windows Movie Maker. So if you are happy with only one second per slide and no transitions, yes it is easy.

Elisse Jo Goldstein-Clark December 5, 2010, 3:44 am

Our home is also an inn (the Elkhorn Inn & Theatre in Landgraff, WV) and I would love have the birdcam and be able to (finally!) get really good bird photos that I could post on our website and facebook pages! The other thing we REALLY want is a “traincam” and I may be able to use either the plantcam or the birdcam; the NS “Pocahontas” railraod goes past our inn and as many of our guests are railfans; if there was some way I could get “real time” train photos or videos on line we’d make a lot of folks Very happy!

Kim December 6, 2010, 11:17 am

We have a railroad crossing just out our front door here at Wingscapes. We set a Timelapse PlantCam up to take pictures every 30 seconds. It’s a great way to see what time and how often the train comes through. We got some other local traffic pictures, too. It’s fun to see what happens out your front door when you aren’t looking!

Ann December 5, 2010, 2:58 am

I think the BirdCam 2.0 with flash would be a lot of fun for many reasons.
1-We have a lot of birds flying around our house.
2-I would love to get nighttime cat activity documented.
3-It sounds like it would be more immediate. I have part-time foster kids and very few ever get to be near technology due to either behavior issues or just lack of money. Whenever I can, I try to find things that they can connect with and use. It really gets them excited and helps them to feel as though they have accomplished something.

Scooter December 5, 2010, 12:29 am

The plant cam is really cool. You could use it to see how much snow fell over a month in the winter. While your waiting for spring to come, and watch to primrose poke through the snow.

mr_subjunctive December 4, 2010, 11:15 pm

I would really love to have a Timelapse PlantCam: I’m really interested in what my plants get up to during the day, and I can’t really watch them very effectively at their own speed. I suspect if I could see them sped up a bit, I’d get a better appreciation for what they actually do.

Kim W December 4, 2010, 10:57 pm

Great review. I love the idea of a time lapse camera in the garden (not having to rely on rememebring to take the pictures myself). ANd so, would love a Plantcam.

Gayle December 4, 2010, 10:49 pm

Love the slide show! I would love to have something like that for flowering plants. But I would really like the Birdcam to give to my best friend, who is an avid bird watcher. She is always trying to catch birds in action and that is quite difficult to do unless you’re right there all the time.

Jessica B December 4, 2010, 10:34 pm

Interesting products – I can think of several things the bird cam would be useful for around our farm and nursery!

Dee @ Red Dirt Ramblings December 4, 2010, 9:38 pm

Kathy, great and thorough review. I like your video too.~~Dee