2010 Bushnell Trophycam REVISIT - July 23, 2010

2010 Bushnell TrophyCam XLT

2010Bushnell TrophyCam XLT REVISIT

The very first statement that I wish to make in this revisit is we feel that the people at Bushnell have been left out of the loop on what we are about to report on. From what we have found out it appears that they are just now beginning to understand that there is a problem. We had our first indication when our first post production camera had a problem and was basically advised that maybe this one had slipped through the system. We made purchases from different sources so as to get a good idea of what was really hitting the market. We went ahead and performed the review and finished up with a number of problems being reported. The light began to shine when we found the degree of saturation being pumped into the still pictures and they the motion blur in the night pictures. Careful testing showed that there were some serious problems and because of the brilliant day color pictures no one was looking elsewhere. Things like interpolated video frame rate from 7.5 fps to 30 which is a total cheat in our opinion and a trigger time exceeding the advertised rate by more than double. We concluded and closed other reviews on other manufacturers cameras because we found trigger times in excess of three seconds. The distributor must have begun to see the light when the Boly Media made platform 09 cameras were now being requested over the KT made 10 cameras. The users started to have a multitude of difficulties and began to try to shop replacement cameras by firmware numbers. The changes came in the firmware from the manufacturer long after the post production review we performed, so a lot of previous material posted in our review no longer applies. There appears to just be a lot of new issues that we feel need to be addressed.

Because we have very good data slipping through the cracks from somewhere way over seas, we are able to in some cases have a lead as to the areas we needed to pay attention to. We began to put out emails to a lot of individuals who had the latest versions and asked for different tests to be done to make sure the purchase of additional cameras was in order to ensure that this report is as accurate as we could possibly make it. We have cameras from three different sources and as we go through these cameras we will show our findings and try to explain the difference between the advertised values and our findings. Because of our load of cameras already in the system we will have to fit these tests in during some rain days and other periods we can use to accomplish what needs to be done. Please keep a close watch as we are sure you may be surprised. We also believe all this has been kept from Bushnell and they are finding out just like us as the issues are being pushed back through their customer service. We were told that the return rate was very low to the Bushnell repair service. Yet the RMA turn around of cameras is over a month and a half on average. We are also running a review on their customer service and each time we check we see the replacement is back ordered This has been the case for weeks yet we do know the vendors are receiving their orders on schedule for their sales. Pulling that amount of time out of the guarantee somehow just does not seem fair. Keep tuned in as we will get further into this very shortly and as time allows.

07-24-2010 update: Wow, you would not think that a small piece of produce from the local Kroger super market would cause such a fuss. It seemed to have worked and we got called several un flattering organisms because of it. Excommunicated may be the next step in a developing situation. By bringing the attention to some specifications that fall out side the advertized specifications to the point where the parameters are more than double somehow says that there might just be a need to let someone know that either has purchased one or is in the process of that mission. The facts are published and the consumer can make the choice. If he is happy with a 3 plus trigger time or other out of bound findings that is fine. They have stated that their return rate is only 1% repeat 1% yet just look around on the forums and there are folks with cameras still sitting with Bushnell customer service and it is over 40 days. God help them if things really got bad and the failure rate went to 2%.

The fresh out of the womb cams arrived and the tests began but not before taking a few minutes to read the clam shell packaging that these cameras arrived in. On their lists of specifications there is a line that says fast trigger speed less than one second. Off to the official testing station and then to the second trigger testing station then to the old clock testing station and no matter how we tried the day without flash trigger time were all over 2 seconds and the night with flash was all over three seconds. This puts them out of specifications by double and triple depending if the flash is used. At this point I would like to say I rest my case but there is more work to be done. We feel that because of the changes that were made to the camera after we did the review initially cannot be fixed by a simple firmware download update. We have not been able to determine the exact date that the change to this camera was made but we know that it has been longer than two months.

We are having someone look at some employment records and we can tell better once we get those dates as to a closer timeframe when the slooooooooooow cams came out.

07-25-2010 update: The mail came in and went out with a ton of questions. When we set up to do the research we had conversations with a number of dealers but it was done as Joe Doaks and not Chasingame. We asked about returns and sales rates for the three models. We heard that the Bone Collector seemed to be the least popular of the three because it was just the base camera with an upgraded case and it carried a top price. This being the case then the stock situation could have many of the original cameras in it and not these cameras we are not reporting on. The sad part about this whole thing is there is no way to tell and no guarantee that any camera that is presently in the system is not part of the problem lot. The high volume dealers that sell a lot is where we would think that you would have the greatest possibility of getting one of the reported cameras (above) because they would have already sold out of the original cams that were not effected by the change. Because of the packaging the cameras would have to be removed and trigger time tested in order to make the determination. We worked up to this report very slowly and we had solid data long before we finally opened the report up. The acquisition of last out cams was the last stage and our final proof. A possible solution would be for all present stock be returned and be replaced by upgraded cameras that have been upgraded. From 4 AM until 6 AM I covered as many of the out door forums and looked at the Bushnell threads and see a lot more of what led us to do this re visit. It is a problem that a lot of those good people are going to venture into, a situation and not know what is awaiting them if the current methods are not changed.

