Sunday, September 18, 2016

XIKEZAN No Glow Waterproof Trail Camera

This camera is a no-glow, or BLACK FLASH, camera. The "flash" is virtually undetectable by humans or animals (technically it can be seen to a small degree from a very short distance away 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 though there is a wide degree in the quality of the night pictures with black flash cameras.

A low-glow camera is a “RED FLASH” camera. A low glow 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.

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 0.9 seconds pictures
o 2.5 seconds video

+ 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
+ Respectable picture trigger time of 0.9 seconds
+ Day pictures are good. Night pictures are not good.
+ Video with audio (1, 5, 10 and 20 second video clips).
+ Photo bursts - 1, 3, and 5 pictures at a time (8 and 5 Megapixel options).
+ It takes 4, 8, or 12 AA batteries, so the batteries don’t need to be swapped as often.
+ Operator's manual is written in English (I had a suspicion it might be broken English but it wasn't bad at all)
+ Minimal motion blur

- I've noticed that these Chinese cameras are "picky" with the SD card. See the attached picture for compatible cards and sizes.
- Night pictures are poor. Most no glow, or black flash, cameras are a bit grainy (it's a trade-off for being undetectable) but night pictures with this camera are bad.
- Slow recovery time (time between your selection of 1-3 pictures/videos to the next trigger) of 1 minute. This is the longest recovery time of any camera I've ever used in the past 5 or 6 years.
For instance, if you selected the option to take 3 photos, the camera will go off at about 0.9 seconds and another 2 pictures immediately after the first.  It won't go off again for another 1 minute at a minimum (you can have it wait longer if you desire). Most other cameras have a faster recovery time.
- Slow video trigger time (2.5 seconds) - Deer and other animals could be out of the frame by then
- Narrow picture ratio of 4:3. 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.
- Larger than most well-known brand cameras.

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 45 feet detection range is average but respectable.
o 1-year warranty is standard for most trail cameras.

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 an array of options/features, or those wanting quick trigger videos.

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 day pictures and day videos (albeit slow at videos) given the price. I really hate the slow recovery time and bad night photos, but I suppose I am able to somewhat compensate for that by locating this camera in a suitable location (a wildlife feeder or some other food source, for instance).  Like anything else, if you are willing to spend a little more, you will get a higher quality picture/video output. There has been a lot of advances with trail cameras in the last few years. Unfortunately, this camera is a couple years behind in most aspects of the technology race but the price is lower than most others for this reason. Hopefully, this review enabled you to identify if this camera is the right fit for you!

I received this product free 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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