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Trail cameras

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Old Tuesday 26th August 2008, 14:28   #1
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Trail cameras

Been interested in these for a whlie, but my searching on the web seems to show them on sale only in the US - UK distributers don't seem to stock them. Further most of the info I have found regarding their use shows deer in the frame and I was wondering if there are models that would be suitable for smaller subjects - such as birds.
Sticking a trailcamera outside a birdbox - for example - would be a good way to moniter the (possible) activities of residents without intruding and also let one build up an idea of the birds daily activities - then get out there with the DSLR at the right times to get some good shots.

So anyone got any info on distrubuters - usage and such?
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Old Tuesday 26th August 2008, 16:23   #2
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What is meant by Trail cameras?

Is is like a phototrap, an ifrared shutter release?
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Old Tuesday 26th August 2008, 20:22   #3
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essentially this:
http://trailcameras.net/bushnell/
developed for the deer hunters (mostly is seems) to be able to moniter several different locations at the same time - review the shots and then pick a hunting location for the best chances to catch deer.
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Old Tuesday 26th August 2008, 20:43   #4
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Very interesting, thanks.

I don't have any experience with that type but I have recently been working woth a Phototrap system where an interrupted infrared signal triggers a camera shutter, and I suspect the same problems might apply.

The main thing is that it is fairly easy to get a large animal like a deer to trigger your system and to record the result but much more difficult to do so with a target the size of a bird. I would expect you could get reults but it would take a bit of trial and error.

I am writing a feature on the phototrap system which should be done in a week or so, and perhaps some of it may be of interest. I'll put up a link here when it is published.

If you do some experiments with the Trail Guide system, I would be interested in your experience with it.
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Old Wednesday 27th August 2008, 16:31   #5
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I brought a trail camera in the UK from eBay for use on a conservation project in South Africa and had mixed results when testing it out in the UK and in SA. The main ones were:-

The camera is a very basic fixed focused job. It works best about 3m from the subject. The pictures are OK during the day but the night time ones are very noisy. My unit has an infra-red LED flash and I guess they boost the sensor gain to get the best out of it.

The PIR trigger works well, its detection zone coincides well with camera's field of view, the exception being at night when then camera will detect stuff that is outside the flash range.

A big problem was with the activation time of the unit. From detection to taking the picture was up to 3 seconds. This was fine when set up at a watering hole or a feeding station, but when used on a trail to capture passing traffic it would lead to lots of pictures of trees.

As said above these units are intended for American style deer hunters and work best at fixed feed and water stations. There isn't a big market for them in the UK as that's not the type of hunting we do here. There are better and more expensive units available, mine was 120, that have a much faster start up time but they are optimised for deer sized targets a few metres away.

There are PIR trigger units available for normal SLR cameras that allow for closer subjects and would take better pictures. But you then have the problem of weather proofing and providing power and security for the camera. (The all in one trail cams are weather proof and have batteries that will last for a month!) And again there is the problem of the start up time, particularly if the camera has to be brought out of powersave mode.

There are solutions to all of this, the BBC has done wonderful work with camera traps but I bet they cost considerably more than 120!
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Old Wednesday 27th August 2008, 17:34   #6
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True a remote SLR system would be great, but as you say protection and weathersealing are the problems (further I only have one!). I think considering the UK has such a small scale of life compared to Africa and the US (barring our hordes of scottish deer) that a more upmarket camera might be warrented. I think that might require an import since - as you say - we just don't have the market here - I wonder if any on the continent (EU) have any such kit?
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