2012 ICOTec Sasquatch camera review - October 4, 2012 Back to Main Review Page
   

2012 IcoTec Sasquatch

2012 ICOtec TC-50 5 MP 32 count red flash digital camera review

We have been in contact with these folks for some time and waiting for the chance to maybe bring the market something a little bit new to look at. The on line hype associated with this product has a very significant line in their introduction. This line says “Nobody makes our camera for us; nobody designed our camera for us”. Once into the actual camera and the first attempt to the programming I would agree that they definitely have a product that is far different than what most have seen. Here is also a paragraph from their site about this camera. 

“The TC50 is engineered around a commercial grade image processor that is utilized in professional outdoor surveillance equipment. This very expensive chip is not used by any other manufacturer in the trail camera industry; it is made for years of reliability, stability and works great at low temperature. This is not a repackaged inferior grade product with fancy led filters or confusing program-ability or even a cheap consumer grade digital camera disguised as a trail camera, it is truly a rugged camera designed for the hunter who needs a great product at a very reasonable price, period.”

 

Specifications:

Image Sensor: 5MP Color CMOS sensor
Maximum Resolution:
2592 x 1944
Lens:
F/NO=2.7mm
FOV(Field of View):
52°
Auto IR-Cut-Remove:
(Night)
IR Bulbs:
32pcs IR-LED’s
IR Bulb Distance:
45ft
Display:
LCD 40MM x 20MM
Internal Memory:
128MB
External Memory:
SD-card, support up to 32GB
File Naming Convention:
Individual file name based on date and time
Picture Resolution:
5MP = 2592 x 1944
IMAGE & VD Displaying Info:
Camera mode, temperature, moon phase, date & time
Video Resolution:
640 x 480 (Default, 16FPS)
PIR Lens:
Multi Zone, 45ft detection range
PIR Sensitivity:
Auto-Adjustable (High/Normal/Low)
Operation:
Day/Night (24hours)
Trigger Time:
1.2s
Still Capture Trail Option: 4 options (3s, 1min, 10min, 20min)
Plot Camera Option:
4 options (3s, 1min, 10min, 20min) plot/day-infrared/night
Capture Mode: 3 capture mode (Trail, PLS1, PLS2,)
Video Length:
Auto-adjustable, 15~75s max
Power Supply:
8xAA Recommended), 4xAA(Emergency), 6V DC
Stand-by:
Current < 120uA (<950mAh/Year<2.5mAh/Day)
Power Consumption:
140mA (+450mA When 32pcs IR-LEDs Lighted)
Low Battery Alert:
LED & LCD Indicator
Ports & Jacks:
Mini USB Jack, SD Card Slot, 6V DC Jack
Mounting:
Strap or Cable Lock Up To 3/8 Inches
Heights:
5.6 inches
Width:
4.1 inches
Depth:
2.8 inches
Weight:
Approximate 1 lb. With Battery
Security Authentication:
FCC CE RoHS
Warranty:
1 year limited warranty from date of purchase

Those are the standards they set and now we will see if this unit lives up to the claim. At first glance the appearance has the look of a Boly Media camera about the same size as the BTC and Scoutguard type cameras. Close observation shows there are many differences. The single resolution camera is rated at a true 5 MP and it also has a single video 640X480 16 fps resolution. Sensing is claimed to 45 feet and is auto adjustable. They say the trigger is at 1.2 seconds and delay can be set to a low of 3 seconds with 1, 10, 20 minutes above that. Built in the programming are the still, video, Time laps 1, and time laps 2 +PIR capture settings. The time laps interval follows the delay setting but as of now we do not know if the TL resolution is the full 5 MP and if it is it will be terribly defeating for that function due to file size. One of the disappearing features not a lot of recent trail cameras is the internal memory. This cam has 128 MB of internal memory and can also take up to a 32 gig card. The info strip contains camera mode, temperature, moon phase along with the date/time. The tank will hold 4 or 8 AA cells and battery life is claimed to be up to a year. Warranty is one year and we have no documentation at this time on how well that area is going to work but should we find out more later, we will report. The top front is the 32 count array with the blue cast emitters and in the center are the indicators. Below that is the hooded camera lens with the PIR below that. The bottom of the camera has an offset tri-pod insert and opposite side is the external battery port. Back has the strap/cable loops. This is a typical cam in the door and battery compartment in the back with a full weather seal layout. Programming is with the rotary switch with select buttons above them with LCD reader for the programming information. 

