2010 Ltl-5210 Camera Review - June 12, 2010

2010 Ltl-5210

First Distributor picked up for this camera. Click here to read details.

2010 Ltl-5210 "Little Acorn" 5MP 24 count Red Flash Camera Review

We have known about this camera for some time now and there were some folks that appeared to be maybe a little outside the trustworthy throwing this name around and at first calling it a Scoutguard and because of the lock on that name they said they were going to have to change the name to something like ltl acorn. Anyway that situation went away and stays, now we are in direct contact with the manufacturer in China and it is not Keep Time nor is it BMC. This camera is produced in another factory all together.

Leaning up against the ruler this cam measures 5 X 3 X 2 inches. This is a cute little mini camera with a top located 24 count array, with the camera lens just below and PIR multi zone sensor below that. Aiming out just below that are two pre sensors aimed out at 45 degrees left and right that are suppose to be early warning for the main sensor. We seen this on the Smart Scouter camera and we had some problems with the way it sensed on that old cam. This is a two piece camera (modular) and the first is the camera its self which contains a 4 count AA battery holder. The middle section that snaps to the front is a battery holder that will hold 4 more AA cells. There is also a locking screw to secure things and also to back up the plastic clips. This back section also has a mini back pack looking tree grabber that has some real potential. It is curved and has multi slots for the strap so aim should be a snap once mounted on the tree. The drop down bottom access door can be accessed without removing it from the tree. Should you need to program and use the screen then the camera must be taken off the back pack. I did the new battery thing and played with all the buttons and switches and I thought that I was right at home with a Covert, Scoutguard, Keep Time and such. This camera has about the same procedures and values as the above mention cameras. Very simple to program and operate. My first dozen or so pictures with good sun to my back and high color contrast out front this camera did a good job at the day pictures. A quick trip to my advanced trigger testing system proved that the trigger time is around 1.04 seconds unofficial. We will slip out and put it on the official bench later, but this little camera is good and fast.

As with many of the mini cams coming out, this unit has the familiar X 20 threaded tripod insert for mounting if you choose. If this little camera was about a quarter inch thinner it would fit in a Bushnell Trophy Cam Custom 1 security box. The back pack hits the rods inside the box.

Specifications sheets:

We have a ton of cameras ahead of this one so all we can do now is say that this camera is here and we are going to test it when we get to it but we will probably sneak a little teaser in now and then.

06-25-2010 update: Because of our load I felt sorry for this little camera just setting there I scooped it up and did a quick set up to just capture some of the local critters like tree rats and such. Well we had a pretty good shower and the next morning I checked and I had a leak into the battery compartment. It appears that the latches (friction) at the top of the camera are not adequate to hold that area tight and the lone screw at the bottom cannot provide enough force to close this area. This battery compartment looks to be an after thought to some original design. This is a very poor design and will most definitely get worse with wear. Each time that I would open this compartment the batteries would fall out also which retrieving the cells out of the leaves and poison ivy did not set to good with me. The camera had no pictures on it, so I have yet to determine if the leak caused an issue with the camera. The LCD and switches are also located into that area. I will check our other unit to see if we can continue the review, but I will say that this may very well be a stopper. These tiny plastic friction latches will wear and no longer provide enough strength to keep the camera closed at the most important top area. Maybe this cam could find a life as a security aid where weather would not be an issue. To go ahead and trust this camera in the field as designed and left over a period of time you could loose your investment to damage from a water leak. This design will have to be changed before we could ever recommend any field use of this camera.

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The cameras tri-pod insert is in the middle of the small hinged door at the bottom of the camera. If the little door is not secured with a lock or something through the tiny hole on one side of the door, the weight of the camera and batteries if tipped slightly to the left will unlatch and fall over with (I think) enough force to break the door off. I was lucky when this happened to me and I was able to catch it prior to it snapping off. This is a very tiny hinge and fragile (see picture). This is another design fault that has to be changed. I would not recommend anyone using the insert in any way to mount the camera because the door is just not that heavy duty to stand the weight of the camera and batteries when bumped or sharply tipped even with something through the tiny lock hole.

