2009 Bushnell Trophy Cam Review - April 15, 2009 Back to Main Review Page
   

2009 Bushnell Trophy Cam 5 Mega Pixel

Model 119405

PIR/FOV Fix

2009 Bushnell 119405 Trophy Cam Digital 5MP Red Flash Camera Review

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I am going to have to start off this review with a little history to let everyone know just how the trail camera industry  has moved to the mini camera market. Last year a company in China brought out a small highly developed camera. We had the privilege to get one of the first cameras to enter the US. With this first review, one of the distributors picked up and started to market this tiny camera. To put it mildly, it shook up a lot of competition. There was a short period of conflict as to rights to market this product but once settled things worked very smoothly. In the process of this market manipulation another company moved to this same manufacturer to have a camera produced that was suppose to out do the original version. In this rush to get this other camera to the market to be in competition with the original mini camera there was a string of mistakes made that caused several issues to happen with this so called improved camera. There were some notable improvements like better flash and case design. It was not long before some folks in the industry took note of this (08) attempt and decided that they would go ahead and go to that same manufacturer and do a “one up” on the 2nd version. Months of study as to just where all problem areas were located and some careful negotiating by Bushnell has resulted in a camera that has all the same function of the really great original (07 and the not so great 08) camera but without all those outstanding issues in the second edition of the original camera.

The predecessors to this camera used a removable wired remote to do the programming. This camera has moved the battery compartment to the back of the camera (this is really great) so things balanced out when the door is opened and having that cam in the door thing that we have always complained about is not happening here. The camera and PIR sensor have also been reversed and this allows room for the LCD and view screen to be moved from the original remote to the sensor side of the camera. Just under the (view/LCD) depending on model, is a set of control/programming buttons. The close proximity of the flash to the main camera lens sometimes causes some flash leach and ghosting in the pictures, we will take a close look at this arrangement. One small negative that I noticed on many of Bushnell’s previous models, is present here because the brown plastic case and brown embossed function labels are not exactly easy to read in low light. This being very minor but there are a lot of people out there with old bi focal eyes who might have some problem seeing these labels without good light.

Going from the battery compartment to the camera side is a loop of wires. Thinking back with other cameras that have used this method to supply power to their cameras we do have many documentations where companies like Leaf River had some fraying to the wires in this area after a period of use. Leaf River adapted the ribbon type of cable to fix their issue. The weather seal on the door is complete and my water tests proved no leaks.

Security will be a big issue with this camera. The second edition (08 from another distributor) had to go to an after market fabricator to aide in this area. We have in hand a really great security box for this camera that we received pre release from custom1enterprises.com and we will be using it during our review. This box will be reviewed separately. As mentioned this is a red flash camera and they have chosen to use two more emitters than the original mini camera. The result is a somewhat better flash pattern. We were very satisfied with the results we got on the original mini so the two extra sources of light from this cameras array will be help to sharpen up the night time operations. I was told that the extra emitter’s battery use has been compensated for so battery life is said to be as good, or maybe a little better than the original camera.

For those who have followed the development of the cameras from this manufacturer, you know about the sensing issues related to the camera we refer to as being the 2nd edition. This happened in two areas, first being the camera had a small field of view and the sensor had a large field of view. This resulted in some excessive dead zone areas not covered by the camera. The second issue was during the assembly the wires to the flash array were routed so they could slip down and cover the sensor on the board so the camera would cease sensing. Leading up to the production of this camera we were assured that both these problems that bothered the 2nd edition would not migrate over to this much better designed camera. First reports from the factory say they have hit it out of the park on both these previous problems. We will take a careful look at both these areas. We know very well what is inside this camera because we have worked with it for over a year and with the upgrades, it should out shine its predecessor the original and the second edition. So much for history let’s get into the future as we have yet to put the batteries in this camera or installed a SD card.

