We bought this bargain basement unit on a deep discount, Black Friday special at a local sporting goods store in southeast Michigan. This was done in the fervent hope that the Wildgame Innovations® 4.0MP IR Digital Game Camera(see my Amazon review of that game camera) purchased earlier this year was just a lemon and other firmware changes have been made since to improve performance. After some local field time, this is what we learned:
The Good: * Strobe (white light) flash -- color pictures day and night. * Flash good to about 30'. * 64 MB (not 16 MB) on-board flash memory -- USB accessible and the required cable is included. * Recognized as an external drive on Windows 7 HP. * Up to 2 GB SD card can be used in this camera to supplement the on-board memory * If an SD card is inserted, all pictures are automatically written to the SD card first. * Bungee cord attachment straps are included -- they work well holding the camera to at fixed object. * 1.3 Megapixel picture size -- day and night. * Nice, clear pictures that are comparable to older 1.3 MP fixed P&S camera pictures.
The Lacking/Bad: * 1.3 Megapixel pictures -- budget camera, but come on, larger CCD sensor prices have dropped significantly. * Fixed lens focus -- optimum focus is set at between 15' and 20'. * NO laser sighting to show the aiming of the camera. * Again, "C" cell batteries for a power source -- white flash takes more power to flash than the IR unit. * Use only premium "C" cell batteries -- cheapo batteries do not have the strength to make this camera work. * The battery clips are held in by weak plastic clip holders that DO break very easily (see my IR4 review). * Accessing the 64 MB on-board flash memory can only be done with a computer via USB cable. * There is NO provision to copy images from the on-board memory to an inserted SD card. * The SD card is not hot swappable -- you have to power down the cam to change SD cards. * If you try to hot swap the SD card, the camera will automatically shut down. * You cannot use a 4 GB or larger SDHC card. * This SD card slot is tight, so using a micro or mini SD card with an adapter will only cause problems. * Software (mini-CD) included contains older Windows OS drivers and multiple language copies of the owners manual. * There is NO provision to adjust/modify/update this game camera's firmware by the USB connection to a computer. * Center weighted/narrow angle infrared motion detector -- unless the object is in center frame zone, no picture. * The battery meter ALWAYS shows 1/4 battery level, even when connected to a 6 volt battery charger (at 8.25 volts). * Red tinted pictures -- indicating a failing CCD imaging sensor or processing component after only 1500 pictures
In comparison to the IR4, this unit has a faster trigger time. We have not taken the stopwatch to this model as of yet -- we want some additional field time first. Thus far, the picture write time to file is just over 1 second. The delay appears to be sub-2 seconds, unlike the IR4 model. The narrow motion detection zone of this camera requires a fast trigger in order to capture game walking/running through the trigger zone. I would like to see the ability to adjust this trigger time, down to some lower value than near 2 seconds.
The EXIF file is more complete. This unit has variable shutter speed timing with daytime picture taking at speeds over 1/200 of a second.
There are a couple of additional points I want to bring out here: Wildgame Innovations (WGI) warranty registration is unique, especially for a low cost camera. The warranty card and sales receipt must be included when you register the camera for warranty. For all of the products I have warranty registered (without a Rebate attached) over the years, this is a first for me. On the same point, WGI CS is very bad when contacting CS with issues. The web site portal will NOT accept a written response. There is an 800 number on the web site, but when calling, nobody answers. Leave a message on VM, but nobody calls back. Keep these points in mind when you purchase this or any WGI camera.
In all, this camera appears to be better than the more expensive IR4 model. We need to test this model further to see if this first impression testing will hold up or will it faultier like it did in the IR4 model. For now, given the improved performance, I can only give 3 stars, since you still have the CS issue to contend with. This review will be updated as we continue to test it. **** 12/12/2009 - Update
We took this camera out into the field for long term testing this past week. Mounted the camera up with a 2 GB SD card, it now sits in the woods with 3 week old batteries (still good) until we retrieve it in late march, 2010. The area is covered with 30" of snow right now. This long term test was literally forced upon us by Mother Nature. This camera is sitting just ahead of the WGI IR4 camera. I will now have a side by side comparison of the two cameras come next Spring. I will update again at that time.
