What are wildlife cameras?
| Wildlife cameras, also known as trail cameras, Trip Cameras, digital scouting cameras and camera traps are rugged, weatherproof, battery operated digital cameras that can record video or photos, night or day onto removable memory cards.|
They can be strapped to a tree or post or mounted on a tripod or spike on the ground and record every action around
the clock often for many weeks at a time. They are becoming very popular with everyone from wildlife film-makers,
researchers, security experts. This high quality, low priced technology developed for the hunting market is equally
useful for people wanting to watch wildlife without disturbing it. They are also useful for the following applications:
- Property surveillance – Building and construction sites, industrial units and garages
- Land surveillance – Land susceptible to Fly-tipping, trespass, allotments
- Domestic surveillance – Neighbour disputes, vandalism
- Wildlife crime – Kennels, river and fishery poaching, animal abuse
- Farm surveillance - Machinery, diesel, livestock
What do they cost?
We sell cameras starting at just over £100 which are tried, trusted and perfectly adequate for domestic use and will give great results. Cameras at £150+ generally come with extra features like higher resolution image capture, built in screens and better build quality. Cellular cameras with wireless image transmission via the mobile phone network are available starting at around £190 but are used mainly for security or for monitoring remote sites.
Beware of cheap cameras on Amazon and eBay!
We have been using this type of camera since 2009 when there was only around 5-6 brands available, our first camera was a Ltl Acorn 5210a which we still have today. Since then we have seen a huge increase in cameras being sold via Amazon and eBay (and even some budget supermarkets!) that are cheap copies of other brands and use inferior components. We have been approached by dozens of Chinese manufacturers to act as resellers and have tried a number of these cameras with little success. Many customers come to us having had a poor experience of these cheap cameras and below are some of the reasons why we will not sell them:
A £40 camera will be made up of the cheapest possible components worth a total of around £10 (when you factor in the cost of assembly, packaging, shipping, selling fees and profit).
A £100+ camera from a recognised brand will be manufactured with far superior components that will be extensively tested before production, will be more energy efficient (saving you money on batteries) and reliable.
Gimmicky features and false claims
Claims like 'IP66 Waterproof' are misleading. IP or 'Ingress protection' ratings in the UK are assigned (mainly for mains electrical equipment) in accordance with British standard BS EN 60529:1992v, the same standards do not apply in China and in any case IP66 decodes as: 'Full protection against dust and other particulates, including a vacuum seal, tested against continuous airflow' and 'Protection against powerful jets (12.5 mm nozzle) of directed water from any direction'. Hardly something you will encounter in your garden!
Beware of other claims including:
- '0.1 second trigger time' - Almost impossible to test or verify!
- 'WiFi enabled' - This usually means the camera will create it's own small network (a few feet) to which you can connect your phone/tablet. Useless feature and battery draining.
- '3G/4G cellular' - Notoriously difficult to set up with these cheap cameras, unreliable, high ongoing SMS costs and is really only of use for security purposes not wildlife watching.
Anonymous brands Crenova, Apeman, Victure, Toguard and Campark
Many cheap camera manufacturers only sell on Amazon and eBay and have no direct customer-facing business. We have seen camera models that are sold under one brand name only to disappear and re-appear under another name in order to distance themselves from poor reviews. Many of these 'manufacturers' also sell other cheap electronic products and are not specialists in this type of photographic equipment. Attempts to contact manufacturers directly are usually ignored.
Warranty and returns
Goods sold by third parties via Amazon and eBay only have a limited return warranty of 30 days. After this, if an item becomes faulty you will have to return the item to the manufacturer who will repair or replace. Some people get lucky and receive a camera that works for 12 months or more but this is far out-weighed by the number of people we hear about that have problems within weeks or months of purchase. We have heard many stories of cameras having to be sent to China for repair and coming back still faulty or failing again shortly afterwards. All the brands we sell come with 1 or 2 year warranty and any claims are dealt with in the UK by authorised service centres.
A worrying (and well documented) trend on Amazon is where buyers of cheap trail cameras are approached by the seller shortly after delivery and offered a partial refund of the purchase price in return for a glowing review. This helps the seller improve it's ranking, leading to more sales. It also means that reviews for these cameras cannot be trusted leading to even more disappointed buyers. There are also a number of fake trail camera review pages on Google set up by Chinese manufacturers to direct traffic towards their Amazon/eBay listings.
In summary, if you want a good camera that will be reliable and give superb results with a proper warranty, then avoid online selling platforms like the plague and buy from a family run business that uses the products it sells, that you can pick up the phone to for advice or help whenever you need it....
What do they look like?
Wildlife cameras consist of a small, camouflaged and waterproofed impact resistant plastic casing with a lens, movement sensors and Infra Red LEDs. They work in the same way as any other compact digital camera, but with added features like motion detection, night-vision, timer recording. The controls are hidden inside the waterproof box and securely closed with clips. They are powered by AA batteries but they can also be powered by DC power supplies, solar panels and Sealed Lead Acid batteries. The photos and videos captured are written to a removable SD memory card.
How do they work?
The main advantage of a Wildlife camera, trail camera or camera trap is that they can be placed in a remote location and set to record when there is motion. You can then come back and review what has recorded at a later date. All you do is open the camera, set the controls with the buttons inside (most cameras also have a built in screen to aid with set-up and to review images), close the casing and strap it to a tree. The cameras are really easy to set up and once done all you do is leave it and pop back when you want too. The cameras cwork night and day, constantly sensing any movement. During night-time the cameras use 'invisible to the eye' infra-red to see in the dark and not disturb the subject. Whenever there is movement, depending on the settings, the camera then records any action straight to the memory card. Some cameras have very fast reaction times.
The main controls are:
- Type of recording – Movies and/or still photos. Most trail cameras have the option to record high quality video or still photos. These all normally have sub settings for size and quality which can be configured to get the best results. Movies use a lot more memory than still photos.
- Length, size or quality of recording - Depending if you choose to record a movie or still photo, you will have further options:
- Movies – Size, quality and duration.
- Still photos – Size and quality
- Sensitivity - Built into most cameras is motion detection sensor. The sensitivity can be adjusted depending on what you are trying to film and the location. Sometimes, there is a lot of movement ie bushes swaying in the wind. You can set the sensitivity to ignore casual movement and only record when a large object passes by.
There are additional features on most cameras including:
- Time Lapse - Photos are taken at pre-determined intervals over a long period of time to give snapshot of activity. This is useful to watch a plant growing, the passing of the seasons or even a construction project.
Wildlife cameras on the TV
These cameras are predominately used to watch and track wildlife. They are perfect to place in a remote location and see what wildlife is around. It is surprising what you will see and how much wildlife is around us. In recent years, cameras traps have been used on money popular TV programmes like Springwatch/Autumnwatch, Countyryfile, Countrywise in the UK and also high end documentaries all over the world.
Ready to choose your camera? Give us a call on 01225 703316 or Click here to see our range...