I was given a ProStalk PC2000 Trail Camera by my children as a Christmas present in December 2010 and have been trying to use the camera in my garden - unfortunately with little success. All I have been able to capture is the tail of a fox and plenty of pictures of me walking away from the camera after fitting it. Now the reason for this could be me; it could be the camera - or it could be the wildlife are all playing tricks - so I decided to run a series of tests to see what was happening.
Looking at the situation with my engineering hat on it seems that the the only pictures I have had 'triggered' by the camera are when the triggering subject is close (ie within 2m of the sensor). This means that at night, the IR flash is too strong and I only get whiteout (see my blog post about this here)
Outdoors, all I have managed again is close-triggered shots, which, with the 5sec minimum delay between trigger and shot, means I get an empty picture, or a picture of the departing animal's tail.
With the above in mind I looked up the specification of the camera and then set out a test:
- Resolution: 2MP
- Size: Ultra Compact 82x122x41mm
- Display: TN Digital screen without backlight
- Motion Sensor: One PIR, 45Degree, 45 feet range (at 4 Degrees environment temp)
- 15 LED IR with a range of 10 meters
- Photo Take Delay: 5s-60min (Default 1 Min)
- Storage Image Size: SD Card up to 32G
- Resolution: 1600x1200 (2.0M)
- Movie Resolution: AVI 640x480
- Powered by 4 x AA Cells
- Working Time: 6 Months, (6,000 images)
- Shutter Speed: 0.9seconds
For the test, I carried out the following:
- Brand new Duracell batteries inserted in the camera.
- Camera set up as recommended by the suppliers
- Mounted the camera on a pole, with sticks marking 5m from the camera and 10m from camera
- Arrange for a small animal look-alike (my nephew, in the picture at 10m point) to walk in front and wait five seconds on the 5m/10m mark
- Repeat this activity five times at 5m and again five times at 10m
- Analyse the results
The camera specification talks about the IR flash and photographs working upto 10m away so with this in mind, I have to assume that the PIR sensor would also work to the same dimensions. However, the results from my test were quite conclusive: The ONLY pictures I had from the camera during this test were when I was setting up the 5m and 10m marks and when my nephew walked directly in front of the camera.
Both these were close passes at less than two metres. No photos were triggered for any of the walkthrough tests at 5m or at 10m. Disappointing to say the least.
So far, the supplier has replied with:
We would recommend that you move the trail camera closer to the subject like a trail, path or feeding station about 1m-3m away. This give a large enough subject in the footage. If we had a way to set this, then this would be better.My thinking is that the pictures show that sharp focus on the camera is from about 3m to infinity, so for best results I need the subject at least 3m from the camera. Additionally, why should I have to use a camera that focuses from 3m to infinity with an IR flash designed for up to 10m range at a trigger range of 1-3m? Image quality is reasonable, considering the optics, but I would rather the unit was more sensitive. I'm looking to record squirrels, rabbits, foxes, badgers and an occasional deer in my garden, so reasonable sized mammals should trigger a properly working camera.
Or am I being too optimistic?
Last night I tried another test. I put the camera at 300mm height on a tree close to an area that is being dug up in the garden. In this area I scattered a few Brazil nuts and raisins and waited overnight.
In the morning I found no nuts left and no photographs of animals.