2010 Reconyx HC-600 Camera Review - May 25, 2010 Back to Main Review Page
   

2010 Reconyx
HC-600

 


2010 Reconyx Hyperfire 3.1mp Black/low glow flash digital camera review

Being a great fan of the Reconyx products that have been offered through the years, we are always amazed by the features and function we see every time their new models hit the market. Just viewing the picture of these cameras makes me feel that I would not be ashamed to just take a picture of one of these cameras and hang it on a tree just to make people think that I had one. With a tiny 4.5X3.5X3 inch profile wearing a slick tree matching camouflage coat (even across the IR array) makes this not only pleasant to look at but highly functional at becoming very hard to see once put on a tree. The past few years have earned them a position at the top of the quality camera manufactures plus they are one of just a couple that can truly say “made in USA”.

Having the capability of producing quality highly functional black flash cameras is a feat that many have tried but to date only three companies have accomplished. They are also offering the same cameras in a low glow which is also a feat that others have tried but not to the degree of success they have had. Their low glow is of such short duration that you can hardly notice the flash going off unless you are on top of the camera and looking directly at it. Both systems are very covert. This mini cam style design offers a ton of new features that fit nicely, yet a couple years ago it was a small suit case not nearly with the same function.

The straight on look finds a blacked out array with a Reconyx first array mask. The Array mask is a honey comb kind of a look that breaks up the expanses of the black array and helps hide the camera. This is one super great idea that has solved a problem than many have sought to resolve. Down the left side is a full solid hinge and a new style case latch is down the right side. The full length latch incorporates two pad lock holes to secure the door and to protect the SD card. The light meter, camera lens and walk test lamp are next below the array mask. The remaining item below that is the PIR sensor which is the multi zone wrap around type.

The side view reveals a pipe through with the capabilities of using a python cable to secure the camera to the tree. The back of the cam has molded standoffs to match the curvature of the tree. Open the door and we have the cam in the door style setup but not with the weight of the batteries (12 AA’s) because they are located in the back of the camera which doesn’t cause you to loose aim when doing a card change. A nice back lit LCD screen is in the door with a set of control buttons just below for the programming. The SD card slot is just below on the edge and to the right of that is the on/off switch. A high quality rubber seal wraps completely around with no gaps which makes for a very good tight weatherproof seal. The connection between the battery (back of the cam) and the camera (front of the cam) is with an angled cable that is done in a way that there is never any tension on it to cause problems. Depending on which of the four models the flash range is from 50 feet to 70 feet. View the chart below for the specifications.

HyperFire Specifications

HC500

HC600

PC800

PC900

Illumination Range at night

Lo-glow Infrared up to 50 feet

No-glow Covert Infrared up to 50 feet

Lo-glow Infrared up to 70 feet

No-glow Covert Infrared up to 50 feet

Images

1080P HD or 3.1 MP color images by day; monochrome by night

InstaOnTM Trigger Speed

1/5 second

RapidFireTM NearVideoTM

Up to 2 frames per second

SD Card Capacity

Up to 32GB: (4GB = approx 10,000 pictures) NOTE: under normal use 2GB or 4GB cards are adequate.

Software Included

BuckViewAdvanced

MapViewProfessional

Moisture Absorbing Desiccant System

Available for purchase

Included

Time-Lapse Surveillance

1, 5, 15, 30, or 60 minute intervals

Virtually any number of seconds, minutes, or hours

Motion Sensor Scheduling

ON or OFF

15 minute increments within all 24 hour periods

Start Delay

n/a

Up to 12 weeks

Conformal Coated Electronics

n/a

Included

Customization Options

(additional charges may apply)

n/a

Wireless Triggers, Wireless IR Illumination Extenders, External Power Jack, Focal Distance, Telephoto lens, Custom Motion Detector Lens, Custom Colors, other modifications available

Warranty

1 year

2 years

 

Covering the specifications listed above you will see features like 1080P 3.1 size pictures are now available and this type of large file can be stored on an up to 32 gig card. No video mode is available but this camera is so fast it can give a series of pictures without delay that is what is referred to as being “near video” (2 frames per second) and is acceptable in most tail and security type operations. Trigger time is very fast and our equipment cannot catch it at one fifth second lightning fast speed.

