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Good gadget for fun; useless at night
on 5 April 2012
I purchased the 12MP IR Dig scout cam (Acorn Ltl-5210A) based on 8 previous reviews all giving 5 star.
In urgent need of proving what was taking the poultry, we allowed for the lower hinge coming loose within 10mins of unpacking. Also please remember this does NOT come complete with an SD Card, so with no internal memory you will need to purchase one before use (I would recommend 4GB min). The strap for fixing to trees/posts etc is v basic, non-stretchy with small plastic 'pull-through' tightener. The camera body, overall, is quite light-weight plastic and doesn't feel sturdy. The opening/unlocking latch to access the battery compartment and on/off switch is especially miniscule (1mm x 7mm), which is a shame as you will need to access this every use.
Accessing the controls, on, off and test buttons is not possible once fully set up in position (unless you lay on your back with a magnifying glass) so be prepared for lots of pics of yourself! There is a good range of advanced settings; interval, sensitivity, frequency,etc for photos, video or both and the time stamp option also displays temperature and even moon phase. Daytime picture quality is very good indeed and we have reduced from 12MP to 5MP to save on memory.
However even on the highest sensitivity settings with the shortest interval the 1 second shutter speed is slow enough to miss some animals, especially birds. I also wrongly assumed the 3photo setting would take 3 photos in rapid succession, but in fact theres approx 4 second delay between each photo. Automatically changing to 'night vision' the range is VASTLY decreased. We're at about 3.5-4 metres, struggling to see and having to enhance the grainy black and white photos using photo editing software.
The maker claims the batteries will last up to 3 months using 4x AAA batteries (or 6 months using the additional battery box totalling 8 batteries). I assume this would be on the least sensitive settings possible as our first set of batteries are getting low after just a week.
Sadly, the one night we had a 'visitor' the camera didn't work... no photos were taken between 0145hrs and 0815hrs, yet there was clear evidence of activity. We can only assume that even with the shortest interval setting, raindrops on the sensors prevented any pictures from being taken.
Overall, a good camera for having a bit of fun. Not especially well made or thought out, but saved by the price, impressive quality daytime pictures, advanced settings and wide PIR range. However the slow response times means alot of missed opportunities and blank irrelevant photos.
UPDATE: another night with no photos of our intruder! if you want to photo anything smaller than a sheep at night you need an additional light source, video or time lapse setting and have the camera very very close. We set it up to take 3 photos then video, but again be warned; that 4 second delay between each is a long time in the animal world.
UPDATE 2: yet another night of missed photos; so I can say it prob won't work in mist or fog either, even at close range.
3rd & FINAL UPDATE: SUCCESS! For night pics in rural location with no ambient light sources such as house or street lighting: completely forget the side sensors, (in my opinion they're a waste of time). Set the camera low down and pointing in the direction that the target animal will APPROACH, (if you don't know then its trial and error I'm afraid.) We have now noticed that in many pics the target is cautiously staring directly at the camera and appears to be fully aware of the camera's presence. It seems that previously it had hung around just out of view but triggering the side sensors, hence blank photos, then darted quickly past. You may still need to leave something to draw it in close or keep it hanging around long enough for the camera to kick into gear, but once achieved the pictures are pretty good.
Finally, if you go to your camera and find that its not taking any pics at all, you may need to format the SD card (See menu). We test ours each time before use now.