I have been really looking forward to this new trail camera!
This brand is not available in any of our local stores. The ones I’ve seen are pretty much the same design, if not the brand, of what we already had. I was perfectly willing to go with the same brand to replace the old camera which, after 2 years of constant use, has become finicky. I’ll talk about the features that convinced me to choose this camera, but ultimately, there were two things that really convinced me to get this one. The first was watching the video review, and the reviewer commented on how little battery power it uses. That is a big one, since I have found our current cameras – especially the older one – just suck through batteries. Especially in colder temperatures.
The other thing was the price. This camera uses micro SD, so I had to buy those (I got three 32 gig micro SD cards, though I only needed two), but the total still came out to just under CDN$90. The cameras we have now, which were bought for us by my wonderful brother, cost far more. He was able to get them on sale, as they are older models, so that helped, but if I were to get a new model of what we have now, we’d be paying anywhere from $150-$250 in the stores.
For us, we are using the trail cams as security cameras, so that is what we kept in mind when it came to the features that were most useful.
Let’s take a look at what’s in the box.
Along with the camera itself, there is a USB cable that allows you to hook it right up to your computer. There is the hardware to set up a permanent mount, or an alternate strap. For now, we will be using the strap, though the mount would be much more convenient. The camera will be mounted on a fence post, and we plant to take that fence out at some point. Once that’s done, we’ll have access to trees that will be much better to mount it on. It might be a couple of years before we get to that point, though!
There was also an instruction manual. I just hadn’t found it yet, when I took the picture! 😀
Here is one of the design features I like. It opens like a book. The side latches are easy to open and close, and you can even attach a very small lock, if needed. The seal is waterproof, which is essential for this design. Our other cameras open from the bottom and, while it is very quick to change out the memory cards, it becomes an issue when the batteries need to be changed.
With this design, the batteries can be changed without having to take the camera down. With our old cameras, the batteries are changed from below. Once the cover is popped open, they fall right out, but you can’t get fresh ones in without moving it.
The batteries were more trouble to put in than I expected, though. The springs seem a bit delicate, and move quite a lot. Hopefully, that will not be an issue. I won’t find out if it is, until it’s time to change them.
At the base under the batter case is the 1/4″ tripod thread for the mount. The DC connection is something I’m quite thrilled to see. If this camera works out, we might want to invest in a solar panel kit, which would plug in here, and not have to change batteries at all!
At the based of the cover half, there is the slot for the micro SD card. That was surprisingly hard to get in until it clicked in place. Switching memory cards is something I see as a potential problem. It is so tiny, and if I drop it, finding it again it going to be a challenge!! I will have to get into the habit of carrying something I can hold under the camera to catch anything that slips out of my clumsy fingers! 🙂
There is an AV jack, the USB cable port, and the power switch.
The older cameras have small digital display for set up, but this one has a small screen and a mini computer, really. You can preview files, as well as use the camera as a manual camera.
The settings are another area with additional features that are important for our needs. Both our older cameras can do still shots or video. This one can do that, plus be set to do a burst of up to 3 still, then take a short video. I have it set to take 3 stills, then video. The length of video is also more flexible. Our older camera took videos at 30 seconds long , the newer one could go down to 15 seconds. We could set them for longer, but not shorter. Which is okay, except that when the motion sensor gets triggered by a car going by too fast for the camera to actually catch, we’re left with videos of dust or snow settling to the ground.
It’s the delay between shots that is going to make a huge difference. In the other cameras, the shortest delay is 15 seconds. A lot can happen in 15 seconds. Particularly when you’re recording someone vandalizing a gate. 😦 The best I was able to set them at was 15 seconds of video (or 30, on the older camera), followed by a delay of 15 seconds. Even when doing stills, there’s that 15 second gap between shots.
This camera’s delay can be set as short as 5 seconds!
I now have it set to take 3 stills, followed by 10 seconds of video, with a 5 second delay.
There are a lot of other setting options as well. Photo and video qualities have quite a large range (I have those set to best quality for now). Motion sensor sensitivity can be adjusted for high, low and medium. I’ve left it at medium.
Oh, and while going through the settings, there is the most annoying beeping sound.
That can be shut off!
It can even be set to take time lapse photos, or to take recordings within a set time only, as well as being able to record audio. It can also be password protected.
Once I got the settings to where I wanted, it was time to attach the strap.
It has a simple locking buckle to hold it in place. The newer of our other cameras has a strap as well, and the locking buckle on that is of higher quality than this one. I don’t expect to be undoing it often, so that should not be an issue.
Finally, it was time to set it up.
Here is the old camera on the left. If you look at the bottom, right corner of the camera, you can see the latch to open the bottom. When the memory card is removed, the display screen turns on automatically, while the control buttons are protected inside.
This older camera came with a pair of elastic cords to attach it. It used to be on a tree, which was just small enough for the cords to wrap around. I like how easy the elastic cords are, for taking it on and off, but they limit what it can be attached to. On this fence post, they had to be wrapped extra around the post an to get it snug. The straps are more flexible as far as the size of what you can wrap it around, but it’s more of a pain to get in place. So there’s a trade off, there.
The camouflage pattern on the new camera is… not very camo. 😀
One of the other features on this camera is the “setup” mode. The power switch has “on”, “set up” and “off” positions. When it set up mode, lights flash when the motion sensor is triggered, so I could walk back and forth at the gate, and see exactly when and, more importantly, where I was triggering the sensor. Once it was set, I could open it up again and switch it from “set up” to “on.”
This camera has a wide angle lens (the camera it is replacing does not, but the newer one does) and the motion senor is also wide angle. This is important to me. With having two cameras on the gate, I was able to see just how much one camera or the other was missing, simply because the motion sensors weren’t being triggered in time. I think this one is going to be a solution to that problem.
After using the set up function to position the camera, I set it to the “on” position and left it. Tomorrow, we shall see what we got!
Besides me walking around and fussing with the camera. 😉
The down side is, once it’s been set to “on”, there is nothing to tell me if the camera is actually working. With the older cameras, after switching the cards, I would make a point of triggering the motion sensor, so make sure they were working. I could tell, because there is a small red light, just to the left of the motion sensor in the photo, that would blink. A few blinks for a still short, or continued blinking for the duration of a video. They also made a quiet shutter-type noise. This camera is completely silent. It’s also too bright for the infrared flash to turn on, so I don’t even have that to go by.
Since there is nothing to tell me it’s doing anything, a part of me can’t help but think it’s not actually on.
We shall see what we find in the files tomorrow!