2013 Spring Flash Range Test

     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 it has a fresh set of batteries.  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.  It is also important to note the level of illumination in many cameras decreases proportionately along with the voltage level of the power supply.  Weaker batteries often equal a weaker flash. We always purchase and use fresh batteries the night of our Flash Range Test.
  • 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 further 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 movement next to our 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.
This is why 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.
 
This test was done on the darkest night possible.  The photos you see will be the worst quality you can expect from that unit.

 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 range

2.      Illumination across the entire field of view

3.      Clarity



White Flash Cameras

Scoutguard SG560C
Scoutguard SG565
Cuddeback Attack






Infrared Flash Cameras

1.
Moultrie M-880







2.
Moultrie Panoramic 150







3.
Reconyx SC950







4.
Moultrie D-444







5.
Bushnell HD (w/ update)







6.
Primos TC Blackout (prototype)







7.
Reconyx HC500







8.
Reconyx HC600







9.
Primos TC35 Ultra (prototype)







10.
Covert Red 40







11.
Browning Recon Force







12.
Uway UM562







13.
Moultrie M-990i







14.
Spypoint HD-12







15.
Browning Special Ops







16.
Browning Range Ops







17.
Stealth Cam Unit X







18.
Bushnell HD Max







19.
Covert Special Ops - Code Black







20.
Cuddeback Ambush







21.
Cuddeback Attack IR







22.
Wildgame Lights Out







23.
Covert MP6







24.
Uway MB500







25.
Uway Panda







26.
Moultrie D-555i







27.
Stealth Cam Skout 7







28.
Stealth Cam Skout 7 No Glow







29.
Ltl Acorn







30.
Stealth Cam Unit X No Glow







31.
Wildview TK30







32.
Wildview X8IR No Glow







33.
Wildview TK40







34.
Buckeye X7D







35.
Eyecon Black Widow