Decent cheap trail camera


mattie

Link Posted 26/09/2021 - 19:22
Hi all

We've just put a hedgehog house in the garden and want to set up a camera for the kids to watch if any hedgehog actually moves in, has anyone had any luck with trail cameras? Recommendations for cheap but functional appreciated - I'm expecting the real bargain basement types to not be up to scratch so not quite sure what I should budget.

This would be fitted to the trees near the tunnel entrance to the home, not inside it, although I may look to that in time.

It'll mostly be in front garden so might even be worth wifi etc?

Apols, a bit non-Pentax, unless Pentax actually make any that I'm unaware of!

All advice gratefully received

Lubbyman

Link Posted 26/09/2021 - 20:04
I got a couple for hedgehogs from naturespy. They only sell brands that they use prefessionally and do their own testing. I won't recommend a specific camera or brand, but some things to consider:
- Maximum range for detecting a hedgehog is about 20ft. Ignore anything bigger, that's either marketting hype or for detecting bigger things like a deer.
- 'Low-glow' is OK for hedgehogs and cheaper than 'no-glow'. You need 'no-glow' for animals that can be spooked by a dull red light (e.g. deer).
- A built-in timer is useful but not a necessity.
- Don't bother with rechargeable batteries unless the camera has been specifically designed for them, and then use eneloops. Best non-rechargeables are Energiser Ultimate Lithium Pro and similar. Expensive but worth it. Avoid Duracell. It's something to do with battery chemistry and voltage.
- Wifi costs! It's a lot cheaper to just check the memory card once in a while...
- Decent quality nocturnal video and 'cheap' don't go together.
- Try to fit the camera low down, no more than 2 ft above ground. Be prepared to experiment with height and angle.

Have fun. And if you're lucky, you'll end up with more gigabytes of hedgehog videos than you know what to do with (the voice of experience speaking!).

Steve

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davidwozhere

Link Posted 27/09/2021 - 00:17



If this quality is suitable I will root the thing out and see what it is. It cost just under 50.
Both the *istDS and the K5 are incurably addicted to old glass

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mattie

Link Posted 27/09/2021 - 08:53
Lubbyman wrote:
I got a couple for hedgehogs from naturespy. They only sell brands that they use prefessionally and do their own testing. I won't recommend a specific camera or brand, but some things to consider:
- Maximum range for detecting a hedgehog is about 20ft. Ignore anything bigger, that's either marketting hype or for detecting bigger things like a deer.
- 'Low-glow' is OK for hedgehogs and cheaper than 'no-glow'. You need 'no-glow' for animals that can be spooked by a dull red light (e.g. deer).
- A built-in timer is useful but not a necessity.
- Don't bother with rechargeable batteries unless the camera has been specifically designed for them, and then use eneloops. Best non-rechargeables are Energiser Ultimate Lithium Pro and similar. Expensive but worth it. Avoid Duracell. It's something to do with battery chemistry and voltage.
- Wifi costs! It's a lot cheaper to just check the memory card once in a while...
- Decent quality nocturnal video and 'cheap' don't go together.
- Try to fit the camera low down, no more than 2 ft above ground. Be prepared to experiment with height and angle.

Have fun. And if you're lucky, you'll end up with more gigabytes of hedgehog videos than you know what to do with (the voice of experience speaking!).

Steve

Ta Steve - many thanks for advice, I'll give naturespy a look

Can I ask - do you set the flash on these cameras? I'd expect the IR lens still needs an IR light source - I ask as I know some animals can see into IR wavelength and worry I'll startle them, might be the wavelength is still out of visible spectrum.

I was contemplating a wired camera - there are a few which look like a cross between the google/ring style and a security camera - as the hedgehog house is about 30-40 ft from the corner of the house, but it's still too far despite zoom and it would limit options.

mattie

Link Posted 27/09/2021 - 08:57
davidwozhere wrote:



If this quality is suitable I will root the thing out and see what it is. It cost just under 50.

