Watching Grass Grow tests, reviews, & upgrades IP Camera

The Watching Grass Grow domain was registered on May 28th, 2005 and went live sometime shortly after that. The whimsical website (yes, it broadcasts a live view of my ... uhhhh ... front lawn!) averages about 1/2 million unique IP visitors/year - more about it here.

The first camera was D-Link DCS-6620G wireless webcam (704x480 resolution!) that actually was mounted inside my Master Bedroom ... looking out! In late/2011, it was upgraded to a Vivotek FD8362 dome (1920x1080 and much better IQ and low light capability) which was placed outside - see pics below. I maintained the 704x480 aspect ratio (cropped a 1408x960 image and then resized) for the website. That webcam has worked pretty darn well for 7 years ... but it's time to upgrade to newer technology and go HD on the website ... so I tested & reviewed IP camera's for a replacement.

I switched over to test camera #5 on August 15th, 2018 and a 1280x720 images on the website. There is a HUGE improvement in image quality and low light capability. Maybe in a couple of years, I'll upgrade to 4K - or even 8K - so you can see individual blades of grass! ;-)

Neighbor's cat as seen on the new camera versus the 7+ year old camera - fullres links for new and old

cat night

Misc. Pictures of new webcam versus old webcam during the day

bike in AM

bike in AM

bike in AM



Removing the OLD Webcam and installing the NEW one!

Use the controls to play, step, pause, slow-down, and/or speed-up the animation.
Play Step Into (pause at each frame) Pause     Decrease playback speed Increase playback speed     Frame Rate     ... loading images ...
night time shot




First two camera's show up on July 3rd, 2018

test review ip camera Fed Ex UPS

I put a 4-port PoE injector outside for the cameras and just put them on a card table, propped up with rags so they have a decent field of view. Since these are evaluation units, I'm keeping them in good shape as they will go back when I'm done reviewing.

test review ip camera house webcams

test review ip camera house webcams medium

test review ip camera house webcams close

Here's a first comparison of the existing 7-year old camera versus new technology
The HULK has been leading the neighborhood July 4th parade since 2003! ;-)

test review ip camera hulk old webcam

test review ip camera hulk old webcam
There clearly is no point in even bothering to compare images from the 7-year old camera to modern technology ... but lets compare Camera "A" versus Camera "B" from two different vendors. Both are top-of-the-line 3MP (2048x1536) domes with moderate zoom capability that have excellent low-light capability. I only modified a few default parameters. On both cameras, I made the primary stream 1920x1080 so it is standard HD. I disabled night mode (IR and the accompanying light) since I'd like to see colors and am OK with the slowest shutter speed they allow me to set which was 1/5s on "A" and 1/3s on "B." Camera "A" was noticeably darker at night, so bumped the Automatic Gain Control to be somewhat close ... but that, of course, introduces noise. I also noticed that the white balance of "A" is a bit warmer than "B" ... so I ended up just bumping the Saturation on "B" from 50 to 60 ... gotta make that grass look green! ;-)

It's not possible to frame the camera's exactly, but the images below (which should flip back-n-forth every two seconds), give you n way to compare shots taken at almost exactly the same times. Note that these are resized images - click on the fullres links to compare those.

Current 7+ year old Vivotek FD8362 at night - - fullres links for color & B&W

FD8362 at night

Camera A versus B just after the newspaper was dropped off - fullres links for A & B & FD8362

2018/07/06 newspaper A

Camera A versus B when I picked up the newspaper in the morning - fullres links for A & B & FD8362

2018/07/06 newspaper A

Camera A versus B in the late morning with shadows and traffic - fullres links for A & B

2018/07/06 newspaper A

Camera A versus B as my son drives up in mid-afternoon - fullres links for A & B & FD8362

2018/07/06 newspaper A

Have returned Camera "A" and got two more cameras on July 21st ... plus have a couple of others coming in early August ... so stay tuned as MORE TO COME!!!

test review ip camera house webcams wide 2

test review ip camera house webcams close 2

Image comparison while mowing the lawn

Links to images from FD8362 - camera B - C - D and videos from FD8362 - camera B - C - D camera
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Play Step Into (pause at each frame) Pause     Decrease playback speed Increase playback speed     Frame Rate     ... loading images ...
Mowing lawn comparision

Image comparison at night - almost an hour after sunset

Links to images from FD8362 - camera B - C - D
Use the controls to play, step, pause, slow-down, and/or speed-up the animation.
Play Step Into (pause at each frame) Pause     Decrease playback speed Increase playback speed     Frame Rate     ... loading images ...
night time shot

Camera "B" at different shutter speeds - more photons equals better image!

Links to images from 1/3s - 1/6s - 1/30s shutter speed
Use the controls to play, step, pause, slow-down, and/or speed-up the animation.
Play Step Into (pause at each frame) Pause     Decrease playback speed Increase playback speed     Frame Rate     ... loading images ...
night time shot at different shutter speeds

Fed Ex dropped off test camera "E" on August 10th as seen in this composite picture from Camera "B"
I have high hopes for this one (especially in low light) ... so stay tuned! ;-)

fed ex camera 5

From left to right, Camera's "B", "E", and "D" ready for testing!

camera testing wide

camera testing wide

camera testing wide

Image comparison after midnight - check out Camera "E"! ;-)

Links to images from FD8362 - camera B - D - E
Use the controls to play, step, pause, slow-down, and/or speed-up the animation.
Play Step Into (pause at each frame) Pause     Decrease playback speed Increase playback speed     Frame Rate     ... loading images ...
night time shot

Camera "E" at different shutter speeds -fullres links for 1 and 1/3 and 1/6 second

exposure test

Giving an "eye test" to the new camera versus the 7+ year old camera - fullres links for new and old

eye test wide

eye test closeup