2009 StealthCam Sniper STC-DVIR4 Review - May 12, 2009 Back to Main Review Page
   

Stealth Cam Sniper STC-DVIR4 IR red flash 5 MP digital camera review

The set of cameras that we purchased last year from this company for reviews were just not a good representation of what this company is capable of. We only picked two of their cameras out of the bunch as being pretty good and they just happened to be the two cheapest of their line up. Word started leaking back when the ATA show was in full swing that things are getting ready to change over there in Stealthville. We hit a few bushes in China and rattled a few keyboards from California to Texas and found out a bunch of things that we are going to have to either prove or disprove. It looks like if the rumors hold up we might have some good news this year from stealth. One of the big things that I know that will probably pull a few folks toward this $200 camera is the video with sound mode. We have had this on the Leaf River and Bushnell cameras and it certainly adds another dimension to using a scouting camera. VGA video compression 640X480 Digital video along with sound and a 36 count array will hopefully provide us with some good video viewing. They have stuck with the same 9 burst mode per trigger on stills which many folks have liked in the past. The image sensor is rated 5 MP and the SD card has a 4GIG capacity so as long as the batteries hold up this camera can stay out in the field a long time. It will take the external battery SLA setup that has been used very successful in the past. The camera case is a hand me down from the last year’s Prowler but it got a little eye candy treatment with some camo strips left and right of center which makes it an attractive camera. There is a well designed wrap around security bracket and cable that is sold by Stealth to aid in the protection of this camera once deployed in the field but does not include the lock. The protected shackle type seems to work best because it is harder to cut. Security seems to be becoming a big deal anymore when folks take their hard earn money and hang it on a tree in the field and hope that it is still there when they return. A very good looking package so let me get into it to see if all the rumble that has resulted in a library of notes comes true. It is time to open the latch and get my new energizers out and go to work. The main scuttlebutt that emulated from a bus load of folks that was present at the shows all said the same thing. “Stealth will have sub one second trigger times in 09”. I am going to be happy if it is sub two second trigger times. The bench is warmed up and the clock just ticking away to record this event. The case of choice for this year’s Sniper is a hand me down from last years Prowler. Measurements come in at about 8 ½ inches tall and 7 inches wide. Laying on its back it sticks up 3 ¼ inches tall. This is not a mini cam but it is not as large as others that are on the market. The big loop that is on the right edge can work as a limited security to run a python through but the steel bracket is much better. The same latches made it over to this cam also which pulls the door shut against a full wrap around gasket. The bottom of the cam has the 12v external battery port and tri pod insert which is a large metal plate that is molded into the case. Top front has a 36 count array and just below that are the camera lens and test/low battery indicators with associated picture count LCD. The PIR sensor is the same wrap around style that has been used on many of the previous Stealth cameras. On the back of the camera are a couple of fairly substantial loops for a strap to hang the cam on the tree. Only the aftermarket security bracket will give any degree of security, because very little is built into the camera. Open up the door and everything is in the door and nothing in the back of the camera. The cam in the door has been one of my pet peeves because just when I get it hung on the tree and aimed up real good then open the door and it is tilt city with all the weight from the cam and batteries swinging around and there goes the aim. The menu, up/down, OK, and test button are at the bottom and like all its predecessors they are very hard to read in low light. The battery compartment takes six C cells and they are held in place by a plastic clip in plate. Just above that is the LCD screen for programming the camera. This is a good looking medium sized camera with limited security built in and has the cam in the door. With all those specifications let’s hope that these C cells that are being pre tested fit inside and lights a fire that impresses everyone who uses one.

The programming went without a hitch and our normal next step is to hit the light box and capture all those pictures that we have on each review. Instead I headed to the trigger time testing bench and did my setup. Remember this camera has a minimum delay of one minute so my clock has to be triggered at 12 each time. This means a two minute period for each test. I stopped past thirty and pulled the card and headed for the card reader. Well one for sure, I will never believe any of the BS that is blasted out at a trade show again. This sorry piece of stuff has a 4.5 second trigger time and sometimes it was nearly 5 seconds. This takes it out of the “trail camera” range and lowers it to a camera only (undetermined use). The only thing that might sell this camera is the fact that it will record sound when in the video mode. Two other cameras that are presently on the market that do the same both have much better trigger times. I don’t think I will spend a lot of time taking pictures and give this camera the full treatment because I know there is a number of $200 cameras out there that maybe don’t have the sound feature but they for sure have a trigger time that is measured on a clock and not a calendar. What a super big let down, We thought that after last year that things would change for sure and the hype led us to believe that it had.

