Small Woodland Owners' Group

wildlife cameras

A place to discuss or review of tools and equipment, how to look after them, handy hints for using them.

Re: wildlife cameras

Postby smojo » Thu Dec 04, 2014 8:52 am

That's great Phil. Love the bits where they are play-fighting. There's a hazy or blurry area in the foreground. It seems as if the light is too bright and causing some flare. Might be worth experimenting with setting the camera a little further back or fitting a neutral density filter over the lens to darken it down slightly for a sharper image. very promising results though.
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Re: wildlife cameras

Postby boxerman » Thu Dec 04, 2014 9:27 am

Yes, it's way too bright at that range. I've moved the cam to a totally different position (just trying to figure what works well at the moment). At some time I will take it back to that position for more close-ups but can't actually move it further back at that place as it's already on the fence but that is the only place I can place it close to the Sett without obstructing the routes the Badgers use so when I do put it back there I will have a play with turning down the lighting - not a great choice of settings, just high and low so I'll try it for a couple of nights on low but suspect that'll be too dark. I think the art is going to be in getting range just right but it's going to take a lot of experimenting to see what works and what doesn't...

Will do a review for you fairly soon but initial feelings are that I'm happy with this for it's usage - as modern cameras go I couldn't describe picture quality as great but it is a lot of camera for the money...
Phil

https://twitter.com/boxermanphil for my Badger videos
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Re: wildlife cameras

Postby oldclaypaws » Thu Dec 04, 2014 9:58 am

The only downside I can see to a higher resolution camera is the files must be pretty large and take you ages to load on to youtube. Great footage though, thoroughly enjoyed it. You'd have a popular blog if you just had a website with a diary of the badgers with plenty of video clips. Over time you might be able to get to identify the separate individuals and know their personalities. The way they play reminds me of my dogs. Its also a reminder that they are living creatures with character, families and happy lives, something that wasn't considered by DEFRA when they decided on a programme of culling.
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Re: wildlife cameras

Postby boxerman » Thu Dec 04, 2014 10:33 am

Yes, a higher resolution is going to produce larger file sizes but much depends on the format the camera uses and then the processing methods. I don't have a GoPro vid that would be a direct comparison but the 6 minute clip I uploaded last night was 228Mb and a test 3 minute GoPro vid that I have on-line is 216Mb so about twice the size - that's not unrealistic these days... It's not a wildlife video so it's difficult to compare the quality from that point and, obviously it's not a night shot but the difference in quality is still very easy to see. Having said that to GoPro has much less in the way of facilities and costs considerably more so you get what you pay for - for the usage, I'm pretty happy with this cam. You can compare yourself if you want by seeing the test vid here tho the content isn't likely to be of interest https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32PhBsfkaik

I'm sure given time, it would be possible to recognise individuals - already it's clear that one of those 3 isn't as outgoing as the others....

Good point about a website and once I start getting good vids I may just do that - I have my own webspace anyway for work so it'd be simple enough to set up.
Phil

https://twitter.com/boxermanphil for my Badger videos
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Re: wildlife cameras

Postby smojo » Thu Dec 04, 2014 6:31 pm

As I mentioned, you might try a neutral density filter. You can get them in variable densities. You could try putting one over the light source to darken in down rather than over the lens which might tend to throw out any auto-exposure controls there might be.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/52mm-52-ND2-ND400-Vario-ND-Variable-Neutral-Density-Camera-Lens-Filter-UK-/230931421397?pt=UK_CamerasPhoto_CameraAccessories_CameraLensesFilters_JN&hash=item35c495d8d5
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Re: wildlife cameras

Postby boxerman » Thu Dec 04, 2014 11:37 pm

Thanks for that, Smojo - might just try something like that in due course tho how I'd fasten them I'm not sure - I guess it would have to be gaffa tape... For the moment I'm concentrating on trying different positions to see where I can get good shots from but at some point I will take the cam back to that position and try the infra red on low as a first option - it's going to take time to get it all right.

Condensation/dew is also another major issue with the lens and lighting getting covered - last nights produced nothing usable and all were grainy. Didn''t find out till I got home so didn't check battery status but it wouldn't surprise me if they're showing a little low 'cos they've worked hard the last couple of weeks as for most of the time I've had it set for a still and then video but did turn the stills off before those close-up shots - that couple of days alone produced 109 25 second videos and with the infra red running that has to be a serious drain......
Phil

https://twitter.com/boxermanphil for my Badger videos
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Re: wildlife cameras

Postby boxerman » Sun Dec 07, 2014 1:38 pm

Could do with a suggestions or two here if anyone has ideas.