For years the Bushnell cameras have been sold in a matt finished brown case. This camera comes in a 5 ½ X 4 X 2 ¾ inch case in that same brown color. Across the top front of the camera is the IR array (red flash) containing 24 emitters and two light pipes to take and send light into and from the main board. One of these light pipes is the light sensor and the other is the function lamp. There is a sponge closure under the array so that worry about flash bleed will not happen. Just below the array is a hooded lens of the main camera. The PIR sensor lens is then just below the main camera lens. There are two latches to close the case and seal against weather. The bottom of the camera has a covered port for external power. This external power setup means that the camera must be turned on and the door closed and then the external power plugged in. The back of the camera has two loops for a strap for hanging the camera on your selected tree or post. I found no serial number on any of these cameras. With the case open the camera is in the door with the battery holder in the back of the camera. This is a good balance and the camera will set still when opened when deployed. The cam and battery setup that is all in the door throws things out of balance so this cameras setup is much better. On the camera side is the LCD screen (not view) which displays your program. Below that is the buttons (very hard to read in low light) which are the left/right, up/down and enter (ok) button. The far right button is the menu button. Next comes the on/off plus setup switch which is below the programming buttons. The on/off is self explanatory but setup selection needs to be explained. When in setup you can do all the programming plus this also functions as the test mode switch. This way you can do your walk tests and watch the indicator on the front of the camera to insure you have achieved proper aim. Next comes that wire connecting the camera to the battery compartment. Mentioned above was based on the pre release sample and now I see that they have done a much improved version of a coated flexible type of cable which should not cause any problems. Now let’s talk about the battery compartment. This comes in two sections, the upper and lower areas. Each area can hold 4 AA batteries. This camera will work on just 4 cells installed in one of the sections. It will last twice as long when all 8 cells are installed. Caution must be taken when putting the batteries in because the small negative side springs have a tendency to fold over when the batteries are installed. This should never be a problem as long as you pay attention and slide the negative end of the battery down and against the spring before pushing it all the way in. The very bottom of the camera has a tri pod insert which I tested and so far it seems to be solid and improved over its predecessor which was non functional. The camera came in a easy open bubble pack that included the instruction manual, strap, USB cable, and TV out cable.

The claims on the package are as listed here:

One year battery life, compact design, day/night 24 hr. operation, invisible 24 LED night vision flash for covert scouting (45 degree), 1 second or less trigger time, date/time stamp on pictures, programmable delay-multi shot-video length-resolution-time laps-sensitivity, temp range -5 to 140, PIR range to 45’, and being weather proof. Of these areas we are going to be looking at the battery life and trigger times in detail. These are some of the manufacturer's specifications.

  • 5 MP high-quality full color resolution
  • Day/night auto sensor
  • External power compatible
  • VGA video 20 FPS (640X480/300X440)
  • Adjustable PIR (Lo/Med/High)
  • Trigger speed less than 1 second
  • Trigger interval -0 sec. to 60 min. programmable
  • Multi-image mode- 1-3 images per trigger
  • Video length - 1-60 seconds, programmable
  • Time lapse mode
  • Temperature range -5F to 140F
  • 24 infrared night vision emitters -45 ft. range
  • PIR sensor is motion activated out to 45 ft.
  • 4 AA - 8AA batteries (not included)
  • Runs up to one year on one set of batteries
  • Adjustable web belt and 1/4-20 socket (tri-pod mount)
  • SD card slot (SD card to 2 Gig)
  • Lens F=3.1=40 degrees IR cut

Programming this unit is a pleasure. Move the main switch to the setup position and hit menu. Use the up/down buttons to toggle through the different modes and the right left to toggle through the selections under each mode. Once a selection has been made hit the OK (enter) button to lock in your selection. Hit the up button again to advance to the next area of programming. Always remember to have a card inserted in the camera for all operations. Also listen for the three beeps to tell you that the cam is on and functioning as it should. It seemed like a week of testing to just do the trigger time tests but we finally came up with the figures. Both with and without flash the trigger times ranged from 1.2 seconds to 1.5 seconds. The average delay per resolution settings is not going to be discussed because there is no definite answer to that. Depending on the amount of color in the picture will determine the write time (delay) of this camera. I will say that it is definitely adequate and no one should complain. Setting this camera to a less than 6 second delay we feel should not be recommended. The camera has to work very hard to get things done to prepare for the next picture and the shorter settings have proven to cause degree confusion in the electronics and the results will not reflect those settings. A number of sets of flash range pictures were taken and at first we did not believe the results. There is a coyote decoy at 60 feet and he is illuminated. The tests with its predecessor did not show these same results so we feel that there also has been an upgrade in emitter quality on this cam. As of now this review is on hold until we finish with the factory business. Hopefully we can get going again in a couple of days.