. I compared that area to one of the original camera and the old cameras had more wear and were much looser but they had been opened and closed a number of times. I re assembled the new camera and tested to see if it would pop open the same as the original test units did. It was just a little more stiff but it did pop open with not much force at all. The conclusion now leads us to believe that this after thought battery pack will just have to remain empty with out batteries and just serve as a cover for the switches and LCD plus provide a means of mounting the camera. Once we have had to go into the switches and LCD several times the nub will have worn down and provide little resistance to being bumped open even with the screw fully secured. The first squirrel that hit the tree would cause this if he crossed the camera. From the residue we have found the tree rats find the top of a camera a very good perch to set and chew on their food. One positive thing is now it will only cost for four cells to get the camera deployed. Right now we have Primos, Reconyx, Uway, Plot watcher, garden cam, Brinno cam, WGI, and Scoutguard in process ahead of this camera and we will try to get a little of the stuff done like trigger times and flash range provided these summer storms let us access the testing areas. I worked late tonight but finally gave up and headed for the shower. I got to thinking again that there must be a way to correct this mess. I toweled off and slipped on a pair of shorts and T shirt and went back into the shop. My thought was that I could devise some type of wrap around setup that would hold the back closed and keep it from being bumped open. An hour later the conclusion was due to the location of the lens and array this could not be done. The same detent (latch) that is suppose to hold it closed is the same detent that holds it open when bumped. The two little buttons on the main camera side that make contact with the two spring pins from the makeshift extra battery side have between 5.73 and 5.81 volts present all the time when the batteries are installed in the cameras battery compartment. These small brass disks are about inch from the top lip of what is supposed to be the seal. Using a small bit of putty beside these terminals and closing the camera, I determined the tolerance is very close when fully snapped and held closed. My problem is with the camera hanging on the tree I found that the bark debris would collect in the crack. If the detent was only a bit loose then any moisture and damp debris would be in the area of the contacts. I believe that this moisture would be enough of a conductor to begin to bring down the four internal batteries also. It certainly would not be doing the camera any good at all. I will say in like new condition the back seems to snap closed and hold a little. As few as 15 openings and closings will cause enough wear to begin to void the seal and cause a problem. Complicate this same situation by having the bark debris collecting in the same area it is a recipe for a problem. My excitement has dwindled about this camera and even with any degree of honorable function this design does not seem to be correctable without the manufacture going back to the mould supplier and re engineer the whole thing into a proper assembly, and do away with this two piece mess they have now. It is very late now and I have done as much as I can tonight and I have my findings written down and will be review for correctness in the morning when I again have a clear head and will get this posted.

5 AM and I am going to slip out real quiet and re evaluate the FOV that we tested earlier. This replacement camera has had a small firm ware modification where it allows for the user to select through programming the PIR function as to whether it is the main single sensor or the main plus the two side sensors. My original tests at a given distance and time frame for the programmed settings should have captured three pictures and repeatedly would only get one or two pictures. This test showed that sometimes it did its job and would get all three but most of the time it would only catch me twice. My feelings are it may be the fault of the delay period not being very accurate. I had it set for 5 seconds and this may not be enough delay time for the camera to react, capture, and write to the card. I will test this later but this is very common with the Scoutguard like cameras. I set the clock yesterday to the exact time but this morning it was off a little which is also very common with some trail cameras. Another troubling thing that will require more research is that this time of morning it is still very dark and even though I could function without a flash light the camera was taking nearly dark pictures without flash. I retested this function once I viewed the card in house in a dark hallway and the flash did go off. There may be something going on with the day night sensor causing this. One of the original cameras setup next did not do this and the flash went off every time. This is another area we will take a closer look at as we get into this review a little deeper. I still have to measure the exact sensing FOV vs. lens FOV to see if that information has changed with these new upgraded cams.

07-11-2010 update: We are still very hard at work trying to find a hole so we can do a little more work on this camera. Here is an update as to what is happening at the factory. They have devised a buckle to help hold the back in place to prevent the case from popping open. They have also made a cover for the LCD and switches for those who do not use the extra battery setup. The problem of the batteries falling out of the extra battery box has been addressed by replacing the springs to a more ridged spring design. The drifting clock has also been corrected by replacing the crystal oscillator and a better pre ship inspection. Eventually they are going to correct the battery compartment latch to improve strength and failure prevention in that area. This will take time because the injection mould has to be changed but will be seen in the post production cameras. Just hold on to your hat and we will do our best to get some more testing on this little camera.

07-16-2010 update: Bad rain storm this after noon and we were cabin bound so we went ahead and picked up this little camera and got the trigger times done. The times came out around one and a quarter seconds which is respectable. Next we went to the day range as soon as the water stopped falling and got the day range/8plate/sensing work done. This cameras 8 plate information when zoomed presented fairly crisp and natural color pictures and the sensing was out to 60+ feet on this 85 degree evening. Once the new stuff comes in so we can deploy in the weather we will grab the sample video/picture samples. We will probably do some quick time lapse tests also. We went ahead and made a rain enclosure so that we can go ahead with some tests while we are waiting for the new upgrades to arrive. First out will be a video test.

