About a month ago, I picked up a new GoPro Hero 9. I wanted to try it out as a feeder cam and see how it compared to BirdPhotoBooth 2.0. I thought I’d do a quick synopsis of the good and the bad and a comparison between the two. I should mention that I’m brand new to the GoPro universe so I may have had a larger learning curve than someone who has been using them. I bought the GoPro for more than just the Bird Feeders, so in terms of longevity and the number of things you can do with it, it wins hands down. I use it as a webcam at my desk sometimes. I use it for videotaping walks and bike rides. These are things that wouldn’t be possible or practical with the Bird Photo Booth.
The basics though of using the GoPro for a feeder cam are this: First, it’s battery life seems to be limited as well if you are shooting on high quality modes. You can use an external power bank, but you have to leave the little door open which leaves you really exposed to the elements. I have a case for it that I haven’t used because of that. I’m waiting for a little door to be available that you can have it on to protect the battery and card but still plug in to external power but that is on backorder.
Next, out of the box, GoPro doesn’t do motion detection at all. You have to install the Labs Firmware on the device and then generate a QR code that will set it up to do motion detection. There is a 10 point scale of sensitivity for motion. You can set a timer to get yourself out of the way and you can set a motion mask, a period of time that if things are moving (bird bath fountain, grass, leaves etc) that it will ignore. I need to be more strategic in testing these things one at a time, but I find that I get a LOT of false positives even on the lowest sensitivity. But, then it will miss the end of the moments which is irritating like it stops the video if the bird doesn’t move enough on the bird bath for 5 seconds. Theoretically, the video mode should be superior and easier to edit on the GoPro as it will record until the motion stops whereas the BirdPhotoBooth always just records a full 30 seconds after any motion happens, but with so many false positives on the GoPro where there was no bird or critter at all or where it cuts off the end it makes it difficult to see that advantage right now. The GoPro also has some bugs, because it’s firmware. There’s times it generates a log and just stops in the middle of the day.
The GoPro of course wins hands down for options as far as mounting and for smoothness and quality of the photos/videos. I have primarily used it on video mode so far, mostly for hummingbirds and bird bath. It’s flexible mounting options are superior to the bird photo booth. It also clearly wins on the user interface. It’s made with users first and the directions and help documents and support are of course vastly superior to the BirdPhotoBooth.
Similar to the BirdPhotoBooth, the live view option really isn’t great. It connects to an app on your phone via BlueTooth and wifi but you have to basically be within 25 feet of it. I still don’t use that option and instead just leave it out with motion detection and bring in the card at the end of the day.
Where the bird photo booth still excels though is at just capturing birds on the feeder. It is simple now that I’m used to it and I have the battery pack that will last 2 days. I have 2 semi-permanent mounting options for it in my yard and can also of course use the tripod anywhere. The GoPro can also be mounted on any of those locations as well. Every mounting option for the GoPro requires one of their attachments. I have several though, the normal tripod one, a clip, and a pole mount.
I am admittedly more comfortable with the BirdPhotoBooth right now as it has a lot less options. I think over time as I learn more about the GoPro I’m likely to have even better success with it. I think I’ll always use the BirdPhotoBooth for a feedercam, especially for pictures on bright days, but I suspect over time I’ll get more comfortable using the GoPro in other situations away from the feeder.
For a different comparison, here’s a video from the GoPro, this is one of our first days using the GoPro camera.
Now, here’s a video shot with the BirdPhotoBooth 2.0. You can definitely hear that the audio capture on the GoPro is superior.