2010 CamTrakker MK-10 Camera Review Back to Main Review Page
   

2010 CamTrakker Mk10
 

Read the Warranty for this camera

There were a select group of guys that insinuated that the reason that Chasingame had not reviewed this camera was because we could not get it for free. Common sense would tell you that if we were going to acquire a test camera we must do this in a manner to where the camera company does not know that it is a test camera and then cherry it up prior to shipping it to be tested. Our procedure is to purchase through normal channels without ever letting the manufacture know that we are a review organization. We do on occasion get cameras directly from the manufacture but only in sealed un opened packages. Should we suspect that there may be some cherry picking going on we have even purchased up to six extra cameras from different sources to evaluate and have reported the facts using that data rather than rely on what we found on the cherry picked camera. In the case of this camera we are sure if they had known that they were shipping to a review site that those issues we found so far would have not been there.


The new gasket design works great and fits tight

A look inside the camera:

2010 CamTrakker Mk10 red/white strobe 5MP Camera Review

Falling way under the radar back in 2007 we basically lost track of this company after they stopped making the commercial home brew ($600) style cameras. We performed searches on all the very popular hunting forums to check the mention of camera names and when we did the searches on this camera we could only find very little mentioned of their current products. We did not see any evidence at the spring shows of this product also. We did how ever find an above average amount mentioned about picture quality on an earlier MK -8 product. 

The product arrived and included were the SD card and locking bracket plus a set of SLA-  6 volt, 3.5 amp hr. cells to run the camera. The included rope ratchet thing was not much account as a means of hanging the camera. 

If we were to judge a camera on first impressions out of the box I would have to qualify this camera as being crude. I had to double check to see if maybe I had not received the wrong item. Of the many so called Home Brew cameras that we have had our hands on over the years I would have to say that the workmanship and care in putting things together on those cameras were far superior to the way this camera looked as I removed it out of the box. The camera is stuck together with some type of caulk and those applications were smeared on very uneven (non professional) with out any degree of having a finished look. It does not have any degree of being assembled with a degree of pride. Even the main camera is off center on its opening and it has rubbed on the plastic on the inside of this lens and left a scuff mark.

The top of this camera is just a square lid that slips down over the case. There is a gasket inside this lid but it is also way out of line from where it is supposed to be and would not seal the camera at all or keep the ants out. There is a metal bracket with four rivets to the back designed in a slight V configuration to match the tree contour and also having four 3/8 inch holes for a ratchet or bungee cord. There is a security bracket that slips over the top and has a couple holes that line up with this thin riveted hanging bracket. I will be taking a very close look to make sure this is effective for security. 

With the lid off you can see a plastic panel that has what looks like self stick plastic camouflage tape decal stuck to it but there are some printings like SD card, USB, Busy, and what looks like buttons on it. When it was applied it looks like the plastic under it had some serious debris (dirt) on it because it shows through this thin plastic tape as bumps and marks. This also has a very crude and unfinished look where who ever did the assembly just went ahead and stuck the tape on right over the dirt with out cleaning it off.

This is what I could see on the outside of the camera, I wonder just what it looks like on the inside if this degree of finish is apparent to the customer right out in plain view. Centered in this area is a plastic removable cover that exposes the SD card slot and the nonfunctional SB port. Off to the side is the LCD/view screen for the programming. Wrapped up with the SD card was a black plastic filter that tested to be in the 800 nm range which is sized to fit inside the frame around the flash. 

The camera is built in the T shape like the old Trail Mac cameras. It measures seven inches wide and is six inches tall. The Thickness is about 5 inches off the tree. There is a grill of sort that they caulked to the front of the PIR sensor hole in the case. There are also two LED indicators, one is the light sensor and the other is the red/green aiming and status light. Down on the side is a small push switch that is not marked but the instructions say it is the on/off switch. The over all color is a tan color with black streaks and uneven black patches that is somewhat bark looking. From across the room this camera has a decent appearance but up close the lack of finish shows up real bad. Setting on a store shelf I think you would just walk right on past this camera if it was next to the standard commercial style cameras we are all familiar with. This camera will have to work really well to get past what I have seen so far. 

The instructions come on a disk so in order to have the instructions in the field I had to print them out. There is no booklet at all included with the camera. I spent the evening going over the instructions and they were well written and easy to follow. There are some severe warnings about having to format cards each time they are used which can become a pain and requires that a set of cards must be used to make field changes because the camera cannot format the cards. This warning did not say “fat or fat32” so I had to guess which was the standard fat format. 