The only other camera that I have dealt with recently that has a very similar programming method is the Cudde cameras. This is the switch position to button selection method of programming with the need to hold certain (B) button in 2 seconds to enter the time laps when desired. When you select a position the left button selects the left entry (like day, minute) and the right button selects the next entry (like month, hour). There is no burst mode. 

Dubbed the “Sasquatch” it gives you the thought of something big hairy and ugly, instead it is small slick and kind of cute. We have some very high hopes that this new product will actually perform up to its manufactures claims. The measurements are 5.6X4.1X2.8 inches which is very close to my 09 BTC cameras size and layout so maybe there may be some already made security enclosures out there that may fit so that worry can be taken care of once purchased and deployed. 

With a handful of new tested Ray O Vac cells in hand I am going to go ahead and get into this little hairy monster. Something that is a little different is the file name system that most cameras use is based on picture name and number where this camera uses what they call “a file naming convention”; each file name is based on date and time that the image was captured. The company documentation says this has not been done before but we have seen this with to old Predator Trail cam which used a similar file ID method.

 

With a half day hands on I am amazed as to just how many things are very similar to a Boly or Boly spin off (keep guard) camera. This model is a grey green color with a satin non reflective surface. The programming took about a minute without any glance at the paperwork. I have had a lot of study about this camera so I was very familiar with how things were set up but the average user should have no problem programming and doing the initial setup. 

The array stays on during exposure for what looks to be over a second. My initial guess is the trigger is also just under 2 seconds. The in house dark room tests showed clear pictures but still somewhat fuzzy. The outside tests (limited sun today) showed good color saturation but pictures were also a little fuzzy and not what I would call as coming from their advertized “high quality chip”. We were also assuming that chip they were talking about was the image sensor. No one should have any degree of shame hanging this camera on a tree because of picture quality. I hung one of our Ltl acorn cameras next to this one and did a walk test in the same light and took the two pictures and evaluated them side by side and I would have to give the picture quality edge to the Acorn camera. My last camera that I just finished and gave to Anthony had about the same issues during my initial tests but proved to shine a little more once deployed and gave us some great pictures. We will see what happens once we get past the official testing and then put out for the sample pictures. Picture quality is all about light conditions and today is not one of those good days. 

My several attempts at video make me think that is a function that this camera will not excel in. First off it is a fixed 30 second length and the video trigger time seems to be unofficially about 10 to 12 seconds. The frame rate is smooth but the video with flash was very fuzzy. There is no sound with the video capture. My next step was several daylight attempts and that did not go very well either. The video quality seems to be very lacking and fuzzy. This daytime testing was on a cloudy day and no bright sun, much like being under forest canopy. Continuous triggering (single capture) showed the actual delay ranged around 6 to 7 seconds when set on the 3 second tab. Delay between videos appeared to be less. If my initial observations for video trigger hold up that would mean that an animal walking at a normal pace could move about 50 to 60 feet in that time and would probably be out of the picture when the video starts leaving the camera to do a 30 second empty video. Cudde Ambush had this same issue and repeated tests by us and in the field under actual conditions showed only empty videos. The Ambush did however take a picture first before starting the video capture. The videos are not info strip date time marked and you must view file name for that data. All video and pictures seem to have a bit of yellow cast to them in this light. We will see if that goes away with more sun.

10-05-2012 update: We are still working hard with this camera and we are now three days into the work and we still have many questions that we need to figure out. During this short period of time we have had to reset the time several times. We have not removed the batteries form the camera yet and do not know why we are loosing the correct time settings. I have also found that it does take some time to make the transition from day to night and night to day and I have been getting some monochrome pictures grey scale pictures. The function in still pictures seems to be working properly.

