Some of the technological advances we have witnessed over the last 10-15 years have proven to be a huge help to us in our hunting endeavors. One such advancement is the use of digital trail cameras to help us scout our hunting areas. Nothing quite like being there, even we can’t be there, to help us learn the animals in our favorite hunting spots, their patterns, their movements and even to learn where we can get away from other hunters on public land.
I have used a number of trail cameras over the past several years to help in my quest for filling those hard to acquire tags. As part of our 2011 hunting season here in New Mexico, we decided to do a series of reviews on a number of cameras in search of the perfect camera for our extreme hunting conditions here in New Mexico. Which camera can go from timberline during elk season to the lowest desert for our sheep hunts and function everywhere in between for lions, bears and deer? One thing is for sure, we learned a lot about a number of different cameras.
In this series, I will do my best to relay to you the strong points and weaknesses we found in each one of the cameras we used over a four month period from July through October to help us scout for elk, deer, bears and lions in the high country of southwest New Mexico. Once I finish these reviews, we will put the cameras back to work out in the desert lowlands scouting for our January deer, sheep and ibex hunts. A second round of reviews will follow for each camera at the conclusion of those hunts.
The next camera we reviewed is the Wildgame Innovations Micro 4 Red (Model w4x). The technical specifications of this camera as advertised are as follows:
- Oversized 2” Wide Display
- JPEG Photos or AVI video clips
- 4.0MP Resolution Photos on Hi Resolution (can be reduced)
- 24 High Intensity LED’s with 40’ Range
- Uses 8 AA Batteries
- Runs up to two months on one set of batteries
- Adjustable PIR (Lo/Med/High) with 1-second trigger speed
- Programmable trigger interval: 15 seconds to 2 minutes
- 1 image per trigger
- Video length: 30 seconds
- PIR sensor is motion activated out to 60 feet
- SD card slot (up to 16GB)
Now that we know what the technical claims are for this camera, let’s talk about what we found it can really do. Overall, we found this camera to be a solid performer in our reviews. With an MSRP of less than $100, this camera is pretty hard to beat. We found the Wildgame Innovation line of cameras to be dependable, reliable and to take excellent quality photos.
The 24 high intensity LED lights provided all they advertised. We used this camera in a number of different locations, moving it around every time we had the chance to scout and check pictures. In every situation we placed it in, we had no problems with flash range or quality of lighting of the subjects in the photos. The LED’s provided extra lighting within the advertised range and made viewing the nighttime photos taken by the camera a pleasure. No need to use external software to brighten the photos prior to looking at them, each picture clearly showed the subject at ranges to the listed limits of the camera.
The PIR sensor worked far better than advertised. The specifications on the camera listed the PIR range at 60 feet. We had numerous photos where the subject triggered the camera at well over 90 feet at the high sensitivity setting (you can set it for low, medium or high sensitivity)! Overall, the sensor system in the Micro 4 Red is excellent exceeding all expectations in range.
The trigger speed / response time was excellent as well. All of our pictures caught the subject full frame (no back half photos) with most well centered adding to the quality of the photos. The specifications simply listed the trigger speed as “rapid”, and we found this to be the case, with the Micro 4 Red clearly competing with cameras with advertised trigger speeds of 1 second. No need to have to remember to “get some angle” with this great little camera, the trigger speed is fast enough to make any user look like a pro.
We captured numerous photos of quick moving animals further proving the rapid trigger speed claim to be accurate and helping to center the photos.
The photo interval is selected by the user at intervals between 15 seconds and 2 minutes. As such, we did not review the recovery time beyond what the camera said it would do. Recovery time fell within the presets in each case, and photos were at even intervals just as we had selected on the preset menu.
The picture quality for the Micro 4 Red was excellent! The pictures were extremely clear and sharp with lots of detail and color. The night pictures were just as good. This is the strong point of the Wildgame lineup of cameras, top to bottom, daylight through dark, the quality of the photos is always great! Each picture is date and time stamped with the moon phase included.
The Micro 4 Red camera has the ability to record VGI videos, 30 seconds in length, that add to the versatility of the camera. The excellent photo quality of the still images carries over into the videos as well, and the video quality is very good on this model, further making the under $100 price tag hard to believe and easy to accept.
The camera operates on 8 AA batteries. Battery life was average compared with the other cameras we reviewed and have used. After 4 months and lots of pictures, the camera was ready for a new set of batteries. All in all, I would say that this was good compared to the advertised duty cycle for the camera. Of course, battery life is very dependent on the number of pictures the camera takes, and whether they are at day or at night.
The Micro 4 Red is extremely easy to program, with the LCD command console and power button located on the front of the camera outside of the protective housing, and the programming buttons right underneath inside the housing. The location of the power button, and the fact that the camera is difficult to lock down, were the only drawbacks we found with this camera. In whitetail country it is doubtful this would ever be an issue, but pesky bears can cause some problems if they can get to the power button, and unethical hunters on public land can be a problem if you can’t lock the camera down. Wildgame Innovations does sell security boxes and/or security brackets to offset this issue for each model.
All in all, I would highly recommend this camera to anyone looking for a camera for under $100. The excellent photo quality, plus the ability to record videos, makes this camera a steal! For the price, this is the best photo quality camera we have ever used.
For more go to: Wildgame Innovations or shop at Amazon below!