All put together and charged up with a clean formatted card all completed, I headed out of the lab and as I crossed the deck the plastic filter fell off and went down in between the crack in the boards of the deck into the area under the deck which I cannot reach with out removing a board. I just cannot believe this has happened. A close look I see that there is nothing about the flash frame that is geared toward holding the filter in place. After a three hour ordeal I was able to get the filter back and cleaned up.

I headed for my tree for my first unofficial pictures and dug out one of my small ratchet straps and hung the camera. Popped the top off and removed SD card dust cover and now I have to go back to the lab to get the card from the reader. After getting back to the tree I leaned forward and my hat hit the tree and knocked some bark trash off the tree right down on top of the camera and filled the SD card hole up. This is the same thing that happened when Moultrie had their lunch box cameras with the top loading card slots. I removed the battery and took the camera back off the tree but the hole was full of wet bark debris. The pieces would not just fall out when inverted so I just set it in front of the air vent to dry. My tool of choice this time was a plastic tooth pick which seemed to work until I got down to the contact area and I had to use a dental pick very carefully. At least it was just bark and not water as what happened with the Moultrie. This just means that who ever has one of these cameras they should just pull the camera off the tree and go to a sheltered area to service and change the cards.

A poor design # 2 (card slot and flash filter). The flash filter has no means of keeping it in place and the first tree rat that climbs over the front of the camera will knock it off. All this time and I am just about ready to shelf this thing until I cool down a bit. A full day and a half and I have not even got the first picture. Maybe tomorrow I will try again if I can just keep this cameras components from falling off and gathering trash. 

I shelved the camera and took the instructions and all the brochures/web site data and placed them on my table to be reviewed again in the morning with some good strong coffee.

This morning I went back over all this data printed of the supplied disk and the copies of their brochure and began to do a little comparison. First thing I noticed was the brochure said up to 13 MP and the instructions says the camera has only 1.2 or 5 MP as the option. The brochure says a three year warranty but the instructions say 6 month warranty only. We already know that the no glow claim is false so that is another area of advertising misrepresentation. I understand there is a play in semantics here but we have standard IR cameras that have a much shorter flash duration that is red than this camera and this cameras flash is viewable out to 50 feet easy. Their web site did very little to clear any of this data up so it leaves a potential customer to try to figure these things out on their own. Another issue is that the plastic dust cover was lost, probably during the bark trash hitting it and knocking it off into the leaves. I will go back out there later and search to see if it is there. 

I am to the point where I am going to have to reengineer a part of this camera so that it will be dependable in the field. The floating filter is totally not acceptable and I will have to make a keeper to hold it in place or just tape it. I will also have to make a cover for the control panel to keep the trash and dew that will fall off the tree during service from the tree. Next is the issue of the ill fitting top cover that has the wayward gasket. Even with the security bracket installed it is loose. It looks like it will be another week or so before I can even turn the switch to the on position. 

We have decided to shelf this camera until sometime later when we have nothing else to do. There is just to many things needed to make it field ready so we are going to go on to other work with the 2011 pre production cams that have arrived and finish up those dozen or so that are already in the system.

While I was working on the lid to replace the material that was thrown inside for a gasket with an improved kind of material I had the camera turned upside down on a piece of glass on a table top. I noticed that the camera was rocking back and forth as if it was setting on something. When I inspected the top edge of the lip where the lid is supposed to fit down over I found that it appeared to have been ground off in a slight curve to where it was not flat. Not only was the original gasket material out of place the area that it was supposed to mate up with was not cut straight or level so it would have been impossible for it to seal. Now I have another area to correct while the glue dries on the new gasket. The front filter had to go through a good cleaning because it had fallen off several times again just during this last round of inspections. A couple small strips of electrical tape is going to be the solution to keeping that in place once I get back to working on this camera.

This is going to look like a vendetta against this camera with all the junk I have found so far and it has never been in the field yet. This morning I was catching up and filing the paper work on some things and the invoice for this camera was in the stack. I see where they charged me flat $30 shipping (no mention of handling) for less than a hundred miles. Standard UPS shipping which I got is only $11 according to my local UPS store. It took $19 for them to stick it in a box and put some tape on it. Then if I would have just opened it up and seen what I had received and never touched it and returned it I would have to pay return shipping and a restocking fee. For anyone that would consider purchasing this camera please be aware of these things. All of this great stuff and it is “made in the USA” is not saying much with what we have seen so far. This is a Georgia company and we really wanted to wish them well but I either got a Monday morning camera or the bosses all took a vacation. Anyway I have not seen anything about this camera that makes it worth anything much more than maybe one of the $100 commercial cameras. At least the $100 cameras have a year warranty and this cam only has six months. The $100 camera can be returned and get a full replacement or refund without question and there is no re stocking fee or return shipping if it came from a catalog vendor.