I seem to be getting problems with grainy and over exposed pics and video which are pretty much turning good video into something that's not really usable. My first thought was that the temperature drop is causing voltage drop on the batteries and that they just can't cope in the temperature but, on reflection I don't see how that could account for the diffused lighting. The other thought is that it's all being caused by dew/condensation on both the lens and the lighting panel - my thinking is that it's distorting and magnifying the lighting effect.

I've attached a couple of snapshots from the last couple of nights video that highlight the differences. The clear one is the first video that it took only a couple of hours after I cleaned all the lenses with a water repellent - that was the only clear shot of the two nights. The other is a typical example of all the other videos - extremely grainy and highly diffused lighting. The pics are pretty small as it's the only size the software will let me pull off as a still.

Appreciate any views anyone may have on this - if it is condensation then I'm not sure there's going to be any real answer until spring arrives.....

EDIT: I've just uploaded a 20 second clip (10 seconds of each) which shows the issue more clearly. http://youtu.be/g9iR6ta9pI4
Attachments
Snapshot 2 (07-12-2014 13-22).png
Snapshot 1 (07-12-2014 13-22).png
Phil

https://twitter.com/boxermanphil for my Badger videos
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Re: wildlife cameras

Postby smojo » Sun Dec 07, 2014 5:46 pm

Is there an ISO setting on the camera. On still cameras, the higher ISO settings make the camera more sensitive to light when used in low light situations. The trade off though is the pictures are grainier. So have a look at exposure settings and play with them if possible.
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Re: wildlife cameras

Postby boxerman » Sun Dec 07, 2014 8:09 pm

No, it's not possible to adjust any settings anywhere - you've got what you've got other than being able to reduce lighting to low.

I figured , this afternoon, that I'd drop Ron Bury a quick query on this one and included a couple of links - wasn't sure if I'd get a response as it seemed a bit cheeky but he called me this evening (I was out so rang him back) and have only just got off the phone - must have been on about an hour chatting away... Very helpful guy and said he'd be more than happy with what I'm getting and that's kind of as good as they are. He's given me one trick that he thinks will improve the lighting issue tho and that's to place something over the lighting to diffuse the light - he suggested cutting out a section of plastic supermarket milk bottle, making a small hole for the sensor and then taping that in place - said it may require up to three layers so it's going to be a question of playing. Apparently that's what was used for the Pine Martin photo on his site....
Phil

https://twitter.com/boxermanphil for my Badger videos
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Re: wildlife cameras

Postby boxerman » Wed Dec 10, 2014 10:34 pm

A review/comparison of the 5210A/6210MC

OK, I promised to do some sort of review of the Ltl Acorn 6210MC and, particularly for Smojo, some sort of comparison between the 5120A and 6210MC. When I said that I was visualising a simple pro and con list between the two but as always it’s not that simple as most items need clarification so things will end up being out of order. Before I continue I will say that when I do a review on anything (this is beyond my normal subject) I try to be as fair and accurate as possible and, whilst I usually try to be tactful where needed, I do tell it as I see it even if it’s a freebie supplied purely for testing..

The comparison between the two cameras will, of necessity, be a little basic as I had so many problems with the 5210 that I had so my views may be coloured…..
Body: Both the 5210 and the 6210 look very similar at first glance as it clearly uses the same front cover but the main body is of totally different design and there are both pros and cons for each – overall, I’m not sure that I’d prefer one against the other.

The 5210 is a two piece camera with the main body being quickly detachable from the mounting plate (which also holds an additional 4 batteries) and this makes it simple to remove the camera to alter settings, change batteries etc without disturbing the line-up that you’ve carefully set. The 6210, however, uses a one piece body which holds 12 batteries so if you need to remove the camera then you need to line it up from scratch when you remount it but if it’s strapped to a tree the SD card and controls can be accessed so the need for removal is minimized.

On the 5210 the smallish monitor is in the rear of the main body i.e. between the camera body and the mount so if you want to play back what you’ve taken from the camera you do need to remove it from the mount. The 6210 has the monitor in a hinged panel in the bottom of the camera so you can leave all in situ to alter settings or review the pics that you’ve taken but, in my opinion, this does leave two weak points (see below). One advantage of this tho is that the monitor can be used to line up the camera to see what it’s pointing at – it took me a little while to figure why I was having issues lining the camera up with this and when I twigged it, this was the first sign of something that is clearly built down to a price. The bottom panel which holds the monitor pivots from front to back so you’re viewing the monitor from the front of the camera BUT the view you see is reversed – I’m no electronics guru but I figure that this would have cost pennies to fix at the design stage.

