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4.0 out of 5 stars
Moultrie M-990i No Glow Game Camera
Price:$149.99 + Free shipping
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261 of 266 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 2013
Verified Purchase
The following review has been updated seven times since I originally posted it. Each update is identified at the end of the review. Also, I uploaded a nighttime video that you can view.

[edit: August 26, 2014] I just reduced my rating from three stars to two stars. The unit now constantly triggers during the daytime, resulting in several thousand pictures in just a few days, all of them containing nothing except an open field. The audio buzzing on video returned, and I gave up taking video. Moultrie has not responded to my complaint about the false triggers. So, even though the camera is only eight months old, it is no longer performing very well. It does, however, still take good pictures at night, and it triggers reliably at night. [/end edit]

I originally purchased a Bushnell 8MP Trophy Cam HD Max, but the trigger sensitivity was extremely poor, and the pictures and video were disappointing. I returned it. I have now used this camera for several days, and have explored all the options and settings. I like this camera much better, and at 2/3 the price of the Bushnell it does just about everything that the more expensive camera claims to do (although the Bushnell does provide more setting combinations).

However, while this camera does the basic job of triggering when motion is detected and then capturing either stills or videos (but not both at the same time), there are several things it could do a LOT better, and there are several important issues that are not mentioned in the reviews at various trail camera sites.

Trigger Sensitivity

The first thing I tested was how far away the M-990i would detect me as I walked across the field of view. The Bushnell was unable to detect me any further than twenty feet away, which is why I sent it back. By contrast, using the exact same test at the same outdoor location (same time of day and temperature), I was able to get fairly repeatable detection up to seventy feet away during the day. This is quite good.

[update]I placed the camera on a California grassy hillside, in video mode, and retrieved the card after a few days. I ended up with about three hundred twenty-second daytime videos of grass waving back and forth and nothing else. This is the downside of having a sensitive trigger. I much prefer having a trigger that is too sensitive, so I don't mind this, but it does mean that you must take the time to do some tests before you leave the camera unattended for weeks or months at a time in order to make sure that the placement doesn't result in false triggers.[end update]

Still picture quality

The still pictures are a little noisy, but the amount of detail they can resolve is better than the Bushnell.

Video quality

Like the Bushnell -- and I suspect this is true of most other trail cameras -- the "HD" video quality is not even close to being HD. Yes, it is 1280x720 (720p) at 24 fps (sort of -- more on this below), but the ability to resolve detail is not much better than SD video. I suspect that the sensor is probably not capable of 1280x720, and the video is being "up-res'd" from some lower resolution.

However, one problem that is not talked about in any review, but is quite evident in all the video I've taken is that the camera doesn't actually take 24 frames per second, as claimed. Instead, it takes about 10-15 frames per second, and duplicates frames to get to a 24 fps frame rate. This is easy to see if you put the video into a video editing program and go forward one frame at a time. I have written to Moultrie three times, but after several days have still not received any response -- not even a "we got your email" response. I'll update this review if they ever respond. [update] Two weeks later, and they never did respond.[end update]

You can easily see this for yourself if you look at the videos posted online. I don't know how I missed this before I purchased.

[update]I just watched some video the camera took at night, and the frame rate is even lower than the daytime video, probably about 5 frames per second. I suspect that the camera is actually taking a series of flash pictures and then converting them to video. To conserve power (because the flash uses a tremendous amount of battery power), the camera reduces the number of frames per second. I understand this, but it is even further away from the "24 frames per second" spec than the daytime video.[end update]

Time Lapse

Time lapse is very important for my applications.

This camera has a time lapse feature so it will take one still picture every 5, 10, 15, 30, 60, 120, or 300 seconds. However, there are all sorts of issues with this feature that are not discussed in any review or in the manual. First of all, you cannot take high-res photos in this mode. All you get is 1280x720 which is slightly less than 1 megapixel. This is a major disappointment. In addition, the only way the camera will store the time lapse photos is inside an "MLT" file, which is Moultrie's version of a "motion JPEG" (MJPEG) video file. Fortunately, I found out that you can simply rename the file extension from MLT to MPG, and most video editing software will load it, assuming you have a motion-JPEG codec loaded (Panasonic and MainConcept have free MJPEG playback codecs).

I tried using Moultrie's "Plot Stalker" software which lets you play back these video files and automatically search to points in the timelapse where motion is detected (i.e., where something is in the frame that wasn't in the previous frame). Their software is a crude hack that looks and feels like it was done by a high school student. I am a professional videographer and a retired software programmer so I am probably a lot more critical than most, but I am very, very glad that I can use my video editing programs to view timelapse videos instead of this rather poor program.

