Cold Weather Trail Camera Runnin'!

Posted by Nick Hartman on

This is a repost from an earlier blog post last year.

It's that time of year again. Here in Springfield, Missouri, temperatures are well below freezing at night and it is only going to get worse. On windy days, the walk from the car to the warmth of a building is hard enough! 

Who in the world wants to run trailcams in cold weather???

Actually, I do! Winter is the best time for my favorite animal pictures.... Predators!

I know most folks are interested in trail cameras for deer, primarily buck pictures. However, switch it up a little bit this winter and go after coyotes, mountain lions, bobcats, badgers, wolverines, etc. I think you will find it a nice change of pace and keeps you active through the cold and dreary months.

Enter our 2018 Winter Predator Trail Camera Photo Contest

Tips for Running Trail Cameras in Cold Weather

  1. Use Lithium batteries. Our Lithium batteries have dropped in price making them even more affordable.
  2. Have 2 SD cards per camera. Get to the camera, swap the cards and keep going. You'll leave less scent in the area but more importantly, it's cold! Get you fingers back in your warm gloves and keep moving.
  3. Get creative with your setups. Find a fox den or a log crossing over a stream. We've seen great images when a camera is placed over a carcass you find in the woods. 
  4. Extreme temperatures require extreme trail cameras. If you live in an area that hosts sub-zero temperatures, chances are the less expensive trail cameras aren't going to cut it. They usually stop working somewhere around 0 degrees Fahrenheit. If this sounds like you, then you need to start budgeting for a Reconyx. Yes, they are expensive, but you'll still be using it ten years from now. This isn't a sales pitch, but if you need something that works down to -20 or -40 this is your only option.

Long story short, don't put your cameras away! Let's all freeze our toes off this year together and have some snowy pictures to share when Spring rolls around!

 

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2018 Archery Trade Association Show - Trail Cameras

Posted by Nick Hartman on

Every January we send our CEO (Rich) and our tech guru (Charles) to the ATA Show to scope out all the new trail cameras coming out in 2018. Here are some quick blurbs...

PLEASE take everything with a grain of salt. I am a highly skeptical/conservative person by nature, so I urge you to remember that having prototype cameras and fancy marketing does not mean that the production cameras will match the hype. We will test everything when it is actually released and while we do test companies prototype cameras to provide the manufacturer feedback, we do not publish test data on prototypes. We only publish information from production cameras.

So even if you ask how testing is going on prototype cameras, we won't tell you. :)

Browning Trail Cameras

Quick Hits: In my opinion, there has been no better run camera company than Browning the last several years. They have hit the nail on the head in regards to price point and performance. With that being said, they have gotten to the point where they have WAY too many models. For the life of me, I can't understand why companies (not just Browning) feel the need to have 20 different models when they could easily condense that down to 3-5 (insert angry face emoji).

I'm not going to go through all the different models, because I'm still annoyed by it, but they do have two interesting additions... The Browning Recon Force 4K Extreme (4K video @ 60 frames per second) looks to be a high-performance video trail cam that I imagine will knock our socks off in video quality.

The other notable improvement is dual lenses in the new Dark Ops XD Pro and the Strike Force XD Pro. One lens does day pictures and the other does night pictures. This is normally done to improve night pictures and I can't wait to test that.

Outside of those two items, everything else just looks like minor tweaks.

ETA: March (4K is July)

 

Bushnell Trail Cameras

Quick Hits: The only new thing they have is a 4G/LTE cell camera to release, the Bushnell Impulse. Supposedly, it will have both cellular capabilities and bluetooth connectivity for programming. It is also capable of providing you with a live camera view and active GPS. 

I sure hope those last two things are true. Customers have been clamoring for GPS and Live View for years. I'll remain skeptical until I see it - seeing is believing!

One thing I already don't like is that the Impulse has an internal antenna just like the old Bushnell Wireless. This was a huge problem for that camera so I don't understand why they kept it? There will be no option for improving reception with a booster antenna either.

ETA: March

 

Covert Scouting Cameras

Quick Hits: Covert is adding 4G/LTE cameras to replace their 3G cameras. The Covert Blackhawk LTE (Verizon) and the Covert Code Black LTE are expected out in February. 

They are supposed to be able to send videos, as well as pictures. Look for improved battery life and transmission times.

It looks like they still have the Maverick and Viper cameras but are adding a camera called the Covert Ice Cam. 

ETA: February - March

 

 

HCO Trail Cameras

Quick Hits: Their new 4G Verizon camera is already out. Nothing new to report.

