2010 Tasco 119215 Camera Review - July 08, 2010

2010 Tasco 119215

2010 Tasco 5MP 16 count Red Flash Camera Review

This camera is just a handful measuring 5 X 4 X 2 inches. We had this camera during the summer to do some prerelease work and found it basically not functional. When it became available I had it on the list of cameras we would test this year. The order arrived and we went through the initial inspection and right off we found that the good old boys failed to include the proper manual and sent a manual for a completely different camera. There are some simple incomplete instructions inside the door in faint 1/32 inch print. Next we attempted install the four AA cells to begin the programming. This did not go well. We have seen this exact same problem two times before. The battery box is more in tune with the Chinese sized AA cells which are a bit shorter. We were able to install the batteries but with great effort. The battery box was warped out of shape at the bottom. After a whole lot of effort we determined that the camera so far is not functional and does not work. Not holding the program when batteries are pulled is another issue. I have pulled it back down and am going to go through it about 4 AM in the morning with a very good cup of coffee and some special analyzing tools to see if I can get this camera to start sensing and taking pictures. These Superior Optics cameras are all about the same so I may be able to get it going.

Two long hours of meddling with this camera I finally was able to get it to work. When I say “work” I mean it does work but not well and without all the proper documentation and nothing on the web site I was on my own to figure it out. This is a little greener than a BTC and a bit smaller. The finish is non reflective and should be easy to hide. Latch pins are stable and did not seem to drift out of place with use. The seal is continuous and well in place. Inside the door is a small rubber foam block to hold the batteries in place but due to the tightness I have to use a tool to get them out. The warped compartment causes the door to drag a little at the bottom when opening and closing. I tried to reshape the battery contact area so this was not a problem. The front of the cam has a small panoramic (wide angle) PIR sensor at the top and the lens is just below that, The IR array and function indicator is at the bottom front. A small lock loop on the door is the only security. The back of the camera just has the belt loops for mounting. There is a USB cable in the box which may indicate that there might be internal memory. Without the documentation we do not know this but will probably test it though this cam does not appear to work if the card is not installed. It could also be used maybe to view pictures if there is no card reader on the owners PC. The only other thing in the package was the strap.

This is a basic camera but it will do video we assume because it appears on the menu. It is rated at five MP with a low option which could mean two different resolutions for pictures and maybe two different video resolutions. This is just a guess by going by the limited menu and the way it is displayed. The box indicates that the time/date and moon phase is displayed on the images and the max card size is 1 gig. It also says that an extra wide strap is provided to help prevent theft; hmm I wonder how that is going to work? Video option is pre set to 14 seconds in length. PIR sensing is supposed to be out to 35 feet. My testing this morning at 75 degrees was very hard to trigger at 18 feet but did a little better at ten feet. Walk tests seem to indicate that it may have a decent trigger time if the camera will sense. This time of year with the temperatures being so high the PIR function becomes weak but at a 20 degree difference between displayed body heat and a 75 degree background it should still function fairly well. Two hours on the un official trigger test bench and the results were zero. I could not get the camera to trigger even one time. The sensing seems to be broken. I have about 10 hours invested so far and very little results. It looks like this unit is going to have the same end result as the pre production camera and end up with out a review. I am going to take this to Anthony for a day but I feel we will close this review. We had one other fellow on our forum that gave his a day before returning it due to dissatisfaction. Before I could make the trip Anthony showed up here with an arm load of cameras and we took on the task of re evaluating this camera again. Going back to basics we took a 512 Scan Disk card and formatted it in the camera again and went through the program to insure that it was correct. We did get some results this time and now we figure that this camera may be partial to certain cards. As of now we could get it to only work with this one card. Further test will be done to see if other cards will work. The 4 other brands I have here would not work. The format procedure in the menu is also very questionable and does not always seem to take for some reason. Anyway it looks like we are again on our way and may be able to work our way a little way further before we forced to install it at the 100 yard line on the rifle range if it quits again. Another couple hours and we have determined that the rebuild this morning evidently saved the patient. The cam will now take the 1 gig cards we normally use and appear to have normal function now. The delay period can be set all the way down to 5 seconds (not recommended to go below that) which makes this cam kick Moultrie butt all day. The day range and 8 plate analysis tells us the color tones are close to nature and not saturated. They are not too bad for the price and above average compared to some other more expensive cams tested this year. Back to what we felt would be another hair pulling cam cussing trigger analysis and we are still cussing a little and we have to go back once we find out why this camera is giving us the results we are seeing. There appears to be a reverse in day/night times. The day trigger seems to be as much as a second more than the night with flash times which is normally the other way around but not by that amount of time.

Going back over all the notes and findings so far and I see a pattern of short periods of function followed by long periods of non function. We discussed this and were trying to figure why the formatting in the camera would work but not consistently. Then all of a sudden the camera worked with most all the 1 gigs we had. Further examination and the fact that it all of a sudden began to appear to have normal function led us to another area. This is the SD card slot, which was very stiff and hard to take the card when it came out of the box. We have had this happen before and function at first is intermittent and then greatly improved with use. This would also explain the difficulties during programming because the camera must see the SD card in order to begin function and programming. Further tests show that this camera does act like it has some type of light metering going on. If this is not aligned (in the firmware) correctly it tends to throw trigger times off when put under certain conditions, much like what we had happen with one of the top of the line cameras this last month. We are setting up now to see if there is a way around the previous trigger results. We had to pull out our special light metering system to get this cam to settle down. During regular lighting when the cameras light metering does not have to work the camera will have a trigger time of 1.6 seconds. If the light conditions force the metering to work conditions then the trigger times can be stretched over two seconds. We were able to provide those conditions and record repeatable tests of this fact. This is a firm ware bug and will eventually have to be addressed. Tasco should not feel bad because the Reconyx did the same but not out past the one second mark. We will just have to say that most of the time this camera will have under two second trigger time.

07-11-2010 update: Flash range was somewhat weak for the 16 emitters but some detail could be seen in the center at 40+ feet. The sensing was 55 feet at a little over 80 degrees. The eight plate had pretty good detail at a 200% zoom so that says that photo editing would work if more detail was needed at a greater distance. The performance of this cam started off pretty rocky but now that the card slot has settled down we are starting to see a degree of steady performance that in areas is weak but still somewhat functional. We do like the delay time feature on this priced camera.

07-12-2010 update: About dark we ran out of steam so we just stuck this cam on a stand with the hopes of getting our first examples of actual field pictures. We pulled the card at noon today and we did manage to capture a few. First off we see that this camera wants to stay in the day mode and not switch to night. We had a number of pictures that were color but black with some detail of the animal. The ones from the filtered sunlight through the canopy were somewhat fuzzy but readable. Color tones were not over blown. The night flash seems to do a fair job out around 25 feet as long as the animal was pretty well centered. The description we have heard in the past was “tunnel flash” where the array fails to spread the light and just shoots right down the center. We are coming closer to what I had earlier stated. This camera does work but just not very well in some areas except delay which seems to work just fine.

07-13-2010 update: After a hard fought battle to get this far we are going to pull this camera and end the review. There are some nice things we liked about this camera but the negatives so far with the black pictures and other marginal functions are just too much to keep on burning hours on a camera that has this amount of problems.

Trigger Times without flash
(due to pir configuration camera was tested upsidedown)

Note: Light metering is pushing the times over 2 seconds

Trigger Times with Flash

Flash Range Tests


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