The nut: A finely-built piece of hardware that is a treat for bird lovers. Or those who generally love to spy on things.
What you see above is an excerpt of about 150 images taken by the Wingscapes Birdcam, a ruggedized outdoor camera with a motion sensor, designed primarily to capture images of birds. If you can't make out any birds in those images, that's because there aren't any—it was taking pictures of my tomato plant waving in front of it. Despite this, I still think the Birdcam is top-notch.
I can't blame the Birdcam for user error, which is exactly what happened. And the pictures themselves look sharper than I'd expected, even if they are all of a pile of forlorn cracked corn. If I'd anticipated the tomato plant as a problem, I could have even turned down the motion sensor sensitivity. There are tons of options for tweaking, from image and video quality, focal distance, and shot delay. There's even a built-in laser guide to help you figure out exactly where you'll be shooting.
There's also fully-automatic modes that work fine if you're not interested in tweaking. You'll probably get the best results if you take the time to learn what the Birdcam can and can't do. As Wingscapes gently puts in the manual's introduction, using the Birdcam "requires some artfulness on the part of the user."
It's built tough, too, and weatherproof. It comes with all the stuff you'll need to use it, too, minus batteries and an SD card. (It has some internal memory, but not much.) It better for $250, which is a lot of scratch for a relatively low megapixel camera. (2,048 by 1,536 pixels for stills, 640 by 480 for video.) But for birders, or people like me who just get a kick out of snapping the squirrels that hang out on my porch, that doesn't seem like a bad deal at all for something this well made. But like any camera, don't buy it and expect it to start taking beautiful pictures for you automatically. Especially if you have tomato plants.
I'm pleased to hear that one my favorite Brooklyn bloggers "City Birder" has a Birdcam, too, and has been experimenting with his for a while. I plan on playing with this one some more around the house, but he'll actually get out into the park and do some real testing.
Product Page [Wingscapes.com]