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My trail cam ExperienceS

My trail cam journey

Like many others, I became aware of trail cameras while watching a BBC documentary about Tigers. I don't see Tigers here, but that didn't matter to me. I had Foxes and Hedgehogs visiting my garden, and I hadn't got a clue what they got up to. (My interest is their behaviours and interactions with each other. Using covert cameras is a perfect way to observe this). After a brief period using wired cameras I decided trail cameras were the right way for me. I spent many hours reading reviews and asking questions, before I chose my first trail camera. A lot of them were obviously written by people with an interest in selling them, so I was sceptical. I eventually worked out what I wanted and went for it.

I started off leaving my camera in the garden. I learned what it could do, and gained experience. I got braver with it, and started to leave it in the woods etc. That's when the obsession started! Once I had one camera, I became more curious about others and carried on reading more reviews in search of my next camera. I still haven't found the perfect one in my price bracket. I've put a few of my thoughts and personal experiences down (Nothing too technical or in depth). This is where I am up to.

Bushnell 119436

The first camera I got was a 2011 Bushnell 119436. It was discontinued, so I got it for a good price on Ebay. I had looked at many brands and read all the reviews, it seemed the right one.

My camera

What I liked about it

I found the detection range very good. The night time video footage was great. The night pictures were sharp too. If I used lithium batteries the the power consumption was reasonable. The clamp that held the unit together had a nice 'clunk' to it. As I said, the price was good too.

If you look at the last of the video clips. It was taken in October 2017, the camera is six years old, and has been out for over a year, and the night time footage is as good as any of the newer ones at this range.

What I didn't like about it.

The digital menu navigation was the main issue. If I set it up at home, then that is fine, however if something has to be changed in the field, (usually in the cold or rain) due to the lack of a good size screen it was a nuisance.

I also noticed as the camera has got older, the day time video became more pixelated. The loops at the back of the camera aren't big enough to put a Python type cable lock through, so I had to make something to enable it to be secured.

Examples of images with this camera.

Would I purchase another?

They are no longer made. At the time it was the right choice. It enabled me to use a good camera, and get used to the Bushnell settings. Things have moved on, so no I wouldn't buy another one.

Spypoint HD7

This is a big camera, but I really liked the look of it. It looked chunky and up to the job. I wanted it to work well.

My camera

What I liked about it.

The camera really looks the part. It has been designed by people who use or understand what is really needed. There are good security features, you can put a padlock on the unit, and the loops at the back are big enough to put a python type lock through.

What I liked most was its simplicity. There is a screen, but all of the things that matter are controlled by slider switches. You put it on set/test and simply slide to the desired settings. There are no fiddly digital menus to go through. The panel is like a dashboard, you can see in one glance that everything is set.

I contacted Spypoint in Canada several times, each time they got back quickly and with good advice, so that's another plus to them.

What I didn't like about it.

For all its promise, the detection isn't great. I have however got some of my best night videos with this camera, but usually at close range, and in dry weather. If it is damp, the clips are often unviewable (maybe a condensation problem?). The videos also often have excessive audio noise. If this was sorted, then the camera would be everything I want.

Examples of images with this camera.

Screen captures can be taken from video later.

Would I purchase another?

I felt the detection sensor (recessed) let it down. The LED's spooked the deer more than others (but they eventually became fascinated with them). I still really like this camera, but I wouldn't have another one, however I would purchase one of their newer models.

Maginon WK3

This camera was purchased from Aldi, so I had the reassurance that if it didn't work, it was easy to return.

My camera

What I liked about it.

The camera had a lot of features and it was a good price. I had tested the camera in the garden, and found the day time video to be ok, and pictures good. It had a good screen and a menu that was easy to navigate. There was a password protection, and a place for a padlock.

I also liked the fact that it set the date out how we do in the UK (day/month/year), others set it out the US way, with the month first.

What I didn't like about it.

