2010 Moultrie L20 Camera Review - August 29, 2010

2010 Moultrie L20

2010Moultrie L20 Camera Review

Out of the box first impression was I had my hands on one of last years WGI basic cameras IR cameras. This camera is almost exactly the same size but the cut off corners are cut different and this camera has strap loops on the back and theirs had bungee holes at the corners. The size is about seven by seven and a half inches and it is about two and a half inches thick. The case is plastic that is satin black but still has a small degree of reflection. The back has a couple of contoured bark grabbers to keep it centered on the tree along with the strap loops. The front has a very small white flash at the top and the lens/PIR sensor is the only other things on the front. This is a cam in the door type of configuration and the only saving factor is the bark grabbers that help hold the came somewhat upright when the door is opened and the camera is tree mounted. The heavy door has a tendency to pull the cam sideways and down when the door is opened while servicing the camera. There is no security other than the small door loop for a small lock. The hinge and latch setup seem to be very solid and did not give me any difficulties. The door has a full gasket and appeared to be weather resistant, though I did not test that.

The door will only open one quarter of the way which is a little awkward because of the stops built into the hinges. This looks like a weak point if the cam was bumped while the door was open. There is a very small LCD associated with the up down and select buttons to accommodate programming while the rotary switch selects the area to be programmed. The rotary switch also has the arm position at the very top. The only other switch is the on/off switch. The bottom area has a four C cell battery holder with a snap on protective cover.

The price is anywhere from $39 to $59 depending on sales/coupons and where you decide to shop. This is a very basic camera with very basic function. It does seem to have a decent trigger time from some general testing I was doing to check day/night picture quality and the multi shot (2@5sec.) function. There is no video or internal memory on this camera. Minimum delay is one minute.

The PIR sensor lens looks strange to me, because it is the multi zone type but it is concave instead of being convex. It looks like it got popped in somehow but it does work and it will sense so we will see if it works in the wild once we have it deployed. Our expectations are not very high so far, but I hope the degree of function will change my mind. Moultrie needs a lot of help this year. I have some drop tests and some timing tests to do then I will get this out to the official table for some serious analyzing and sample pictures.

09-03-2010 update: The lab reports so far show that day and night trigger times to be just over two seconds around the 2.3 to 2.4 range. This is a bit of good news for this camera as long as we can get the pictures to come out with a degree of quality that most will accept. This is a low dollar camera and we know that the expectations are a bit low but maybe it will surprise us.

09-05-2010 update: Darn and double du du, the batteries went dead very early but they were Energizers so that test will most definitely get re done with some Ray O Vacs. The good news is the day pictures (went dead prior to going through the evening) are all pretty good and clear. This camera sells from 39 to 59 dollars depending on source or being on sale. The simple setup and size should make this camera very popular. There is no external battery port so this cam may be a candidate for the same type of battery mod we did with those battery eating Bushnell trail sentry cameras. Before we jump to that modification let us run the test again with better batteries to make sure that it was just bad cells to start with. This is the time I wish I had an inside line on wholesale Ray O vacs.

09-06-2010 update: With a new power pill in its tummy we had a pretty good evening clicking away. We will not say that this camera's white flash is one of its strong points. The flash is mounted so that it is aimed low for the camera so even with the aim catching the animals toward the bottom of the picture the flash still is hitting low in front of most of the target animals. When well illuminated the night pictures did show a good quality. This puts this little sub $50 camera out front of the Moultrie line in picture quality when put up against those units previously tested that had the 2010 label. We might see if we have time just what this camera would do if we again tip it back a little more. This leaves the battery life as the one remaining test.

09-12-2010 update: The aim was adjusted a little higher and the results showed a little more color and distance in the night shots. This camera had a couple of hick ups this time around when the flash failed to fire. Could this be because the battery level has dropped some? We do not know at this time but we will follow up as we run through the balance of the battery life test. We have liked this camera so far and it has shown more promise than any of the other Moultrie cameras tested so far this year. It is just too bad it started to fall down part way through the review. Being this camera cannot be hooked to external power, what you have on board is what you get when it comes to battery life. We will do a bit more looking prior to closing this review.

10-09-2010 update: My guess is I probably like this little camera the best of what we have seen from Moultrie this year. It did pretty well on the battery life where it ran 35 days and gave us 1385 pictures. When the cells were getting tired it really showed up in the picture quality. We had a lot of black pictures where the flash just could not get any steam up but the picture quality and limited flash still made a good enough showing we grew to like this little camera even with the black pictures now and then. It has earned its retirement so we are going to close this review.

Trigger Tests
(without flash 2.25 seconds)

(with flash 2.26 seconds)

Two Pic Burst Mode

Flash Range


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