Small Woodland Owners' Group

wildlife cameras

A place to discuss or review of tools and equipment, how to look after them, handy hints for using them.

Re: wildlife cameras

Postby smojo » Thu Dec 11, 2014 8:33 am

Thanks for that review Phil very helpful. I'm getting the impression that the higher spec one has a few design issues that might put me off paying the extra price and the lower spec one maybe isn't such a bargain after all. It was initially going to be a Chrissy present but Santa has crossed me off his list this year now because he blew his budget on buying a chuffing woodland. :roll:
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Re: wildlife cameras

Postby boxerman » Thu Dec 11, 2014 10:11 pm

Given a choice of your own woodland or a Trail cam which would you prefer......? :mrgreen: I'd go with what you have anyday and Santa will come again next year...
Phil

https://twitter.com/boxermanphil for my Badger videos
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Re: wildlife cameras

Postby boxerman » Tue Dec 23, 2014 10:17 pm

Just a quick update on my review of the 6210MC after a couple of weeks usage at the Sett for anyone that's interested.

I'm continuing to get some amazing video of the badgers and slowly learning how to deal with the shortcomings of the camera - it's producing around 20 -25 videos most nights and these are mostly badger with the occasional fox thrown in plus a few empty videos. I am coming to terms with it's limitations of clarity of the night video - Ron's trick of taping a layer or two of plastic milk carton over the lighting lens has worked wonders with lighting issues at shortish ranges - I'm currently using two layers and it dramatically reduces the glare at close range tho I suspect that'll need to be reduced if using from further away. So far I've been running video at 1440 x 1080 which should produce good HD video - now, in my view, this should produce a great quality video at full monitor size but it doesn't and is pretty grainy - it does produce a pretty good quality IF you only watch at the standard You-Tube size of 854 x 480 - full screen produces a pretty grainy video tho. I've tried everything to try and improve that and nothing works - I even tried running direct from a 6V SLA battery in case voltage drop was the problem - was cheap enough so I'm going to continue using the SLA as it means I can shoot longer vids that I'd dare with the alkaline batteries (and, in the long term, it'll be cost free...).

The odd daytime video that it's taking (the timer is on) is producing fairly good video and what I am seeing is that quality of night vids varies considerably depending on external backlighting such as dusk, moon and cloud cover - where the camera is sited is pretty much pitch black normally but the odd video at around 4.30pm when it's not quite full dark have been great - occasional night videos are less grainy but MUCH darker and this has to be a result of moonlight, cloud cover etc. I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that the infra red lighting is the biggest cause of the problems - it's almost like it could do with additional, background Infra red and I may just play with this in due course. I think the biggest limitations that I've seen so far are the narrow field of view (52 degrees) and that the infra red is too focussed (outside of maybe 20 degrees it becomes pretty dark) - this seriously restricts camera placement for what I'm trying to achieve at a specific location but to be fair, that's probably not what the camera is designed for.

One of my original fears was the potential weak point created by using a ribbon cable for the monitor/controls at the bottom which have to be opened every time you want to switch on or off or change the SD card - I notice on the Pak-a-Tak site that the cable is listed as a spare at £12 so it clearly is a known problem but obviously not unfixable tho it would require opening both the monitor and the camera body to replace.

All in all I'm finding myself fairly happy with what I have for the price even if I do find it's limitations a little frustrating - maybe I just expected too much... In my view it does need work to improve it and turn it into what it should be but I suspect that this will happen over the course of time. I could probably make a list of what could be improved without too much thought but of course, implementing such changes would result in cost increases - as I said in the original review I think there is a market for this model and a market for a much improved version but overall it's producing good enough video that I now have 6 badger vids on-line... the latest is at http://youtu.be/kFKvjlNNltY
Phil

https://twitter.com/boxermanphil for my Badger videos
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Re: wildlife cameras

Postby Sair33 » Sat Dec 27, 2014 10:45 pm

Hi all...
I got a Little Acorn 5210 for Christmas :-) But have to say that I'm struggling a little with the setup etc.

I'd like to use it for video rather than photos. What have you found to be the best setup in terms of length of clip and interval between?
Also, I've seen various comments re. battery life.... if set to record video, what have you found to be average life with just the 4 batteries? I'm using rechargeable a but not convinced they are the best.

Thanks in advance.,,, and hopefully I have some good footage soon! :-)
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Re: wildlife cameras

Postby oldclaypaws » Sun Dec 28, 2014 12:06 pm

As the owner of a correctly functioning Acorn 5210a, I believe I'm qualified to offer an opinion to you Sair. Nice gift to get.

The settings you chose will be personal preference and partly depend on what you end up filming. Most of the stuff I've captured seems to be in view for anything from a split second up to a couple of minutes, but I take 30 second clips. Its enough to have a bit of footage if its doing anything interesting, and doesn't waste to much juice or card space if it just walks past, as many creatures do. If something is hanging about, like a bird feeding, you don't necessarily want 200 clips over three hours of the same sparrow, so I set an interval of (from memory) 10 minutes between fresh clips. If something like Foxy is returning to his favourite peanut butter & ryvita crunchie sandwiches, I end up with about a max of around 30 clips in a day, of which perhaps a third are memorable. Many days I have no clips unless I've left treats.