It didn't pick things up. I could leave it untouched for weeks, and only have a handful of clips. I had set it with side sensors on and off, but it still didn't help. When it did activate the night time ones were very grainy. The clamps that held the unit didn't feel very strong. Another issue was, the frame that the unit is mounted on is quite thin, even if I put a lock through, it could be easily removed. It needs loops building in the back for a python type lock.

Examples of images with this camera.

Good images when it activates

Would I purchase another?

No, there just were not enough activations. Maybe someone who was just seeing what trail cams are about, and didn't want to spend a lot, might be interested in them, but not me.

Monitoring Project

At this point I became part of a wildlife monitoring project.

The existing cameras were used, and more were purchased.

We were looking at behaviours, as well as what was in the survey area. The cameras needed to have minimum delay between clips, good detection and video quality.

Bushnell Natureview 119739

After going over lots of reviews again, three of the Natureviews were purchased. They looked almost the same as my original camera, the difference, they were green and filmed in HD video.

My camera

What I liked about it.

I was very familiar with these, so no learning a new brand. The detection and night time video was good, and day time video was reasonable.

What I didn't like about it.

As before, I didn't like the small digital screen (or the menu operation).For the first few months I was happy with them. I then had one fail to record, it was sent back for repair, as soon as it came back the second one had the same issue. I am hoping the third one doesn't have the same problem.

Another issue is the batteries often pop out. This happens on all the Bushnells, but more with this type. Also the menu screen is hit and miss, the first one that was repaired doesn’t display. The date is wrong, but I have to leave the settings on what they are.

Examples of images with this camera.

Would I purchase another?

I don't think so. As good as the detection and night video is, the reliability issues have put me off. Not only that I think it is based on an older model, after using a more modern design like the Aggressor, the difference in day time video quality is noticeable.

Bushnell Aggressor 119776

Two of these cameras were purchased for the monitoring project. The first one was set up on a post aimed towards a mineral block. It was a no glow camera, so something different to the others.

My camera
In its Bear case!
The second camera

What I liked about it.

There was a lot to like about this camera. It looked the part. It was well made, and most importantly, took good video day and night, and had the great detection sensor of the other Bushnells.

When it has been moved into different locations, it worked well. Often in woodland, the light changes quickly, and some cameras don’t deal with this, also if an animal comes too close at night, some cameras get white out issues, this didn’t seem to have those problems .

What I didn't like about it.

As before, I didn't like the small digital menu screen (but I am well used to it now). The only problem I have had, was when leaving it on hybrid mode, no video was taken, just pictures. Other than that, the only thing I didn't like was the price.

The screen I don't like.

Examples of images with this camera.

Would I purchase another?

Yes, most definitely. It is a good all round camera (our most reliable). It has now been updated with a new version, that has a few more features such as a 24 MP camera, but the model I use is fine. The only issue is the price compared to other models..

KUMAN H301

While I was looking online at the Kuman H801 I noticed the H301. It is no glow and has the slider switches that I like too!

It seemed more of a hunting camera, the delay between clips is longer than the ones I use. It's fine if you want to see what goes by, but not so good to watch behaviours, as it only records 10 second video clips. Both of these features may be to prolong battery life in use (which is good if you want to leave it out for long periods).

I was sent one for use on the project I am involved with, to see how I got on with it.

My camera

What I liked about it.

When you first hold it, it feels solid, and seems well built. The case is in a camoflague pattern that blends in.

I liked the simplicity. I just set the delay to the shortest setting, the resolution to one of two video settings or photo's on hi or lo res. If you aren't sure about the range, there is an IR aim setting, you can walk past the camera, and a light flashes, so you know where to aim the camera. All that's left to do is to set to auto.

Simple to set

Look at the clear settings, this isn’t always the case on a lot of brands.

When the camera is set , there is a digital countdown, and an audible sound that lets you know when it is activated, which is a good idea.

The price at the moment (25/06/2017) is £60, so thats good. Other than the Maginon, all of my other cameras were at least twice as much.