04-23-2009 update:  We have performed three different flash range tests on our new setup and I also did the same on the old setup. The results we found have varied a small amount. I am going to say that the flash is good to 50 feet and a deer sized animal at 60+ feet can still be seen but is weak. Here comes the area of concern, by design the factory has tried to limit the sensing to 45 feet which is suppose to match the advertised flash range. There is a degree of logic here but to shoot holes in that theory is two things. What if it is a nice bright day during the rut and old big decides to walk past at 55 feet; the camera will just not see him. The second scenario is it is night and the same animal takes the same path, the camera will not see him. Should the camera see the animal in both cases the daytime capture can easily see the animal and with today’s computer programs that a good portion of camera users have, a little enhancement could also see the animal that was captured just past the advertised flash range. An ongoing conference on this has been going on and we feel that that particular specification will change before the official release. The setup as it is now with our cameras during the sensing range testing showed that at temperatures ranging in the 70s we could not get consistent triggers at 45 feet. Way too much time was spent on this but we needed to be as accurate as we could be on this matter. The way it stands to this point is that so far we have been very impressed by the function except the user should be aware not to expect to have the camera sense out past the designed 45 foot range. We are going to start to gather some sample pictures in both resolutions plus a few videos. This will be a long term test but as things change we will report.

04-25-2009 update:  You might think that I just blessed out the pope with all the feed back we received about the 45 foot sensing distance with this camera. There were a number of comments like saying “well that makes up my mind and I am going back to Moultrie I 40 for my next camera” because sensing like that stinks. Well a very quick review of our beloved 07/08 I-40 review showed that the max sensing range at 72 degrees was only 40 feet. I then scanned a number of other reviews and 45 feet at 72 degrees is more like the run of the mill distance. If you want the one minute minimum delay between pictures like the Moultrie has and the 3+ second trigger times then by all means go with the Moultrie. These Moultrie figures are taken from the 08 cameras and have nothing to do with what is coming out from Moultrie in 09 because we have not yet tested them. We will most definitely see things being changed as time goes by because Bushnell is trying to stay on top of any kind of smell that the wind happens to blow in their direction. Just look and see what is on the market with this cam about mid May. We are continually gathering sample pictures and they have all been good.

05-01-2009 update:  Attached to one of our favorite trees watching a very active area this camera has been busy gathering sample pictures. We are a little short of good day time pictures because the union that the deer belong to just wont let then to be on shift during the daylight hours. A few scabs jumped the line and ventured in for a mouth full of corn and got caught by our cameras. Function so far has been very good and exceeds the function of its like design predecessor. There has been a bit of conversation hitting the forums about the warranty period which is listed as two years (limited). This is a whole year better than most and this is definitely going to be an area that we are going to keep our hands on with as much exposure as we can throw out if things don’t work out. If it is 5 years and you cannot get your cam in and out of customer service then the length of warranty is meaningless. Their policy is to ship the camera along with $10 for repair and has not changed over the years. So far their customer service access via their 800 number has worked with some delay every time I tested it. It looks like this camera is kicking some butt because of its release time. I know that we have heard some ill comments from some of last years vendors of a similar product. They are just going to have to realize that they are still pushing last years product and that the industry’s technology has passed them and now 2009 is here and it’s where the advanced products are showing up. I have abused this camera far past what it would receive in normal use and so far I cannot create a failure. The wires stay in place and do not migrate into areas where they would cause a problem. I dunked the camera with no ill effects or leaks. It is still like its predecessor as being hard to hang on a tree with any other method than the small strap that is supplied. The aftermarket box for security is very much in line for those who have to use their cameras where it might get legs. Video mode is next and is underway now and after that we will change and do the 3 MP picture series.

05-09-2009 update:  A whole bunch more time on this camera and we are still waiting on the factory folks to talk to us about a few things and what we are hearing is they are also waiting to hear from China. I have a back door way in and we will be through that door by sometime next week. I still have some questions and need answers prior to continuing the review. In the mean time I paired one of our cams up with the Lucky Buck mineral attractant and it is in the deep woods on that task. We hope to have a sack full of videos from that next week. The setup is just under 30 feet from the lick which should give some degree of trail/field type operations to report on. So far our operations have been in a canned situation where we have controlled about every aspect of flash, sensing. and normal operations. Stay tuned because there is a bunch more to follow.

05-18-2009 update:  This week we have been lucky with our communications with the factory folks and also Bushnell. Everything is coming together and we will soon be busting the review wide open with a whole series of tests. In the mean time our country cam that has its eye on the Lucky Buck attractant had a steady flow of visitors. We were well pleased with the results and Anthony is in the process of making one of our “famous” video presentations to go with the review (popcorn optional). The Custom one security box is a prize to work with because we just have to remove one lock and the cam comes out. We are use to all this business of feeding a cable through some holes and around the tree but this method is secure and is also easy. So far everything has worked well and we have had only minor things that aggravated us like securing this cam without an enclosure.