07-25-2010 update: We did the flash range before but failed to mention the results which were alright but the picture quality leaves a lot to be desired. They are quite fuzzy. The flash range reached out to the 50 foot marker but the zoom produced very grainy results. The upgraded camera arrived with the new snap clip for the area where the latch wear was the problem. I spent some time analyzing the effectiveness and feel that it is a workable solution at the present but long term field tests will eventually tell the story At least we can go ahead and get this camera out where we can do more work without the rain enclosure. We have not yet pulled the card from this weeks video venture on a mock scrape we are developing. Also included with the camera was some view screen protectors if you decide to deploy the camera without the back on it and operate off just 4 cells. We have yet to evaluate the effectiveness of this device.

07-27-2010 update: It seems that a programming error failed to get this camera in the video mode as mentioned above. The mock scrape was done very early but we are seeing amazing results. We do have some pictures of some of the visitors. We are seeing red pictures during the transition and it seems that is how the transition time pictures are done with this camera. The normal transition pictures are black and white but we were set back when we started to see this and have asked for an answer as to this happening. This red color in the pictures has always indicated a stuck filter but we do not think this is the case but will have an answer soon. Maybe we can arrange a talented person to re program this camera into the 10 second video mode that was suppose to happen for this weeks capture.(see photos below)

07-27-2010 update: This update is directed toward the manufacturer in China. Please contact us again with new email addresses. Your present addresses no longer work and all mail we are sending is returned. We are holding the review until we hear from you.

08-02-2010 update: We have had a few more bits of communications with the engineers and the red pictures that we were getting At the transition time are supposedly not the work of the IR filter being stuck but a failure of the firm ware to do its job at a given time that is supposed to be referenced by the day/night sensor. This has been addressed and firmware is going to be sent to us to test. Some of the other questions that were answered are the touch pad and new cover. The touchpad and LCD is designed to be waterproof and UV protected according to the engineers. The new rubber cover is just to protect this area from damage from rubbing on the bark if someone chooses to use it without the extra battery pack. They did state that it would probably a good idea to never use the camera in this manner and to always use the extra battery cover when deployed. So far we managed to capture a few pictures and video samples and with the exception of the poor quality of the night time pictures this camera seems to do a pretty good job at most tasks we have put it up against. There has been a steady flow of correspondence with the engineers and in return they have always sent corrective action in a timely manner. If they were to work on the night with IR flash picture quality and get that up to par they will have a product that is about ready for market.

08-03-2010 update: I just do not understand what is going on based on what we are seeing. We are very busy trying to fit all the pre production work on this camera into our schedule. My search of some of the forums reveals that there are some individuals trying to market these pre production units to the public. As announced above there is a flaw in the firmware and this needs to be fixed plus we are still working on other findings. We should have most of this finished within the next month and then the updated firmware will probably be here. I would strongly suggest that everyone stay away from the purchase of these incomplete units until we have had a chance to finish the work and the factory puts their approval on the release. There seems to be an E mail problem with the factory people and we are still working on that so we can get more done in a timely manner. Those sample units that have been released through a third party were only meant for testing purposes and not for sale from everything the factory people have confirmed to us.

08-04-2010 update: The Systematic movement from forum to forum has happened again and there is a push to get testers for these sample cameras. They stated that there is an authorized distributor for these cameras and it that is true we have not heard any thing from the factory which is presently working with a major camera company on a possible distributorship from what we have been told. The test cameras are being pushed at a reduced price under the veil of being a field test, but it sure looks like just a way to sell a camera that are still waiting on firmware and other things. We will most definitely publish the final decision as to who is authorized to market these cameras and when they are ready to be marketed. Once we receive the firmware and do the testing that date should be shortly after that time.

08-08-2010 update: The firmware has arrived and we are loading up the cameras and will be getting them deployed in the field. The last test will be a long term battery life test but from what I have seen all during all these tests is that we feel that a new buyer should not be too concerned about that. This company has completed each upgrade task in a very timely manner much like whet we have experienced with BMC. All issues are addressed and unless things fall apart during this next round we will be ready to say lets get this camera to market. We still want very much to see the quality of the night pictures to be the next task under taken by the factory engineers.

The discussion as to who is going to be the official distributor is a concern to all potential buyers. The third party sellers are pushing but from what we hear an exclusive factory direct thing may be in the works and the third party dealers will not be included unless they switch to the new authorized outlet. This is very important because of the need to protect the consumer. We have heard from both sides of the ocean and maybe this will get worked out very shortly and the market will finally open up with real dealers.

