This newly rebadged camera may be known to you as the Victure HC300 but the change of name has now changed the quality of this excellent mid range trail camera.
But what is a trail camera? 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 could be used for security purposes also.
The camera, still in the old Victure packaging, arrived 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, micro-USB to USB cable, 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 the best I have ever seen for any trail cam.
The camera takes eight AA batteries, a lot but it 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 several months. The batteries are housed in a compartment in the main body of the unit. It has the option to use an external 6v/1.5A power supply (not supplied). On the front of the device are the lens, light sensor, motion sensor LED, 38 no-glow LED infrared panel, wide-angled motion sensor. On the side are clips to secure the front and rear sections of the camera. When these clips are released the front of the device opens out on a hinge. On the underside is an easy access clip to gain access to the battery compartment, and this can be done without needing to open the camera main door or remove it from the mount. On the underside also is a metal tripod screw, an external power supply input and a USB port. On the rear are loops for the mounting belt.
When the door is opened on the inside of the front face is a colour LCD screen, with backlit navigation buttons alongside. Below is a three-way turret switch for Off/TEST/ON. On the side of the inside front face is a full-sized card slot (for cards up to 32GB), The use of a full-sized SD card is a major improvement and will make life much easier when using gloved hands in the winter. The camera has an IP66 rating, which means the camera is protected against dust and strong water jets and so should be fine left outdoor for extended periods.
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 and sensors and screen, set the turret switch to the Test mode and press the MENU button. Test Mode turns the camera on but disables the motion sensor. You can now set the image and video resolutions, video recording lengths and other parameters such as time stamping, time-lapse, scheduling 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 front and side sensors and the device can help you with these using visual indications of when you are in range during setup. Remember to insert an 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. Image quality is excellent for both Video and stills with 20MP still images and decent quality FHD video at a rather disappointing 15fps.
Take time when positioning the camera as 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 very rapid 0.3 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 than the £59.99 asked here for even higher quality and improved build quality for needed extended field use.
Good image quality
Good build quality
Simultaneous stills and video option
Excellent User Guide
Audio recording option
Full-size SD card
Heavy battery drain when used intensively
32GB maximum card
Slow Frame Rate