This review will deal with the HC-600 which is their black flash top of the line Outdoor series camera. We would not feel the slight bit sided if this was just the low glow version because our previous tests found that unless you knew what you were looking for, you would not see it because the duration of the flash is so short and the glow is very low. Most people have a good idea of the size of some of the cameras that have hit the market so far in the mini category. Set up next to a 6 volt lantern battery should give most people a feel as to how well it will hang and hide on a tree. My inspection and initial thoughts were all good but in the process of all this handling I smudged up the glass over the array with finger prints. I went to work with a soft cloth but that did not work because of the new grill. A short look in the book explained that the grill (array mask) can be easily removed for cleaning which I did and all was well. Our early days when a “Reconyx” came in a big ole Plano style box we can see that they carried a little of that nostalgia over to this little case with the adoption of a little handle. Which is functional for carrying the camera but does not help in any other way but it is a nice touch. Most camera companies have a tendency to fudge a little with most of their claims about function. Other than maybe the area of picture quality we do not think we will find any big areas that will not match what they claim.

We did not jump on a day one review on this camera because of previous reputation plus our reviews are directed at the undecided rather than the decided. With all this said we are not going to take any short cuts but give a very tough review on a camera that takes $18 worth lithium batteries to fire up. Is that cost a negative, or a positive? The facts prove that to cost per operating hour/print number using the high dollar cells in most cases comes out cheaper. We ran our C cell Reconyx cameras with AA adapters to a picture count of over 20,000. We will see just how well an even dozen AA 8X lithium will last in this creation. The bubble pack contained a new style bungee (adjustable) and their “BuckView advanced” disk with the camera. There is no strap because there is no strap loops on the camera. The camera has a feed through for the bungee or a Python cable to 3/8 inch. There is a ¼ X 20 threaded tri pod insert in the center of the back of the camera. This can be used with a number of optional accessory mounting devices. They also have metal security boxes available also which is highly recommended for any high dollar camera, especially if it has a high gig card and a load of lithium batteries which also would increase the value. I had a slick little bark biter angle bracket that was part of the security box offered by Uway which should adapt to this camera very easy. The after market folks like Custom1enterprises.com and Camlock will also be busy getting things ready for this camera if you choose not to use the factory offered items. The booklet was very well written and easy to understand for us. Some may bog down in the programming methods as explained but we did not have any issues in this area at all. The default is all written in red so if your choice is outside those parameters you can choose to change that. The description of what that is offered by having the “professional” series would have a tendency to sway some folks to spend the extra money for things like external battery port and other options in programming. We will pass the trigger time bench and go to the sensing/flash range testing. I have already determined that I cannot see the flash and I cannot effectively test the trigger times because it is to fast so a good close look at all the function and picture quality will be looked at when we get the flash/sensing done.

05-28-2010 update:  Being the creatures of habit, we try to follow a set procedure in our testing. All the initial things are done and then we turn to the final official stuff like trigger and flash testing. We had several cams all battery upped and lined up to go through the each step in the order they are to be reviewed. Without thinking the HC- 600 made it into that line for trigger time testing. We are kind of glad that we made that mistake. After a while we realized that we had made a mistake but then began to see our results. Not believing what we see is sometime our enemy because that leads to more and more careful testing. Out come the book and the packaging and the words 1/5th second appears. Our clock is telling us that maybe that little specification may actually be a little longer so we spend more and more time to the point that we know that the actual trigger time with flash is right at 1 second and without flash is around 1/2 second which is still a super deluxe trigger time but it is a few “fifths” longer than advertised. I will still take that kind of trigger time any day but there may be a need to adjust the claim. Next come the flash range and sensing distance. The flash range proved to be solid to 40 feet and it would sense out to 55 feet for this 76 degree evening.  During the process of getting the camera change from night with flash to day no flash we turned on the lights but evidently it was not enough because we got the IR filter to shift with each trigger. There was a noticeable clunk with each trigger. We opened up the shades and the overhead door and that additional light let it go back to not shifting. This camera is suppose to shift only once in the morning and once at night. Under certain conditions at the transition (day to night/night to day) the filter will change with each trigger. You may have a short time with the right light conditions that the deer may be looking at the cam because of this noise not because they see the flash.

05-29-2010 update:  We had an item of particular interest that is going to require that we look into it a little deeper. We noticed that the flash range tests were not as clear as some of the later sample pictures that happened at the same distance. Careful observation during the flash range testing ( just after a short rain shower) showed the neat array mask does wonders to breakup the black expanse of the array lens it may also have a negative effect. This is that it collects water for an extended period of time. This condition seems to somewhat diminish the flash range because of the moisture being present and distorts a portion of the available black flash power that should be headed down range. This is our theory and without expensive equipment we are going to have to judge this a few more times by getting pictures with the mask dry and then getting the mask wet again and seeing the actual results. These warm evenings makes for mosquito heaven on the flash range. The smell of deet works for the critters but does nothing for the wife’s attitude. Weather permitting we should get to that test later tonight.