07-25-2010 update#2: Further study through the documentation and on the Bushnellville site I came across another feature that would pull this cam out of the dust and again put it on a lot of trees. That is it is advertized to be able to do Time lapse which the current leader in that field sells in the same catalog that I got the data from for $200 and all it does is time laps, but this camera is advertized to do both the trail cam function and time laps. I grabbed up one of the cameras and started through the menu and then went trough it again then I looked for some sub menu and I just could not find that option. I got on the phone and talked to some other folks who also have new cameras and asked for them to look for me because I just figured I had missed it somewhere in the programming. Well they were not able to locate that function either. Could it be that maybe we have now found yet another problem where a claim is made and again not kept??? This is not fun at all and I am going to hold my cool until I hear from more of our friends in the field so that no one can say that we pulled the trigger too early. Maybe they figure that the camera owners will stand by the camera and self trigger every 20 seconds to gather that data. We had a couple of cams that did it on their own without stop and they called that run away

Bushnell Website and Cabelas Catalog:

07-25-2010 update #3: We have now produced a video analysis by cutting exactly 1 second (real time) from a Trophycam video clip and in the video doing a slow up and down movement (arm waving). By slowing this down, you can count the distinct changes or frames. This shows that there are less than eight changes for that period. Though the original video has 30 frames per second, it means that there are multiples of the same frame inserted that are identical frames which is interpolation of the frame rate and that is how they manage to claim a higher frame rate and is pretty sneaky. A side effect of this interpolation is that the videos are 4 times larger than they needed to be, using up valuable space on the SD card. (see the video below)

Video Frame Analysis:

Get Flash to see this player.

07-29-2010 update: There is a bit of confusion about this review so let me clear up things a little. This review is based on field reports that led us to acquire three (3) more cameras from three (3) different sources. We also stated that this review would probably not cover the Bone collector version due to lagging sales of that version because it being a base camera with only a camo case and a premium price. If a Bone Collector version was released after 1 May then it will be included in this review. Our cameras are all the brown version with and without view screen.

07-29-2010 update #2: I want to tell you that the birdie is singing loud and clear this week about the wheels that are turning way over there. Somebody got caught and now there are a few things that are happening. No one from the distributor has mailed yet saying well fellows you were correct and we have a mess on our hands. Some how the message seemed to have gotten delivered, if not they are sure busy doing upgrades and trying to find that big stick that someone used to originally stir that mess up with and keep it all a secret. There is the post release issues, then the post May issues and now we will have the post fix situation. How will this all be handled? Mean while we will be here working on that night time blur issue.

08-08-2010 update: The chirps have a way of becoming louder and louder in some areas that we need to visit. That little bird has been real busy and we now have another area that seems to be not functioning as we have been lead to believe in the BTC documentation. This is the area of being able to adjust the PIR sensitivity on the BTC. Under very controlled conditions where we have the ambient temperature nice and low and our heat source (30 degree difference) set at a given setting as the target animal. We continued to move out target source closer and closer starting at about 70 feet. The background temperature always remained the same and the only change was the target device which was as large as an average deer. Multiple tests were performed on each sensitivity setting and we found that there is no difference in the performance of the camera as to sensitivity. We became aware of this when we began to see these cameras having the runaway problems and the adjustment had absolutely no effect. We began to ask questions to the feathered one which led us to design and initiate this special test. We do have more but this should bring on at least one more firmware adjustment.

08-13-2010 update: Friday the 13th has certain meaning to a lot of people and for one new trail cam buyer it became somewhat of a bad story. We had intended to go ahead and pull down some of the graphics at the top of this review and calm things down a bit until wewere told that the problem cameras are still being put in the hands of unsuspecting customers. Evidently there is still a large amount of the problem children in the hands of some vendors and we understand that not even one word has been told to the vendors about the issues by the Bushnell Company. So we are going to leave the graphics in place for a while longer until we are told that the market is no longer full of those items that probably should have been recalled and replaced by fully functional units that reflect all advertizing claims.