05-22-2009 update:  Though it has hot been reported on this camera, its predecessor has yet to have another issue which may have also been incorporated into this camera. This deals with the two plugs that fit in the holes that were in the back of the case when they molded the strap loops into the case. This process left two holes that they chose to fill with two plastic plugs. The predecessor camera has the problem that causes the plugs to pop out if the strap is tightened and the camera is on a un even surface. This would cause a water leak if the plug comes out and falls inside the case. If you hear a pop when you tighten the strap then inspect the area under the strap loops to see if one of the plugs has moved. My tests with the predecessor cam broke very easy, but I have yet to check this cam because they are deployed in the woods and it will be a week before we visit that area. Being the design is so very close we would rather be safe than sorry about reporting this.

05-23-2009 update:  After a period of discussing what we had found on the predecessor camera and the fact that the case design is very similar Anthony and I took a trip this morning and retrieved one of the Trophy cams. The task of removing 5 screws from the battery holder and we had full access to the problem area (see picture). With the batteries out of the camera this area is also accessible. This camera has the battery holder in the back of the camera and the inside of the case is molded to fit the 8 AA cells so the inside of the case back is also the back of the battery holder. There is still two plastic plugs as with the other camera but these have the little valleys in them for the cells to lay in. We flexed the case in an attempt to see if the plugs would come loose but they are about three times thicker and fit very tight. With the batteries in place the plugs would not come out. They are glued in place and if by chance one did come loose it could cause a leak as with the other cam. This appears to be a remote possibility for it to come loose, but it is an area that should be inspected at least every time you change the batteries. We will wait to hear if we get any field reports of any plugs coming loose as they did in the predecessor cam.

06/12/2009 update:  We are running our battery life test on this little camera and it is doing well.  We started the test on 04/21/2009.  The camera has taken a total of 3066 photos and 400 movies (10 seconds each) so far.  We used 8 brand new Energizer AA batteries for this test.

06/15/2009 updateFresnel/PIR Sensor improvements.  The following 3 photos show a progression in the design of the fresnel lense placement and sensing vs the photo field of view.  The pre-release prototypes of this camera carried a similar design to its predecessor and had some photo Field of View and PIR sensing width issues (dead zone).  Bushnell quickly corrected this issue at the factory.  We received an early pre-release prototype as well as the final "fixed" version.  Once the problem was discovered, a temporary fix involving placing some foam strips on each side of the fresnel lens was deployed.  This fix went into an initial lot of around 150 cameras.  Below are the pictures of the inside of each camera showing the back side of the fresnel lens.  The fix involved placing a plastic insert behind the fresnel lens to block signals coming from the extreme periphery that are beyond the photo field of view.  This means that the wide angle fresnel lens and photo field of view are matched in width.  We tested the distant sensing on both the original and the new version and we see no change there. We feel that the folks at Bushnell did a good job quickly correcting this issue and it shows a commitment to quality and a willingness to improve the technology.

Early pre-release protoype:


Temporary fix using foam shields:


Final version coming out of the factory:

07-03-2009 update:  We have completed our battery life test on this little camera. We started the test on 04/21/2009.  The camera has taken a total of 3666 photos and 400 movies (10 seconds each).  The batteries went dead on 06/25/2009.  This is a very respectable battery life that anyone should be pleased with.

08-06-2009 update:  This little camera has just hung out on the tree and kept the same batteries for two months. It has worked without flaw and given us some very good pictures. We have been watching the net for any issues that may have popped up by other users and they have been few and far between. Most things found were as a result of factory doings and the distributor got pretty deep into their back side over this so we hope the quality control will remain high after the chewing out. We have been extremely happy with the review so far and we feel that this company has a first class camera this year with the Trophy cam.

09-26-2009 update:  Our units have continued to provide good service and perform consistently with out any incidents.  This is a dependable system and a convenient package built on tested technology.  There have been a few supply problems but this appears to be over now as these cameras are shipping well.  There is a lack of built in security on this camera but its small size and good overall function in its price range make it a winner.  The purchase of a security box of some sort is a must if there is any worry about theft.  We are closing this review.



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Internal/External Photos
Trigger Times 1.25 - 1.5 seconds
Trigger Time Test Photos
 
Flash Range Test
 
5mp Sample Photos
3mp Sample Photos
 
Movie Samples
Note: This flash video gives the "flavor" of the movie mode but is not quite the quality of the original videos but close.

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11-09-2009 Update:  Bushnell sent us the FAQ on trouble shooting this camera to help users prior to calling their customer service department.  I was asked to publish this information:

Bushnell recommends 8 Energizer Lithium AA batteries in all Trophy Cams.

Bushnell recommends San Disk Brand SD Cards. 

