Swann OutbackCam Security Camera

1/24/2013 9:24:01 AM

We look at a security camera that can double as a wildlife observation tool

It's been a while since I reviewed a 5 megapixel camera, even on a phone, but that's exactly the specification of the OutbackCam by Swann. Before we're all massively underwhelmed from the outset, it's worth pointing out that the quality of the images that this devices captures aren't the selling point. No; this is a clever surveillance camera that is battery powered, can be placed using a provided strap onto a tree or drainpipe, and then will record still or moving images in either daylight or complete darkness.

Description: Swann OutbackCam Security Camera

Swann OutbackCam Security Camera

Configuring the Outback is very easy. You open the waterproof housing and insert 4 AA batteries and an SD (a 2GB model is provided). Inside is a 'ON' button and selecting that activates an LCD which allows you to configure the shooting mode.

For still images you can select single or triple shots, and set the time between shots to as minimum of one second, or set the camera into video mode. Both of these are then set to be activated by a motion sensor built into the device. Stills are recorded at JPEG, video in AVI, so those are easy formats to manipulate on a PC once you've extracted the SD card and attached it to the computer.

Night recording is assisted by the OutbackCam's powerful array of infrared LEDs, that can illuminate up to 10m away from the camera. This offers all sorts of interesting possibilities, not just those associated with security requirements. I can imagine that if you're into wildlife, this device could help you monitor nocturnal wild visitors rather neatly.

Description: Swann OutbackCam 5MP External Camera.

Swann OutbackCam 5MP External Camera.

In the tests I performed, the still night photography was far superior to the video, which is exceptionally grainy under infrared capture. What's more, still images are 2560 x 1920, while video is only 640 x 480 at 30 fps. That's fine for YouTube, but not stunning otherwise.

There's more than a little experimentation needed to get good results, and placement of the camera is a critical aspect that you can only learn by using 51 it. What would improve this significantly is a test mode, where the camera beeps when you've activated it, because otherwise you have to open it to discover if it recorded anything. In a number of my tests it recorded nothing, possibly because it's difficult to work out the precise direction it's pointing.

Description: Swann OutbackCam Security Camera

There's is also another caveat to this device, and that's having the confidence to use it without it being stolen. If you can locate it somewhere that's either out of reach or cleverly hidden then that would help. The fact it might record who nicked it won't help much if they've got it, sadly.

What I enjoyed so much about this device is the fire and forget nature of it, though at $160, you might not want to entirely forget where you put it.


·         Price: $160

·         Manufacturer: Swann

·         Website:

·         Required Spec: PC with an SD card reader and the ability to playback AVI files.


·         Quality: 7

·         Value: 7

·         Overall: 7


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