Despite its low price, the video and images are very good.

What I didn't like about it.

I did feel the latches that fasten the unit together (like others in this price bracket) seemed quite delicate.

The one thing that I found awkward, was that it uses a micro SD card, these aren't good when you are in undergrowth, I dropped it on the first attempt, and had to find it (I now lay something underneath to stop it happening again).

The detection could be better, sometimes I know something had been through, but it hadn't picked it up (especially at night).

Examples of images with this camera.

Canada goose and goslings
Red deer hind onHigh res
Lo res

I often chose photo mode on the camera rather than video.

Would I purchase another?

First impressions are the images are very sharp, and the night time illumination is good (when it activates). The unit is very simple to use. It is one that I would purchase to use on a track where the animal is just passing rather than hanging around (you get one clip) I think for a more heavily used area, the companies H801 may be more suitable (I haven't used that one though).

I feel if the delay was shorter and there was a choice for longer video, then it would make the camera more of an all rounder.

At this price though it is good value.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/B01MF4SS2J/ref=mp_s_a_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1495733086&sr=8-3&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&keywords=kuman+camera&dpPl=1&dpID=51TIwDe01PL&ref=plSrch

Ltl Acorn 6310WMC

LTL Acorn 6310wmc

I was asked by friends who follow the monitoring project for advice on a camera. I had looked at the LTL Acorn 5310 (previous model) at the beginning, but chose the Bushnells as I was more familiar with them.

They wanted to get involved with us, and offered to purchase a couple of cameras. They liked the deer videos we get in the open. I chose this camera for them, as it is a wide angle lens. 100 degree view rather than the normal 52.

The deer tend to rub up the camera, being so close the cameras normally miss a lot, but this should view more.

Hole for securing the unit
Small padlock hole

First impressions are good. The menu screen is probably the best of the digital ones I use (my favourite is still the simple sliders of the HD7).

The unit is in a camouflage pattern that blends in well. I’ve set it to take photos and video, so I’ll be able to see the quality of both.

I’ve read they are quite sensitive, which is good for me, as not all of my cameras always record what goes by.

The only negative points are, the strap has to be undone each time to view the screen, and the padlock hole and the clamps could be bigger and stronger.

I think all of these issues could be sorted by purchasing a security box. The strap wouldn’t foul the drop down menu then.

Examples of images with this camera.

I checked the camera after a few days. We had deer visiting in the dark. There had been pouring rain, so it was hard to judge the images.

Thr daytime images we got as we were moving away were better than the nightime ones of the deer. Some of the photos in the dry seemed to have lines (like hessian) which is quite similar to the Maginon.

There were lots of activations, and the distance it picked up things was good,

Red deer in the rain
It picked up movement across the frame

I need to spend a few weeks seeing the cameras strengths and weaknesses . Initial thoughts, are this is a better daytime camera than night, with reliable detection. During the winter as the deer come out of the wood during the day, I think I will get some good clips. I’ll post the good and the bad points when I get more footage in different conditions.

https://pakatak.co.uk/product/ltl-acorn-6310wmc-spy-camera-trap/

BUSHNELL NATUREVIEW 119439

Natureview 119439

This model seems bigger and more sturdy that the similar 119739s that we use. From the spec supplied it seems the detection is slower, but I’ve read the picture quality is better.

Do I look at any other brands?

Yes all the time. It is obvious that most of the cameras are made in China. A lot are made by companies who have multiple brand names for different markets. Some make models for other companies which are rebranded too. There are others who rework old models, and there are some who copy other makes. It's all very confusing.

I've even looked at who the likely manufacturers are of the big brands, to see if they have a similar own brand versions.

They often do, but then you have the 'what iff's' to worry about. It is more expensive buying from an EU supplier, but you are usually better placed for solving issues, sorting returns and not having to pay import duty etc (There are a lot who advertise from abroad, and it is unclear about import duty, so what seems like a bargain might not end up being).

