I use this blog to share some results from placing camera traps in interesting areas throughout South Africa to discover what wildlife still lives there. If you would like to be automatically notified when new posts are added feel free to use the links at the end of the menu on the right to subscribe to this blog.
I've been saving up some money for two new cameras and this month I finally bought them.
The first one is another Bushnell Trophy Cam, but this time it is the 2010 Viewer model with (obviously) a built in viewer and printed at the bottom of each photo is the temperature (in Fahrenheit) and the current phase of the moon. The reason for buying another Bushnell Trophy Cam was because I'm, in general, very pleased with my old model. It has great battery life, its trigger speed is fast and its sensor range is very broad. It has proven useful at photographing a wide range of animals from big to small and the night time videos are fun and compensates for the lack of a natural flash.
Caracal (Rooikat - Caracal caracal) walking down the hill, past the Bushnell Trophy Cam 2010
However, the Bushnell Trophy Cams aren't without their flaws. As with many other trail cameras, they tend to over expose under tricky lighting conditions. This is clearly visible in the above picture from my new camera.
These Bushnell cameras are also not entirely water tight. I found that both the old and new models will tend to get damp inside during severe rainy and misty weather. This is particularly common to see water droplets on the batteries when I open the cameras to switch the SD cards after windy rain and mist. Under severe and prolonged conditions the moisture even manages to penetrate into the sealed compartment that contains the electronics, lens and digital display. The old camera was so badly "moisturised" yesterday that I needed to bring it home and dry it out. The electronics stopped working correctly, but hopefully the camera isn't damaged permanently and seems to be behaving better now that it is somewhat dryer...
Grey Rhebok (Vaalribbok - Pelea capreolus) enjoying the sunrise from Tygerberg Hills next to the Bushnell Trophy Cam 2010
It is normal for all cameras to sometimes take blurry pictures if there is water on the lens, but the Bushnells seem to be extra sensitive for this under severe conditions. The interesting thing is that I didn't experience this to such a great degree last year at Kirstenbosch (where it rains even more). This leads me to think that it is not the rain as such that might be causing the problem, but rather the mist. Kirstenbosch doesn't get a lot of mist, but the section of Tygerberg where the cameras are now gets a lot of very heavy mist. Lastly, I have noticed that the cameras are a lot better if I shelter them from the direct weather or if they get enough sun in between wet spells to dry out thoroughly.
Regardless of these drawbacks the Bushnells are still very nice cameras and a great deal for the price.
The other new camera is a Cuddeback Capture. My oldest camera, the Moultrie D40, is slowly but surely grinding to a halt and I was hoping that the Cuddeback might be a good replacement for it. I wanted another "white flash" camera, because the color night pictures are much prettier than the grey images from the infrared Bushnells.
Small Grey Mongoose (Kleingrysmuishond - Galerella pulverulenta) darting past the Cuddeback Capture
The interesting thing about the Cuddeback is that it has a very narrow sensor range, but a very fast trigger speed. This enables it to get pictures of animals traveling sideways across the photo, because the sensor only activates once the animal is in the centre of the photo and then it is very fast to react and take the photo. The down side is naturally that it will miss animals that don't walk into the middle of the frame.
So, what is next? Well, I think that maybe my next camera should be a hacked commercial digital camera and controller board like the ones used by The Camera Trap Codger and the like. The image quality of those cameras are awesome. I guess I'll have to start saving up again :)