2009 Moultrie I45 4mp MFH-DGS-I45 IR Flash Review - September 2, 2009 Back to Main Review Page
   

"Version 1"

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2009 Moultrie I45
 

Moultrie Game Mgmt Plans
 

The flash from 25 ft

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Wow, the anticipation that has surrounded the release has been growing since its failed July release date. It has appeared in three different forms one with only 4 large emitters and the next with a black out square glass over the array and the final version that has the old I-40 look but only with a 60 emitter count . Advertising has gone from completely invisible to totally invisible and finally virtually invisible when describing the flash. The word that we are now going to be discussing is (virtually) and it’s meaning.

Last year we had a several month ordeal dealing with another company that claimed and advertised specifications that were false. Moultrie has chosen to circumvent that kind of problem by playing with words. Anyway what it amounts to is a stretch in the actual operational function that this type of word implies. This will be explained in detail a little later. Out of the box you get a real hand full of what appears to be a very solid built camera. It has a textured flat black color and high powered binocular style case design. This is like an oval tube design. The top has a sliding water proof cap and the bottom has a slide out battery compartment. There are slotted ears on the top lid that drop over the ends with a knob through them that tightens down to close the case. The battery compartment on the bottom has a turn latch to lock it in place once it is inserted back up inside the tube.

With the top open there are several things that are exposed. An LCD screen (improved) (last year they had a bunch of bad units sold with faulty LCD screens). The on/off/aim switch located beside the screen which has a good solid feel, which is not like last years switch. The cover protected SD card slot and USB ports are located just under the LCD screen. To the right of that is the joy stick up/down-left/right/select switch for programming. This appears to be a very simple and strait forward programming design that has been carefully selected.

The size is 6X 7 ½ X 4 ½ inches which is much smaller than last year’s cameras. The processor is rated 4 MP which is more than enough pixels to capture great pictures (in three resolutions) as long as it possesses the necessary quality which we will definitely be looked at. Day and night videos (two resolutions) that are color day and black and white night are the normal for most IR cameras, this camera continues that same trend. They advertise the PIR sensing out to 50 feet. The 3 burst (15 sec. delay) (multi shot) function is also selectable. We do not know yet if the video is still limited to the previous 5 seconds (the booklet needs help in this area because it says 5 sec. default then 10 sec. default and then 15 sec. default but adjustable to 30 seconds). The delay is still the same 1 to 60 seconds so if they kept this then we feel the video will also be limited because if the amount of video/flash activity is limited, the battery life will be longer. Firmware is updateable and the temp/moon phase/time/date and camera data is still displayed on each picture.

The new case design lends itself to mounting and weather resistance. What it does not do is give this camera any degree of security measures. This will have to come up with some after market security enclosures. It does fit on the tree very nicely with its supplied strap. Like last year this cam has the adjustable tilt knob and an exaggerated V at the bottom to match the tree. The battery compartment is at the bottom of the camera and a twist of a knob allows a drop down slide out 4 D cell compartment. This is very nice except for the old codgers like me that will still have to tip the camera up to do a battery change because of its location. The facility for the remote game management option is also incorporated on the bottom but we will not discuss this until (and if) we decide to review that optional device.

Not found openly in previous advertisements that I scanned was trigger time information other than “rapid response”. Well I have read on the box that they are supposed to have a less than 1 second trigger time. Of course right after we check to see just how virtual the flash is we will be checking the real trigger time. I don’t know what “IR aim and LED quick aim” means but it is supposed to be part of the features. Maybe it is a nice way to say “laser”, we will also look into this new feature description. Advertised to take up to 16 GB SDHC card is way on up there and is a welcome feature. Still the Moultrie power panel is mentioned because of the external power port. This is also a great feature. We only got a virtual 6 months of life put of our power panel when we tested it before the SLA failed. If most of this advertising holds true we are going to be dealing with a camera that will be virtually hard to beat. I had a couple of consumer type questions that had been repeatedly asked on some of the forums so I decided to test Moultrie’s customer service and ask those two questions. Forty one minutes later my phone is still on hold and I had to leave out to go pick up another camera. Maybe I will be able to get those answers on line being the phone system seems to not work. These new cameras have forced us to make a list of things to look out for and to test because the rumors from inside and outside the industry just keeps coming. Our hands on will be the only way to determine the answers, I guess. Here are a few descriptions for the word virtually. Pick the one that you are most comfortable with and then apply it to what you see coming from the camera’s IR array.

Virtually:  As good as, approaching, Basically, approximately, Give or take a little, Guesstimate, close to but no cigar, Implicitly, just about, In effect, in substance, In essence, more or less, In the ball park, near about, In the neighborhood, not quite, Nearly, pretty near, Not absolutely, roughly, Not actually, well-nigh, Practically, within a little.
 

