2010 StealthCam Unit Camera Review - August 11, 2010

2010 StealthCam Unit

2010Stealthcam Unit STC-U840IR 8MP 30/38 selectable red flash Camera Review

From early spring we have heard chatter about this camera. This is the only new camera this year from Stealth. The balance of their offerings is renamed last year cameras. We have had this camera on order for a very long time and finally it managed to arrive. Out of the box impressions was somewhat positive as far as looks and design. This impression slipped a bit when I turned to the specification chart and saw that they still have that 1 minute delay time. The satin black case with a bright white IR array that will keep this camera from hiding very well when placed on a tree. The size is a short six inches tall and four and a half inches wide. It is about two and a quarter inches thick including the strap loops. Somewhat small solid full gasket sealed case should keep the weather out. The array is a standard design but has a white background winch may help in light down range but the color sticks out and is eye catching. Inside the array is the green test indicator and the red low battery indicator. Center front is the camera lens and the PIR wide angle lens is just below that. The small external LCD is just below that. At the bottom of the camera is the external 12v (no polarity marking) port and tri-pod insert. Small strap loops are on the back of the camera for mounting. No security at all on this camera. This is a camera in the door design where all the weight is in the door so aim is changed once the camera is opened for servicing. There is a small LCD screen and its associated programming buttons are just below the screen. The IR array 30/38 selector marked IR A/B switch is for changing the power of the flash.

The star features are few and the only different items were the adjustable flash and the ability to set the digital zoom up to 4X. The top resolution is 8MP and there is also selectable lower settings of 3 and 1.3 MPs. Video is fixed at VGA (640X480) but adjustable in length 10 to 180 seconds. The other functions are the Zoom adjustment and the flash adjustment which was described above. This is a basic Stealth camera in a small package and the programming and setup is all the same as the Field Tuff and IR-530 style cameras.


Programming was simple and easy to follow and the booklet was easy to follow if you need to find a particular procedure. I went ahead and went through the procedure and pulled the batteries and re installed ant the settings was saved. I set up for single capture with the whole array for light and one minute delay. Set up and tested inside a few quick snaps in the dark. The duration of the flash was short and bright orange. Outside the 8 MP setting produced what looked to be a little over saturated and strong green colored pictures. This was just a base test to insure that we had a fully functional camera. The time from the cam is turned on and it becomes active is about one and a half minutes. Do this five times in a row and you find that there is a whole lot of time spent while this cam gets ready to take a picture. Date/time with seconds and moon phase are displayed on the pictures. The SD card is rated for 16 gigs max but there is a list of some card makes that are only tested up to 2 gigs. All is powered by 8 AA cells in a small covered compartment at the bottom of the camera inside the door. The strap and USB cable was supplied in the box. I am going to get the initial testing done in the morning and get this camera over to the other lab to get all the official stuff done. I again started this morning doing a couple hours on the un official trigger tests. The delay period is greater than the setting by about 20 seconds which makes doing anything with tests a real pain. The first tests show that we may have a sorry delay-fairly fast trigger trail cam. The trigger times I had were just over a second and a half with flash which is usually the slowest on most cams. Now if we can produce pictures and videos of any quality we can look past that delay time setting. There just might be hope for Stealth this year with this camera. Just think if it had a 15 second delay and a second and a half trigger how many potential customers would be paying attention. A quick check of the zoom feature shows that it does work but we are going to reserve our opinion until we can get very good outside pictures both day and night before we elaborate on this feature This could be a useful feature during the winter when the camera could be placed well back from target area where the PIR will still see the animal and use the zoom to get in close. If the picture quality goes to pot when zoomed this feature would not be of value. The small LCD external screen will show the picture count once that function has happened. Now that I have seen the trigger potential I am starting to have a little better feeling about this camera. Stealth has got to work on that delay thing though.

08-11-2010 update: Started a little test using the zoom and installed this camera on a tree screw using the tri-pod mount. I will have to say this is probably the last means to deploy this camera that anyone should use. The plastic holding the tiny insert is very fragile and a heavy battery full camera if bumped would break off and fall without much force if accidently bumped. We also broke our rules as to never use energizer cells again but we had ran out and we only had one set left of energizers that were tested and proven good so we used them to get this review started. I have about got all the basic things done so it is off to the hill for the rest.