The next thing about time lapse is that it only runs during the day. It starts fifteen minutes before sunrise and stops fifteen minutes after sunset. The only option you have is to turn it off 1, 2, 3, or 4 hours before sunset and after sunrise. You cannot have different settings for sunrise and sunset; the number of hours you set is used for both durations. You also have the option to leave it on during the entire day, and that is what I chose to do.

Other cameras have a much more configurable setup.

During time lapse, if you have the interval between pictures set to one minute or more, it will take additional photos if motion is detected. However, these additional photos are not saved as JPEGs, but are instead added as additional frames within the MLT timelapse video file. Thus, once you use timelapse, none of your images (except at night, when timelapse turns off) will be high definition.

To put it another way: the Moultrie M-990i timelapse is video, not a series of still images, so all the video specifications and limitations apply.

Hybrid Mode

This mode is the same as timelapse, but instead of taking no pictures at all during the night, the camera will take real still pictures (i.e., high res, saved as individual JPEG files) during the night. I have now used this extensively, and it worked well.

Multi-shot

The camera can be configured to take 1, 2, 3, or 4 pictures each time the motion sensor is triggered. The duration between these images can be changed. The fast speed takes several pictures in about a second, so it is almost like video. If you are using timelapse, and motion is sensed, you will get multiple pictures at the interval you set, so unlike the still image resolution settings which are NOT honored during timelapse, the interval settings ARE used.

Other

The "black flash" works amazingly well. I cannot see any light whatsoever (not even a faint glow), and yet it provides excellent infrared illumination for B&W nighttime photos.

The SD card simply slides in and slides out: there is no spring latch or anything else. This makes it somewhat difficult to pull out the card, and it also means that the card might vibrate loose (when being transported) or work its way loose from thermal changes. However, I have not had either of these things happen, so perhaps this is not a problem. But getting the card out is not easy without a small tool or tweezers. [edit]After about six weeks of constant use, and removing the memory card many times, the spring-loaded latch/un-latch feature suddenly started working. It now works like most SD memory card slots [/end edit].

The setup screen shows live video which makes it really easy to set up the camera. I cannot imagine having a camera that doesn't let you see exactly what you are getting before you leave the camera for weeks or months. I really like this feature.

You have to use all eight batteries because this is a 12 volt system. Many other cameras only need four, but then let you load eight or twelve batteries to give you an automatic backup after the first set of four run down. In my application, I am not planning to leave the camera for really long periods of time, but for those who need long battery life, they should make sure that this camera will last a long time.

The manual recommends using alkaline or lithium batteries and does not mention NiMh rechargeables. Since I am taking lots of pictures via the timelapse mode and since the camera is mounted near my home, I opted to try using rechargeables in order to reduce operating costs. It worked perfectly with my Sanyo "Eneloop" batteries, and I was able to get about 1,200 daytime pictures and 200 nighttime pictures before the battery ran down. Since nighttime pics use the flash, that drains the battery much, much faster. [update - May 2014]I set the camera for still photos only, and when using rechargeable NiMh batteries, I got 5,898 photos before the battery ran out. /end update]

The barometric pressure is not very accurate (I own several real barometers, and the Moultrie is not even close to the correct pressure). However, it does go up and down, so the relative changes may help provide information about pending weather changes. However, I didn't buy this to be a weather station, so this is no big deal.

[update]Several people asked whether this product works with a class-10 32 GB memory card. I have been using a Patriot LX Series 32GB (Model PSF32GSDHC10) without any problems. However, I have seen reports that some people have not been able to get 32 GB cards to work, and that some report that Moultrie recommends using slower than class-10 cards. I have been using rechargeable batteries (NiMH) even though Moultrie does not recommend this practice. However, these batteries can deliver huge amounts of current compared to Alkaline or Lithium one-use batteries. I have a theory (untested) that people who have reported problems are using alkaline batteries and, when taking night photos, the large current required to charge the flash causes the alkaline battery voltage to drop significantly, thus interrupting the write operation, thus losing the picture. For anyone having this problem, try using NiHM batteries and see if that helps. [end update]

Summary

The detection range is the reason that I am keeping this camera. It is quite good during the day, and outstanding at night.

I am very disappointed in the way that timelapse works. I am also disappointed in the video quality, especially the very low frame rate and the way Moultrie is apparently "cheating" on their specs when they claim 24 fps.