Looks entirely suitable for purposes I had in mind - getting the kids interested in photography and animals. I'm not quite sure what to expect in terms of IR, was half-wondering if putting together an IR conversion of a DSLR with an IR sensor for trigger would be viable weekend hobby!

Lubbyman

Link Posted 27/09/2021 - 10:07
mattie wrote:
Can I ask - do you set the flash on these cameras? I'd expect the IR lens still needs an IR light source - I ask as I know some animals can see into IR wavelength and worry I'll startle them, might be the wavelength is still out of visible spectrum.

The things I've got are stand-alone, all-in-one boxes, the sort that you can fix to a tree in a wood, come back a week later and see what has wandered by. There are lots of different brands, but they all work in much the same way. A PIR sensor detects the creature (strictly it's 'moving warmth'), that starts up the camera bit of the kit (takes a second or so), then it will take an IR flash picture using built-in IR lights or, if you want video, an IR-illuminated video. All done automatically. Just leave it out overnight, check it in the morning and see what triggered it (if anything!).

My earlier comment about 'low-glow' or 'no-glow' relates to your concern about animals seeing an IR flash. 'Low-glow' is definitely visible to some animals, including humans. However, hedgehogs and a lot of other garden wildlife (including mice and rats) aren't bothered. 'No-glow' uses a different part of the IR spectrum which is almost invisible to most animals and humans. I went for 'no-glow' because I hoped to go looking for deer etc. on Scottish holidays, but it definitely isn't necessary for hedgehogs.

Davidwozhere's picture is the sort of thing that a friend showed me a few years ago which got me started. He was using a 50 Chinese thing. Perfectly OK for close distance in a fairly sheltered garden. They tend not to have as long a detection range as more expensive, big brand models, and are not as robust, but if you're going to put the camera 10ft from the hedgehog in your garden, that's not a problem. Incidentally, all of these cameras are fixed focus, fixed aperture, with minimum focus distance about 6ft.

Steve

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JohnX

Link Posted 27/09/2021 - 10:54
I have a number of these used to identify where foxes come over my fences. To me foxes are a serious nuisance and I've found they don't like changes in their environment and can be persuaded to stay out of my garden if I keep changing my deterrents around - lights, water jets, etc.

I mount the cameras on cheap tripods weighted with bricks to stop them being knocked over. Makes siting and resiting the cameras quick and easy.

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mattie

Link Posted 27/09/2021 - 11:05
Lubbyman wrote:
mattie wrote:
Can I ask - do you set the flash on these cameras? I'd expect the IR lens still needs an IR light source - I ask as I know some animals can see into IR wavelength and worry I'll startle them, might be the wavelength is still out of visible spectrum.

The things I've got are stand-alone, all-in-one boxes, the sort that you can fix to a tree in a wood, come back a week later and see what has wandered by. There are lots of different brands, but they all work in much the same way. A PIR sensor detects the creature (strictly it's 'moving warmth'), that starts up the camera bit of the kit (takes a second or so), then it will take an IR flash picture using built-in IR lights or, if you want video, an IR-illuminated video. All done automatically. Just leave it out overnight, check it in the morning and see what triggered it (if anything!).

My earlier comment about 'low-glow' or 'no-glow' relates to your concern about animals seeing an IR flash. 'Low-glow' is definitely visible to some animals, including humans. However, hedgehogs and a lot of other garden wildlife (including mice and rats) aren't bothered. 'No-glow' uses a different part of the IR spectrum which is almost invisible to most animals and humans. I went for 'no-glow' because I hoped to go looking for deer etc. on Scottish holidays, but it definitely isn't necessary for hedgehogs.

Davidwozhere's picture is the sort of thing that a friend showed me a few years ago which got me started. He was using a 50 Chinese thing. Perfectly OK for close distance in a fairly sheltered garden. They tend not to have as long a detection range as more expensive, big brand models, and are not as robust, but if you're going to put the camera 10ft from the hedgehog in your garden, that's not a problem. Incidentally, all of these cameras are fixed focus, fixed aperture, with minimum focus distance about 6ft.