The function in video has us busy trying to figure out why we are getting the symptoms that we are getting. In the lab the first video seems to trigger alright but under constant trigger we should see a repeat trigger and we should have a string of 30 second videos and a definite interval between each video which would give us the actual video capture delay time. Presently this is not happening and we are not getting that video string as we should. This is done under exact lighting conditions and on the same target so the file size should remain somewhat constant and the write time should also follow. We are seeing a string of videos that are 28 to 29 seconds long one after the other with about 3 seconds between them on our lab equipment yet the file names show a constant string of videos with no delay indication and are exactly 30 seconds apart. This tells us that there must be something wrong in the camera programming that deals with file name writing. From yesterday after noon we correctly reset the time and just now (15hours later) the camera clock is 3 minutes slow. In all this process we have managed to capture the day range/8 plate pictures and it shows even in pretty good sun we still have some fuzzy videos and they are somewhat washed. The next step was to capture a long string of videos while watching our resident heard devour a few pounds of corn and we would classify them as just being average. The reason we went to the video capture so fast is part of the process we had to do to evaluate this video delay and file name data.

10-07-2012 update:  The work continues and the night range shows the flash range good out to about 60 feet and that the pictures are still very fuzzy. Sensing also showed to be good at 50 feet and 73 degrees. We have the camera in the still mode and once we capture a good amount of night and good sun day pictures we will again switch back to video and see if we can also get some better video captures where the lighting is better.

10-07-2012 #2 update:  Trying to digest the data on the video mode we have concluded that this camera just does not like the video mode. There is no on board format on the camera so computer formatted clean cards of brand names like SanDisk were tried with partial results but there are many corrupt videos that will just not play. These are small 2 gig class 2 cards that have always worked in most every camera we have ever used them in. The amount of time spent has netted very little results so we are going to pull the plug on any further video testing. We will attempt to gather some still pictures and do some time laps testing provided things go well when that function is selected.

10-08-2012 update: We have a bit of dumb butt going around here and it is not funny. We pulled back into the lab and worked until late and made a rush to the hill just before dark to get the camera out for still pictures. In fading light the switch is just not marked well enough and at a glance if you are not careful you will have the switch 180 degrees out of phase and that is what happened. A bag of corn and a lot of precious time wasted because of that issue. Out comes the lady bosses fingernail polish and a vivid red spot now occupies the proper end of the switch so that does not happen again. This might be an item to put on a wish list if the company is listening.

10-09-2012 update:  With our new switch marker we were actually able to get the switch in the correct position and managed to capture a few still pictures. The picture quality is still somewhat fuzzy and the light measuring seems to get confused and we get a series of pictures ranging from monochrome to good color and washed out. From a note we received the company pretty well said that this is a work in progress and the engineers will be busy making some changes before they get this camera all the way into the market. They do have a good start and we hope that in a short while we will get an updated version for comparison. We are going to switch back to video for a couple days and then leave it out for battery life. This concludes this review except maybe for some battery life updates.

10-12-2012 update:  Part of our battery life test was to select the time lapse 1 feature and evaluate the file size. We found that it is the full 5 MP resolution in size which if selected for any length of time would require a very large card. This feature is the full 24 hour only with no selectable start and stop times. The array also fires during the night shots. This is probably not the best design for trail cameras but would find favor with the security people.

01-31-2013 update: This camera finally revealed the low battery light.  This camera took a total of 2744 photos and 24 video clips over a period of  16 weeks.  This review is now closed.   

 

 

Trigger Tests
(without flash1.48s)

(with flash 1.39s)

Video Trigger Test
(11.82 seconds)

 

  

Dead Pixel Test


Flash Range

Day Range/8 Plate

 


 

Sample Photos 5MP

Video Samples

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Plot Mode Video created with Scouting Assistant

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