Trail Camera Tests
The Trail Camera Shootout is designed to quantify how quickly a game camera will take a picture when the subject walks into the field of view.
The Shootout is the ultimate test for any trail camera and is invaluable data for you to read before deciding which camera is right for you.
The Shootout puts all the other tests together, it is the cumulative effect of; trigger speed, detection zone, and recovery time.
The grid that you see on the above picture is split into 8 different sections. Each section is given a value (1-8 points). The earlier the picture is taken of the subject, the higher the score (8 being the highest). The test subject will walk left to right and then right to left in ten foot increments for a full 100 feet. Each picture is put under the grid-lines and scored. The scores are then tallied and the cameras are ranked in order from quickest to slowest.
A trail camera’s effectiveness is determined by several test criteria, however, if you had to pick just one as the most important, it would definitely be “Trigger Speed”. Plain and simple, if your scouting camera doesn’t have a quick trigger, you’re going to get numerous photos with just half an animal and many blank photos with no animal at all.
Trigger speeds vary from a lethargic 6 seconds to a lightning fast 1/5th of a second. The best performing game cameras have speeds of 0.5 seconds or less.
We test trigger speed with our proprietary, computer controlled testing device – The Triggernator. Most other testing facilities simply wave their hand in front of a camera and haphazardly calculate the time which elapses until a photo is snapped.
The Triggernator swings a heat source across the face of the test camera, triggering a stopwatch at the precise instant the heat source bisects the camera’s PIR detection sensor. A photo is captured, revealing the test camera’s trigger time accurate to 4/1000th of a second. The consistency is incredible.
We define flash range as the maximum distance a trail camera is able to project its flash and illuminate an animal for sufficient identification.
Flash range testing has a tremendous margin for error if performed incorrectly and is also subject to manipulation by testers (or advertisers) with fraudulent intentions. It is imperative that testing be done with all the cameras on the same night, under the same conditions.
Moonlight, cloud cover and tree canopy density; all have an incredible influence on flash range. The exact same camera can vary as much as 50’ under different conditions on different evenings.
For instance, a camera placed in an open field on an evening with a full moon and no cloud cover may reach out a full 80’. However, that same camera placed back in the woods on a cloudy night with a crescent moon might only reach out 30’. To fairly compare flash range pictures it is absolutely essential all pictures are taken on the same night under the exact same conditions.
As you might expect, we perform our flash range test for all our cameras on the same night under the same atmospheric conditions. We place full size animal decoys at various ranges from 10’ – 80’ so you can get a good idea of that camera’s potential for identifying game.
Battery life is defined as the number of days a game camera is able to operate in the field on a single set of batteries. We titled this test criteria “Battery Life” because that is how it’s most often described. However, a more accurate title would be energy efficiency. There are simply too many variables which can affect battery life – number of pictures taken each day, ratio of night vs. day pictures, type of batteries used, etc, etc. Energy efficiency, on the other hand, is cut and dry. A trail camera draws a certain amount of amps (current), and this is an inarguable fact. Once calculated, the energy consumption of all cameras can be compared and practical battery life can be extrapolated based on the variables involved. But, for comparison’s sake, different scouting cameras certainly exhibit different levels of efficiency.
At Trailcampro we measure current draw with a sophisticated Fluke amperage meter with accuracy down to the micro amp. Consumption levels for rest, activity, capture mode and recovery are documented.