Steve

Ta again- I've just put an order in with naturespy for a Browning Recon Force Elite HP4, apparently the highest quality night-time video they've seen. They advised lowglow is OK, the no-glow tend to have lower quality image.

I'll report back if we have any luck with it
Last Edited by mattie on 27/09/2021 - 11:06

mattie

Link Posted 27/09/2021 - 11:09
JohnX wrote:
I have a number of these used to identify where foxes come over my fences. To me foxes are a serious nuisance and I've found they don't like changes in their environment and can be persuaded to stay out of my garden if I keep changing my deterrents around - lights, water jets, etc.

I mount the cameras on cheap tripods weighted with bricks to stop them being knocked over. Makes siting and resiting the cameras quick and easy.

We occasionally get a fox in our garden but think it's a bit scared off by the scent of cats etc that also roam through and by proximity to road. It doesn't linger to do much harm, thankfully, I know others have all sorts of bothers with them. Would be good to get a few shots of it though.

Lubbyman

Link Posted 27/09/2021 - 20:22
mattie wrote:

Ta again- I've just put an order in with naturespy for a Browning Recon Force Elite HP4, apparently the highest quality night-time video they've seen. They advised lowglow is OK, the no-glow tend to have lower quality image.

Good choice! Time to confess that I've got the no-glow version of the same and it's very good, also one that's a couple of generations earlier. As far as I can work out, no-glow has lower IR light intensity so needs longer exposures, which means video isn't quite as sharp.

JohnX's advice re cheap tripods is spot on. It's given a new lease of life to a cheap old thing that I'd almost thrown out a few times.

Now for your first challenge: work out what creature owns the moving pair of dots in shadow near the edge of the frame that are clearly IR reflected from eyes but the body has gone AWOL. That was my first hedgehog video. It got better after that!

Steve

mattie

Link Posted 28/09/2021 - 15:51
Lubbyman wrote:
mattie wrote:

Ta again- I've just put an order in with naturespy for a Browning Recon Force Elite HP4, apparently the highest quality night-time video they've seen. They advised lowglow is OK, the no-glow tend to have lower quality image.

Good choice! Time to confess that I've got the no-glow version of the same and it's very good, also one that's a couple of generations earlier. As far as I can work out, no-glow has lower IR light intensity so needs longer exposures, which means video isn't quite as sharp.

JohnX's advice re cheap tripods is spot on. It's given a new lease of life to a cheap old thing that I'd almost thrown out a few times.

Now for your first challenge: work out what creature owns the moving pair of dots in shadow near the edge of the frame that are clearly IR reflected from eyes but the body has gone AWOL. That was my first hedgehog video. It got better after that!

Steve

Yep, advice I got was the no-glow is important for certain animals like deer (who might be scared off by the low glow) but there's less light to work with so image quality isn't quite up there - although I could see the more 'natural' light might make shots more interesting than those with flash. Swings and roundabouts, I'll see how this one goes and maybe look at a no-glow once I've some idea of what I'm doing! In meantime, reckon I'll be unlikely to get any deer traipsing through back garden so will focus (pardon pun) on the hedgehogs and maybe the foxes and birds.

I'd be interested in whether any shots - either night or daytime - are good enough for a print or whether they're more 'educational' rather than artistic? I've been toying for ages with a DSLR with a PIR trigger for some garden shots, wondering if this would be a more prudent approach.

(Finally, and apols for all questions, I assume the camera comes with a strap or similar for fixing, or do I need to budget for the strap or a tripod? I've got a few tripods tucked away but wouldn't be that keen to leave them exposed - again, pun unintended - for the night.)

Chrism8

Link Posted 28/09/2021 - 15:57
I purchased one of 2YAAOSw0qFfOCZq" class="outlink" target="blank">these for my Wildlife Cam ages ago, its plastic, ok for the price ( 10 ) and I'm happy to leave it out anytime, also a decent height for any wildlife entering the garden
Chris

www.chrismillsphotography.co.uk

" A Hangover is something that occupies the Head you neglected to use the night before".