The pictures continue to look good, even though they are only 1.3 MP in size. ***** 3/22/2010 - Update
This camera survived the harsh winter in northwestern lower Michigan. The camera was not functioning upon our retrieval. Removed and tested the batteries (Duracell's) -- lowest voltage was 1.012 volts and the highest was 1.041 volts. When the battery voltage drops down to this amount, the camera shuts down. We don't know when that was, but it was sometime shortly before we retrieved it. The camera works fine after installing new batteries. Battery life is not as good as the IR4 model, which was functioning properly upon retrieval. Also, the nighttime flash will fail to fire sporadically when battery voltage falls into the 1.33 volt range. The camera continues to take daytime pictures just fine. ***** 5/31/2010 -- Update
We retrieved this camera over the weekend with just three (3) pictures on it. All were only days after we placed it back in the woods. Upon closer inspection, the batteries were dead. Just six (6) weeks passed, we don't know when the batteries actually died, but battery life is horrible! Due to the bad battery life, I'm lowering my star rating to two stars. ***** 8/15/2010 -- Update
The warranty period is almost expired. Fortunately, this camera works just fine, with a couple minor issues. Lately, a number of pictures were nighttime pictures. The motion sensor tripped the camera to take the picture, but the flash didn't fire - black picture. To solve this problem and the poor battery life problem, we wired in a single 6 volt battery from Amazon UPG D5733 Sealed Lead Acid Batteries. This battery has comparable specifications to the Wildgame Innovations® External 6V Battery Pack that contains two of these batteries (and 5 times the cost). Our modification should give this camera additional capacity for flash pictures and longer life in the field. Presently, deer cam with the external battery appears to have solved the nighttime non-firing flash issue, but more field time is needed.
The camera sits in the woods once again. This time in a known hotspot of activity. We expect a LOT more pictures in the future. ***** 9/2/2010 - Update
The external battery worked as expected. Over a 19 day period, we captured 237 pictures with approximately 85% of them being flash pictures. NO black flash pictures in the entire lot. The "C" cell batteries do not have the reserve capacity to keep recharging the flash strobe to take one flash picture after another over an extended period of time. When leaving the camera completely unattended or maintained with new batteries, you will lose pictures with "C" cell batteries as the sole power source of this camera. A poor design in the 2009 model WGI camera line up, that was partially corrected (at a cost with the external power supply by WGI) in the 2010 line up. This camera is back in the woods once again for more testing. With our case modifications and the external power pack option in the 2010 model line-up, I raised my star rating to 3 stars, since the higher capacity battery pack resolves the black flash picture issue. ***** 9/29/2010 - Update
28 days and 330 pictures later, the external battery (listed above) was exhausted (down to 3.57 volts). Just 4 weeks on a higher capacity battery and this camera depleted it's over-sized power supply. Horrible power management on this model deer camera (in stark contrast to the 2010 IR4 model with 437 pictures on the original set of "C" cell batteries). Power problems plagued us from the start. We are running more tests, but it appears to be a firmware and hardware issue causing this excessive power drain. I'm very disappointed in this camera's power hungry appetite, making any long term, unattended use almost unrealistic.
***** 11/01/2010 - Update
This camera is no longer being made. The 2010 replacement model is a 2.0 MP unit.
As for this camera -- the external battery works great. The installed 9 volt solar charger keeps the battery level up. We captured another 300(+) pictures since the last update. One problem has plagued us from the start, but continues to get worse over time - red tinted pictures taken during the daylight hours. This is an indication of a failing CCD sensor or some other internal component that processes the CCD information. Hard to believe that it would fail only after 1500 pictures. Another quality issue on these cameras. To WGI credit, we experienced this problem only with this camera and not with the IR4 models, but the IR4 models have not taken this many pictures either.