05-14-2009 update:  I have had a number of communications with different folks and one of the things that was brought to my attention was that in order for us to be totally fair and balanced without bias we should go ahead and be a little more complete with this review. My idea of a trail camera and someone else’s idea may be different and a camera that has a 5 second trigger time may do them just fine as long as other features are more important. So we will continue and gather a few picture samples and see just how well the video with sound works. The flash range test will also be done as we have time. We are a week out from our next shipment of cameras coming in so we can dedicate a little time on this camera.

05-15-2009 update:  I slipped over to Anthony’s place with this cam and he double checked the trigger times and he found they were hitting just over 4.5 seconds and then he stuck it out on the flash range to get that data. It looks like the flash is going to be pretty good to 50 feet which is better than what was advertised. The sensing range has not yet been done so that will be next.

05-16-2009 update:  The sensing range tests did not get done as planned because of the four cameras that are ahead of it. We pulled the camera and took a trip down south and put it out on one of our feeder sites there so next week we should have some sample video with sound then by that time we may have a hole on the hill and bring it back to get the sample pictures started.

06-02-2009 update:  We were not impressed with the performance on this unit as the movies had poor illumination and the camera sensing was not up to par.  After talking over these issues with the factory, we were requested to send the camera back for a thorough evaluation by the engineers.  At this point, the review will be on hold pending the results of the diagnostics performed at the factory.

07-13-2009 update:  Our short field experience did not impress and the factory folks asked us to pull the cam and send it off to them for their evaluation and report back to us. Many days have passed and all of our inquiries to the responsible people remain unanswered. This is also somewhat upsetting because we expected full feedback. We have lost this cam to the factory and its boss and all communications (over a month) have still left us wondering about their operations. In the past we never experienced this type of silence. We are going to have to recommend that this cam not be purchased by potential customers until this is resolved and we find out about its production future.

07-17-2009 update:  We did finally hear back from StealthCam and as it turns out we had some vacations in the way, etc.  What we now understand is that the engineers are determining ways to improve the camera as a firmware upgrade.  We do not have the details yet but as we get more we will report.

08-13-2009 update:  Mid summer and vacations and the weight of trying to keep all the commitments that the factory has to do in order to see that things are shipped and handled in a timely manner. We managed to get the camera sent back for their engineers to get their over sized fingers into the nooks and cranny’s to get us some reason for the lack of performance. This also hit a snag and got delayed but they finally got to it and did some work to bring up the function to a more desirable level. This camera is going to be purely experimental until we are able to prove the updated firmware. Once this has taken place and everything is improved the factory will announce a down load for this camera so all cameras can be updated. Just hang on and we will try to fit this in as soon as possible. We presently have about ten cameras in the loop waiting different parts of the reviews. Being this is not field operations we can probably get to the in house testing fairly quickly. Then slip it in on the hill when time allows.

08-17-2009 update:  The beast made it back finally and at our first chance we hit the trigger time table for a quick test. This was not the normal very time consuming effort we do for the official test but just a quickie to see just what the firm ware had done. The only thing that test told us is we have to go ahead and do the full official test again because the quickie showed that it still is 4+ seconds. Other concerns were night illumination during video and video sound quality. Both of these will require us to stick it on the hill when we can develop a hole in our schedule. This is a shame because this camera and features fits a great price range but that means nothing if it does not even come up to the standards of  $70 WGI cam. Full test on these mentioned areas to follow once we make room.

08-24-2009 update:  We finally had to just stop and take time to go back over this camera to measure just what if any improvements were made with the firmware adjustment. We found that a .25 second improvement in trigger time (still did not make it out of the feeder cam rating) and the night time flash during video was greatly improved but we could see no difference in the audio on video function. This cam works well, it is just very slow and the saving factor is fair picture quality and limited audio during video. We were hoping for a bigger jump in function but it looks like we are going to have to wait for 2010 for that to happen. Maybe the Prowler HD will have something to offer. If it starts off like this camera we will have to do the same thing. This review is closed.

08-26-2009 update:  Even though this review is closed we still had battery life left so we have gathered a bunch more feeder pictures. The day color pictures are very good and the night pictures are showing a vast improvement in clarity due to much better illumination. Trigger time still is the main issue. Again this review is closed.

10-11/2009 update:  We completed the battery life test on this camera.  It does have a redeeming feature and this is battery life.  On one set of energizers it took 1954 photos (mostly at night with flash) and 82 movies also mostly at night.  The test began on 08/22/2009 and finished on 10/08/2009 for 6 solid weeks of operation.
 

Trigger Tests

Trigger Test Photos

Flash Range Test

Sample High Res Photos after firmware updates
Movies before Firmware Update

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Movies after Firmware Update

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