Other models I have looked at.

These are some of the models (in different price ranges) that have got my attention. Some are lower priced, so I wouldn't expect the images and the build of the higher priced ones. I have never used any of them, so cannot comment on what they are like in use.

BROWNING SPEC-OPS-EXTREME-FULL-HD

For me price, video quality and good detection are the most important features on a camera. I have seen footage from this camera, and it is excellent (for the specs see the link below).

https://browningtrailcameras.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/115002092707-2017-Spec-Ops-Extreme-Full-HD-Trail-Camera?mobile_site=true

Kuman H801

I liked the look of the H801 model. It looks very similar to my Maginon, but with no glow LEDs.

It is priced at the moment (25/06/2017) at £69. On paper for what you get, that seems a good buy. It states a 120 degree detection range, but that's not that important, as the lens can probably only capture around 52 degrees.

The menu looks the same as the Maginon too. I find this very easy to use, the nice big screen makes digital menus less confusing.

If the detection circuit is better than the Maginon, then I would defiantly have a place for these.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/B01M1RO3HA/ref=mp_s_a_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1495733086&sr=8-4&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&keywords=kuman+camera&dpPl=1&dpID=51DmSt%2BYkZL&ref=plSrch

EXODUOS LiFt 2

An advert appeared on my Facebook for the Lift 2 (probably targeted because of the of searches I do).

Advertising is meant to get your attention and sell products. I visited the web site, and copied the quote below for the original camera.

"Honestly, we built this camera because we got tired of waiting on somebody else to, and we set out to match our product quality with the highest level of customer service in the industry. From day one, we wanted to build a better alternative for folks who use trail cameras as tools instead of toys. We really believe that The Lift stands up to that challenge".

Reading the rest of the literature and watching the You tube video, it seemed more than advertising.

I did read the Trailcam pro review about the original cam http://www.trailcampro.com/collections/exodus-trail-cameras/products/exodus-lift?variant=18633050181

The detection doesn't look good in their test, but the new camera is supposed to be better.

Im not sure if the new model will be available in the U.K, but would be good to see what it is like.

https://exodusoutdoorgear.com/products/exodus-lift-trail-camera

Bolyguard BG 962 X-30

These are are well known brand, just not one that I am familiar with.

The shape of the case is different, but the specifications on the BG962 X30W, and BG962 K30W are amazing, ninety foot illumination stands out, and a a 14mp sensor. Most cameras seem to use 5mp sensors, then they are digitally enhanced to provide a higher rating, so the images on these should be better than most.

A lot of cameras are now going to 12v to enable better performance, these ones are managing it on 6v.

https://www.bolyinc.com/store/trail-cameras/bg962-x30w.html

* The links are just examples of what I have looked at. There are many more you could explore. No endorsement is being given.

What camera would I purchase next?

Bushnell E2 Essential 119836

This is now discontinued, it is being replaced by the E3. There are some very good deals for the older model. http://bushnell.eu/uk/produits/all/trail-cameras/trophy-cam-essential/119836/

https://www.trailcampro.com/products/bushnell-essential-e2-review?variant=31894170192

Why have I chosen this model?

I am familiar with the Bushnell cameras. This looks very similar to the Aggressor model that I was impressed with. It doesn't have as high specifications e.g. The video is 720p rather than 1080. That isn't a problem though. I've seen night time footage with these cameras, and even the most experienced people I know have commented on the video quality. They have also commented on the reliability, one said that "they seem to have gone back to basics with this model". It seems to have worked! The other good thing is that it is in a more affordable price bracket than many lesser cameras.

What would my ideal camera look like?

If money was no object, then I would buy a Reconyx Hyperfire, but I have to take cost into account. I imagine even with these, there would be things that could be improved. Technology and features change quickly. What you think is good today might change in a short time.