There are more but our take (and what has been reported on our forum) is that you can see the flash but it is somewhat reduced which will put this camera in the red flash low glow category. Should the trigger time prove to be as advertised I would not sell this camera short for having the (low glow) reduced visible red flash or somewhat visible red flash. My personal feelings are that I can live with the red low glow flash type but the 1 minute delay is hard to fit in along with all this camera's other good features. Well it’s off to the trigger test station and flash/sensing testing. The trigger time (unofficial) proved to be just under two seconds but during that test I was struck by this lunchbox design. I headed out to the woods to strap this camera on a tree to see just how it was as far as far as operating the controls and buttons. This camera is limited to a little above waist level and below for on the tree operation. Any higher than that and the LCD is not readable so our favorite above eye level mount would require off the tree setup then mounting and attempt aiming. The next very disturbing feature is this dome lid (water collector) design. A little light rain and heavy dew made things pretty damp in the woods. I mounted the camera about waist high and opened the lid.  This process created water droplets to land on the lid from the dew and wet foliage. When the lid was opened these droplets landed all over the LCD and around the makeshift cover to the SD card and programming joy stick. Back off the tree and off to the truck for a paper napkin to dry things out. I believe this will prove to be a problem area unless the owners carry a pack of towels to dry the camera and surroundings prior to mounting. God forbid bumping the tree on a heavy dew morning because you will end up with a camera full, if it should happen while that cover is off the Card slot during a card change. Then you would get to lock all that moisture up inside the case after you left the area. The next area is the tilt adjustment screw. This is a very thoughtful feature but like on the old I-40 it forms a bridge off the tree so when the strap is tightened it should be done with care. Even though it appears that the strap loops are made a little heavier than last year, this situation could lead to a broken strap loop like happened many times last year by over tightening the strap. After things got wet I headed back and forgot to take the pictures that I went out there to get. It’s on the deck in the sun for a “make sure” dry out before I install the batteries. This amount of time doing a little hand’s on and I haven’t even got to turn it on yet. My first impression well lets just say I had better wait because so far it is not very high and I haven’t even turned it on. I wonder if the tilt adjustment could be removed and that hole used for a tri-pod mount with a screw change?

Well its back to the Wild game innovations (WGI) cameras that are still in the loop while this thing cooks a day in the sun to make sure it is dry. The savant designer may have dropped the ball on this one. I will re hang the camera tomorrow and see how it goes. I tip toed out to the tree and carefully hung the camera then wiped the top off and opened the lid, still got a couple drops which I quickly wiped off. I reached under the camera and opened the battery compartment and slid it out. I wanted to see how much trouble this old man could get in doing this by feel. With out getting down on my knees I cannot tell how well I aligned the latch up but it felt secure. I opened the makeshift SD slot cover and went to put the card in but I could not see exactly which way it was suppose to be inserted. I leaned forward and my hat hit the tree bark above the camera and more troubles arrived. The bark pieces that I knocked off the tree with the bill of my hat went straight down and hit the top of the camera. Some small pieces actually went down the SD card slot. Now I am completely pissed. Back off the tree and the SD card fell down into the leaves and I had to spend time trying to find it. Getting the sun exactly right to see what I was up against was a task. I could see a ¼ inch size piece of bark and some smaller pieces. I turned the cam over and bumped it on my hand to see if the stuff would come out but it did not want to move. I had to go to my shop and setup a good light and take my set of dental picks and carefully dig around to remove the pieces along with a little compressed air. I carefully tried the card and it seemed to click in place so I think everything is going to be alright as long as my pick probing did not cause a problem.

 As of now I could very easily end the review at this point without ever turning this ill thought out device on. This is like being married, even though it doesn’t feel good there are things that still have to be done and there are probably folks that might still be interested somewhat in this camera. It will be hard to keep a unbiased attitude unless this thing jumps over the top with super performance. At this point the only way I would deploy this camera in the woods would to be that I would carry a cloth cover for the camera and work under that any time that it is opened on the tree. Maybe some smart fellow will design a bra for the top of this cam for that purpose. Imagine driving a couple hours to your lease and pop the top open and have the same thing happen to you. Another thing I noticed was that I have a tendency to place my left hand on the tree above the cam while I fiddle around like when I am programming the camera with my right hand. This will not work around this camera. Do not bump, disturb, shake touch anything above the camera while it is open. To be real safe just do all the programming off the tree and card changes and close it up and put it back on the tree. I thought maybe about some type of swivel mount where you could tip the cam sideways for battery and card changes before closing it up and setting it back up straight. I wanted to have some pictures of this but after a 4 hour ordeal I am never going to open this camera up on the tree again unless I have some type of cover for protection and keep the makeshift SD card slot cover snapped in place until I know it is safe.