Finally, being an engineer, here is what I would like to see in a really good trail cam, but which I have so far been unable to find, even in the very expensive Reconyx.

1. Stills and video with quality equal to a GoPro Hero. This camera is within the price range of trail cameras, so this is not out of the question.

2. Much better motion detection. Even if the detection circuitry within the camera cannot be improved (IR sensors have limitations), I'd like to see an external trigger input. One simple contact closure interface would let me use all manner of external triggers, possibly combining them together. Imagine having several wireless sensors, located at multiple locations around a plot, hundreds of feet away, all sending trigger signals to the camera.

I want quality pictures, and I don't want to miss anything. Compared to my ideal camera, the Moultrie M-990i is good, but it could do the job a lot better.
---------------------
[update]I just raised my rating back to three stars after first lowering it to two stars. I lowered it because the videos suddenly developed a terrible buzzing. I did a little research and found lots of other people reporting the same problem. I tried contacting Moultrie via email, but it took them three weeks just to send a "we received your email" response. I then called tech support. I got through quickly and talked to a helpful tech. She explained how to do a "factory reset," but that didn't fix the problem. So I returned the camera (January 7, 2014) for repair. I'll report further on what happens next.[/end update]

[update]I received a brand new camera on January 22, 2014. The buzzing is fixed. All the other good and bad things I describe below are still present in this newest version.[/end update]

[update]After one week in the field, the buzzing has returned, although only on some videos. I called Moultrie tech support and the tech said that I need to use a Sandisk memory card and that no other card is recommended. In addition, I should not use the microSD card (the little chip that then fits inside a full-sized SD card adapter). Finally I must use Duracell alkaline batteries, and no other. So, when I next return the camera to the field I will do as he suggested, but only after doing a full factor reset, something he also recommended. [/end update]

[update]I bought a Sandisk full-sized SDXC card, as recommended by Moultrie, did a factory reset, and used Duracell batteries. The overwhelming audio buzzing is still on most videos.

I reluctantly must conclude, based on my own experience and on reports in various forums, that the Moultrie M-990i has a design defect that affects their audio.[/end update]
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122 of 124 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2013
Verified Purchase
This camera is phenomenal. I just downloaded the memory card after the camera was in the field for one week. I had 398 images of deer, turkey and coons. There were some "landscape" photos, but we had a major storm move through the area on May 30th.

I set the camera up for a 2 shot burst and it performed flawlessly. The daytime picture clarity is second to none. Some of the night time photos were a bit grainy, but not bad. Be sure to use a Sandisk, class 10, 32MB data card with these cameras. They are a bit pricey, but you can typically find them on Amazon for half of what they cost at Best Buy or other big box stores. You will also want to use Energizer Ultimate lithium batteries.
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100 of 107 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2013
Verified Purchase
Chose this camera because of several great reviews I've read about it. Set it up near my garden hoping to see what critters were taking all my veggies and I found out the very next day after receiving the camera. Got 1 photo of a deer and 18 of my neighbor and her daughter stripping the veggie plants clean. Confronted them with printed photos and haven't seen them since. GREAT PRODUCT. Mick
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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on October 23, 2013
This is a really nice product. I did a LOT of reasearch before choosing the Moultrie. I use this for both deer hunting and coyote/coon trapping. Just one suggestion to buyers: unless you are going to leave this out for many days/weeks in an area of HEAVY deer activity, I suggest using a 4GB or 8GB card. Yes, this camera will accomodate a 32GB SD card, but it will slow the camera quite a bit and you might miss good shots. An 8GB card will give you thousands of pictures and the camera will run faster on the smaller capacity card. I also got the Moultrie security box and use it with lag bolts as well as a Python cable lock. (The Bushnell Bear-Proof security box is too small for this camera!)
First night I used the camera I got 50 pictures of 10+ deer at various times....evening, night and morning. All good quality fotos! I didn't even use the high-res/high pixelation/hi=quality setting! For my purposes, I bought 2 of the 8GB SD cards. I just swap them back and forth: take the card with pics back home and download and then put the clean/erased/reformatted card back in next time out. If you prefer, the camera will also re-format your SD card for you in about 5 seconds or so. Very convenient in the field. I have used this on windy days and was worried about lots of mis-fires from branches, etc. sucking up the batteries and wasting space on the card, but I have had very few errant pictures.
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67 of 74 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 2013
Verified Purchase
If Amazon would allow me to give this 4.5 stars, I would. This is my first Moultrie, but I've had several of the higher-quality game cams over the years from Bushnell, Primos and Wildgame Innovations, and so far, I think this is my favorite. I tested in my backyard for a few weeks and just had it out in the field for one day/night and it did great. The user interface is intuitive and the flexibility and options are great. It's also a great size and good camo design. The pictures are great during the day and as good if not better than any of the other cameras I have with night shots. I have not had any false positives that I noticed and I have not noticed the LED glow at night, so I think this is the best no-glow camera I've used. It has "FastFire" multi-shot mode as well as a regular multi-shot mode, and the FastFire is definitely very fast - good for putting on a trail where the game is moving fairly quickly. But, I find the regular multi-shot mode is better around feeders to get more angles of bucks' racks. After weeks of use, the battery life is still near 100% (using Energizer Ultimate Lithium batteries, which I highly recommend for game cams).

