12th November 2019 at 6:04 pm #19578
Hi looking for some advice on a camera, something not difficult to use as I’m new to all this but very excited! Any advice would be great as I haven’t a clue where to start! I’ve been looking at a Toguard camera on Amazon but need help with this….many thanks12th November 2019 at 7:17 pm #19603
Over the last couple of years I have bought (and returned) a number of cameras relating to hedgehog surveillance. I agree it is a minefield when looking for the right one. For starters there are high end cameras which might include Bushnell, but at £150+ you need deep pockets.
I personally have three cameras and the most expensive one (£88) has very good daylight video quality but very poor night time quality, which of course is no good for hedgehog filming.
All of my cameras were bought on Amazon, the main reason being its easier to send them back if there are issues. I had intended to use my ‘bad’ camera for other things but with the amount of Hog activity have resorted to using it again for that purpose. Couple of related points:
1) If you look at the pictures showing the inside of the cameras they all look very much the same. I am convinced the camera components are all made in the same factory in China and its only the external plastic cover and lens/IR leds/PIR sensor configuration that differs between brands. So I am not sure it makes a great deal of difference which you buy and often comes down to luck in getting a good one. I have two good ones which cost between £64-£75.
2) Beware of 5 star reviews – I was approached by a Chinese company that I bought a Trail camera from asking me to purchase a new product they had released and if I then wrote a 5 star review they would refund me the full cost. I refused. I then looked at all the 5 star reviews that had been posted in the previous week !!!
3) Photo megapixels only relevant if you take photos rather than video.
4) Look for a 130deg+ wide angle lens (different to PIR coverage) as this will enable to set the camera nearer to the target object (house/feeding station etc) and be in focus and have a greater depth of field.
5) Some cameras have multiple On-Off timers and some only one.
6) IR/Led range not significant for hedgehogs as almost all footage will probably be taken from within a few metres. Mine are all within 2m.
7) I now use rechargeable batteries for my cameras, although in the past I have connected them to a constant DC supply. If you want to use the latter there are a few things to look for, but I won’t take up any more space !!
Lots more to say on this topic, but I will shut up as others will be better informed.12th November 2019 at 10:05 pm #19623
Thank you so much for this information Alan I will have to have another look on Amazon then will decide which one to buy! Have asked my husband for this for a Christmas gift along with a laptop to view the videos lol13th November 2019 at 12:12 am #19626
having* looked at the videos you have posted, I doubt ‘many will be better informed’
I have recently bought a ‘trail camera’ and found the instructions…faint grey on a white background…an excellent advert to go to ‘specksavers’
However, my son ..a trained photographer couldn’t make sense of the instructions either.
Any advice on a decent camera (and instructions) would, at least in my case, be gratefully received.
Regards, Coley.13th November 2019 at 4:44 pm #19645
Hi Coley, all the cameras I have I bought back in 2018 and are no longer available. It would be nice to think that newer versions/models would be better quality but I don’t think that’s a given. As mentioned above whether the camera is 12MP or 16MP only matters if you take photos. Most cameras will say they are 1080P HD etc but again I don’t think this applies to night time recordings. Also, the number of LED lights and maximum range such as 20m or 30m is not important as you would not even see a hedgehog at 20m away. While I think my caution regarding 5-star reviews is valid, it is still worth looking at the reviews and weighing them up. One of my cameras is an Apeman which is pretty reasonable and I know other members of this site use them. Interestingly, I bought one of their better cameras (20MP as it happens), and sent it back as it would not record the Time stamp in HD mode. I then bought one of their 12MP cameras whose video is fine and has been pretty reliable.
I think it’s worth buying a cheap mini tripod for these cameras so that your videos are near ground level. I say cheap because if they are used outside 24hrs/day they may eventually corrode.
I guess I am lucky as I spent 45+ years in electronics/IT and computing and hence have a reasonable understanding of anything technology related. I also have photography as a main hobby, but this does not include anything video related. If anyone has enjoyed the videos it’s all down to the main characters and their behaviour, which invariably raises a smile, sometimes a concern and fortunately to date, all has gone well for them.13th November 2019 at 4:49 pm #19646
Hi Coley, regarding instructions, each camera will be a little different. What I can do is go through what I would do with a new camera. Apologies if this brings the phrase “Grandmother sucking eggs” to mind!
The main things will be:
Date and Time: I use 24hr clock but set to suit. Worth noting that some cameras lose the Date and Time setting when the batteries are removed from the camera (for re-charging or replacement). This will then affect any time related setting such as Recording time and Time stamp etc. Two cameras I have retain the Date/time and one does not which is a bit of a pain.
Video or photo or both: I just have video only and set to the highest quality. If taking photos, you can select the quality i.e. 3MP, 5MP 12MP etc. Similar, for video you can change the resolution and frame rate, but why would you want to set a lower quality?
PIR Sensitivity – I generally leave as default but you can usually set to High/Med/Low to suit your needs. This would determine how far away the sensor reacts to movement. If you are recording Hedgehogs then in reality Med/Low would be best. You can also have the side PIR sensors on or off. I leave them on.
Audio – I have this ON but to be honest none of the cameras are good at recording audio in my opinion.
Video Length – You can set how long each clip lasts for after the PIR is activated. A personal choice, I tend to set it to between 30-45secs.
Shot Lag – This is the period the camera is essentially off for after taking a clip. Without any shot lag the camera would be constantly on if there was any activity in PIR range. Pros – You will not miss anything. Cons – You will have hours of video to go through and the batteries will run out much faster. Also, if you select no lag, ensure you have a reasonable size memory card inserted as video takes a lot of memory.
Recording Time – The camera can be ‘active’ all the time or can be set to record only at certain times. For hedgehogs I set the timer according to the time of year, i.e. to when it is dark. So, in the summer it might be 21:00-06:00 and winter might be 16:00-07:00, but set as you like.
Time stamp – I set to ON so that the recordings show date/time/ temp etc.
All the cameras I use have a three-position switch which is OFF/TEST/ON in that order. You start by switching to TEST which is where you use the Menu and various buttons to set the camera up as above. When all the functions are set up you switch it to ON position and after about 10-15 secs delay the camera will become active and record according to how it has been set up.
If you want to review any clips in camera you switch back to TEST and use the Replay button or whatever the camera has in place for this. I never use this as I daily take the SD cards out of the cameras and insert into my PC to view the previous night’s antics.
Cameras will take either SD cards or micro SD cards. I buy micro SD cards as they can be used for both types of slot by using the Micro card and an SD card adapter if required.
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