****** 6/10/2011 - Update - Total pictures > 3,000
This camera still functions after 2 winters in the cold north woods of Michigan. Power problems still plague us, but the external battery and solar panel helped tremendously. The "pink" picture issue is still there. We are waiting to see if the CCD sensor or A/D converter dies. The way things are going, it may be a while.
The motion sensor is just as effective as new. The time lag from sensing movement to firing the picture remains, but it is still better than the IR models.
WGI updated the 1.3 MP deer camera line again. We picked up a dirt cheap unit locally and have it in the field for testing. Amazon sells this model as: Wildgame Innovations Game Scouting Camera with Video. It is a 2010/2011 model. After we have some field time, I will publish a review of this camera also.
***** 11/20/2011 - Update (6,000+ pics)
This camera's ability to take pictures remains nothing short of amazing! This past summer and fall, in a really hot area, we popped nearly 4,000 pictures of game. 60% plus are flash, all came out very well. The battery level remains good and the solar panel is helping out once again, now that the trees are bare.
The pink picture issue is well controlled -- only a few pink pictures since the last review. The CCD sensor or A/D converter absolutely refuses to die.
The camera listed above has just over 800 pictures now and the flash strobe has failed completely. The build quality on that camera was bad, so if you have any issues with your WGI camera - warranty it immediately. They will not get better over time.
This will be our third winter with this camera. We reset this camera in the same area once again, activity remained very high all year, so we are curious to see if the camera will survive all winter taking pictures - solar panel charger, 2 GB SD card and a topped off 6 volt external battery makes this camera as ready as it could be. We were not the lucky last year, the pictures stopped just before 1/1/2011. 6 weeks was too short. We will see come late March 2012.
***** 7/21/2013 - Update (lost count of pictures)
This camera continues to work for us in the field. Two more NW Michigan winters with the external battery attached and it just keeps taking pictures. It is using more power now, since everything is getting older.
This has been a strange year for us. Winter didn't loosen it's grip on us until late April. We didn't retrieve this camera until early May and we discovered the pictures stopped being taken on 1/21/13, after 350 pictures snapped from late November 2012 to 1/21/13. We didn't reset the camera in May, but did so in early June. Since this reset, my deer cam buddy suddenly passed away. I have not been able to make it back up to check on the status of any camera in the field.
They remain where we placed them in early June 2013.
If and when I make it back up, I will advise the results along with the other camera that are function for us in the field.
***** 8/5/2013 - Final Update
No pictures from June 1, 2013 to August 2, 2013. Upon retrieval, the battery was completely drained. Put a recharged battery on the camera - the camera would not power up. It appears to have finally given us its best and totally failed. We took it out of service for bench testing. 4 harsh winters and 3 hot and humid summers of service is just about all you are going to get from these cameras. This one lasted far longer than the more expensive IR4 model that melted down after water intruded into the case last June.
I tried to save some cash and bought 2 of these. Neither of them worked at all. LCD screens and buttons didn't work most of the time and when they did I still couldn't get either to take a a single picture. Save time and money and by a Cuddeback or equal camera.
This camera was not worth the time spent getting it out of the vacuum wrap.Setup buttons did not work every time,would not take pics. onto card and the ones it took to internal memory were out of focus.The flash washed out all night pics. I returned it to Sportsmans guide three days after reseiving it.
as with any amazon product I have ever purchased, the game camera is an excellent expample of proof of purchase-what I saw and read regarding the item is exactly what was delivered. The entire process was seamless and very rewarding. We live in a rural area and have many backyard nocturnal visitors - we have seen their tracks and have attempted to determine the mammal involved - sometimes this can be an iffy process - even in snow covered fields. With the camera, we have "captured" images of our visitors and been surprised in a couple of instances in what we have seen. We are not hunters as such, but I am positive that this camera would prove to be a valuable tool for those who do enjoy the sport.