08-19-2010 update: Well we can see that there is now a small line under product support on their website that says software update. There is no explanation as to why this down load is needed or what the down load is supposed to change or update. It does not even say what Bushnell product the update is for. When you click on the update you will see Trophy cam and update, which is not exactly self explanatory being there are several Bushnell cameras and do they fit in the and update category? We are in the business to know so it was not an issue for us but we did have to answer a multitude of questions that should have been readily spelled out and displayed there on that web site so that a third party would not have to explain their intentions. Anyway, because there are some really great camera owners that are not totally up to speed when it comes to some technical operations dealing with the family computer there have been a couple boat anchors made out of their BTCs so far today because of a miss step during the down load. This is only day one of this being released. Lets hope that these are the only two we hear of, there is still a chance to maybe see Bushnell do a full explanation of the issues and just what the down load is suppose to correct and get it all out in the open the good old fashion honest way. Of course they would have to say thanks Chasingame you were right. The bright side of this is we could take down the lemons, provided the down load actually corrected all the issues. And the customers could go back and expect a decent product that resembled the advertizing. We are still watching the manufacturer and hope that Bushnell is now doing the same. This is not fun and it eats up a lot of time we could be using on other things.

08-20-2010 update: We did the update and headed to the trigger time table as the first stop. The procedure did help the trigger time but did not fully correct it down to the advertized times of one second. They came fairly close with times in the one and a half second time frame for both with and without flash. Next we checked the blur factor and this was also improved. We then set up to measure the frame rate on the video and it is still shy of the advertized 20 fps but they moved from the seven fps up to thirteen and a half frames per second. Those over blasted highly saturated pictures are gone also and now we have very dark daytime pictures. When we displayed these same quality pictures from the HR Covert we had the Bushnell puritans scream like a gut shot panther as being awful. We just see them as dark full color pictures that can be bumped into condition with any number of photo processing softwares like Picasa and lighten them up. We now are going to get into the day blur and other areas. Our well equipped bird that watches over things at the factory has told us that because of the hardware there is very little more that can be done now with just the software changes. A major hardware and new software is the only total fix and that will probably happen next year.

Anyway, we have a camera now that is somewhat closer to where it should be and we will go ahead and gather some more data along with pictures and videos to double check more of this cameras functions.

08-21-2010 final update: We are going to get a few sample pictures, night flash range and then close all Bushnell reviews for this year. We have devoted way to much time to a camera that still has a long way to go to be consumer ready and up to specifications. We do give them credit for making the effort (about a 50% improvement) but we are going to have to wait until next year for the cobwebs to clear and see if they finally get a handle on this camera. The ride on the 09 camera reputation lasted pretty well but it was not enough to make it all the way through the year.

09-21-2010 observation: I have kept a log since closing the review plus spent a lot of time on the phone as I usually do with normal business, but this past month while I was making inquiries with the major retail catalog people, Store chains and online vendors I slipped some leading questions in as to return rates and failure rates and general attitudes with this product. The failure rate has not slowed down so even though there was a lot of effort to upgrade an already lacking firmware. Today was the thirtieth day and the conclusion arrived by this short study was that your chances of receiving a camera that will last and perform and have any degree of longevity is probably not very good. A good portion of the cameras are failing shortly after replacement or purchase. Having to make a customer service return up to three times seems to be fairly common with some of the cases that have been reported. To determine just why this is happening we asked some over seas questions. We have been given a story about the post divorce from BMC that dried up many of the component sources that were associated with BMC so now there are components being used that are of a mismatched and of lesser quality than the original components that were used while under BMC. Writing more firmware made improvements but did not correct the failure rate related to the new replacement components that went into the construction of the boards.

11-15-2010 update: We have just stayed out of this mess ever since we began to see that all the effort by Bushnell customer service just did not seem to make things any better. I have cataloged a ton of issues since the middle of September on the sad stories involving those who have had to miss a big part of their scouting season because of their cameras being either in repair or in shipment. Now that the cold weather has hit the run away issue has again surfaced as a top concern. No matter how hard Bushnell tries to ease the problem the fact that they just do not have a product to work with that is worth a flip and until they change out the existing platform and go to some new arrangement these issues are likely to continue through out their two year warranty period which now looks like one year of that time will at least be shipping/down time for this ill fated camera. The new return/refund seems to be the choice that is being reflected on the outdoor forums lately.

Camera with August 2010 firmware upgrade

Post May camera with out firmware upgrade

Trigger Tests
(without flash 2.07 seconds)

(with flash 3.25 seconds)

Motion Blur and Ghosting Examples


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