2011 Moultrie L-50 Camera Review - June 29, 2011

2011 Moultrie L-50

2011 Moultrie L-50 white flash 5 MP digital Camera Review

Last year we tested the little brother to this camera the 20 series and found it to be the best of the bunch we tested from this company. Here we have a $67 camera that is a basic switch based camera and the only electronic programming is the time/date, delay, mode and multi shot which is switch selected to program. Just rotate the dial and use the up/down buttons and select to make your choice. There are not a lot of white flash cameras right now, instead the majority of the attention is focused on the IR array based cameras. This would be slick if it were also IR based but using the white IRs like the M-45. As you can see this is not a large camera and is the basic textured black plastic case with a bit of that old Stealth cam look. There is a full gasket for water protection and it has two latches to hold it closed. On the rear of the camera is the belt slots and that is about it as far as description. Inside it is a very small LCD that is located at the top with the select buttons just below. The rotary switch is off to the right of the display. The SD card (up to 4 gig) is on the side edge along with the USB port. There is an external battery port on the bottom of the camera. The balance of the inside area of the camera is taken up with a 6 C cell battery box that has a snap in cover.

As the above chart shows there are three resolutions 1.3, 3.2, and 5 MP selectable. Most will probably use the 5 MP setting but we will show samples of all three resolutions. Video has two settings which are the standard 320X240 and 640X480. They have chosen to only allow up to a 4 gig SD card in this camera so dont pull out one of those High speed racing cards for this little unit. The last years 20 series camera had a tiny strobe flash but this camera looks like it may have got detoured over to the D-55 line to get its strobe installed. It is much larger and is rated at 50+ feet. Both the camera lens and PIR are fairly well matched with around 45 degrees of field of view. The bad news here is the battery type which is the C size and it takes six of them to fill the tank. The battery life will not be all that great either with this camera because they say 90 days with 10 pictures a day half day and half night with flash. That is 900 pictures in 90 days. We sometimes get that in normal use in a week or so. We will be testing this to get a better idea of the facts as time allows. That kind of battery life is easy to test but these cameras that last months end up in a high traffic area on burst to get the final figure on battery count and life.

We have our fingers crossed and hope this will be yet another pleasant surprise from this company. The book says that it has delay settings with 15 seconds at the bottom. Believe me that after all the mess with the M-100 and M-80 and the extended delay time that is double the switch setting we will look very close at this setting. Should we get anywhere close to a good trigger time and slick clear pictures we may have some competition to some much higher priced cameras.

Coming out of the box it looks very much like the little 20 series we reviewed last year. Just the over sized strobe seems to be the difference. I did a quick once over and every thing seemed to be good and tight and weather proof. I stuck 6 pre tested C cells in the battery box. I had to go with some of those sorry energizer batteries but they tested good on the way into the box. My local source has dropped Ray O Vac and I did not have time to get across town to Battery Plus to get a box of the good stuff. So on the battery life just remember it is going to be done with Energizers instead of the other brand.

The trip to the dark room just about ruined my optic nerve, because like a big dummy I was thinking IR flash when the strobe fired it was only a second before I knew I would need a period of time to go on with my first evaluation. With spots still present I went ahead and hit the bright sun and captured a bunch of day pictures and then pulled the card. I dont think that most will have many problems with the day color pictures. They were sharp and clear with good color. The night color pictures were somewhat washed because I was much to close too the camera but there was plenty of evidence of hair burning on my face in those pictures.

Programming is as easy as anything, just rotate the dial and punch in the settings. One thing that I did notice but will be looked at a little closer but I feel the 15 second delay is actually pretty close and not like that sorry M-100/80 setup. The aim feature is just about worthless and is just a red LED that will shoot about 6 feet then disappears. Maybe it would work better if you hit the woods about midnight it may do a little better and shine a little further. To get into the different resolutions you need to play around in the mode setting.

I need to get this into the lab for the trigger testing which seems to be pretty fast and will be giving some of those more expensive cameras a fit if this camera works well.

07-03-2011 update: Things went to hell very fast once in the lab. The trigger times are just terrible and the delay time is double of the switch setting (15s delay is actually 30 seconds). We then went to the day range and found the pictures as being pretty fuzzy. Today we started a new test to see dead pixel count and this camera looked like a snow storm had hit the sensor. We also tested one of the WGI cameras at the same time and its sensor was solid black and no indication of bad pixels. Well our hopes faded very fast with this camera so we are just going to get a couple day sample pictures and a couple night pictures and call it over with in a couple more days. There is no need to go further other than sample pictures.

07-04-2011 update: The night flash range and sensing has been performed. Sensing is about 50 feet at 82 degrees. View the sample pictures for evaluation. We now have less than a hundred pictures and battery indicator is now down to 50 % which if this reading is accurate then this is another issue. If it is not accurate it is also an issue because the level indicator should be at least in the ball park as a usable reference. We spent more time trying to re evaluate the trigger times and it still is pretty sorry with the trigger with flash reaching nearly 4 seconds and the day without flash all were well over two seconds. We understand that this is the low end unit from this company but other companies have their like priced units with just over a second trigger time and their delay is what the switch says.

07-06-2011 update: The setup chosen was to use (HIGH rez) with 2 shot burst mode and try to capture as many pictures as we could in the shortest time. The day and night picture quality is somewhat fuzzy but the flash reaches out to about 70 feet. The second night picture in the burst is black (around 30% of the time) and apparently the flash does not work or sync at times. Many would probably be happy with this camera at this price and get the day/night color pictures. The image sensor is not up to par and the picture quality is just not there but still readable for most applications.

07-09-2011 update: Kind of strange but there seems to be a degree of improvement in picture quality both day and night in the medium rez setting. The fuzziness is not nearly as bad. This makes me think they may have some firmware issue in the interpolation process with this camera. We will wait and see if it is even better in the low setting. This changes our evaluation now so we are going to continue review on into the video phase and then close. So far the battery level is down to 50 % with just these few pictures.

07-12-2011 update: The trend goes on and as we moved south the pictures just looked better. The dead pixel thing still shows through but over all these are pretty good pictures both day and night. Maybe we have really found what this $70 camera is good for. These low rez pictures are very acceptable for the price and would probably give some of the big boys costing more a bit of a run. We are going on to the video which is day only and then close out and report on the battery life later.

07-13-2011 update: Finished the video test and we will say that this mode is not this cameras strong point. I would probably just stick with the still mode in either the low or medium setting and maybe use the burst 2 selection which is where the second picture is snapped within 5 seconds. This is the end of the review except we may have some battery life data later if we manage to have time.

Trigger Tests
( without flash 2.2s)

( with flash 3.56s)

Flash Range
(camera only)

Day Range/8 Plate

Dead Pixel Test
(there are many white pixels when you view the original - click)

Video Samples

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