After a mysterious trail appeared in my garden, leading from a hole in the ground to the bird feeder, I found myself eager to get a trail cam to find out whatever beastie was making it.
I had a search on Amazon and was overwhelmed by the choices available. In the end, I did what any good Yorkshireman would do – I picked the cheapest that didn’t look completely naff. Also factoring into my decision was that the model I ended up buying only needed 4AA batteries, whereas most of the other models required 8.
The camera I ended up ordering was the Campark Mini Wildlife Camera (affiliate link: https://amzn.to/3qgKJxw), at £29.99.
The camera comes with what you’d expect: a strap for securing it to trees/branches etc, a fixture for attaching it to a wall or tripod, instruction manual, and a cable. It doesn’t come with an SD card or batteries.
It’s really compact. The Amazon listing has a very photoshoppped-looking view of it in the palm of someone’s hand, but it really is that small:
On the inside, it opens to hold 4 AA batteries, and has a small screen where you can change settings and review videos/images.
The specs that matter are, it can record video in up to 1920×1080 resolution, it has a 120 degrees field of view, and it can also record 12MP still images.
The box says it can be triggered up to 20m away, but I haven’t tested that, and the videos (below) don’t really illuminate up to 20m. The trigger speed is in the 0.5-0.8 seconds range, and certainly I’ve had videos where a bird has been captured flying across the field of view.
Battery life has been good – over the week or so it’s been in the garden, the batteries have lasted on a single charge. The box says it has a 5 month standby time.
So how good are the videos?
Pretty bloody good, quite frankly – take a look:
I’m super impressed by the quality, and the trigger worked with mice and small birds at quite a distance, but was unaffected by the wind blowing branches and so forth.
It’s been out in the cold, wind and rain for a week now, and it’s held up great. Super happy with the camera, and I’m hoping to catch the garden weasel on it before too long! Highly recommend.
Full disclosure; the first one I ordered failed to trigger, so I had to send it back. In fairness to campark, the support email was very sympathetic and helpful, and I was able to return the camera and get a replacement in just a couple of days.
Comparison Camera: Bushnell HD
An unexpected benefit of this was that I ended up borrowing a Bushnell HD camera (like this one: https://amzn.to/36LwpAL) from someone at work for the weekend. This game me something to compare my little Campark camera to. Given the Bushnell cameras are generally well over £100, I was expecting a big difference.
So here’s the video from the Bushnell HD:
And here’s an interested Cat having a sniff:
Now this is a pretty old camera that I borrowed, and the internal screen wasn’t working, and as you can see from the videos, it’s pretty over exposed. This may be due to the infrared LEDs being designed to see further away from the camera than I was aiming it.
Still, at least for what I’m recording, I’d say the videos from the Campark camera are clearer, and given it’s smaller and uses less batteries, I can’t see a reason to go for something like the Bushnell HD unless I’m expecting bigger animals further away.