2011 StealthCam Archers Choice Camera Review - March 31, 2011
2011 StealthCam Archers Choice
StealthCam STC-AC54IR Archers Choice 8 MP 38 count IR Camera
Built on the same platform as last years UNIT camera, this is a little
different horse race. It has some additional features
like time lapse and is one of the main reasons it made
it onto our list this year to be reviewed. This small
6X4X3 inch sized camera is stuffed full of features.
Unlike its predecessor we dont think this camera will
give us the sound feature in the video mode. I will look
a little further into this as I get a little deeper
insight. We liked the Unit camera and we are sure we
will find favor with this camera.
To start with here is the specifications:
precision multi-layer glass lens with coating.
in 1.85 B&W LCD display.
External memory support: SD memory card up to 16GB.
Resolution Options: 8.0Mp, 5.0Mp, 3.0Mp.
Capturing Options: 1 - 9 image burst mode or video
recording with audio.
Lapse Mode: Sets the frequency of pictures during a time
Out Feature: 0 secs - 59 mins
format: Standard JPEG
white balance and auto expose.
IR emitter light control.
Effective Range for Still picture (up to 50 ft).
Effective Range for Video clip (up to 50 ft).
time clock for date and time stamping.
digits LCD Image counter.
Battery LED indicator.
TEST LED indicator.
Focusing: 5 ft to infinity.
Effective viewing angle: 50 degrees
detection angle: 48 degrees
Interface type: USB 1.1
Power: AA size alkaline or lithium Batteries x 8
External power: 12 volts battery pack
The instructions has a microphone listed and there is mention in the
instructions about sound recording in video so lets just
say that there is a video with sound feature on this
camera. I could go through and explain a lot of things
that are very apparent in the specification chart but I
will just highlight some of the things that are great.
First off it does time lapse but it is limited to a
single window that can be adjusted all the way up to 24
hours with a frequency with a frequency rate that can be
adjusted down to zero seconds but we know that cannot
happen so a bottom time should be somewhere close to 10
seconds so that the camera can have time to take care of
business like writing to the card prior to the next
capture. The delay is also adjustable down to zero so
that is also great but not doable as with the time lapse
because of the write time. So we have normally used 6
seconds for our low point and that has worked well for
us. There are three resolution settings that are program
adjustable from three MP up to eight with a five as the
center setting. If this camera can crank out some sub 2
second trigger times then we will be dealing with a real
jewel. We normally have not worried about picture
quality because most of the Stealth cameras that cost as
low as the Wildviews have given us some pretty good
The programming is very straight forward but for some reason we have
seen where some people have had problems until they get
through it a couple of times. They use star indicators
to indicate the resolution setting which is a little
different and the LCD lower case may confuse some so
keep the book handy the first time or to if you are
having problems. The instructions are well written and
easy to follow.
I went ahead and made me some of my good custom ground coffee and paged
through the instructions with a pad to take notes as to
what maybe was missing. The first thing was internal
memory which is fine with me but some like it. Next
thing that popped up was the lack of multiple time lapse
windows like one in the morning and one in the after
noon would have been nice but the fact that it is there
is just great in my book. My third note was security
which is non existing so an after market box would be
suggested. The fact that the UNIT camera was out last
year its box should fit just fine so there would be no
wait locating one for this camera. The tri-pod insert is
actually 20 in size so it will go on all the
aftermarket mounting brackets so I scratched that of
this list of things needed. Missing also is that satin
black finish and instead it is wrapped in a hardwoods
fall pattern catalogue pattern. The array and red and
green indicators are quick to catch the eye though when
hanging on the tree. There isnt much we can do about
that except maybe have a more subdued background behind
SD cards for this card cannot be the high speed type. Also up to 2 gig
use FAT format and for 4 gig and above use FAT32 format.
Do not use NTFS or exFAT because those formats are not
supported. There is a switch inside labeled custom and
posse which allows in custom for the user to set the
programming his way but in the posse mode it is a pre
set program that can not be changed which is PIR 5mp, 2
burst, min delay, 1X zoom. This means there is three
modes of operation. These are standard PIR function and
then the time lapse. That leaves just the posse quick
set as the last option. I ran through the set up to
time lapse operation and that was fairly easy once I
could get the light just right on the buttons. What this
means is the button function is scribed into the plastic
and it is hard to see unless the light is exactly right.