-------------------------------------------------------------
K1 - Sigma 85mm F1.4, Pentax DFA 150 -450 F4.5 / 5.6, Pentax DFA* 24 - 70 F2.8

Samyang 14mm F2.8, Pentax DFA* 70-200 F2.8

K3iii + K3ii + K5iis converted to IR, Sigma 17 - 70 F2.8, Pentax 55 - 300 F4.5 / F5.6 PLM

Lubbyman

Link Posted 28/09/2021 - 20:23
mattie wrote:
I'd be interested in whether any shots - either night or daytime - are good enough for a print or whether they're more 'educational' rather than artistic? I've been toying for ages with a DSLR with a PIR trigger for some garden shots, wondering if this would be a more prudent approach.

(Finally, and apols for all questions, I assume the camera comes with a strap or similar for fixing, or do I need to budget for the strap or a tripod? I've got a few tripods tucked away but wouldn't be that keen to leave them exposed - again, pun unintended - for the night.)

Images aren't as good as a DSLR (obviously!). The sensor is small so images have all the limitations of a small-sensor camera. Impressive headline megapixies are misleading, they are upsampled from the lower resolution sensor. Having said that, though, I've been quite impressed with some image of birds when they happen to have wandered into the optimum position for sharp focus and the light is good. Don't expect beautiful out-of-focus areas, though, these are small, fixed aperture cameras that try to get as much depth of field as reasonably possible, and you can't change it.

The camera will come with a standard tripod mount, a strong, metal fitting at the back and a long, webbing strap to attach camera to post, tree etc.

Now to bring this thread to Pentax Land . I've been wondering about looking for a PIR sensor/trigger for my K20D with 18-55mm WR attached then pointing it at the bird feeding station. Neither camera nor lens get much use now, this could give them a new lease of life. Does anyone have any opinions, advice etc?

Steve

mattie

Link Posted 01/10/2021 - 08:36
I had quick go with the camera last night and there were 7 images on the card this morning - five of fresh air and two of my trousers and shoes!

Will practice with siting and settings, I've just gone for default for the moment.

mattie

Link Posted 01/10/2021 - 08:42
Lubbyman wrote:
mattie wrote:
I'd be interested in whether any shots - either night or daytime - are good enough for a print or whether they're more 'educational' rather than artistic? I've been toying for ages with a DSLR with a PIR trigger for some garden shots, wondering if this would be a more prudent approach.

(Finally, and apols for all questions, I assume the camera comes with a strap or similar for fixing, or do I need to budget for the strap or a tripod? I've got a few tripods tucked away but wouldn't be that keen to leave them exposed - again, pun unintended - for the night.)

Images aren't as good as a DSLR (obviously!). The sensor is small so images have all the limitations of a small-sensor camera. Impressive headline megapixies are misleading, they are upsampled from the lower resolution sensor. Having said that, though, I've been quite impressed with some image of birds when they happen to have wandered into the optimum position for sharp focus and the light is good. Don't expect beautiful out-of-focus areas, though, these are small, fixed aperture cameras that try to get as much depth of field as reasonably possible, and you can't change it.

The camera will come with a standard tripod mount, a strong, metal fitting at the back and a long, webbing strap to attach camera to post, tree etc.

Now to bring this thread to Pentax Land . I've been wondering about looking for a PIR sensor/trigger for my K20D with 18-55mm WR attached then pointing it at the bird feeding station. Neither camera nor lens get much use now, this could give them a new lease of life. Does anyone have any opinions, advice etc?

Steve

I've been toying with this for a while - I've got some arduino kits tucked away which are in many sense meant for this sort of thing, and we've got an old K30 in the loft in our old house which I can reclaim - it should be a case of adapting a wired trigger to fire off a signal from a sensor. I'm pretty sure there's a PIR sensor in the arduino set, although I would imagine it isn't the best quality. Definitely some thing I'd like to give a go, time permitting.

(Arduino, in case you haven't com across it - link
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