Bushnell Trophy Cam XLT Camera Review

2010 Bushnell Trophy Cam XLT Review - February 06, 2010 Back to Main Review Page

2010 Bushnell Trophy Cam XLT

Model 119455/119445



119455 Screen

With Python cable:

Bushnell Trophy Camera 2010 8 MP 32 count IR red flash digital camera 02-06-2010

07-24-2010 Important notice: This review is good for early release cameras released and shipped prior to May 2010. Click the following link to get updated info on latest shipping models:
TrophyCam XLT REVISIT

This camera comes in three versions which are the 119455C brown with 2” view screen, 119445C camo Bone Collector with black and white text LCD, and the 119435C brown with black and white text LCD. For the purpose of this review we will only test this camera as a single review because all cameras have the same specifications with view screen and case color being the only differences. Should a particular sub model have its own issue we will associate the problem to that model only.

The look suggests a very solid small well constructed case with the main obvious difference is the size of the IR array. We do like the brown color which has proved itself hard to see against most backgrounds. The somewhat lighter in color camo appearance of the Bone Collector should work well also. New addition this year is the increased strap loop size to accommodate a Python Cable for security. This would only secure the camera to the tree but the door could still be opened so a small lock would be needed to secure the door to keep the memory card from getting legs. Bushnell now has designed a security box which is offered as an accessory. The case locks up tightly and will keep the weather out. The built in cable loops are high on the back which might prevent a cam cable wrap around type mounting because they are located in the area of the array. The external battery port is the same and requires the plug to be removed to access the inside of the camera. The tri pod insert feature was also carried over to this years models which is a nice feature, and will allow the use of another accessory they call the 119652C deluxe tree bracket. Inside on the 119455C the appearance is basically the same as last year except for the larger view screen. I would like to see the battery compartment marked with battery polarity to solve confusion. The battery installation is briefly discussed in the manual. These are just very good looking cameras.

Inside the box is the camera of course but there is also the strap, USB cable, video cable and instruction manual. I called it a box but it actually comes in a bubble pack this year. This is supposed to allow for close inspection by the buyer prior to purchase. Reading the manual was easy and very understandable.

The camera is the same size as last year (5.5 X 3.5 X 2.5) inch which makes it possible to carry a bunch of these cameras along with a sack full of batteries and cards in a small day pack. About as tall as a coke can these cameras can be hidden in some very small places which take that foreign object in the animal’s environment out of the negative things larger cameras cause.

The larger array to greatly improve flash range and the boost to the SD card size (16 gig) are two of the main upgrades. The new image processor and larger view screen will aid in the picture quality/viewing area. Security was addressed with the built in cable loops on the back of the camera.

Last year we could only program up to 5 MP but this year the resolution goes from 3, 5, up to an interpolated 8 MP. Video is offered in three settings of 320X240, 640X480, and 720X480 all at 30 fps. With the higher grade flash the picture quality should be much better for the IR night pictures. There appears to be a slight zoom effect in the pictures so the FOV will be a little smaller. Once up and running I decided to check the exact FOV of the PIR vs. the camera. Because of the dim function light, it was very hard to get the exact measurements. I called Anthony and we paired up and had that task done in about an hour. The test distance was at 20 feet and the camera FOV was 15 feet and the PIR sensor FOV was picking up a 17 foot area. This gives a dead zone of about 1 foot on each side of the cameras field of view. Most would feel that that would be acceptable as long as your setup was done with proper aim to your target area. They got slick with us and pulled the EXIF data off so we could not read the camera type this year. With everything lined up I went ahead and programmed the camera with the time/date and selected the functions I needed. All this was very easy to do but don’t forget to hit the OK each time after you make your selection and then menu to exit. Internally there is a new board that is a Keep Time manufacturing’s first. Gone is the Boly Media board from last year but the case is about the same except for the cutout for the larger array and python strap hole on the back.

I started off setting at 8 MP (interpolated 5) and adjusted the delay down to 6 seconds that way I don’t crowd the card during write time. I had to go around several times to get the info strip turned on because I failed to hit the ok prior to advancing to the next selection. Once this old man got hitting ok through his head the programming went very easy. I did a few walk tests and got a bunch of pictures to view and tried the built in viewer and that worked great but I still prefer using a computer and card reader to blow things up where tired old eyes can catch the details. The multi shot 3 worked very well but I returned to the single picture to go ahead with the tests.

Fired up and turned on I went ahead and drowned the cam and pulled it out and toweled of the outside and opened it up and all was dry. The drop tests to the ground (about the same as being knocked of an ATV rack) did not dislodge the batteries or cause any apparent damage. With the cam put in the ready mode I moved it into a light compromising situation to get the filter to move to test the filter clunk noise. Not anywhere near the racket produced by other cams like Stealth and Moultrie tested last year this cam was audible but hard for me to hear at 2 feet. This probably means that most animals would still hear it at a greater distance so your setup needs to be further away 10-20 feet so the ambient noise would cancel this slight clunk out.

