2015 Flash Range Shootout

     Flash Range has a tremendous impact on the effectiveness of any trail camera.  If a scouting camera has a lightning fast trigger and a huge detection zone, it is still rendered useless for half the day if its flash is inadequate.  There are many variables which influence the power, range & effectiveness of a camera’s flash.
 
     Below we’ll touch on both the internal & external variables and explain why we test the way we do.  Since the majority of all trail cameras use an infrared flash, the items referenced below will only pertain to IR flash cameras.

 

Internal Variables

  •  # of infrared LED's– There is a direct correlation with the number of LED's and flash range.  Cameras which have a larger number of infrared LED's in their flash will almost always have more illumination than cameras with fewer LED's.
  •  Energy Used – Think of your hand held flash light when it’s low on batteries vs. the strength of its beam when a fresh set of batteries are installed.  The amount of power sent to a flash and the strength and range of its illumination are directly influenced by the amount of power sent to the flash.  At the expense of battery life, some cameras send more power to their flash than others.  As a result, those cameras can have more illumination than other cameras with the same number of LED's. 
  •  Exposure time – This is an area many camera manufacturers have manipulated in recent years.  At the expense of clarity, flash range can be extended by increasing exposure time.  Essentially, the longer a shutter is left open, the farther out a flash will illuminate.  Unfortunately, any movement during the time the shutter is open produces blurry photos.  This is why we always provide a photo with a subject moving through the field of view next to each flash range photo sample.

 External Variables

  •  Moon light – The phase of the moon and the intensity of its light greatly influence flash range and illumination.  A night photo taken under a full moon and clear sky can exhibit twice the flash range and illumination of a photo taken under an overcast sky with a crescent moon.
  •  Cloud cover – Regardless of moon light, cloud cover influences flash range as well.
  •  Tree canopy – A dense tree canopy can completely negate any flash enhancing benefits of a full moon or clear sky.
We always perform our flash range test for all models tested on the same night, under the same moon and sky, in the exact same setting, under the same tree canopy with a fresh set of batteries. Please be very careful when comparing nighttime photos as it is very easy to manipulate results.
 
Equipment Issues
 
The size and type of monitor one uses as well as the angle from which it is viewed will influence the perceived flash distance of a camera.  In our evaluation we use our largest and best monitor and tilt it at numerous angles to get the best range for each photo.  We make every attempt to assess photos from their best perspective.
 
Criteria we used to rank photos
 
I want to first say this is one of the few tests we perform where human subjectivity comes into play. Having said this, we ranked photos using the following factors with priority based on the order they appear.
 

1.      Overall illumination across the entire field of view

2.      Clarity, Contrast & Resolution

3.      Presence of "Hot Spots" or areas of overexposure
 
In the end, different individuals may value different attributes and characteristics of photos.  If nothing else, we have provided a sampling from most every camera on the market taken under very controlled and fair conditions for you to make your own evaluation.



No Glow Infrared Flash

1.
Primos Proof Cam 03







2.
Reconyx HC600







3.
Bushnell Aggressor No Glow







4.
Cuddeback C3







5.
Spypoint SmartPro







6.
Stealth Cam G42NG







7.
Reconyx XR6







8.
HCO Spartan No Glow







9.
Browning Dark Ops HD







10.
Browning Spec Ops FHD







11.
Spypoint Mini Live 4G







12.
Moultrie M-990i Gen2







13.
Eyecon Crossfire







14.
Stealth Cam GX45NG







15.
Covert HD60







16.
Spypoint Iron 9







17.
Bushnell Natureview HD Max






Red Glow Infrared Flash

1.
Primos Proof Cam 02







2.
Bushnell Aggressor Red Glow







3.
Cuddeback C2







4.
Moultrie M-880 Gen2







5.
Browning Strike Force HD







6.
Stealth Cam G30







7.
Primos Proof Cam 01







8.
Reconyx HC500







9.
Covert Outlook







10.
Stealth Cam RX24







11.
Moultrie M-550 Gen2







12.
Bushnell Trophy Cam Essential







13.
HCO Spartan Red Glow







14.
Kodiak Wifi







15.
Wildgame Innovations Nano 8







16.
Eyecon Frenzy







17.
Eyecon Quickshot







18.
Stealth Cam RX36






White Flash Cameras

1.
Reconyx WR6







2.
Stealth Cam G42C







3.
HCO SG565







4.
Covert Illuminator







5.
Reconyx HC550







6.
Cuddeback C1







7.
HCO SG560C