I might rub some colored paste into printing which can
be found somewhere around the make up area of the wives
makeup table, just dont get caught.
This camera did not come with any time lapse software so this could be a
good reason to look at maybe those new guys on the block
with their Scouting Assistant software to view those
tons of pictures. Stealth customer service told me they
are just pictures and just scroll through them. They
were not aware that most companies offer software to
handle the time lapse picture load which can mount into
the thousands of pictures in a very short period of
time. These pictures would be exactly the same view over
and over again with no change unless an occasional
animal would enter the view area. Then good software
will find this extra movement and pick out those frames
without having to view every frame for a difference.
is great we have yet another multi function camera to
the list this year and this one seems to be blessed with
multiple functions that most would find desirable. It
even has a functioning X 20 threaded insert for
tri-pod or multi-positing mounts. No 5mm threads here.
Right now it is setting outside watching an area for
just one hour at 5 seconds interval so I can pull a test
set of pictures for a quick look and see how it worked.
The PIR function is very familiar so I need to play with
the different stuff (fun) to get a better idea of how it
works. All that and it even comes in camouflage. The
price was $123.00 which is in the IR-5 Spypoint and
Moultrie M-80 range. For that price I would say it is a
pretty good bang for the buck provided it performs well
in our field tests. The setting was set at every 5
seconds but it actually took between 11 and 12 seconds
delay between pictures which we feel would be about
minimum and all allowing for the write time to the card.
The results were very good and the start and stop times
were right to the second. We feel that most people would
choose a delay time longer than that. The resolution
setting was the middle 5 MP choice and the pictures were
sharp and clear even for the old grey rainy day we are
having today. Well it is off to its place in line to get
the rest done.
04-03-2011 update: With the sun shinning on
this bright afternoon we took advantage and ran to the
day range and managed to get those samples. This camera
did not disappoint us and it produced some good clear
natural color day pictures. Then we remained in place
and went ahead and captured the night IR pictures and we
had very good light all the way back past 60 feet. The
sensing proved to be very good at about 40 feet on this
76 degree evening. Most every task so far has been
performed in a fashion by this camera to keep the smiles
on our faces. Stealth certainly has a nice camera here
with a $123 price.
04-06-2011 update: There is an over hanging
fog on the time lapse function of many of the new
cameras. As the new stuff comes in I make a special
effort to thumb my way through that function. Last year
we had a company who made a proprietary camera for that
function which has limited battery life and used a
little different memory than normal. There was the mid
day work around which proved to be somewhat popular. We
know that the morning game traffic and the evening game
traffic will probably happen in different areas. This
means that a camera operator must slip out mid day and
re aim or move the camera to cover that other area or
with yet another camera. These units sold in the two
hundred dollar area and still had limited function
because of the short battery life. All of this got me to
thinking about this little camera and its price. It will
do time lapse and only use a single window but can be
tuned down to long hours of continuous operation. Well
with the price tag it seems that it would be almost
affordable enough to have two of them and they you could
cover two areas in time lapse for about the same price.
Then when that operation is done it can still be set up
for PIR function where ever you would want. The other
thing is it will take an external battery and has
standard memory. This year is going to be fun and the
time lapse enthusiasts will stay in trouble with their
wives because of those clandestine purchases. I think
some of those purchases will be one of these cameras.
The more I play with this camera in that area the more I
04-09-2011 update: Part of the process is
to get the trigger times done early then move on to
other things. We have had a bit of a mess while we get
the pre release cameras finished up and those reports to
the factories. A fast look on the table after being
hooked into our system and this camera gave us around
two seconds for both day and night triggers. The with
flash tests seemed to be about a quarter of a second
faster. This keeps this little camera still high up on
my list of being a keeper so far.
04-10-2011 update: As soon as we got
through all the lab work we headed for our local testing
area and hung this critter on a tree. This morning we
only had a few pictures but they showed both day and
night picture quality is right up to par. Our aim was
somewhat high for this first out but now we know what to
do after today. Please view these few samples to see how
this camera did last night.
04-12-2011 update: With the aim a little
bit lower we managed to get another bunch of pictures.
