Moultrie M100 Camera Review

2011 Moultrie M100 Camera Review - March 10, 2011

2011 Moultrie M100

Note: we manufactured this bracket to overcome the non standard threads on the insert:

2011 Moultrie MFH-DGS-M100 view screen 6 mp 30 count red flash Camera Review

We went through all of last year and pushed the Moultrie cameras through our tests and a couple of points of interest were the delay and the picture quality. The individual cameras that made it through our system, with the exception of one, had picture quality that was somewhat lacking. My scans through the outdoor forums gave me the same opinion except for a couple of the 55 series cameras that had exceptional picture quality. This makes me think that maybe there was a focus issue similar to what was experienced with the Reconyx cameras. Now we are into the 2011 season and this is the second camera from this company that is entering our system. The first also seemed to also have last years picture quality problem and is being sent back to see if it is a correctable issue so the balance of those this year will be sold and have that problem fixed.

This is a mini camera the size of a Scoutguard SG-560 and has a 30 count red flash array and a very nice fall tan camouflage case. This is a full gasket sealed case with an internal 8 AA battery holder and external power jack. It very much resembles some of the cameras produced the past couple years by other companies except a different arrangement in hinge and latch design. This move to the mini camera is very much welcome and the slide to a 15 second delay is absolutely a move into the right direction. This camera also has a kicker of having a single and double window time lapse function and combination PIR TL programmable mode along with the standard trail camera function.

We are not familiar with the function of what they call illumi-night which is an advertized brightening of the night IR pictures. We do not know if this will affect motion blur by longer shutter times or just how this is being accomplished. If it is a post image capture function that is being handled by software then blur will not be an issue. This will be analyzed completely. A ratio of 16:9 field of view will support what they call wide view in both still and video modes. There is selectable digital zoom of three steps for those who need a closer look at the target area. Programmable password protection can add additional protection should the camera grow legs. All prints have an info strip that shows the date time, temperature, moon phase, camera ID and barometric pressure. The video mode also records sound which is another very nice feature. There are four picture resolutions and two video settings. Memory up to 32 gig memory SD cards should work out great especially during those very high picture count time lapse operations. As you can see, this camera is just chalked full of features and lets hope they all work as advertized and dont give us the letdown we experienced last year.

Starting with just the regular trail cam function it appears to have a trigger time that is just over a second. The delay goes down to 15 seconds and steps up to 30 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minutes and 10 minutes which is plenty for this little camera. There are 4 resolutions for the still mode which is not labeled in MPs but has an Enhanced, High, Medium, and low. This translates to 1.3, 3.2, 4.0, and 6.0 Mp in straight talk. Video is in two forms which are high (720X400 24 fps) and low (352X192 24 fps). The maximum size SD card is up to 32 GIG which is plenty of storage even in the taller resolution settings. The stored pictures are the wide format (16:9 aspect ratio).

The time lapse function is the next mode to be looked at. Moultrie chose to do this a little different. There are only 4 intervals of operation which are 5 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 30 seconds, and 60 seconds (how often the pictures are taken). There are 4 programmable windows of operation which are all day, 1 hour morning and 1 hour evening, 2 hours morning and two hours evening, three hours morning and three hours evening, and last is 4 hours morning and 4 hours evening. The light sensor will monitor for the first 24 hours and adjust the start and stop times which calculate out to start one half hour after sun up and a half hour prior to sun set to shut down.

You can also select what they call the Hybrid mode which is a combination of day time laps and night PIR sending operation. So far it appears to be well thought out and arranged as long as the picture quality and trigger time is there when we put this camera through the official tests. My initial look showed that I do like the night IR pictures and the day color pictures that I captured this afternoon was in a dark gray stormy day but looked pretty good.

I am going to mention the illumi-night sensor which is going to get a good close look during our tests. The night IR pictures are good and bright so flash range should not be an issue. We do not know about motion blur yet. Stoked up with 8 highly tested Ray O Vac cells it showed that the suspected battery life should be 245 days according to the menu. There is one thing that for some reason the people at Moultrie let slip by their QC staff. That is the fact that the threaded tri-pod insert is some strange size and thread arrangement and not by 20 which is pretty well the international standard for those inserts. So you avid tripod users and those who like the specialized articulating camera mounts will have to search out another means of mounting. I went to my shop and made me a small L bracket and dug through my screw assortment to find something that would work going into the camera and the bottom of the bracket is the X 20 as it should be.

