- The M550 has way more cons than pros. The camera is slow, takes poor pictures and has a weird case design. It does get good battery life, though. Upgrade to the M880 Gen2 for a much more enjoyable trail camera experience. - TCP Staff
The M-550 Gen2 is categorized by Moultrie as their "...most affordable mini game camera. It has all the features you need for game monitoring, but a price you can afford."
At first glance while working on this Moultrie M-550 Gen2 Review, the camera looks to be built with the same design as the other 2015 Gen2 Moultrie cameras. A few of the manufacturer specs are different (no PIR setting, lower quality video resolution and no SD card overwrite), but visually the camera appears very similar to the M-880 Gen2. Let's see if the inside matches the outside.
Quality of Design
Dimensions: 5.75" x 4.75" x 3.25" |Battery Type: 8 AA Batteries |External Battery Jack: 12 Volt
The case design changed quite drastically from previous years. The latch is huge, which so far is a plus. It has been relatively easy to open and close even with cold fingers. The buttons for programming and the battery eject tray are all positive and work well.
The python lock bracket is an extremely poor design. The loops are angled which makes the camera sit funny on a tree if you are only using the python lock and not the security case. It would also be pretty easy to torque the camera in a way to easily snap the brackets. We don't like this design at all, the only way to truly correct this is to use the camera with a security case.
Programming is not particularly easy or intuitive. The M-550 lacks a few programming options that the more expensive M-880 Gen2 has, such as PIR settings and SD card overwrite. In time, we have learned how to program the M-550 but user interface is definitely something Moultrie needs to evaluate on their game cameras going forward. Here is a breakdown of some of the more popular settings:
5 s. - 90 s. video clips
Time Lapse: 10/30 s. / 1/5/10/15/30 min. 1/2/3/6/12/24 hrs. w/ 1 or 2 prog. / day
Photo Stamp: Time, date, temperature, moon phase and camera name
Picture + Video Mode: No
Start/Stop Time: No
Password Protection: Yes
SD Card Overwrite: No
PIR Settings: No
Flash Settings: Yes (Motion freeze on/off)
Durability is slightly below average for a Chinese made camera.
Picture Trigger & Recovery Speed: 1.25 s. / 4.7 s. |Video Trigger & Recovery Speed: 2.53 s. / 8.6 s.|Detection Range: 50 ft.
A 1.25 second picture trigger time is quite slow. The video trigger time is a full second slower that the M-880 Gen2. The recovery times are pretty similar. Overall, these are well below average numbers for a modern trail camera.
Detection range is right at 50 ft, just as the manufacturer claims. By today's standards, this is below average. Overall, this detection circuit is very average, if not below average. This camera would not excel on a fast moving game trail. This camera would need to be over a stationary bait pile or something similar in nature.
Photo resolution:8 mpxl (Enhanced, High, Med. & Low)|Video Resolution: 640 x 480 no audio |Flash Type: Red Glow Infrared
Daytime picture quality has a wide variance in color quality. Some pictures are washed out while others are great. Clarity is poor on most of the pictures. Overall, day pictures are well below average.
Night pictures have an overwhelming flash, washing out anything close to the camera. You can see multiple examples of that below. On the plus side, the flash range is solid.
You can view sample videos from the M-550 Gen2 below. We rated the video quality as average to slightly above average.
Resting Power (on): 1.08 mW | Daytime Power Consumption: 2.15 Ws | Nighttime Power Consumption: 7.93 Ws
The resting power is very low and will enable the camera to sit inactive in the field for a very long time with a good set of batteries. The daytime consumption is also a pleasant surprise and while the night power consumption is a bit high, overall, these are great numbers.
While this camera can operate on alkaline AA batteries, we greatly prefer Energizer Ultimate Lithiums in our cameras. They are much more consistent and will last an incredible amount of time. This camera will not work with rechargeable batteries.
If this camera were to take 35 day pictures and 35 night pictures every 24 hour period, this camera would last 8.1 months in the field on a set of lithium batteries.
Moultrie M-550 Gen2 Review Conclusion
Overall, the 2015 Moultrie M-550 Gen2 rates poorly compared to similarly priced cameras. The picture quality and detection circuit aren't up to par. We do not recommend this camera.
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