Sunday, October 02, 2005

Trail Cameras

By Christina VanGinkel

I overhead my husband and a friend discussing a trail camera a while back, and did not have a clue as to what they were talking about. I soon learned they were discussing a camera that you attach to a tree to monitor the game (animal) activity on a trail or at a bait. Some snap photographs vial a 35MM format, while the newer, more popular models use digital technology, with some even taking short frames of video.

I also soon learned that not all of these trail cameras are created equal, not even those branded to a specific genre of either 35MM or digital. The digital ones I discovered have as many various features as any other digital camera. Some take photos at such a low resolution, that doing anything other than viewing them on your computer screen is impossible. Their resolution is so low that you cannot even run off an inferior 4 x 6 print. There just is not enough resolution available in the file the camera took. In comparison, some take more than an adequate picture that can easily be printed, allowing you to show and share with ease. This is extremely handy for those times you want to brag about that ten-point buck visiting your bait every evening. Further, some digital cameras even take short stretches of video.

The 35MM camera would be useful for someone that does not have easy access to a computer, but keep in mind that you will also be incurring additional charges each time you have the film developed.

Battery use is another important issue to consider when buying one of these cameras. Of the two separate digital ones we ended up considering when we decided to purchase one, one used size C batteries, and the other use a 6 Volt. The one that use the C batteries gave no recommendation on battery life whatsoever, while the one that used the six Volts stated an average 20-day lifespan. The second one also had the option to time and date stamp each picture, set a delay from one minute, to sixty minutes between each picture, and used the infrared sensor to aim the camera where it was most likely to capture images of any game coming down the trail or to the bait. Storage space with any digital is another issue, but most offer the option of adding an SD card to expand on the built in memory. Plugging them into either your television to view the snapshots, or attaching them to a computer via a USB cable seemed to be standard with every digital trail camera we came across.

If a trail camera is in your future, take the time to consider the options available on several, comparing both pricing and features. We ended up buying a Moultrie Digital Game Camera 100, which captures both still pictures in JPEG or video clips in AVI. The camera will accept up to a 256 MB SD memory card, allowing the storage of over two thousand pictures in standard resolution, or over 600 in high resolution.

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