03-10-2010 update: I was able to push a few more buttons and observe the results this morning. We had a heavy rain storm last night and I wanted some good sun to see if the picture quality went up any. So far I will say that I think they have done a good job addressing the picture quality since last year. Though it is not the best we have seen it is not too bad and most will call it satisfactory. I have seen other pictures taken with this same model camera and they were in the snow and they were very respectable. The amount of light reflection from the snow will aid in making things a little more clear. It is now set up to see if the video function works and to see just how good the sound recording works. Once I get that looked at I still have a couple more areas that need evaluation and one of them is the brightness of the night IR pictures. The field of view is approximately 27 feet wide at 20 feet from the camera.

03-11-2011 update: I rummaged through my stack of security boxes that were used previously by some defunct junk cameras like the 2010 BTC. I had hopes that I could squeeze this camera into one of them but the thickness of this camera is about inch more which will not allow for the front cover to close. This means that as of now there is not a box out there for the security of this camera.

03-12-2011 update: I Managed to find the time to play a couple more minutes with this camera and this time I went into the video mode to see just how good the sound feature worked. While I was set up I had some neighbor school kids that came around with a school money making offer and for $5 I could buy enough chocolate to kill my diet for the next decade. My little dog took offence to their arrival and had some good loud barks not far from the camera and the sound was recorded nice and clear. I donated the $5 to the cause and told them to give the teacher the chocolate as a bribe for good grades.

One thing I failed to mention is that I obtained this camera from one of our forum members who is also a camera/security box vendor. This is the Custom1Enterprizes folks and I will say that the experience was far superior to my last Moultrie purchase from another vendor. Good job Chuck.

03-13-2011 update: While I was trying to get my coffee consumed this morning I did the drop tests and the leak tests. The drop test went well but because of the way this camera is designed I did get a little water inside the camera. This is due to the gasket around the PIR sensor and main lens. The water has a tendency to hang around the edge and no matter how hard I tried to dry the outside and shake off the camera I would get some water inside once the door was opened again. So during damp conditions the user might have a towel ready to mop up the drops of water that will run down near the switches or get locked back up inside once the door is closed which would result in some inside fogging. It would probably be prudent when the cam is deployed, to inspect the PIR sensor and main lens prior to opening the camera to see if there are any droplets hanging on in the crevasses.

03-19-2011 update: We have had a lot of in house testing going on with some really interesting results. First off the trigger times came out to 1.68 seconds without flash and 1.78 seconds with flash. The light metering tests showed that there is some metering going on but not to excess. When we performed the sleep test we found that the camera does not have a sleep issue. We did some sensing tests on a warm 74 degree evening we were getting around 40 feet. The day color on the dayrange/8plate was changing back and forth as the metering was working. We did have a few pictures that were somewhat color washed. The 8 plate zoom still came out pretty sharp both with and without flash on a 200% zoom. The night with flash pictures were mostly very good and bright. When we tested for blur we found that the results were average for most IR cameras. The illumi-sensor then must be a firmware function rather than extended shutter times. This means an after the fact brightness adjustment by way of software is being incorporated. The results are very good. During the flash range tests we spent some extra time with the Uway XtendIR-B hooked to this camera with the camera array totally blocked. The results were some of the best black flash pictures we have seen and both Anthony and I felt that they were better than with its own red flash array as the light source. They were not nearly as bright but still had things illuminated out to 65 plus feet. Please view the test pictures for your own conclusion. I am going to call the flash range good to 70 feet even with the black flash conversion. We did not see any of the ghosting that was experienced with the 2010 Moultrie cameras. Things have moved a long way into the right direction so far with this camera. We think it will be a hot seller if they hold together and breakdowns are few and far between. Only time and lots of field deployment will give us that data.

A quick note about a feature they have labeled as digital zoom, which is a three stage step up in power. This is a software generated zoom which if the original at its full size was placed on your computer in its original size and you used your computer software to enlarge the photo you would be achieving similar results as this on board firmware application. The results were less than stellar in my estimation and I would only use the camera without zoom and only enlarge the photos after I had them on my computer and using a good photo software to do that. In the field on the view screen there may be an occasion where this may be of value.

Whoa, stop, we have got a problem. While we were setting up for the long term sleep test (one hour plus), we found the camera will lock up every time and stop taking pictures. We went through our card supply and the results remained the same. Once locked up, the battery box had to be pulled to re initiate a boot. Battery change brought it up to 100% and still the same results. We set the program and arm the camera. The countdown will (viewed with the door open) the first time go from 30 then take the first picture. We trigger the camera after each count down. The LCD counter will then count down from 15 (which is our delay setting) and take the next picture. This will normally go two or three cycles and then the counter will stop midway and the cam will shut down. The field reports that we are getting from other users also reflects this same issue. As of now this review is closed until we acquire another working camera so we can continue.

