What does a trail camera do?
A trail camera is a camera that 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 can be used for security purposes also.
The camera arrived packed in an attractive mid-market product box inside of which was the camera itself, metal ground/surface mount with screw fittings, retaining tree mount strap, data cable, and User Guide. Although the camera itself is made of plastic and is rather lightweight (which is perhaps no drawback) build quality seems excellent. The User Guide is a good size, well printed, and easy to read.
The IP66 water-resistant camera takes eight AA batteries, allowing it 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 on standby but far less if extensively used. The batteries are housed in an easy-access compartment in the main body accessible when the front flap is opened. It also has the option to use a 6V/1.5A external power supply (not supplied).
On the front of the device are the lens, light sensor, motion sensors, status LEDs, an 850nm 46 LED infrared panel. On the side are clips to secure the front flap which opens out to give access to the 2.4″ colour LCD monitor, and control buttons. Inside the panel on the lower edge are the micro SD card slot (U3 or better, 64GB Max), the power-in port and micro-USB port, and a turret switch to set the device to OFF/SETUP/On. I found the card slot hard to access and the small card fiddly to insert, it is a pity a full-sized card could not be used. Externally on the underside are the metal screw hole for a tripod or the included surface mount and grommet protected power in access port and microphone aperture.
Inside the flap below the LCD screen are control buttons for left, right, up, down, OK, menu, replay, shot and mode. The buttons are a good size and reasonably easy to find and use outside at night.
The camera is triggered by the front and selectable side facing motion detection sensors and at 0.2 seconds the delay on this model is the fastest I have yet tried and has three motion detection sensitivity level options are available in the settings menu. Some trail cams just have a standard motion sensor on the front, but this one sport both front and side sensors. This is useful as wildlife approaching the camera from the side is often missed by front only sensors due to the delay between the sensor trigger and the camera.
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, set the turret slider to SETUP 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 the best results. Remember to insert an SD card first and to format it using the camera software before use.
Like some other high-end trail cameras I have tried, this one offers a wifi connection to the camera. This is more useful than it might seem as it allows you to configure and operate the camera remotely. This works really well and after connecting to the camera with Bluetooth and turning on the wifi hot spot I can check the contents of the sd card without needing to touch the camera. This is quick and easy to use and works far better than with any other wifi trail cam I have used.
I was pleased and not a little surprised by the photo and video quality, too often 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 24MP and gives genuinely high quality 4K video although at just 10fps. Personally, I found 1080p to be the best for practical use as it creates far smaller file sizes, is less demanding of the SD card, and offers a faster frame rate whilst still giving excellent results.
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 fast nevertheless 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. Both for features and image quality this is one of the best trail cams I have ever used. Priced at £99.99 this is not inexpensive but the high-quality results and ease of use make it still an excellent buy.
4K video quality
Fast 0.2-sec Trigger
Good video and image quality
Simultaneous stills and video option
Excellent User Guide
Wifi Remote Control
Heavy battery drain when used intensively
Micro USB Card
More Info and Purchase