I have tried out quite a few Trailcams in the past but this one is a distinct change from previous models. But what is a trail camera? A trail camera is a camera which is designed to operate unattended outdoors and to automatically capture pictures or video of anything that triggers the built-in motion detector. They are mainly used to monitor wildlife activity but could be used for security purposes also.
This £34.88 new model from APEMAN, better known perhaps for their range of Action Cams, arrived packed in an attractive mid-market product box inside of which was the camera itself, metal floor/surface mount with screw fittings, retaining tree mount strap, and User Guide. Although the camera itself is made of plastic and is rather lightweight (which is perhaps no drawback) build quality seems fine in general. The User Guide is large, very well printed and in understandable English and is one of the best I have ever seen for any trail cam.
The camera takes four AA batteries, an advance over the eight required by older rivals but it still means it can be left to operate untended over extended periods. Take note that if used intensively the batteries will quickly run down but in normal use should last up to six months. The batteries are housed in a compartment in the door of the unit. It also has the option to use an external power supply (not supplied). On the front of the device are the lens, light sensor, motion sensor, Status LED, 850nm LED infrared panel. On the side are clips to secure the front and rear sections of the camera together. When the clips are released the hinged front and back of the device open out. On the base is a grommet protected external power supply input. On the rear are loops for the mounting belt or wire and a metal tripod mount. On the inside of the front face is a tiny but bright and clear colour LCD screen, with three navigation buttons alongside. Next to this is a two-way turret switch for Off/On. Above the screen on the top of the front panel is a micro-SD card slot (for class 6 or faster cards up to 32GB). It is a pity there is no room for a full-sized card as that would make life much easier when using gloved hands in the winter. Another improvement over some rival models is the new IP66 rating, which means the camera is protected against dust and strong water jets.
Some trail cams just have a standard motion sensor on the front, others have front and side sensors. This one has a single sensor but it has a wide-angle view so it should be able to match the multi-sensor rivals whilst consuming less power to do so.
Although there are plenty of refinements and fine-tuning that can be made, in fact, the camera can be up and running very quickly with the default settings. After inserting the batteries and removing the gels covering the lens , sensors and screen, switch it to the ON mode and press the MENU button. From here you can now set the image and video resolutions, video recording lengths and other parameters such as time stamping, time-lapse, Time Lapse etc. One particularly useful feature is that you do not have to choose between Video or Stills as you can set it to record both at once. Time should be spent on best positioning the camera for best results. Remember to insert a micro-SD card first and to format it using the camera software before use.
I was pleased and not a little surprised by the photo and video quality, too often budget trail cameras fall down here by using cheap hardware to save production costs, but not so here. For the price image quality is excellent for both Video and stills at up to 16MP and gives decent but not perfect quality 1080p video at 30fps. I found that in some lighting conditions highlights can burn out so take care to select the right camera position to avoid them. Also, curiously, I found Night Vision video to be better than recorded during the day which was very sensitive to light levels and brightness. Care must be taken also to avoid false motion sensor alerts – foliage, vehicles, etc – as this will soon flatten the battery. Although the trigger time is a rapid O.4s when recording wildlife try and position the camera so the subject approaches the camera and not across it. That way the trigger has time to fire and you will see the subject head-on and not get a picture of its rear end as it leaves the frame!
This camera can be great fun if you have a big garden and wonder what goes on there when you are away. Professionals might look to pay more for higher quality and improved build quality.
Good image quality
Good build quality
A range of mounting options
Simultaneous stills and video option
Wide-angle motion sensor
Excellent User Guide
4 Batteries Only
Audio recording option
RetaingClips could be stronger
Heavy battery drain when used intensively
32GB maximum card
No slow-motion video