03-20-2011 update: The grey hair is falling and getting in the way of clear thinking. What some have been suggesting is that there is a problem with the battery tray. That may be the case with other cameras but what appears to be happening with ours is the shut down during the countdown is probably something to do with the battery save feature. In our case it shuts down and will no longer take pictures. The only pictures taken are during the times when we can visibly see the countdown on the screen. This exact problem occurred on another brand of camera that is currently in our pre release testing program and this situation has been determined to be a firmware glitch which is now being corrected. We feel the reason that the camera can be re booted by pulling the battery tray is this breaks the main power to the camera. Where the main switch is talking to the firm ware and telling it to shut down. This is why the camera will not respond to the switch being turned on and off because the firmware is no longer able to follow due to a lock up.

03-22-2011 update: Notice: It has been determined by Moultrie that there is a firmware issue with this camera. They are working to have that download available on their web site. The cameras that are in this lot are the group of first shipped. Those that are currently being shipped (after Monday 21 March) are supposed to have the new firmware preloaded prior to shipping. Those who have a problem camera may wait for the download to be ready or return for replacement at Moultrie customer service.

03-25-2011 update: Moultrie has provided the following link to obtain a firmware update for this camera:

03-30-2011 update: Our camera finally made its way back and I ran it through a few tests. This is a replacement camera and not the same camera I sent in. My first test showed that this camera may have a minor change in picture quality to the negative but it is still pretty good. The other thing is this cameras SD card slot hangs up and the card does not want to come out and when it does, it will snap and eject the card several feet. The first time this happened it was not expected and the card ended up back behind my computer down in a crack and required some hands and knee with flashlight to recover. I put the original batteries back in and I got about a 50% reading which went down to 23% shortly there after. I am going to have to use yet another set of cells to go on with the review. I just double checked it and the reading now says 38% so maybe I have a flakey battery indicator on this cam.

I ran a short time laps test this morning for Anthony and used the medium setting and was very happy with the results as far as picture quality and function. This may very well be one of these model cameras shining stars in its operation. One note about this cameras microphone that is located next to the battery tray release. There is a tiny hole through the case in that area to allow for it to function. I see no problem with this because during my leak test, I got no water inside provided I dried the area around the front openings prior to opening the case to inspect.

I continue to be favorably impressed with this camera and the support so far. It is to bad we did not get the pre release testing for this company because the current issues would probably have been corrected by now as what happens with some of the other manufactures we work with during their development stages.

We have our little bird working the China side of the ocean and it looks like we may have developed an opening as to more inside information about these cameras. This will not be publicly released but will aid us in areas to look out for to save us a lot of time. I already have a good insight into the M-80 and others which will be a big help coming out of the box. We have got to try to work this camera back into the system along with our current on going reviews so things may be a little slow for a week or so.

04-04-2011 update: This cameras replacement made it back to us but even though I have asked and asked Moultrie for feed back on the problems we had experienced, they have yet to answer me. So we did not get the answers that we were looking for other than some back door data about the wrong or faulty firmware being loaded onto the first group of cameras that were shipped. Again as in years past this has happened to Moultrie where it seems no one in the system took the time to do a pre release evaluation of their initial shipping lot of cameras to ensure that their supplier did not again do a job on them. Just because it is new is not a reason to try one out any more. More and more cautious users are waiting until they start to see the review results and feed back form the field prior to putting their hard earned money in something that has to use yet another $20 in return shipping fees in order to get thing back right where they should have been in the first place.

We have a spot reserved for the continuation of this review but while things were shipped back other cameras fell into their slots and are at a point where we cannot quit until we reach a certain point, then we can run multiple cameras at one time.

04-06-2011 update: We slipped over through the trees and managed to spill a bag of corn so we now have a temporary testing spot so we can run parallel tests. We captured a pretty good stack of some great pictures. We are experiencing some motion blur here and there both day and night. It is not what we would call excessive but bears mentioning. The day color and night with flash pictures are much better than any of the 2010 cameras we tested last year by this same manufacturer. They did do some good work in the picture quality and flash functions. Check out the sample pictures and see what I mean. This replacement camera has worked as normal and we have not had any of the lockup issues we experienced with the original camera I purchased. I will say that I do like this little camera very much but will hold my final opinion until after we have some longevity on the bones of this animal and it holds together and it remains operating the same manner as it is functioning now.