08-21-2010 update: Being behind with a ton of reviews we just now got to load up the new firm ware and we are ready to finalize this review. We have rain in the area the past few days which has also slowed much of our outdoor activities. We are going to get on this now that we have finally cleared that mess up with the 2010 BTC we will now have some breathing room to get to other things. The new firmware changes are supposed to correct the red pictures at the transition times and to also improve IR picture quality. There will be a small decrease in flash range because of this update but it is a good tradeoff if all works out. We managed to get the firmware all loaded and all went well and the base tests show we dont appear to have any problems as a result of the downloads. We now have the very latest updates and this company has a very unique way of displaying the fact that the update has been done. We are not going to discuss this because there are some big ears out there but we can tell very easy if the update has been done on any particular camera. We deployed the cameras and we will be in the process of evaluating the downloads. So far we see no reason to think they will not improve the areas we called attention to.

08-22-2010 update: Spent some long hours again with this camera during the past 24 hours and the results are very positive. Our test area is a very hard environment for a camera to operate in and most will have real hard issues with whiteout during the transition period. The previous issues with the red pictures that resembled stuck filter were not seen this time. We did how ever have only two semi whiteout pictures out of the many that were taken over the last day. The day pictures are sharp and clear and the night pictures have lost much of that fuzziness that we had previously experienced. They have now what we would call a very marketable camera.

The weak areas are still in the case design and that is an issue that was addressed with a new clasp to hold the camera closed when it was secured by a strap to a tree. We experienced no water leaks this time around but I did one more further test. This time I cut small strips of paper and closed them in the back battery cover and they stuck out at different points about two inches. I then mounted the camera and secured it to the tree with a strap. Every thing was very good until I made the strap very tight and then the paper strips would pull out easy. The word of caution is that when mounting make sure that you do not over tighten the strap and warp the battery cover and all will be fine. The amount of pressure to get the paper to move was extreme so this should not ever be an issue when a little caution is used.

We will be running full tests in the wild for some time to ensure that things hold up and we need to get good firm battery life data collected. We have had so many stop and go times with this camera the battery life data would not be normal and unfair to publish. I can say that we feel that there should not be much of a worry about that from what we have seen so far.

08-24-2010 update: This company has taken all the updates and have produced a new PCB for this camera which also added some other features. So our old test cameras are obsolete. The complete cameras will have no need for the down load upgrades and the program will include the new added features. We wish them well and are waiting to complete the battery life which will remain the same in the new camera.

09-06-2010 update: One of our units has been deployed in time laps mode and we just checked and it has about 4000 pictures (in 4 days) so far and is still going strong. This mode may well be of interest to some users. It can serve in time lapse part time and then be re deployed to certain areas as a trail camera once the routes have been determined. This is pretty cool for a camera this small to have this feature. There was no barrage of false advertising about this feature as we saw on the BTC that just was not there. Instead it is just listed as a feature and it very well does this job. The time lapse covers day and night unlike other Time Lapse ONLY products, however PIR is disabled in time Lapse mode.

09-12-2010 update: The time lapse saga continues and we are at the 7300 picture count and this is a total of 6 days of solid running at 30s per trigger in this mode. The batteries are getting very tired and the cam has to have the back on with the extra 4 cells to turn on so we think we are about at the end of the cycle. It started back up so we will leave it out until it quits.

09-19-2010 update: The batteries finally failed and this brings to a close this review. The final solutions to each and every issue we found appears to have worked and we feel this camera will have a very good following once the US distributor is finally announced.

A Time Lapse video we made from 3 days activity:

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10-25-2010 update: This company still has not landed a firm deal with a US distributor but they have been steady working on the current model and have some upgrades. These upgrades are as follows. The Ltl-5210A camera is an updated and improved model based on Ltl-5210. The appearance is almost the same. 12MP is interpolated; however, the quality of the pictures is very good. In addition, users are now able to zoom up to 16 times when reviewing the pictures. Another added function of the camera is that it can start taking videos immediately after taking pictures, operating under the same settings. Moreover, all Ltl-5210 cameras now can operate under -30 degree Celsius (-22 degree Fahrenheit). There is more coming in November with a new camera coming soon there after.

11-23-2010 update: A new distributor has emerged for this camera manufacturer and the public announcement is here. click to read the detailed announcement.

Trigger Times without flash

Trigger Times with Flash

Flash Range Tests
(08/2010 firmware)

Flash Range Tests
(original firmware)

Photo Samples 5MP from August firmware update


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