Tag Archives: camera

camera (post_tag auto created by Wordpresser)

From Heroes to Zeroes: a pair of Reolink C1 PRO cameras

On 2019-07-17, I ordered a Reolink C1 PRO IP camera, which would be delivered on 2019-07-22. On the same day, hours after having arrived, I configured and installed the camera. It worked fine until 2019-08-03, when it stopped working during the night. In the next morning, I found it stuck in a step of its PTZ program (Pan, Tilt, Zoom), unable to proceed to the next point.
Now, it just reboots itself, but it never completes the boot sequence; it does not request an IP address from the router, and just restarts again in a matter of seconds. It is unusable. Resets do nothing.

I had no option: I requested a full refund and will be returning the item to the seller (Amazon). In other times, this would mean an instant money credit, but these days it is necessary to wait for the item to arrive back to Amazon and be “processed”, which for an international buyer can translate to one month of waiting. My view is that the quality of the “Amazon buying experience” has been declining.

The Reolink C1 PRO is a 1440p IP camera. It looks good on paper, it provides a high quality video feed, and it theoretically features functions such as SD Card and FTP recording. I only wanted reliability and a high quality image, and achieved so for a couple of weeks, using both the “iSpy” and the “Blue Iris” software solutions. The software does all the hard work: it detects motion, it records video, it captures time-lapse snapshots, and it can programmatically send PTZ commands, so the camera can “patrol” an area. It is crucial that the software does the recording, because this Reolink model, contrary to others I own (models 410 and 411), was never able to record to the SD Card, nor able to upload files to a FTP server. I decided to accept these unexpected limitations because my approach is software-centered and the image quality was very good.

After one week of running the C1 PRO, happy with its image quality, I ordered a second identical camera. As I write, this second camera is still working, but I will also be returning it. The problem this time, is the number (and intensity) of bad pixels. The bad pixels are too many and too obvious. This is very surprising and frustrating. The reason I had confidently acquired a pair of C1 PROs, is the robust functioning, for 2+ years, of my outdoors IP cameras, of the same brand.

Now, with two consecutive unfortunate Reolink experiences, my confidence on Reolink is shaken.

Here is what is NOT explicitly written in the manuals, nor in the reviews (“commercials”?) I have read so far, about all my Reolink cameras (models 410, 411 and C1 PRO):

  • These cameras provide two video streams, usually named “clear” and “fluent”. The streams can be configured to an extent, but “clear” is the high resolution, high bandwidth stream; while “fluent” is the low resolution, lower quality version. Assuming the camera’s sensor comes with no dead pixels, the image quality can be very high when encoded at the highest possible bitrate, but in order to achieve a stable network resource, with no stream interruptions/loss of signal, it will be necessary to configure the camera’s “clear” video to a frame rate of no more than 4 fps.
  • I also find it helpful to encode with the “H264 baseline profile” and not with the “high profile”, because the latter demands more from the camera’s CPU (it provides higher compression, at the cost of extra processing time). The encoder settings are fundamental to those wanting the maximum quality combined with a stable network operation; neglect them and the camera will occasionally drop the connection.
  • On the C1 PRO, it is not possible to turn off the WiFi. I always connect via cable, and would appreciate an option to completely disable the WiFi radio. Such option does not exist.

So, a bad day for my pocket and cameras system.

24H of plant growth in 60 seconds (2019-07-19)

Here is another ridiculous project of mine.
I bought a starter hydroponics kit and decided to track the plants’ growth.
The kit holds six plant pods, the set immersed in 2.1 liters of water, with two teaspoons of liquid plant food (to be administered every 2 weeks). Each pod is a simple plastic structure holding an argil substrate with the plant seeds. The substrate sucks the water, the water reaches the seeds, hopefully the seeds grow, a plant appears and its roots will feed by drinking the water with nutrients.

To track the spectacular growth of the plants, I bought a small POE (Power Over Ethernet) Chinese camera. The camera arrived one week too late, but is the perfect small size. It delivers great video, but poor time-lapse captures. The poor time-lapse results are due to the effect of the artificial sun light in the camera sensor. The effect is inoffensive in real time video, but becomes obvious on interval snapshots, because the lights and/or the sensor itself are/is irregular in radiation distribution/capture, hence some strips will appear in the videos.

These plants are growing on an 18 hours cycle, meaning they get 18 hours of artificial sun light and 6 hours of whatever natural light I have in the kitchen.

One of the reasons I embarked on this project was to show my kids how kinetic plants are. They move a lot! I intend to regularly publish 24 hours of plant growth footage, smashed in less than 1 minute.
The stripes on video are annoying, I know. Moreover, the video may feature kids’ hands playing with the plants :), or adults’ hands cutting off leaves for cuisine purposes!