We pulled a little late night last night so we could feed some of the pre production data back to one of the camera companies whose cameras we are evaluating, so that left me a little hole to pull this thing down and get a little more done. To try to gather all pertinent specifications I had to dig through the limited print off of the disk. This is a still image camera only. It has no video capability. The top resolution is five MP, adjustable down to 1.2 MP.

The PIR sensing cone is a very narrow three feet at thirty feet. This would make it necessary to keep the camera aimed out level around shoulder height in order to capture the target animal. If you were to elevate the camera and have it look down onto an area it would be like shining a spotlight down to a tiny circle on the ground. The sensing is advertized to 60 feet where the zone would be six feet. The camera does have a walk test indicator that can be selected which is a light that needs to be observed while you walk in front of the camera. The other option is to use the “through the view” when selected to see what the camera is looking at but it will not mark out the sensing zone only display a red dot in the center.

Standard SD cards only (no HC) up to four gig. There is no format function in this camera and the instructions strongly states that each and every time the card is used that you format the card in your computer prior to installing it into the camera then the camera must be turned on to recognize the card. No card that has been in another camera should be used in this camera unless it is computer formatted first. The camera has a delete feature in the program but the instructions say that if you want to delete all images it could take up to 4 thirty minute sessions to accomplish this.

The small view screen can be utilized in the field to view your pictures. There is a capability to adjust the jpeg compression to adjust the picture quality. The camera is designed to be used with or without the fallout filter. When the filter is used you have to program the dark image setting and then when it used without the filter it requires returning to the menu to reverse this setting. Time and temperature stamp on the image can be turned off in the menu also. The luminance setting is a nice feature that we like because you can adjust for operation between bright fields to dark canopy situations. The Motion setting is the day/night/24 hr setting or all the way off which would be used for situations like time lapse. Delay is adjustable from 20 seconds up to 45 days. Burst mode can be selected 2 to 5 pictures at a two to five second interval. The flash is switchable on to off and in strength from six feet to fifty feet. There is a time laps feature that has a selectable single time and a selectable single window to operate in. 

I cut some paper strips to do a drag test on the lid seal to make sure it is going to be tight enough to ward off the fire ants that frequent our testing areas. The results seem to be good but my action of replacing that wayward gasket would probably be construed as a “modification” so my warranty now may be void according to one of my E mails I received from a fellow camera addict. I had not even considered this anyway so that is not an issue for me. There is only about five months of that left anyways.

During the hours of searching for field data, we do we find that a very select few that seem to somehow get very upset as to the lack of information on this camera that has been out on the market for several months. Some of that limited data is where there is always a comparison to another brand of camera when talking about this unit because they feel it is something new and an easy way to explain features or market standings. Being new is not the case and the basic design has been marketed in its present physical form and flash for more than a year and it has never gained any degree of popularity. I would say to them that he who judges who is guilty of pontification should take time to record his own drivel. As time allows everything will be looked at in detail but the popularity and requests are few so the priority must go to the other cameras we have in the system that are of greater interest to most. 

This review is in line with all reviews we have done and that is from a consumers standpoint. We place the order and receive the product just as a normal consumer would do. This way we are assured the camera is one that has not been selected because the shipper knows it is going to a review site. When we look through the instructions or (disk) that is shipped with the camera it basically explained the camera operation and warranty information that we have to take that to hart as being fact. We also visit the associated web sites and compare that data to the included information. We found no where that it is stated that there is a warranty change or for the latest product and warranty information you should make a special phone call to the manufacture to obtain that data. The correct information is shipped with the product concerning warranty and that data is also posted plainly on their web site.  We can only assume that the written period listed in the included instructions is their policy. Should the manufacturer find fault with this report we have up to date contact information listed plainly on our site under the contact tab. If the warranty data listed in the included disk is wrong and we line that information up with the physical things mentioned above then it shows that maybe someone probably should make some QC changes and reevaluate what is shipped with the camera units if that information is wrong. We feel that the Site warranty data and disk are correct and until we are told different we feel the information on the brochures is wrong. Enough said about this topic.