Both are clearly designed to be strapped to a tree using the supplied strap, as their main source of mounting but both also have a tripod mount in the base. Where I’m using my camera at the Sett I don’t have the luxury of a selection of trees to mount to, so for ease of use and lining, up I need to use a tripod (carefully strapped to something so the Badgers don’t have it down and away). On the 5210 I wouldn’t be afraid to use the tripod mount but the 6210 is a different matter because of the bottom hinged panel with the monitor and controls – the tripod mount is part of this panel so if you use a tripod you don’t have the option of using the viewer or controls while mounted – it is possible to unclip the panel and pivot the complete camera to get at controls or change the SD card but then the whole weight of the camera is on the fragile hinges. To be fair here, if the panel is in the bottom I don’t see any other way it could have been done. I’ve got around this by removing the mount bolt from a tripod and replacing it with a longer, standard 6mm bolt, making a crude alloy, L shaped bracket that can then be bolted to the tripod and then screwing a piece of 1” x 2” wood to it so it can be mounted using the strap – this actually works well as it takes the strain off the hinges and allows me to use the monitor for lining up. The other thing I don’t like is that the current fad of fragile ribbon cable to the monitor and keypad has been utilised (to be fair I’m not sure how else it could have been done) but, to me, this creates a major weak point as this is flexed every time you turn the camera on/off, change the card or look at the viewer – it can only be a matter of time before one of the wires breaks and leaves the camera unusable.

Photo and video quality 5210: clearly I can’t do a full comparison between the two models as my 5210 gave so many problems but from what I saw on the 5210 daytime photos and videos were usable but a long way from being good – they would be fine for general placement in your wood if all you want is to monitor what is around. Night shots (both stills and video), as you know, were absolute rubbish on my cam simply because of the fault that was draining the batteries so quickly that the infra red wasn’t doing its job – they were seriously grainy and pretty much a waste of time. I must stress that most of this was clearly caused by a faulty camera.

Photo and video quality 6210: daytime shots and video are noticeably better than I was seeing on the 5210 and, so far, I’m finding the night shots do leave a little to be desired as I’m trying to get good, clean shots of the badgers at the sett – stills are half reasonable IF the object is slow moving but a fox moving at its normal pace is little more than a blur and I’ve come to the conclusion that night stills (for what I’m trying to achieve) are rubbish. Night video can occasionally be fair but it’s a way from what I would consider good – some of this may be improved as I experiment with diffusing the lighting (suggested by Ron Bury) but realistically I need another couple of months of testing/playing before I can come to conclusions on that and I promised to do this review in time for Smojo to decide on his Xmas present….

Both cameras take 12MP stills at 2560 x 1920 pixels – in my view, they SHOULD produce far better quality than they do and I’d suspect some of the quality issue is down to a slow shutter speed.

The 5210 takes video at a maximum of 640 x 480 and the 6210 takes video at a maximum of 1440 x 1080 so, in that respect the 6210 should win hands down. The 6210, however, is advertised as HD video but at maximum sizes both cameras run all of 15 fps and that is never going to produce anything resembling great video particularly on a moving object such as an animal. For daytime stuff my phone produces far better quality still and video – OK, to be fair here, it also produces better quality than my normal camera… Someone, who I’ll leave nameless, didn’t disagree with this and said compared to the 5210 it is HD….

In conclusion I’d have to say that both probably produce usable images for general usage but for specific work where you want to produce high quality shots then they leave a little to be desired (particularly as the 6210 is advertised as HD video). Again, to be fair, there’s a fair bit of relatively new technology being used here and that is always going to add cost factors to the equation so I’d have to say that both are probably pretty good and as good as you’ll get at this time for the cost and my view of the quality is probably affected by the GoPro that I use but that cost twice the price of the 6210 and obviously doesn’t have all the same facilities. Both are units clearly built to a cost but I do feel that there would be a market for one that produces far better quality stills and video at twice the price – certainly I’d seriously consider one for what I’m trying to achieve at the sett.
Phil

https://twitter.com/boxermanphil for my Badger videos
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