 

 

Battery life short

1.       Expected battery life depends on temperature and number of images.  Bushnell expects the camera to take several thousand images before the batteries would die.

2.       Check to make sure you have used new alkaline or lithium batteries.  Bushnell recommends 8 Energizer Lithium AA batteries in all Trophy Cams.

3.       Make sure that the power switch is turned to the “On” position and that the camera was not left in “Setup” mode while in the field.

4.       Make sure that you are using a good quality SD card in your camera.  Bushnell recommends San Disk Brand SD Cards.  Unfortunately, poor quality SD cards can make your camera have a much shorter battery life.

 

Camera stops taking images or won’t take images

1.       Please make sure that the SD card is not full.  If the card is full, the camera will stop taking images.

2.       Check batteries to make sure that they are new alkaline or lithium AA batteries.  See note about short battery life.

3.       Make sure that the camera power switch is in the “On” position and not in the “Off” or “Setup” modes.

4.       Make sure that you are using a good quality SD card in your camera.  Bushnell recommends San Disk Brand SD Cards. 

 

Camera won’t power up

1.       Make sure that you have installed at least 4 batteries in the battery compartment all stacked together at the top of the compartment.

a.       Bushnell recommends 8 Energizer Lithium AA batteries in all Trophy Cams.

2.       Make sure that the batteries are installed correctly.  See manual.

3.       When moving the switch from “Off” to “Setup” or “On”, the user should make sure that the switch stops in a positive position to ensure the proper mode.

4.       When moving the switch from “On” to “Setup”, the user should first move the switch directly to “Off” before moving to “Setup”.

 

Image/Video Dissatisfaction

1.       Night images or video appear dark

a.       Check to see if battery power is full.  Camera will stop flashing near end of battery life.

b.      Make sure that the camera is aimed at your intended target area within 45’ (14m) of the camera.

c.       Please note that in the multi shot mode, some images may appear darker than others due to the quick response and reshooting of the camera.

2.       Daytime images or video appear dark

a.       Make sure that the camera is not aimed at the sun or other light sources during the day.

3.       Night images or video appear bright

a.       Make sure that the camera is aimed at your intended target area within 45’ (14m) of the camera.

b.      In cases where the subject is closer than 10’ (3m) of the camera, some images may appear too bright.

4.       Daytime images or video appear bright

a.       Make sure that the camera is not aimed at the sun or other light sources during the day.

5.       Red/Green Images

a.       Under certain lighting conditions, the sensor can become confused resulting in poor color images.

b.      If this is seen on a consistent basis, then the sensor may need servicing.  Please contact our customer service.

6.       Short Video Clips—not recording to the length set

a.       Check to make sure that the SD card is not full.

b.      Make sure that the camera has good batteries in it.  Near the end of the battery life, the camera may choose to record shorter video clips to conserve power.

 

Date/Time Stamp not appearing on images

1.       Make sure that the “Time Stamp” setting is set to “On”.

 

Camera is taking images without subject in the field of view

1.       Check the PIR Sensitivity Level Setting.  For warm temperature use, set the sensor to “High” and for cold weather use, set the sensor for “Low”.

2.       Try to set your camera up in an area where there is not a heat source in the camera’s line of sight.

3.       In some cases, setting a camera near water will make the camera take images with no subject in them.  Try aiming the camera over ground.

4.       Try to avoid setting the camera up on small trees that are prone to being moved by strong winds.

5.       Remove any limbs right in front of the camera lens.

 

PIR Sensor LED Use

1.       When the camera is in the “Setup” mode, a special LED on the front of the camera will flash when it senses motion.  This is for setup purposes only and will help the user aim the camera. 

2.       During use, the LED will not flash when the camera takes an image.  This is to help keep the camera hidden from game.

 

LCD Screen Issues

1.       LCD screen powers on but no text is present.

a.       When moving the switch from “Off” to “Setup” or “On”, the user should make sure that the switch stops in a positive position to ensure the proper mode.

b.      When moving the switch from “On” to “Setup”, the user should first move the switch directly to “Off” before moving to “Setup”.

2.       LCD screen shows a faint black line after turning from “Setup” to “On”.

a.       The LCD will turn off when you slide the switch to the “On” position.  In some cases, this black line will appear and will fade in about 1 second.  This is normal and the camera will function properly.

5.       Screen will come on and power off

a.       Make sure that you have installed the SD card correctly.

 

Camera won’t retain settings

1.       Make sure that you have saved the changes that you make during the menu setup of the camera.

2.       If you don’t select and save these settings, the camera will revert back to the default settings.

 

 

 

 

   

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