Having a little time to collect my initial evaluation pictures utilizing as much of the adjustments up and down, I found that this camera is one that you just don’t take out of the box and read the instructions then go hang it on your favorite tree and expect great results. No matter what, the day pictures in the filter mode are very color starved. They are sharp and clear but lack anything vibrant and somewhat remind me of some of the old black and white movies that they re worked and tried to make them color. The color pictures are as close to black and white as you can get and still call them color. The night pictures are also for the most part sharp and clear. The problem I found with them is the flash power adjustment. It forces the user to know where the animals are going to be and at what distance then make a flash setting. Set the flash low and then the distant animals are eyes only. Set it to strong and the closer animals are flash burned out. There appears to be no light metering built into this camera so it probably would be best to set it to max and just back the camera off as far as possible from the target area. 

The next area that was a concern to me is the sensing. Any animal that is as little as 4 feet off center in front of the camera is missed. The sensing zone out to 60 feet is just over 6 feet. That zone is decreased by half at 30 feet. This camera is nothing like the run of the mill scouting camera we are used to, where you get a matching field of view for the camera and a PIR sensor. I could walk around 5 foot off center from 0 to 30 feet and it would not trigger the camera at all. This means that you will have to be able to pre judge just where you think the animals will be in order for this camera to see that animal. The scenario of the buck following the doe normally happens a little later and somewhat down wind. You can set up to catch the doe but if the wind changes the next animal may be missed. A fast trigger and a narrow sensing zone (just like the early Cudde cams) cause the capture to be fairly well centered. Just like the old Cudde cams where we proved the amount of missed pictures by mounting a second camera along side that had the matching field of views. At the camera, the zone is zero feet and opens up to under 8 feet at a distance of 60 feet. The animal must enter that small narrow zone in order to shutter the camera and capture the picture. 

We had a very bright sunny day and I set up with the sun to my back and had the camera in filter mode multi shot 5. When triggered the camera would lock up every time and only take one picture. The picture quality is somewhat better in color in the very bright sun. Under the canopy they are still washed in color even when it is bright out. I changed from the burst mode to single capture and the camera would function without locking up. I moved to my dark room and set up and the first thing I noticed is the loud snap when the strobe fired. This can be heard with my old damaged ears at 25 feet very easy. Again the camera even in single mode with flash would lock up after the first picture and I would have to re boot by disconnection the battery. I double checked the all the settings and the date time is not kept if you change out the battery. I have it down now and will give it about 20 minutes and try it again. This so far has been a pretty aggravating camera to work with and is getting close to becoming listed with the same category as the first Stealth cam we worked on. I have got to figure out why this camera does not like the burst mode. We also found that the delay setting has a low setting of 30 seconds and not 20 as stated in the instructions. The camera will work without flash but will lock up with flash every time after the first picture, whether in the burst or not. The camera will flash and some times it will rite to the card and then lock up, then the next time it will flash and not write to the card. I double checked the cards and the format and then I re charged the batteries with my good charger and they are all topped off so it is just a camera that just does not want to work. When the camera flashes and there is no busy light the camera is locked up. Hate to say this but a good solid smack on the table top and the camera started to work and I triggered it for about an hour and got a good bright red flash and busy light every time. The camera still will not do burst with flash so that is a day only without flash option when selected. I will double check later to see if the day burst will work now after the table adjustment.

During this last round I managed to lose and have to search for the filter again, even with the two small pieces of electrical tape holding it. I dug out a bicycle tube and cut a half inch piece and used that (see picture) to secure the lens. I tested this latest attempt and it seems to be secure and can be bumped without falling off. The shill proponents have been very quiet and the news about this camera has been more about business than promotion. This is great because we may now be able to also gather some accurate news from the field other than what we are experiencing. 

This morning I re tested the burst 5 with flash and it still will not capture the 5 pictures but now it just takes one picture but does not lock up so the table adjustment aided in this mode but still it does not work as advertised. Day light is almost here so I will try to see if we can get the 5 burst to work without flash. The burst 5 without flash did work and each picture was taken at just under 30 seconds apart on the lowest setting. 

It is time to get this cam over to Anthony for some trigger testing and day/night range tests. We will not be putting this camera in the field to catch sample pictures because it still is not dependable enough to trust without constant checking to see if it is still operational and not locked up. The day/night range samples will have to do as samples. We see that the caulk (silicon not epoxy) has came loose in a couple of places left and right by taking the battery in and out so many times which means if the dew falls off the tree during a card change it could get down inside these areas also besides the open SD card slot. Day range pictures were ok and night with flash, both with filter and in color were also ok. The flash range adjustment just seems to be some type of adjustment for shutter rather than flash strength. There does not seem to be any change in flash strength when moving the program up and down. Sensing was 48 feet at 68 degrees when set to maximum. Trigger times are 1/2 second with flash and without flash.