The only disappointment I've had with this game cam is that I don't see a difference between VGA mode and HD mode on the video quality, other than the fact that the HD mode is a slightly larger file size on the SD card. In both modes, the video quality is not that great - it looks like both modes are really sub-HD quality (not the 720p that it claims to be in HD mode). I did the firmware update (which, again, was very easy and intuitive), but it didn't help this issue I sent examples of this to Moultrie. The customer service person is very nice and responsive, but their engineering group has not responded with their thoughts on the issue yet after a couple of weeks. I don't typically use video mode much, so this is not a big deal to me, but I would still like to see this corrected.

Overall, I would give this 5 stars if the HD video truly looked like HD. If Moultrie corrects this issue, I will update this review and upgrade my rating.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 2013
Verified Purchase
I really like this camera. The camera did make a noise when taking a photo but was easy to fix with a down load.
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The manufacturer commented on the review below
24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2013
11/23/13 The first M-990i I purchased lasted just over two weeks until it started getting cold outside, but we'd had it just over a month. It started draining the batteries. I put in a new set and set it outside and again drained batteries by the next day. Duracell batteries (Not Duralock) were used. I put in another fresh set and it would only allow me to punch in my password and set it up for pictures before the screen would go blank.

It was just past the vendor return policy of a month and I had to send it directly to Moultrie. $10 for shipping and two weeks later, I got a new one, as they could not repair the first one. They just sent a new camera and it showed up without any warning or communication about the bad one. Minimal customer service. That's OK, it keeps costs down.

Anyway, I got the new one and finally had a chance to set it up. This one also drains batteries within a day, but just does not take pictures or video; yes, it's below freezing. My wife said it took 3 pictures and then died. It has gone from the 30s down into the 20s outside. While it has been getting down to the mid 20s at night, that should not be an issue. We have 8 other cameras outdoors; 1 Wildgame Innovations 6MP(3 or 4 years old and our first camera) and 7 Primos Truth Cam 35s (4 that are 1.5 years old and 3 newer; our favorites at about $80 each). While they are less expensive game cameras than this Moultrie, we've had them for years and they are all still working.

We thought we'd upgrade to this Moultrie for the audio, video and resolution for one specific area. I will now have to send this one back, if I can't convince Amazon to have them refund my money and pay for its return. The 1st camera was promising and worked so well for about two weeks; not a day with the second. What is the point of purchasing an outdoor camera if it does not work when it gets cold outside?

I purchased this M990i through 17th Street Photo, Amazon is trying to go through them to get me a refund. As you all should know, Amazon is always awesome, so no issues there. As a matter of fact, while discussing this issue, I told them that a Guaranteed Prime package had not arrived on-time. Amazon apologized and gave me a complimentary one month extension on my Prime account.

12/13/2013 I got no help from 17th street Photo, so I called Moultrie and asked if they would pay to have the DOA shipped back and if possible give me a different but comparable model, as I had no confidence in this model or the M series. I was told that it was possible, but the representative said he needed to talk to his Manager. Five minutes later he got back on the line and told me that the manager was OK with emailing me a UPS shipping tag and also said he made a note in my file regarding an alternative camera, but both requests needed to be approved by corporate and to expect an email within a couple of days. It's been a week and a half and I've heard nothing. I will call on Monday as they are now closed and they do not accept phone messages; just as convenient as them responding to emails - non existent.