05-30-2010 update:  Our attempts to duplicate the wet mask failed to give us anything conclusive. When tested absolutely dry we got much better flash range than we did during our initial tests. We then poured water over the cam to try to duplicate the rain effect. This did not give us the indications that were expected. Out thoughts were that warm evening and being in a natural rain (very cold water) caused a fogging effect on the array? Even cold water when poured on the camera did not duplicate the original pictures. Somehow the conditions in the rain gave us the reported condition. We will upgrade with the last flash range pictures which show a much better range than the original pictures. Batteries and everything else remained the same only having a clean dry array was the change that resulted in the additional flash range. The camera temperature must have been near 75 degrees and the rain was probably close to 40 degrees which we hope was the reason for the difference.        

06-03-2010 update:  It seems we have a bit of a conflict as to our trigger times on this camera. We have pulled the camera back into the shop and will reinitiate a careful evaluation one more time. We traveled to get the camera to redo this test and we noticed that we were very low in picture count even though it had been watching a very active feeder for days. Then we began to view the time frame printed on the pictures verses the times that the animals were present and we should have about filled up the card. The pictures we did get were not up to standard also. We may have a camera with issues on it. So at this point we are going to close the review until we replace this camera

06-24-2010 update:  This camera was returned and even though we had several in line ahead of it we went ahead and put it back on the testing stations to evaluate any changes that may have occurred during its absence. It was returned as “no issues found”, and this went against our findings. We were able to very easily duplicate our previous findings and proceeded with some more advanced testing as to why there was such a difference in what the factory indicated and what we were finding. My military training and education in electronics taught me to first trust your test equipment then when that fails look for a reason why you are getting the results you are seeing. As we have seen with the Primos cameras this week a condition exists where light conditions cause the camera to have a period of time where it cannot make up its mind as to which parameter to switch to during that time (color or b&w). This camera suffers the same issue and when this happens and the filter arm will shift with each trigger causing the extended trigger times (color photo then b&w every other photo). This camera has a much narrower window than the Primos but the results caused some reportable conditions. To duplicate this condition in the woods would be very much like our setup that we call ”the hill” where the mature growth does not allow a great deal of light down into the area where the target animals travel. This is a very tough environment for a camera to operate in and is why we use it. Most users of this camera as with the Primos owners would not probably ever see anything wrong because the area of use is more well lighted than our test area. 

We will continue the review on this camera as soon as we can find a hole to fit it back into the system. The 2010 offerings are late this year and are arriving in groups that require a cart to move into the lab. It should not be too long before we can continue.

06-26-2010 update:  I have from time to time while the other reviews are going on we will pull this cam out and do a few more things with it. First off I need to clarify the trigger time conclusion. During normal (good light) conditions and during good night (very dark) conditions this camera has trigger times of  .34 seconds for with and without flash (see below). We could only get the longer trigger times by setting up limited lighting conditions where an IR filter switch came into play (see the transition trigger times below). This fine little camera does have very good functions. We have not reevaluated the picture quality but it is next on the list as we find time. We got shot in the foot for closing another’s camera review because no one seemed to have interest and agreed to reopen should anyone have a reason. Feedback on products can elevate the need for information and help us into areas of more interest than some of the standard things we test. There is a definite interest in this camera and that is why we are still doing bits and pieces to maintain the interest. This is the first year that the dump of cameras has been so late. Even though there are areas of elevated interest we will still try to maintain our schedule and test all aspects of each camera. All of the not reported tasks like drop tests, leak tests, interference tests, SD card function, flash duration and more filter evaluation should get done today and open up some time to maybe get it back on the flash range and on to gather some sample pictures/near video’s.

07-08-2010 update:  As things normally happen weather and heat has had its impact on the field duty. We are ashamed that we have not jumped on this jewel and got more done. We did how ever keep busy with some in the lab testing with the time lapse feature. This is a great tool that has begun to emerge as maybe something people will finally start to pay attention to. We have gotten through that and all was a success and the little came done every thing that we programmed it to do. We failed to do the HO testing on the flash so it once again must go up to the flash range and get that done. It is just a pure pleasure to have things that work well and do not give you a problem or have to have a week period to figure out why a programmed delay is 30 seconds over the programmed amount. This cam other than what was discussed about trigger has been absolutely great in function and programming. My observations as to picture quality so far are very good but not great. Part of that is the harsh conditions of the heavy canopy we have chosen for our testing environment, so the cameras have to work very hard to pump out their pictures in an acceptable manner. Later we will move to the deep woods under regular conditions for more testing.