Documented Sensing Cone:

The four wheeler in the photo below is parked at 60 feet from the camera and is approximately 6 feet long.  This
represents the advertised width of the PIR sensing zone at that distance. This picture also will show the amount of real estate outside that zone that is covered by the field of view of the camera at the same distance. Our tests show that the sensing zone is probably about eight feet at that distance with this particular camera:

There are a couple of things that we really liked about this camera and they are the trigger time and also because of the strobe through filter flash, the motion blur is minimal. Even though these two strong points are impressive the negatives far out weigh the positives. Not counting the kitchen table manufacturing issues and lack of accurate up to date web site and instruction information, there are other issues that out weigh the positives. Sensing is probably the main issue. If the camera does not see the target animal then the camera will not take the picture, no matter all the other features. The narrow spike of the sensing zone makes it a definite problem for field operations. The flash is also as visible as any LED IR camera (red flash) camera that is on the market. We have also had some cameras we tested this year where the filter clunk was felt to be a major issue. This camera does not have a filter clunk but in its place is a very troublesome loud snap when the strobe fires. This would very much have the same effect as any filter clunk that was camera produced. This camera only does one thing and that is it takes pictures and no videos. The low picture count per battery charge (less than 3000) is also a problem for us because we have setups that capture that amount in as little as three days. If your setup is miles away and you run out of battery in just a few days then the rest of the month is going to be missed if you can only make a visit once during that period. We also feel that for security operations where function is critical this camera has not shown us that it would be dependable enough for that operation. Maybe this is why they have chosen to use the narrow sensing spike in order to limit the number of pictures taken and thus make the camera battery life seem to be better. 

Feedback from the field states that most are somewhat satisfied with the weak color picture quality for those pictures that are taken. One of the field users could not understand why one of his standard cameras placed on the same tree and looking at the same area as the MK-10 got far more pictures than the MK-10. This is exactly what we found when we analyzed the sensing ability of another camera that had a like narrow sensing zone as this camera does. This scenario has been seen dozens of times while we have reviewed like sensing cameras. The cameras that have matching field of views with the PIR and camera perform far better and have far less missed pictures. My quest for additional user information by scouring the outdoor forums I find very little data. Recently I seen where one of the users had his camera out for weeks now and has yet to be able to achieve the adjustments he would like. Just when he thought he had it right the conditions would change requiring yet another change. The camera just seems to have no automatic features other than a day/night sensor. By changing the luminance adjustment may brighten or darken the pictures where a little camera like a Covert or Scoutguard will automatically adjust for conditions, depending on available light. This means that what ever the setting you have selected you have to live with even if it is wrong until you revisit the camera and take a close look at the pictures. If you then again change the settings and the conditions change again like more leaves falling off then your pictures will again require photo editing to bring them up to par. The burst 5 with flash is not supposed to work as I assumed because I found a mention in the instructions where it will only take a single picture at night so my previous thought as it would take the five pictures instead of just one was not correct.

The weeks spent on this camera has told us that the basic design is primitive in nature because of the need to manually make adjustments that are normally handled by the camera on most commercial units. Where this camera shines is where you have conditions fixed and nothing changes then you could finally adjust the camera to that set of conditions. Where in nature, we have dark days, light days and near targets and far targets with conditions that change hourly you must have some degree of automatic features other than day/night sensing to keep up with these changing conditions. We also have target animals that wander around within the field of view of the camera and not in the field of view of the PIR sensor that will never be captured by the camera. We got to this 2010 camera late in the year and it will be interesting to see what happens during the upcoming 2011 marketing season. This review is closed

Trigger Tests
(without flash .59 seconds [a little over 1/2 second])

(with flash .48 seconds [just under 1/2 second])

 

Day Range/8 Plate

 


Flash Range on 50 foot setting, Luminance at 75

Color

IR

 

Flash Range on 30 foot setting, Luminance at 75

Color

IR

Flash Range on 30 foot setting, Luminance at 50

Color

IR

Flash Range on 09 foot setting, Luminance at 75

Color

IR

 

Flash Range on 07 foot setting, Luminance at 75
Note: On this setting I could only get the camera to take one photo and my hand was near the lens creating flash back.  Each time the camera would flash but it would not write to the card so I gave up on this setting (I had the lid off watching the busy light - then studied the card) .

 

Color

 

 

   

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