Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Smarson High Resolution LED Trail Camera

Available for sale by clicking http://amzn.to/2fpcz8X or  

This camera is a low-glow, or RED FLASH, camera can be seen by humans at night (though it isn’t as bright as a white flash camera like that found on a DSLR or camera phone). A low glow, or red flash camera, is at times detectable by animals if they are looking at the camera. There are times that it might spook a deer or other animal, cause it to avoid the immediate area, or they might ignore it altogether. An animal’s response depends on the nature of that individual animal. For deer, it helps to keep the a red flash camera above eye level (5-6 feet or higher if desired). A red flash camera takes a bit better night pictures than no-glow cameras, generally speaking.

A no-glow camera is a “BLACK FLASH” camera. The flash is virtually undetectable by humans or animals (technically it can be seen to a small degree from a short distance but for all intents and purposes it's not noticeable). It makes a good security camera for this reason. The tradeoff is that night pictures are a bit “grainy”. This is true with all black flash cameras I've used.


I was curious to note that the trigger time varied. I suspect that there are cheaper/slower internal reading and storage hardware in this camera for video and multiple pictures. At any rate, here are my findings:
o 0.7-0.9 trigger time with 1 photo selected (as claimed in the product listing on the box) - See attached picture as evidence
o ~2 second trigger time if multiple pictures are selected - see attached picture as evidence
o 2.7 second video trigger time

+ If you've used a trail camera before, setup is fairly intuitive (except you must hold in the "Set" button to set the time). If not, a quick read of the user manual may be required to take advantage of all the features
+ Fast picture trigger time of 0.8 seconds (when option of 1 picture is chosen)
+ Day pictures are good. Night pictures are a bit grainy but not bad for a budget camera.
+ Video with audio (1, 5, 10 and 20 second video clips)
+ Photo bursts from 1 to 3 pictures at a time (8 and 5 Megapixel options)
+ Security password (optional)
+ It takes 4, 8, or 12 AA batteries, so batteries don’t need to be swapped as often as some cameras
+ Fairly good camera flash distance at night for a budget camera
+ Operator's manual is written in clear English (I had a suspicion it might be broken English but it wasn't)

- I've noticed that these Chinese cameras are "picky" with the SD card. Please see picture for a list of recommended cards and sizes.
- Slow recovery time of 7 seconds.
For instance, if you selected the option to take 3 photos, the camera will go off at about 2 seconds, 2.7 seconds, 3.5 seconds and then it won't go off again for another 7 seconds at a minimum (you can have it wait longer if you desire). Most other cameras have a faster recovery time.
- Flash is focused to the center of the picture on night pictures rather than illuminating entire picture
- Slow video and multiple picture trigger time (2+ seconds) - Deer and other animals could be out of the frame by then if moving fast
- Narrow picture ratio of 4:3 despite the listings claiming it is 16:9 (oddly enough video is 16:9). Basically, if you remember old televisions were 4:3. New widescreen televisions are 16:9. This is basically what I'm saying with 4:3. It is a narrow, or box-like, picture as opposed to a wide picture.
- The strap going around the tree has a plastic buckle. I much prefer a metal clip for durability and because it's quicker to attach to trees if you move the camera frequently. If you keep it in the same location, a plastic buckle likely won't matter much to you.
- No LCD screen to allow you to review pictures or align the camera angle (to be expected at this retail price)

o All trail cameras exaggerate their megapixels. Some state that they are 12 MP cameras, but that's misleading. These cameras interpolate, or replace every pixel with a number of pixels of the same color, but it doesn't add any quality or focus to the picture. It's essentially a marketing gimmick. This camera is a true 5 MP camera (like many or most others).

o Pictures do have some motion blur, but most cameras do. It's about what I expected in terms of motion blur.

This camera is best suited for those homeowners that want an inexpensive trail camera to set out and don't necessarily need the best or highest quality pictures. This is also for ranchers/hunters that want to use many trail cameras without "breaking the bank".

This camera is not a good fit for those that want top quality night pictures, those wanting a feature-rich camera with top-end trigger time, or those willing to spend about 50 bucks more to a highly competitive class of cameras.

Nearly every trail camera, no matter the price, has some benefits and drawbacks. Some are better and quicker at photos, some at videos, some better night quality, etc. This camera is a budget camera that does a decent job at taking pictures and videos, particularly given the price. Like anything else, if you are willing to spend a little more, you will get a higher quality picture/video output. However, there is a niche for this trail camera. Hopefully, this reviewed enabled you to identify if this camera is the right fit for you!

I received this product at a discount for purposes of testing and reviewing. However, the opinions expressed herein were formulated based on my personal use of the product. I welcome all suggestions, feedback and/or product questions!
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