Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Bushnell Trophy CamTrail Camera

In this blog article I had a trail camera (a fixed 'set and forget' camera/ video system that triggers when something moves in front of it) as an item that didn't quite make the luxury purchase top five but did get a mention as a peripheral item there or there abouts. 


So why get one at Christmas if it's nearly made the 'Couldn't justify' list? Well it didn't make the top five (it was probably pipped by the Frontier stove) simply because of all the kit mentioned in the blog article, it was probably the one that I could eventually see myself getting. Whilst it wouldn't get used regularly I thought about the fact that I visit (badger and fallow deer rich) Hatfield Forest a lot, and often have holidays in country rental houses which would be an  ideal time to use it (last year we hired a house which badgers visit, and a few years ago stayed near the river in Fort William and saw otter sign but no animals. I am also able to stay in Brownsea Castle and this would offer potential Sika deer and red squirrel footage. and then there's Steve, but more about him later...

Now it's handy knowing Pablo
 from Woodlife Trails when you are thinking of purchasing a trail camera. I've seen him use, or indeed lend clients, a trail camera on Woodlife Trails weekends such as the ever popular immersion course. It's doubly handy that he also wrote an article for Bushcraft and Survival Skills magazine on the subject so once I'd re-read the magazine piece I asked him if the two models I'd selected would fulfill the criteria of first time trail camera usage...I did good!

I ordered the Bushnell Trophy Cam Trail Camera (the other in consideration was another Bushnell model too) from this company via eBay and I have to say that they were keenly priced, offered free UK postage and I ordered it around one o'clock and it was in my grubby mitts at the same time next day (although they do say up to 48 hours). Bear in mind that this price and availability may vary as the blog page ages...


It arrived loose in it's delivery box, but as you can see under the instruction manual pic, the product box is sturdy and the product had bubble wrap around it.


The manual is very thick, but once you locate the English bit (at the front, marked with the paper) it seems less daunting. It comes with a fixing strap, and leads for PC and TV usage.

A shot of the front and side to show the size. The clips are undone on the side of the unit in the left hand picture.


It has  a fixing for a tripod which I hadn't realised, but one point of annoyance is that the lead to download to a pc doesn't fit! Luckily I have one with changeable plugs so I've been able to use it. If I can't resolve this I'll chase Bushnell up. The above right hand side picture shows the supplied lead at the bottom, and the one I had at home sandwiched in the middle.


So after fumbling my way through the set up (quite a lengthy, but largely easy process) I took the image that a thousand cameras before have taken of the users hand. I then set about mounting the camera at several different heights, distances and angles.


Now I'd seen this little mouse under some ash wood that I'd covered in this blog and had hoped to get footage of him first, my very first capture was a blackbird...Hey ho, that's nature! The joy of digital camera is that you just go again...and again. I'd say from early usage that this unit is better at a distance from the camera because up to around three or four feet or so can be a little washed out at night by the IR.

So having had a play with still images I've tried out the video and again, a modest return of a dunnock and a wood pigeon. No problems with what's been captured but if I'd wanted cats hunting the mouse I'd have been in clover. I have also managed to capture a bit of night time mouse and daytime footage here and herehttp://youtu.be/2ogEXg8dRpc


Whilst testing out both the still and video function I've had a squirrel come into the garden and fill his boots and only managed one still capture...The above picture is whilst videoing and several visits yielded no footage. A squirrel with a cloaking device? Or a Jedi? Naturally I want to get out and about and capture some non-garden nature but I've put this page up now in case anyone out there is thinking of getting one.

I've also started to use it out and about. The above joined up images are from Gilwell Scout HQ (and there's more detail here). I'm lucky in that I live as close to the country as I do the town so I will be getting it out there more often. I've purchased a length of chain (a 'how long is a length of string' purchase) and a padlock which I'll dull down with black Hammerite paint.

One project I'm updating (and will blog on soonish) is Steve who I plan to use in earnest now that I'm trail cam armed. My family think I have some sort of Quixote thing going...It'll work, either in my back garden or out and about. 

It has also made me more aware of the nature that visits our garden. It's never going to get loads of mammals in there with occasional hedgehog, mouse and a solitary sighting of a weasel being all that we've had. That said, we have birds ranging from woodpeckers to goldcrests in the area so we have decided to upgrade our bird table to see if we can get some of the peripheral birds in. I've also noticed from video footage that the squirrel, and several birds, land on a big pot near the table before feeding so I'm going to clear the pot and put a fine moist soil topping on it with the view to taking some plaster casts.  

All in all I'm really pleased that I've got a trail cam and I genuinely look forward to reviewing footage. I could potentially see myself getting a more technically advanced one in the future, or one that's fairly similar to stake out an area from two angles. 

Now the remaining part of this blog page is just a series of shots showing the many different screens of programming available, it looks daunting but most of them are either still or video relevant, or simple YES/ NO or multiple choice selections...

...So stick with it if you wish to see a quick and basic run down...

...As there's nothing else to see...

...OK, so starting with the internal 'Big Switches'...

The row of green buttons are for programming the desired functions of use, the large sliding button is for OFF, SETUP (to do programming) and ON (for when it's outside and recording). The up and down arrows are also to select either video or camera.

These are the first screens and a just a revue  of what data is stored etc.

Deletion of data if desired and which mode (video or still) is required.

For when camera usage is desired these screens allow image quality and size to be selected. Personally I'll always use the maximum 8MP and full screen.

Again with photography, these screens select the number of shots taken when triggered (again I'll always have this set to the maximum). The LED control is a bit of a lottery as if it's set to high it may wash out wildlife close to, and too low and it may not capture what's in front of it.

The input is if you wish to give the camera a name, I won't as realistically it's the only one I'll have. Multiple ones may benefit from a name if used together covering an area.

If video mode is selected then these screens apply. Video length and the interval between firings are set here.

The sensor level affects the camera's sensitivity when sensing movement.

PAL for the UK. If I use a normal hand held camera I never date stamp pictures but I've decided to do so with the trail cam ones.

Field scan is if you wish the unit to take shots at pre determined times across an area, maybe a place where several different animals may appear in the distance at regular intervals. Coordinate input is mapping.

Video sound is fairly obvious and something I'd always have on unless it was by a busy road I guess. The other screen is where the factory settings can be re-applied.

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