08-12-2010 update: We did a little more bench testing and we found a slight filter clunk from day to night and during IR triggers. This is not a big slam type of noise but it is audible while I was right next to the camera. According to the booklet a small thing I noticed hidden in the specifications says capturing AVI recordings with audio. I went to looking for the microphone and I think I found it in the area next to the little indentation by the camera lens. I then double checked the camera overview and sure enough that tiny hole is labeled as a microphone. It is very strange that my Cabelas book says nothing about sound recording so I went to checking other areas like Bass Pro and still no mention of this feature. Well that is pretty cool, a company having a great feature and not bragging about it. We recently had the opposite with the BTC where there were advertized features that were not there. Seems someone in the system went to sleep when they designed the packaging and wrote the description for the catalogs. I know when the Prowler went with audio it was announced on every single outlet that hunters frequent. This little feature will get a check tonight and if it works well we will have to upgrade this cam a little more. This camera sells from $140 to $180 and has video with sound which may have an impact on someone in the market for such.

08-14-2010 update: We slipped up on the hill between the thunderstorms and captured a couple day range/8 plate pictures which came out a little above average but a little weak in color and there was a slight haze. The zoom on the 8 plate still produced a good clear line for those horn seekers. Trigger times came in under two seconds for both day and night so we are beginning to think that Stealth may have a bit of a keeper here even with that sorry delay time.

08-15-2010 update: I have had a couple questions about the delay issue with this camera and maybe our non biased approach is somewhat biased on this point. We do love the low delay times and how much better results we get when that feature is present. With this camera there is a work around that might work. That is the use of the burst 9 feature. It relies on the first trigger to start a series of nine pictures in a row that are just a few seconds apart. With a little larger card and good batteries this will work to catch that buck following the doe scenario. Where it would not do much good is if there is just one animal and then you might get 8 empty pictures and use additional battery power and storage space on the card. A little practice could result in toning the burst down to a number that works for you. The flash range worked out well and the pictures showed good light past the 50 ft marker and the 8 plate when zoomed was again clear. The sensing was a little weak at 28 feet for the 78 degree evening. Winter distances should be far greater with the colder temperatures. This cam is still hanging in there and we are pleased that we have finally got our hands on a Stealth cam that has a degree of function that fits better as to what many customers feel is important.

08-20-2010 update: We are not going to have anything near a great camera now with the results we have had so far. The video mode is very unstable, because when it works it appeared to work well but we had many daytime videos that are totally white and the transition periods it has a very hard time switching. We started with the video because that would be a strong point with the sound feature. The all white videos had great sound but no picture. We are going to switch to the picture mode and give it a short trial but it looks like this review is coming to a very quick ending.

08-21-2010 update: We are going to have to say that this camera has failed in several ways but mainly in its ability to switch modes under good light conditions. Everything during the day is white and no matter how we aim the results are the same so we are going to close this review. Field reports support our findings so we feel this is just not a single camera issue.

09-12-2010 update: We have been in communications with the good folks at Stealth and they are very interested in solving the defect we found in the video tests. They have turned it over to the engineers and are in the process of coming up with a solution very shortly. We will beta test this firmware and once this is complete and we report back to them they will set up for the normal download from the site. This is very good news to us because we liked this camera very much but like many cameras this year we experienced some problems that were not caught by the QC people while trying to get these new products to market.

09-17-2010 update: We received our cam back but this time it had on a new camouflage suit on. We will put it back through some testing and report only to Stealth until we get the go ahead to release the results of the new firmware fix. We have moved this camera back into the "In Progress" testing status.

10-12-2010 Update: We just received the official press release from StealthCam about the firmware update that is available for this camera. click here for the details on it.

10-13-2010 update: We have been working with Stealth and have been holding off any reports until they notified us of the final release of the corrective down load for the whiteout pictures. We had to get that data about the download through one of our forum visitors and not directly from Stealth as promised. After we mentioned that fact to them they gave us the press release about the new down load to correct the issue. We have posted that data on our forum and above here on the review. We have thourghly tested this and found that the new firmware pretty well solves this issue. We are very pleased with the function of this camera now and it is giving us good service. We are going to formally re close the review and keep it that way unless further issues show up at a later date.

Trigger Tests
(without flash 1.96 seconds)

(with flash 1.73 seconds)

Flash Range

Movie Samples after new firmware update (not original quality but very close)

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Movie samples (original firmware)
(typical daytime whiteout video)


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