Moved on to the flash/sensing range we tested at 45 degrees and found a 60 foot detection range was fairly common. The flash pushed out past 50 feet. Being this has to be done in the dark we managed to pick up the wrong camera and actually did the flash range tests with last years BTC which was discovered once we looked at the pictures and could see the old style information strip at the bottom of the pictures. Out the door again for another round of testing and this time the proper cameras were tested. Just prior to this round of testing we had kept one camera fired up and facing the wall for about 5 hours. This was so we could sneak up on it and test for “sleep mode” which we did not find. The Trigger time is longer that the advertised 1 second but as of now we do not have the official time which will be done tomorrow. We got to the trigger time tests and found they are the same time with and without flash. The results were 1.5 seconds and that’s a full half second slower than the advertised time.

We are paying close attention to picture quality and so far we have some results.

Our 119435 came from a special order I had with Cabelas so we could do our usual comparison tests. We have added a contrast plate to our testing range but this morning I went ahead and did a little informal testing to see what black on white looked like.

At about 20 feet all resolutions still had a degree of fuzz which makes picture quality a possible area of concern since it is advertised as being much better. A zoom in to the black mark on a white background gives us a good measure of the cameras contrast ability and the quality of the lens/sensor capabilities. More testing will be done once we put our purchased cameras on the test range in a field condition. I will know more once we get the other cameras powered up and conduct some side by side testing to insure that we do not have a difference between the factory sample cams vs. open market cams. The new flash is much better than last year’s cam’s headlight. We bickered back and forth but the pictures have finally shown that the 2010 version may be a little better than the 2009 but a slight correction in the 09 removes that slight haze and they are pretty well equal, but the final word is still out until we can get our purchased cams in the comparison maybe this after noon or for sure tomorrow. We have 8 other pre production cameras from other sources that have to be attended to today so as time allows we will get to this and have the important details by tomorrow.

First impressions

With us being in the middle of some history that all started with a small little old camera that everyone loved and migrated through a saga of turmoil both here and over seas. Now that the air has finally seen a calming of the ill winds and the dance partners have gone their separate ways, we are watching everything with some very curious eyes. The part that separated and was divorced from the original parent company is now the KT brand and they are the suppliers of the Bushnell and other brand names. HCO will remain with the BMC parent company which has all the original patents. As we had to do last year with one of the other distributors we have taken a very careful approach to this years review because the situation has changed three times since October of last year. We have plenty of stock to work with but the variables between units had us stopped for a while. I will say that the good people at Bushnell are very much into having the very best product out there and have taken on the task of forcing changes to meet those goals. Last year we witnessed the occasional slip in QC matters and with the help of our reports things managed to get back on the right track and the BTC gained a very good following. The news channels that we have managed to keep open have allowed for us to manage our methods of testing those products and find the hidden slips that for the most part may be missed by the average user. When the gasket stuck and was ripped loose on the first XLT that I opened it instilled me to become that much more inquisitive as to my inspection. As it was, most things were very much in place and an impressive package just to view. Pre production units have those type of things so it was not paid much attention but when I got to the post production units I did take out the pad and SLR to record those things I found.

Function and programming were somewhat solid and assembly was above average. My market purchased cameras definitely show a different hue to the pictures. Though they are good in quality judging from the first two or three pictures I think light metering may be an area of concern because we see dark and light pictures from camera to camera under the same light conditions. This variable is small and would only be known if you had more than one camera operating at the same time and light to see the variability.

03-05-2010 Update: First off let me apologize for dragging this out but we began to see a situation that did not fall into our understanding. It is normal for us to compare the last years camera to the new item that is coming out. In this case we started the comparison and right away we did not believe what we were seeing. One way was to get other opinions as to the phenomena. The other way was to acquire additional units to see if there was a trend.

The base story was the 2009 vs. the 2010 Bushnell trophy cam's XLT picture quality.

The advertised boost in quality seemed to be there on some units. The problem was that when we zoomed in we lost a large amount of definition on the 2010 unit compared to what was seen under the exact conditions on the 2009 cam. The additional units (thus the delay) arrived and the confusion mounted because we could see that the quality varied from unit to unit but the loss of definition was still there. The normal picture quality of the 2010 cam was more pleasing to the eye (eye candy) when just viewed straight out because of the vibrant colors. The drive that gained the pleasing effect to the non zoomed pictures also caused the definition to deteriorate when zoomed (as needed for game management uses) so we will have to say that even though the new camera has a "pretty picture quality" it has lost the detail needed as was available on the 09 BTC. The additional emitters in the new flash did help but for the increase count the range remained very much the same. This is probably due to the amount of power to the array which has been turned down to accommodate battery life. A higher emitter count does not magically mean greater flash though the spread of light may be improved at close range.

Because of the way this cam is acting during daylight we have spent some time in several different light conditions to evaluate the performance. In under canopy situations where there is measured day light this camera does very good and the picture quality reflects that. But have it in a bright sun light situation or have it in the shade looking out onto a bright sun lighted area this camera goes to a near whiteout situation in picture quality. White balance is off kilter. What most everyone would say that having the sun to your back and everything in front of the camera good and bright would be the almost perfect situation. Under these circumstances this camera falls apart and the pictures have white areas where ever the sun is hitting which is not acceptable.

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