2011 Leupold RCX-1 Camera Review - July 25, 2011

2011 Leupold RCX-1

2011 Leupold RCX-1 36 count red flash 8 MP digital camera review

This opening paragraph will also appear on the RCX-2 review and be the same because both cameras share much of the same features. Our discussions about this camera with the company have given us some insight as to why things about this camera are totally different than what we normally experience with other brands. First off we will say that the brand name Leupold has been synonyms with quality in the hunting optics field. This company decided to enter the scouting camera business and chose to do this by going to a supplier that has never been associated with this type of camera. You will find that the procedures, layout, terms, function and layout to be non standard compared to the normal layout of what we have known with other brands. The language used in their documentation seems to me as being more computer orientated than camera orientated.

They start off by making two models with the RCX-1 being the bottom of the line and not featuring the same goodies as its big brother the RCX-2. Both require a remote to function. We have had years of service out of our old Scoutguard cameras that are still deployed and are still giving us good service and they also required a plug in remote to operate.

This remote is made of a very solid poly carbonate plastic and a wired USB cable to connect to the camera. These units are sold separately for about $150 or in a kit which is remote and camera combination. This way you can purchase several cameras and just one remote to service all cameras. A word of caution about this remote, it is lithium powered and rechargeable through a supplied adapter (16 hours). This battery life is good but we found that we needed to make sure it was topped off prior to taking an extended trip to the field to service our cameras. Some long travel time and a dead remote would result in no service to the field units. Problematic button function also created some minor issues.

The remote functions as a viewer, programmer, and storage download unit meaning that it has its own SD card slot for a high capacity card so you can just plug into the field unit and copy the pictures to the remote without removing the cameras card. Our attempts at this found that it does work but it is slow and we ended up doing the standard card swap instead of messing with the download procedure. Standing in the field viewing pictures and downloading to an internal card eats lots of the remote battery life which is critical for camera function. The remotes battery is non standard lithium and not AAA or AA type cells. The card swap seems to us to be a much better idea.

The language used in the instruction manual is somewhat hard to associate with the actual function because of us being used to the way other cameras function. You must learn in house by going over the programming prior to going to the field. Even though the programming is simple to do it does not follow the standard means which most are use to so this new way needs to be found out and then things fall in place.

The 3 inch view screen does work well but it is also a battery user so we found we used it sparingly to insure we could get through our procedures even though we had made sure everything was topped off. Our second time out taught us this, because we failed to top off the remote.

The RCX-1 is a 36 count fixed red flash not selectable like the 2 series. This camera is 8 MP that can be tuned down to 3 MP which is much more acceptable for a scouting camera. Video is 640X480 and 320X240 at 15 or 30 fps. The PIR is tuned to a fixed 45 degree angle and the camera lens covers a wide 54 degrees. Trigger time is advertized as being less than 1 second which we will test and record the exact figure. Inside the tank this camera needs 8 AA cells and they feel that it will work with alkaline they would feel better if you would choose lithium. We will be performing our tests with the cheaper cells which are the Ray O Vac pro cells. For security they offer an optional plate for this camera. Included in the box is the controller/viewer, standoffs for plate, car adapter, house adapter, USB cable, and strap.

We have spent months with this camera and were involved in the pre release testing. We can tell everyone that they have been very serious about getting things right. We will take a strong look to see if the quality has been elevated to the Leupold expectation. We can also say that the platform limitations of these original cameras limit the upgrade procedures that cam be done. We are in high hopes that these cameras hold up to everyones high expectations.

Our post production cameras, even though improved do not seem to reach the pentacle of performance we had expected. Our review window has passed due to very late release and the balance of this review will have to be slipped into the cracks as we progress through our current line up. We had started to receive field reports long before our review cameras were purchased. At first we had decided we would only do the 2 series and just refer that review to this one but if time allows we will at least get some sample pictures and maybe a video. The arising list of things reported good and bad will require us to maybe to do our best to at least get some basic information posted.

Because of an incorrect shipment of review cameras from another vendor that had to be done next but we had to return them and wait for the replacements we went ahead and took a little look at this camera. As specified in the RCX-2 review these cameras do work but they do not work well. No matter the degree of extra features things like picture quality come first, after all this is a camera. Please view the day range picture and see the picture quality and to us it does not come up to the standards we expected from this company. This remote seemed to function without issue but the sensing is still somewhat weak. If our shipment of other cameras does not arrive today I will go ahead and do a little more tomorrow on this unit.

09-21-2011 update: As promised I have spent another 30 plus hours evaluating both the 1 and 2 series of this camera. From a feature stand point, both of these cameras are loaded and well thought out. From a functional (engineering) standpoint these cameras are like a Volkswagen buss. There is just too much body for the engine that powers it. The updates addressed some things but the underlying problem appears that you cannot power this much electronics with the battery setup they have chosen. The picture quality and sensing are only fair and do not come up near the quality of other brands costing much less. The only way I would recommend this camera is that you use a bigger external power source and then most of the features can run at their full potential. We do feel that next years cameras will be a whole lot better and this introduction has been a wake up for Leupold.

Trigger Tests
(without flash )

(with flash )

Day Range 8 plate
(factory supplied camera test below)

Flash Range

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