07-11-2010 update:  Pumping black flash range in the HO (max range) setting is what it is all about. We got good illumination past the fifty foot marker and could see the coyote behind that range with some detail. There is a degree of fuzziness that seems to come with this setting but the added light makes up for it and provides a lot of down range data. That getting done opened us up to get this camera onto a particular site where two trails come together and Mr. Big has shown his ugly head piece last year several times. Maybe we will have some interesting captures to report in the coming weeks. That $18 worth of batteries had better last a very long time.

08-01-2010 update:  We have left this cam out on an area for three weeks and had a pretty disappointing showing. We had quite a few empty pictures from possibly blowing branches but those pictures we did get did not seem to be up to par like the ones we captured on the hill earlier. It is re deployed in the same area for one more attempt.                

08-15-2010 update:  This camera remained in the same spot and did better this past two weeks but the picture count was still only 15 pictures for that two week period of time.  We had no false pictures this time so we pulled it and moved it to another lick that has more activity and placed a replacement camera in the same spot to double check animal activity to give us an idea of whether no not we have a sensing issue going on.

09-12-2010 update:  The batteries are still holding great and the camera is working but just not very well. It seems to develop a moisture problem inside the lens at night but burns off during the day. The pictures are somewhat fuzzy and we are getting that stuck filter more often with a number of red pictures. We may just have to pull this camera and retire it or get some kind of repair on it to continue the review.

   

09-19-2010 update:  Because of the stuck filter issue that keeps appearing we are going to have to close this review until we have a chance to look into this situation. The bit of filter noise might have been an indicator that we had something wrong. We are pulling this camera and closing the review at this time. Maybe we can re deploy later once we find a solution to these issues

09-23-2010 update:  Our procedure for some of the cameras that are deployed down south in our wild testing area is to make a visit and exchange cards and bring them back and analyze the results. There is just too many to sit in the truck with a laptop and to try to keep all the notes and data straight. This means we cannot pull this camera until we make our next trip down south to service the cameras there. Then we will have the turn around time of getting this through the repair system. This all means we will be without any further reports until it is returned and redeployed. Even the best cameras have an issue now and then.

10-13-2010 update:  The trip was finally made and the camera pulled with another card full of red pictures. A short procedure at the UPS store and there is a little vacation planned for this unit.              

11-25-2010 update:  We sent the camera in and we had a very fast return and all is well. The problem is that we are having a real hard time getting the targets in front of the camera. Even though we do not hunt our testing areas the adjoining properties are hunted and this still keeps them pretty wild. We have had this camera out now for over two weeks and maybe this week we will pull it and see just how good it is doing with its new perspective on life.

01-29-2011 update:  Some how this review got closed and dropped. During this period we have had three holidays plus two snow storms. Two months later we arrive and the battery is still on 80% and taking pictures. I will say that this camera and the Custom one security box is not a good combination because of all the new little areas that the snow can pile up on and block the sensor. We had about a two week period that the snow remained and when the camera finally cleared off enough to start taking pictures again there was just a hint of snow still on the ground. The correction from service made all the difference in the world and the camera gave us nice sharp and clear pictures both day and night. We are now going to close the review and dedicate this camera to some of the time lapse research along with a number of other cameras so we can become more intelligent on the subject. We are very happy with this camera.                  

 


 

Final Trigger Times

Without Flash - Good lighting .34 seconds

With Flash - Dark conditions .34 seconds

Transition Trigger times

From b&w to color (night to day) .95 seconds

From color to b&w (day to night) 1.14 seconds

 

 

Original Trigger Times

Trigger Times without flash
under 1/2 second


 

Trigger Times with Flash
Around 1 second



 

Final Flash Range Tests (Output on "balanced")
using the returned camera



 

Flash Range using the MAX RANGE setting

Original Flash Range Tests (Output on "balanced")
(wet conditions)



Flash range - second attempt
(dry conditions aimed a degree higher)


 

Photo samples in 1920x1080




HD Photo Samples - 08/01/2010
 
 


 

 

   

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