12/17/2013 I got hold of Moultrie. After putting me on hold, the first lie they told me was that there were delays with the UPS emails, when I asked what happened. Two weeks and they couldn't contact me? What does UPS have to do with their emails or them staying on top of issues when they obviously knew they had them? Anyway, they decided I needed to unpack the box I packed two weeks before, so we could do MORE troubleshooting. I purchased the first camera 4 months ago and am still hassling with Moultrie. I just want my money back, but that isn't going to happen. More hours wasted. So, Jordan the troubleshooter tells me this: You should only use Duracell, but not duralock or energizer batteries. You should use SanDisk memory cards, but NEVER intermingle the cards with other cameras. Do not use Motion Freeze, as it will drain the batteries quickly. So, now I will be waiting to see if the weather gets below freezing again to see if all this high maintenance pays off. My 8 other non Moultrie cameras are so low maintenance. We swap memory cards between them (different brands, speeds and memory capacities), no problems; different batteries, including Costco's Kirkland brand and rechargeables, no problems and in all types of weather, with no problems. I will update when I have tested the camera longer, but for the last two days, under a controlled and non freezing environment, the camera is working. Did I mention that Jordan also said that the Moultrie M990i is weather resistant, but not weather proof, so I must assume rain or snow can damage these outdoor game cameras, unless he meant you can't use them to video trout under water; hey some Mensa candidate might. Also, I just noticed that after I told Moultrie that I was documenting all this on Amazon, they almost immediately released comments to at least all the 1 star raters, who have similar complaints as mine. I'm to believe that everyone's issues must be Duracell's Duralock batteries. PLEASE! Always blame the other guy.

The only high drain camera I have owned is this one. More like a sieve if you ask me, at least with certain functions engaged.

March 13, 2014

Well, the camera made it through the winter. It looks like the issue is software or the electronics themselves; freeze frame function, et al. Sadly, that feature is for night vision and is what we bought this camera to shoot in. We have not received any updates to rectify the problem, so I think it is still there. I certainly won't waste any more batteries to find out, even if they had a firmware release to fix the flaw. Just be aware. I will keep this at a 1 star, so more people will read it, but if you don't need all the functions, I would give this 2.5 stars now. It is not complete junk, but per Moultrie Tech Support this camera has problems and it is absolutely not a battery issue. I wish they would quit lying and blaming Duracell Duralock batteries.

October 7, 2014

Almost two months ago I responded to Moultrie's request to contact them to try and resolve the issues with the M-Series 990i camera. I have not heard a word. Like I said, Quality is a reflection of Customer Service.
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The manufacturer commented on this review (What's this?)
We're sorry for the issues you had with your M-990i. When using Duracell batteries, please be sure to avoid the "Duralock" type as these are not designed for high-drain devices (such as game cameras) but are for low-drain devices (like TV remotes).

We cover all of our cameras with a very strong 1 year warranty. If your cameras is defective, we will repair or replace the camera.

Please contact our US-Based call center Monday-Friday 8AM - 5PM CST
1-800-653-3334

Alternatively, you can use an email form on our website:
www.moultriefeeders.com/contactus

Thank you,
Moultrie Product Team
35 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on July 13, 2013
Verified Purchase
I bought the camera to view the license plates of cars that come down my road. Other cameras that I purchased failed to do this; however, the M-990i is doing a great job. How it works for animals, I don't know, but it works just fine for me.
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The manufacturer commented on the review below
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 26, 2013
Verified Purchase
I wanted a trails camera that would not emit any visible flash at night. I intended this to be part of a security system I could leave out in the woods to record human activity. I specifically selected this camera (and paid almost 2x the price of a standard trail camera, ~$150) because this model touted itself as "No Glow - 940 nm Infrared LED illumination".

Unfortunately the claims are not true. The IR flash is easily visible through the black plastic filter above the lens. "No Glow" and "940 nm" should mean the flash is invisible. This camera does not work as advertised.
This will make a great game camera but not much better than one selling for 1/2 the price.
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The manufacturer commented on this review (What's this?)
Arsene,
Our extensive field testing has determined the 940nm No-Glow LED's on the M-990i can be slightly visible to a very small segment of the population if looking directly at the camera from less than 5'. For security applications, the No-Glow LED's in the M-990i should be more than up to the task.

We cover all of our cameras with a very strong 1 year warranty. If your camera is defective, we will repair or replace the camera.

Please contact our US-based call center Monday-Friday, 8AM - 5PM CST at 1-800-653-3334. Alternatively, you can use an email form on our
website: http://www.moultriefeeders.com/customer-service

Thank you,
Moultrie Product Team
24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 2013
Verified Purchase
perfect, just perfect, the pics i get are so clear its like looking out a window, the night time photos are great also, it seems to light up the night so i see the other deer deep in the woods, was a great choice, and well worth the money
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