The battery life seems good. I bought 4 Duracells several weeks ago, the camera has been out for weeks taking 140 clips and they are still live. I usually watch the replays on a PC rather than the built in screen, to save juice and get a better picture. To save bringing the whole camera back home to view the footage, just buy a second spare SD card (about £5) and leave the camera out, swapping the cards and bringing the footage bearing card back with you. If you have any issues at any point, talk to Ron Bury, he loves chatting about them and helped get mine functioning again 100% by emailing better more up to date software. Have fun.
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Re: wildlife cameras

Postby boxerman » Sun Dec 28, 2014 1:31 pm

I can't really comment on the 5210 'cos the one I had was faulty but my replacement 6210, which is much the same camera, has been getting a serious work-out at a local badger Sett and taking probably 10 - 15 minutes video every night over the last few weeks and internal batteries are still showing as full so I don't think there's a major issue with battery consumption unless you're leaving it untouched in the woods for a few months. I do know that Ron Bury recommends no longer than about 20 second videos as you can get short term voltage drops that create grainy video. If you have doubts about battery life then an easy answer is to buy a 6V SLA battery to plug into the camera (it overrides the internal batteries) - I bought a 7A 6V SLA from e-bay for £10.40 and this does mean I can run the video at 60 seconds if I want without fear of running the battery down and I can plan on bringing it home every 3 months and simply recharging it so running costs will be virtually zero. Many on here seem to be happy with duracells but both Ron Bury, Pak-a-Tak and the manufacturer specifically recommend not using them but using Energisers (this is in the 6210 manuals but I'm guessing would be just as relevant to the 5210 retrospectively).

One thing to be aware of is if using the photo + video option tho is that it does NOT take both at the same time so time taken for the still shot eats into potential good video time.

I'd agree totally with Paws about talking to Ron Bury re any problems - one of the friendliest and most helpful folk around and more than happy to chat..... I'd strongly recommend spending some time browsing his site as it's an absolute mine of information http://www.ronburyswildlife.com/2012/09 ... amera.html
Phil

https://twitter.com/boxermanphil for my Badger videos
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Re: wildlife cameras

Postby boxerman » Tue Jan 06, 2015 9:33 pm

Well, I finally got around to taking the second cam down to the sett and got some interesting results having both there. Mindful of Dexter's point about not having them pointing at each other I was very careful with placements. One is about 2 feet away from the main entrance but pointing almost vertically down - the second is placed a little lower but covering 2 sett entrances with the main entrance about 20 feet away. I wasn't sure if I'd get glare with them like that or not but what I actually got was a few superb videos of the badgers at about 20 feet nicely backlit by the other camera. If anyone is interested in seeing how that works heres a vid that has a few of those shots included (about 4 minutes in). About 2.55 minutes I can't decide if they're just playing or mating.......

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4ISzly ... e=youtu.be

I've now proved to myself that Ron's talk of no more than 20 second video is very valid - one camera is fitted with a 6v SLA battery and that's quite happily snapping away 20 or 30 40 second shots every night but the 2nd cam using only AA batteries clearly started suffering voltage drop after taking 105 30 second videos over 2 nights with the shots gradually reducing to 8 - 10 seconds (classic sign of voltage drop) so it seems clear that for continuous heavy use as these cams are getting at the sett they do benefit from using an SLA battery - I'd guess if they're only taking half a dozen every night they'd be fine.

Also got some lovely shots of a very brave or very stupid wood mouse (I think) running in and out of the sett - this is probably due to to generous portion of fruit & nut Muesli that I'd spread around. Muesli seems to work quite well......

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yC1JzgE9Xag
Phil

https://twitter.com/boxermanphil for my Badger videos
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Re: wildlife cameras

Postby boxerman » Wed Jan 28, 2015 9:28 pm

Just to add a quick update on use at the Sett..... I've come to the conclusion that the biggest issue is one of the lighting. Using the second camera down there helps considerably if I site both carefully so each creates a certain amount of back lighting for the other but, in my opinion, the problem is caused by the LED's that are used for the lighting - there's probably little choice on that as anything else would drain the batteries very quickly but LED's are renowned for only sending light in one direction with very little spread. The camera lense itself is limiting at only 52 degrees but the LED's probably only give around 20 degrees of useful light - I suspect that if they were sited in a convex arc it would probably help lighting considerably - if I can think of something to use I may just have a play with using some sort of arced lense over it to see what happens. Because of the highly focussed lighting night time close-ups are way too bright unless filtered - I'm currently using 3 layers of plastic milk carton to diffuse the lighting at close range and that seems to work fairly well.

I think I've now got the lighting as good as I'm going to get it - 3 layers of filter on the close-up cam and none on the one about 20 feet away - combined with the back lighting from the other cam it seems to work fairly well as the latest video below shows.

One of the other big problems I'm having is the simply staggering number of videos I'm getting....... takes bloody hours to pick through them! The cam nears the entrance takes the biggest hit and I think the record is 254 40 second vids over 3 nights. The last pair of SD's I collected were showing decreasing length videos (classic signs of voltage drop) despite both cams using 6V 7Ah SLA batteries so I brought the batteries home today and find that the cam near the sett has run the battery down to 3.12V....... just hope it hasn't buggered it. For the volume of stuff I'm getting AA's wouldn't last 5 minutes and the SLA's are clearly essential.

Here's a copy of the latest upload that shows a big fight in progress..... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBVXeU2 ... e=youtu.be
Phil

https://twitter.com/boxermanphil for my Badger videos
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