We for some reason seem to have a low picture count for
the settings we are using. This leads us to believe that
maybe we have a little bit of a weak sensing issue. With
the delay set to 06 seconds we are not getting near the
expected of pictures even though there is a presence in
front of the camera for an extended period of time. Look
at this next set of night pictures and note the time on
the bottom of the pictures and not the amount of time
between pictures. They are posted in the order they were
taken. When we set up for the trigger times, our machine
was set to trigger the camera every 10 seconds and it
would record every trigger. This is done directly in
front of the camera so we feel that it is something to
do with the sensing range of this camera. During our
sensing tests we did get 40 foot triggers but we did not
do multiple repeat tests to measure whether or not those
triggers would happen every time. This will be done
sometime after we get through with the video with sound
samples and before we move into the time lapse mode.
Note: This is a sequential set of photos with deer
present and moving, and the camera is not taking photos
every 6 seconds as programmed:
04-14-2011 update: Boy, did we vet video with
a plenty. Our local testing area is not far from the
interstate so there is a lot of road noise that comes
sneaking through the woods. The video quality is very
much up to par with some light clips during the
transition times but they are still very readable. The
sound on the clips is good and loud and clear. I cant
wait to get this little bugger on my favorite tree down
in the swamp at our other testing area. Down there the
nights are filled with some sounds that resemble some of
the stuff from the thriller movies all the kids like. We
lined it up in time lapse now and have it watching an
area for a while then we will be pulling it to move it
04-15-2011 update: Well this camera's time
lapse works really well but not exactly what most would
want especially when some operator just switches over
and leaves the resolution setting at 8 MP. That is what
we did and it filled a two gig card in about an instant
(1.5 hours). The day color pictures off this camera set
at 8 MP are huge. So I am going to say that you had
better count your lucky stars (their indicators for
resolution) and it had better be no more than oneshowing which is still 3 MP and still large for time
lapse operations. I spoke with customer service and told
them they might want to think about toning that down
some to an even lower resolution. What pictures we got
were great but it was not even a days worth. We have it
set on one star which is 3 MP which should do better
and we will see how it does at that setting.
04-17-2011 update: We messed around and
lost picture and video count but I do know that with all
the testing including the 8MP time lapse tests we still
got better than two weeks on the first set of cells. We
are going to reinitiate just the battery life test and
do it in 3 MP and 9 shot burst. For the price and
deployed where the picture count isnt extreme I would
think most would be happy with this camera.
update: We are 1891 pictures into the Archers
Choice camera and the batteries still have a full
reading on the LCD. That amount of pictures could be a
couple of months worth in some deployment areas. We
will keep it out with its present setting and see just
how long it will go. The three MP setting is still
giving us good clear pictures.
04 30-2011 update: The count is up to 3950
and going strong and battery is still on full according
to the LCD. The company has told me that they are
working on a firmware update to maybe bring the
resolution down to 1.3 MP when the time lapse is
selected. If that happens this camera is going to be
very hard to beat.
05-07-2011 update: Seems we got three weeks
out of this set of batteries and the final count was
4017 pictures. That was pushing the camera hard in burst
mode so on single capture on a normal situation you
would get a lot more time out of this camera. We are
still waiting for that new download to upgrade the time
lapse and we will have this camera back out working in a
very special place.
05-16-2011 update: We are going to close
this review for now but keep one eye open for the new
firmware update and we will comment on the results. The
last thing will be to run this camera in our time lapse
trials later on this year.
06-09-2011 update: We just heard that the
new firmware download is still being worked on and they
are trying to get it perfected. That is why it has not
yet appeared on the site.
07-03-2011 update: Our camera took a little
vacation back to the engineers and was used in the
upgrade to the firmware. They have loaded this new fuel
and they are waiting for us to get some testing done and
they will release this as being a needed download for
the time lapse function. The download is to insure
battery life and lower the MP rating to 1.3 so that the
file size does not clog up the SD card with those over
sized files. We loved this little camera and are looking
forward to the results.
07-08-2011 update: Well as much as we liked
this camera during the review with all the performance
it has failed in the time lapse area. We cannot
recommend this camera for that mode. The factory got
11553 pictures using lithium batteries. Their setting
was 10 seconds so for a 12 hour day that equates to less
than three days of operation and at our local price for
8 cells a cost of $16. Once I received the camera back I
ran the test on pre tested known good new
alkaline batteries and got just over 8 hours of
operation in time laps. I also had an occasion to view a
published add in one of the national hunting magazines
where this camera was being advertized as having a 1
second trigger time and this prompted me to again run
this through that test and our original posted times are
correct which are a little less for with flash and over
two seconds for without flash. This camera was operating
off the latest firmware. This review is again closed.