 

Moultrie Game Cameras

Quick Hits: Moultrie kept most of their 2017 games cameras around with minor updates and name tweaks. I.e. the M-40i is now the M-50i.

I'm most disappointed that there are no updates to the Field Modem and Moultrie still does not have a self-contained cellular camera. However, their 2017 trail cameras were really solid so I'm happy they didn't do a major overhaul to cameras that already worked really well.

They do have a new wireless/bluetooth camera call the Moultrie M-BTi. Setup is done completely on the app and comes equipped with no glow IR, 1080p video, and 0.5 second trigger speed. I'm still not quite sure on what the overall market it for hotspot wifi/bluetooth cameras, but I do think they are pretty cool and could lead to really progressive products in the future.

ETA: Spring

 

Primos Trail Cameras

Quick Hits: Primos' Proof cameras are still around and appear to have no updates. This is unfortunate as Primos won the award for most warrantied trail camera in our office last year. They really are great cameras, when they work. Which seemed to be less and less as 2017 went on. 

Primos is releasing a cell camera for next year called the Proof Cellular. It is cheap - $199 - and is supposed to be extremely easy to setup. 

ETA: March-ish

 

Reconyx Trail Cameras

Quick Hits: The big news is Reconyx has a new camera, called the Hyperfire 2.

Pictures + videos (unlike the current Hyperfire cameras) but most importantly, Reconyx swears the night pictures on this camera will be amazing. So amazing, that we (by "we" I mean Charles) are building a machine to measure blur on night images. Please don't ask me for an ETA on that machine, Charles is the smartest person I know, but also the most meticulous (really, really slow). 

ETA: February (fingers crossed)

Jamie's Beard Game = #STRONG! 

 

Spypoint Trail Cameras

Quick Hits: Spypoint is coming out with another cell cameras, the Spypoint Link-Dark. This will be a no glow camera somewhere between the Link-S and the Link-Evo.

Also, if you haven't noticed, Spypoint's app has antler recognition software. This software automatically sorts all the antlered bucks the Link camera has taken. Works surprisingly well and is pretty cool!

Outside of that, nothing new to report.

ETA: March

 

Stealth Cam Trail Cameras

Quick Hits: Everything looks the same with the exception of a new camera called the Stealth XV4. It advertises really crisp night photos. 

 ETA: ???

 

New Trailcam Companies

Hawk - New to the camera world, they have a tiny new camera called the Hawk Ghost. It is super small, uses 4 batteries, is controlled by an app on your phone, and is supposedly waterproof down to 1 meter. This could be an interesting camera as they hired an engineer we have worked with before and he is one smart dude (but not as smart as Charles - nobody is ;)   ). 

ETA: April

Big Tine - They have a camera called the Big Tine IADG. I have almost no information on this one. I can tell you it has a viewing screen, accepts 8 AA batteries, and 0.5 second trigger. 

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Tons of Used Trail Cameras

Posted by Nick Hartman on

Looking to score a late season deal? Check out our used trail cameras. I just updated the inventory, lots of good deals to be had!
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5 Trail Camera Features I Can’t Live Without

Posted by Nick Hartman on

Today we have a guest post from Michael Pahl! Enjoy!

 

2017 has been an incredible year for trail cameras. The progress made in the last few years is leading to better and better pictures, and the overall experience of running trail cameras is less frustrating and more rewarding. We have a new standard for trigger speeds, battery life, and video quality. We are also seeing several niche features go mainstream, and low-end models are continuing the upward trend in price to performance ratio. In this blog post, I’ll talk about my five must-have trail camera features for all my future purchases.  

Feature #1: High-Quality Video Options, especially 60 FPS video.

Video lovers should be ecstatic by this year’s video quality improvements on several popular models. The three companies that really impressed me were Browning, Moultrie, and Stealth Cam. Browning really shined with its unprecedented bump of their ‘Ultra’ setting to allow for 60 frames per second recording on the [insert TCP hyperlinks] Defender series, Recon Force Extreme, and Spec Ops Extreme. Since a video is really comprised of pictures, the ‘Ultra’ setting shows up to 60 still pictures per second to create an extremely smooth video without any motion blur or stuttered effect. The standard until now was 30 frames per second or less.

