Stealth Cameras Review
Call them what you like; Wildlife, Trail or Stealth Cameras, but ever since I read about Steve Winter’s winning image in a major wildlife photographic competition back in 2008 and the controversy it caused (should the person be behind the camera when an image is taken) has intrigued me. In his case I believe he used an Canon Rebel SLR type camera with a remote setup. You can of course now buy very sophisticated camera trap systems and the BBC each year since then have a competition solely for Camera Trap images.
I have been fortunate enough to test numerous these types of cameras from a local supplier Scott Country here in Castle Douglas www.scottcountry.co.uk you just can’t beat a friendly and helpful supplier always willing to answer your queries.
Are they any good for the avid wildlife enthusiast? In short yes, but read on. You could use them for a multitude of things from intruder detection, car theft surveillance etc But for this review I’ll stick to a wildlife context.
These are early days yet as I have only used them for a few weeks, but as you can see from the spec below these are highly sophisticated pieces of kit, but VERY simple to use. Although advertised as a stealth/hidden camera they both can be used as a hand held cameras.
These two below are only a tip of the iceberg and new ones are coming out almost month and there is one to fit everybodies buget. Many now have full HD video and for stills are using a straight 12 million pixels sensors with no interpolation. So check checking Scott Country's web site or www.trailcameras.co.uk for up to date info.
Bushnell Trophy Cam (in brown) Model 119467
- 8 MP high-quality full color resolution
- Day/night autosensor External power compatible
- Adjustable PIR (Lo/Med/High) 1-second trigger speed
- Programmable trigger interval: 1 sec. to 60 min.
- Multi-image mode: 1-3 images per trigger
- Video length: 1 second to 60 seconds, programmable
- Field Scan time-lapse mode takes images at pre-set intervals:
1 minute to 60 minutes
- Temperature range -5° F to 140° F
- PIR sensor is motion activated out to 45 ft.
- Runs up to one year on one set of batteries
- Adjustable web belt and 1/4-20 tripod socket
- SD card slot
Spy Point Pro X Plus (in Camouflage green)
- True 12.0 Megapixel picture quality
- Supersized 46LED Infrared Illumination
- Variable Infrared Illumination
- Extended Battery Life
- Large 3" Viewing and Information Screen
- Digital Menu Control
- Multi Shot mode takes up to 6 shots at a time (10sec delay between shots)
- Removable internal camera
- Variable delay between triggers
- Detection Sensitivity: 5' to 50' (2m to 15m)
- Can be powered by rechargeable AA batteries, lithium ion battery pack (can be recharged by solar panel) and a 12V power source.
- Instant Trigger when powered by external power supply.
- Adjustable web belt and tripod socket
- SD Card slot
6 months on I have since tested the various new models by all the leading manufacturers as they came out and it has to be said you get what you pay for. Is HD the best, basically yes, but don't think the less quality models are no good, because they are. It is always best to start with the highest quality you can afford. Easy to downsize for internet etc. That doesn't mean anything less is no good. All produce very good quality stills and video and if your budget won't stretch to HD don't worry Paul at Scott Country will always tell you the best model that your funds will allow for.
Scott Country of Castle Douglas display stand at Birmingham June 2012 www.trailcameras.co.uk
At this point I will make it clear (unless otherwise stated) that the comments refer to both cameras. It’s a bit like would you buy a Nikon or a Canon digital SLR? It’s really a matter of your personal choice, each have their own exclusive good points.
The very first night I set it on a heavily used badger run that led to a sett I know well. It was a very cold February night, -8 degrees and the camera set to still images in infra red mode, black dark conditions, remember there is no need for a flash. It reminded me of my days of licensed bird ringing, you set your nets, in this case a camera, and wait and see what you catch. First thing the next morning I could hardly wait to see what, if anything I had photographed. I had chosen to set the camera (when triggered) to take 3 images in succession, then wait 30 seconds before it could be triggered again. It had taken nearly 60 images!!!! Because you can play them back on the small LCD screen there was no need to wait until I could get back to a computer. The black and white still images taken using the infra red sensor were good considering these cameras are only a few hundred quid, not thousands of pounds like some of the professional models used on TV, in fact many wildlife producers are now using these types of camera due to their picture quality, ease of use and cost. From a wildlife photographers point of view there was some fascinating and important information, apart from the actual images; it was the exif data. Something that could save me time and money. As with any camera always have the clock set and in this case it was telling me that the badgers were active at 7.30pm, 10.00pm and again at 5.20am. They of course automatically take colour images during the day.
The next evening I set the camera to video mode and again when the sensor was triggered the camera would film for 30 seconds then wait a further 30 seconds before it could be triggered again. The following day the footage revealed a similar pattern to the animals movements the night before, but it also recorded them hauling bedding back past the camera in the direction of the sett, perhaps indication newly born young or perhaps their immanent arrival? Perfect for talks and presentations or internet use, even printing should you wish to do so.
As this is an ongoing trial I will update these pages from time to time with text and images as well as links to video footage, so come back and check it out. Meantime I have placed a few sample images below. Feel free to get in touch for any specific information. Also check out the links below the the best and friendliest supplier in the UK.
I have tested all the main makers and their varous models so for more up to date info please get in touch. New models are coming out all to frequently to keep up to date info here. I have even managed to test a Thermal Imaging camera Quantumm Pulsar L38. A different world.
Below are a couple of links to view video footage I have taken at night (black dark) using the infra red setup on badgers.
If the videos fail to start click the word Youtube in the bottom right hand corner of the screen and it will take you to the site by another route.