Something I haven't touched on much so far is battery consumption. If you use cameras a lot and care about the environment then batteries are something that needs to be looked at. A lot of cameras seem to eat them! This isn't good. You often have footage that has wavy lines due to lack of power or worse still, no recordings. Some cameras advise you don't use rechargeable batteries. Along with the obvious cost, it is wasteful, so my ideal camera would have to take this into account. http://www.spypoint.com/EN/products/solar-trail-camera/product-SOLAR.html

Different people have different requirements and budgets. This would be mine.

My ideal camera would have the build, quality, the security features, the fast trigger speed, the good energy consumption, and the body (including the panel) of a Spypoint Solar, along with the simplicity of the HD7.

It would have the excellent video capability of the Browning Spec Ops Extreme

The brilliant detection circuit and good price of the Bushnell E2 Essential.

Spypoint solar

This would be some camera!

What other features would be good on a camera?

There are lots. The camera could be Wifi compatible, and have features controlled from a mobile app, like many home security cameras.

The app could control a digital zoom, so that you can view smaller animals at close range (no additional lenses). It could have a live view through the app too, to enable you to set the position better.

It could have a cam finder. Often you struggle to find your camera. Imagine pressing a button on your mobile, and the camera beeps.

I could go on, but all of the gimmicks drain more power and cost more money. As I have said the simple to use cameras with good video and detection are the best in my opinion.

More information

If you are interested in purchasing a camera, I've put links to other sites (they are more in depth than what I have gone over). Some are sales, some offer advice how to use and position them. Some will offer it all.

Trailcampro.com

The best site for trail cam information. It is very thorough, everything they say is backed up. It is aimed at cameras for hunters, but is always the first place I look. https://www.trailcampro.com/

Deerlab

Another site aimed at hunters, but with good information. http://deerlab.com/blog/trail-camera-feature-guide

Wildkamera-Test

A German site (I'm not sure the translation gets all the words right). I like how it looks at the makers of the cameras, and the sales tricks. https://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?depth=1&hl=en&nv=1&rurl=translate.google.com&sl=auto&sp=nmt4&tl=en&u=http://www.wildkamera-test.com/test-wild-vision-full-hd-5-0-wildkamera/967&usg=ALkJrhiaDBL35J37dGjJItwLIhTKokWPhA

NatureSpy

A social enterprise that puts its profit back into projects. A great site for advice too. http://www.naturespy.org/

Handykam

Another good sales site. Very helpful and quick to reply. http://www.handykam.com/Trail-camera-and-camera-traps/View-all-products.html

Pakatak

The main UK importers and distributors Ltl Acorn camera’s. They have good reviews, and in my experience very helpful and quick to offer advice. A much better option than online auctions.

https://pakatak.co.uk/

‪@PinemartensUK ‬

Stuart runs the Shropshire Pine Marten group, he filmed the first recorded Martens in England for over 100 years. He uses many trail cameras to film them. It doesn't get much better than that here! Check out his YouTube channel https://youtu.be/gOexliYhWDo and find his Twitter account ‪at ‪@PinemartensUK ‬

Exodus outdoor gear

This is a site aimed st the US hunting market, but I like the blogs about the cameras. This one is regarding batteries, one of the main costs you will incur, and often the difference between getting good or bad clips.

https://exodusoutdoorgear.com/blogs/news/83515846-the-science-of-trail-camera-batteries

My other pages

Two other pages I have done for the monitoring project, I am involved with (where I took the footage from) https://spark.adobe.com/page/Iac0Rv3FPR01B/

https://spark.adobe.com/page/dUMDbdzN5lbhy/

The YouTube channel of the monitoring project I am involved with. http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCW2TS9l7js6rQ1nCM148gdw

Wildlife Kate

And last but not least the person who I probably annoyed the most with questions and suggestions http://www.wildlifekate.co.uk/

I'd love to get footage like this!

* All pictures of the cameras have been taken from the manufactures own literature or from the sales sites listed (Apart from pictures of my own cameras).

cannockchasewildlife at gmail.com

Created By
Paul T
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