To better understand this, let’s take the example of a flipbook. If I were to flip 10 pages per minute of a cartoon flipbook, the animation would appear choppy. If I flipped 60 pages per second, the animation would be smooth and clear. The same principle applies here and really proves there is much more to video quality than resolution. Most computer monitors and TVs easily support 60 FPS video, so the move to introduce this was very smart on Browning’s behalf. In addition, this leads to blur-free night video, which is video mode’s Achilles heel for some of the most popular brands out there.

(Be sure to select 1080p60 quality in the Youtube video)

And that leads me to the biggest letdown in video quality of the year…the [insert hyperlink] Stealth Cam DS4k’s 4K option. Now don’t get me wrong, a lot of careful planning has gone into this camera and it can produce some great pictures and video! The hype was far too high, and the issue lies in the fact that 4K video only records in 15 FPS, which just doesn’t cut it for me. In order to record at a smooth 30 FPS, you actually have to scale video resolution down to 1440p or the industry standard HD resolution of 1080p. Which means the camera then loses its real niche market of trail cam enthusiasts looking for great quality 4K video. To be fair to Stealth Cam, they make this extremely clear by posting a warning on the display anytime you switch to 4K mode, and this cam still does take fantastic video on lower settings.

Feature #2: Automatic adjusting IR brightness, based on distance to the animal.

My first camera of 2017 was a Covert Black Maverick. Covert spent a lot of time on this camera and focused a lot of attention to video quality. In return, the Maverick takes some of the best daytime videos out there right now. It wasn’t until bucks started showing up at night that I realized it had a fatal flaw – night time videos were constantly whited out on my close-up shots.

And that brings me to my second must-have feature of 2017 – automatic adjusting IR brightness on night pictures and videos based on the distance to the animal. I sincerely hope all trail camera companies start to implement this as a standard feature. The camera simply measures the distance to the animal that caused a trigger and adjusts the IR brightness accordingly. This eliminates whiteout and leads to a balanced detailed night shot regardless of how close the animal is to the camera. Right now, I am only aware of this feature on Moultrie, Stealthcam, and Browning cameras. Watch the video below and notice how the video darkens automatically when a curious buck I call “G3” comes in to smell the camera. There are only a handful of cameras capable of filming a buck like this in a nigh time close up.

Feature #3: Front Facing LCD display with menu navigation buttons.

I know that lots of people out there appreciate what Primos has done with the ‘Proof’ series of cameras by making setup a series of toggle switches you simply slide into place for the desired settings. It’s super simple, doesn’t require reading a manual, and it just works. I’m glad cameras like that exist on the market for those that don’t need complexity. For what you gain in simplicity though, you lose in potential features. With that said, every other flagship trail camera out there has a nice front facing display, right? Wrong…and for me that’s a deal breaker. Not only does it help navigate the menu and preview pictures on the SD card, but it greatly aids in aiming the camera. I simply find myself spending too much time messing with small text-only displays.

Notice I said front-facing LCD… that part is important. That’s because for whatever reason some companies are still including LCDs on the inside door of cameras. When you open the camera, the LCD swings out with the door, showing you what is behind the camera. That simply doesn’t make any sense from a design standpoint.  You still have the functionality of being able to view SD card contents and navigate the menu, but ultimately this antiquated design could die and make most of us a lot happier.

Feature #4:  SD Card Management Options

Isn’t it a terrible feeling to pull a camera card only to find last month’s pictures? How about scrolling through the card only to find the camera stopped taking pictures 3 weeks ago, and now the card is full? We’ve all been there before.

To combat these issues, several companies now have a wide range of SD card management options available within their menus. Most companies allow you to format the card in the camera, which preps the SD card by erasing all images and setting the SD card to a file format that will work best for that given camera. The trend we saw in 2017 was to also allow ‘SD Overwrite’ options, which allows the camera to overwrite the oldest pictures stored on the SD card when it nears capacity. This is especially great for hunters that want to know the latest activity in their area regardless of the SD card size.

Feature #5: Multi-Shot modes, with fast recovery

My wallet took a serious beating this year with all the 64GB and 128GB cards I bought, but I am a sucker for using two and three shot bursts on my premium cameras. I sometimes find the initial shot to be OK, but the following series sometimes tells a better story. The tradeoff is the need for high capacity SD cards and hours of free time to scan through tens of thousands of images. You’re also looking at decreased battery life.  

Below is a great example of the benefit of a multi-burst mode. Each picture is taken within a short interval of the last, but each is unique and tells a different story of this bachelor group.

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Life in the Trees - Game Cameras

Posted by Nick Hartman on

Great setup idea from a researcher in Africa!

Bonoboincongo.com

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