04-08-2011 update: We have located a couple of things that this replacement camera does that is not up to standard. These are the video function which is just not very good and then along with the video is the buzz that is suppose to be the sound (see sample video). This just leaves the time lapse and the picture function as being the reason to own one of these cameras. The move in the industry to have sound with video has definitely had its ups and downs so far. In this case it is a down.

04-10-2011 update: It looks like we may still have yet another defective camera. Our camera has a definite buzz during the video capture. Also after we pulled the camera from that test we put it back out in time lapse and ran a quick test to see if the cards that were thought to be causing our lock up issues in the Stalker camera would have the same effect on this camera. Well it did, this camera locked up and quit taking pictures after one day so it definitely has a finicky taste for anything in a class above class 2. What is strange is that the camera will work well on the cards until the card reaches a certain capacity and then will lock up a little after storing a half days amount of data. The results of the TL test prior to lock up were exceptional. We are going to stuff this thing full of fresh batteries and try it again this time with a class 2 card see what happens.

I have really spent a lot of time going over each of the 2011 cameras TL functions and tried to take notes. The first out was the Stalker and I cut a few teeth on it along with a dig into my pocket book for about $500 in materials related to the testing plus shipping back to Moultrie. I saw how they set up that cam and when this camera and the I-40 XT arrived we assumed that we would be dealing with the same basic function as seen on the Stalker. Even the programming is much the same as the stalker which actually can be set to different resolutions in plot mode that these other cameras cannot. Once you go to the plot mode, the M-100 it locks in at 1280X720 setting no matter where the picture resolution had been set. We need to get Ron Tindell from over at Stealth Cam to come over and give the Moultrie manual writers a few pointers. This tells me when you use the TL function on this camera you will not need the super high capacity cards as previously thought. A 4 gig card class 2 should hold a couple weeks captures with out any problems. Still might need the External battery for insurance.

04-11-2011 update: We are now entering round three in this SD card compatibility phase. To ensure that nothing else caused any problems we have new batteries and we are in the middle of re doing the last test that failed. The main reason for this is we do not know at what point the camera will quit working when the battery percent gets low. Plus, we want to see if that may be a contributing factor to the lockup vs. the card rejection we are testing for. The next phase will be with the class two cards only. This camera placed in the deep woods in the plot mode has much smaller size files than when we had it in the plot mode and in the bright open sunlight where the pictures has their full color complement. With those larger sized files a four gig card should last a month without issue.

04-13-2011 update: The back and forth testing in several modes of time lapse now has taken on yet another thought. This last go around showed that this camera can take the class four cards just fine without lock up. That is providing that the battery condition is not low. There is a correlation to this and we would not advise any long term deployment with a class four card at 20% battery. Even though the camera works at that percentage, it will not tolerate repeated pictures long and will shut down. This makes us feel better because we thought we had another Stalker cam issue on our hands. Just set up with a Moultrie panel or a good external battery and you should be good for a long time. The internal cells will also last probably for a two week TL session provided they were new at the beginning. This makes me feel a whole lot better about this camera. Now if long term use proves without issue we can rave a little.

04-19-2011 update: We have brand new cells in its power pack and it is back out running (official battery test). Our recent episode with the Cudde Attack camera and taking those top resolution pictures and putting them up against this cameras 4 MP pictures and this camera will kick some cudde butt in that field. Then on to the video in the same test and the same happens there. The reason for the comparison with that particular camera was my recent catalog reading were each manufacture made their claim about what to expect when one is deployed. Moultrie won that race hands down. Now we have figured that the use of good Sandisk or like, class two cards are used there is not very many issues with this camera. I also put the $129 I-40 XT pictures up against both and even it was better than the Cudde but about the same as this camera. If the long term use works out, there should be no reason that Moultrie needs worry about this camera.

04-29-2011 update: The after market folks have been busy and the good people at came up with a slick angle bracket for this camera and its brother the 80 model. They display a little different means of hooking up the security on their web site but I found this method works well. A double wrap method and with this method you can un do the tail of the Python with some slack and still open the door without removing the camera from the tree for card changes and programming. They also have steel boxes of heavy gauge steel if you choose to go that route. I believe that the company that does the little boxes we sell in our store also will have or already has a box also, but without an angle bracket. View the pictures to see the routing method of the python.

06-07-2010 update: We have pretty well covered all things with this camera. We are going to close for now and maybe later this year we will pull this camera back out and do the tome lapse testing.

Trigger Tests
(1.68s without flash)

(1.78s with flash)

Flash Range
(camera only)

(Camera + XtendIr-B Black Flash conversion)

Day Range/8 Plate
(no zoom)

(1.5x zoom)

(2x zoom)

(3x zoom)

Video Samples


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