Now the batteries just fell out because I had not got it latched right. (Miller time) I just took a break and put the hammer away and turned off the trash shredder and am now putting the batteries back in the case, this time while it is on its back which seems to work just fine now that I could see the latch fully slid in. I did the trigger time tests which I took that information and filled in the blank above and checked out the flash. The best way to do this is video mode but I also did single and three burst and all these tests showed that there is a definite glow more toward the orange color than red but was easy to see at 25 feet so our initial findings and  received data was correct so this is a red (orange) flash camera. It has more glow than other cameras we have called low glow but it is somewhat subdued compared to last years I40. The flash duration is not a quick blip, rather it has a duration of seconds that is easy to see. If we get good clear night pictures without a lot of blur and the day color and sharpness is there this will be a pretty good camera with the under two second trigger time. It is absolutely not a barn burner black flash as some folks originally felt it would be. There is no gasket on the lid but the battery area has a gasket so transport to the field during wet conditions should be in a protected bag. Once in an upright position and hung on the tree the lid fits down over the base so the moisture should run off and not enter the camera. Just make sure that once deployed the lid is pressed down and the screws tightened then everything should be ok. Having that long delay 1 min. minimum sure takes away from this camera. Most folks would like to at least have it down to half that time. The programming was very easy but I will say that the documentation is weak. Four D cells are what is in the tank and let’s hope that we can get somewhere close to the same mileage out of this setup as we did with the I-40. We have a lot more to do with this camera so I need to get it off to Anthony for a little of his hands on.

09-05-2009 update:  I got ready to maybe get this thing stuck in the light box for a few pictures when I noticed that the PIR sensor lens is very distorted. I don’t know how this effects sensing but I am going to have to take a close look at it. As I moved the camera back and forth I could see the distortion by viewing the reflections coming from the lens. It has dips and bumps in it which may or may not effect sensing. See pictures below of this distortion. It was very difficult to capture it to show the full extent of the distortion but there was none of that nice round surface area that you would see on the same type lens on a Stealth cam. Just another area we have to investigate.

09-05-2009 update #2:  “IR aim and LED quick aim” This does not appear to be anything like a laser aim, I tried to use it and it was just about worthless out to any distance in the daylight. So now I am going to see just what IR test function does. I set up in this mode and did walk tests and this worked pretty well. I had to watch the red led on the front of the camera and it told me when the camera detected movement. I had a narrow 16 foot area at a distance of 19 feet. This means that this camera is aim critical with very little peripheral and also may be an impossible task being you need to program to get into this mode. This means that the camera must be hung on the tree and opened up (remember the water trash problem) then programmed to this function and then returned to regular function after the aim has been accomplished. You would not want this flashing red light to be on during deployment. The price on this camera is $250 and right now there are several other cameras that cost less that look a whole lot more attractive.

09-06-2009 update:  In parallel with this review we were also in the process of doing a re-visit on the 09 I-40/60 cameras. One big thing that we noticed was they triggered (sensed) far better than the I-45 cams. The 09 trigger times on those cameras did not show much improvement over the 08 tested cameras plus our discussion with the factory let us know that they were basically the same as last year except they now have plastic knobs and improved LCD’s. The lack of improved function led us to stop those reviews in lieu of proceeding with more of the new 09 cameras we still have in line to be tested. The one big thing that stuck out was how fast the sensing was on a side by side basis. The first (09) I-40 that I started to test was so instant in sensing that I would have thought the trigger times were going to be fantastic. Well the sensing was great but the flash duration was seconds and toward the end of this time the picture was snapped thus a pretty poor result in the trigger time department. When I was performing the three hour ordeal of getting the unofficial trigger times, I noticed that it was difficult to get the camera to see my motion. Let’s hope that this does not follow through once it is in the field.

09-06-2009 update#2:  Sensing range for this cool 80 degree evening was around 35 feet and the flash range reached 50 feet but the decoy pictures were pretty fuzzy. The camera was stationary and the decoys on the flash range were stationary so we cannot blame this on movement blur. Anthony also mentioned the fact that triggering during the trigger time testing was poor and this procedure took hours to complete. This tells us that we will probably have to pull another cam to see if this is just something dealing with a single cam or maybe this is just as good as it gets.

09-07-2009 update:  I found a few areas on some forums that talked about their first thoughts of the I-45. Most just said I just got it and will report later but a couple talked about some back yard tests, fresh out of the box. They mentioned, as I did, that the sensing was not very good. We had it on the hill a couple days and were lucky because we had day time visitors along with many night visitors. The setting was the highest to “enhanced” and when we pulled the card we began to realize that we had forgot to pull the little plastic protection off the lens. A mad dash back to the woods to correct this and we found that there was no clear plastic protective cover on the lens and that it was shinny and clear. This means that this camera just has some pretty bad pictures for that setting. They are somewhat fuzzy. We are going to try to determine if the “enhanced” setting is digitally screwing with the picture and is the culprit by interpolating up to 4 MP. We made the change to Medium resolution (the High setting is 3MP) to check to see if the looking through wax paper effect goes away. If it don’t we are going to pull this review and probably open up another box to see if they all are like this one.

09-08-2009 update:  We had some pictures posted from one of our forum visitors and they sere a mirror representation of what we found. This makes us feel that it would be a big waste of time to go ahead and open another box and try to redo portions of the review. I purposely generated some forum threads to see if we could get field input from other forums and the response was much like what we experienced on our forum. For a new much anticipated camera to come on the market and not generate interest is pretty amazing. The response so far has been almost a zero. The WGI cameras generated a thousand times more interest than this cam the first week, and are still generating more interest. The old 07 Scoutguard camera is still selling like hot cakes and remains probably the #1 camera of choice even at two years later. The I-40 predecessor is also generating a good amount of talk and is still selling very well. Unless things change dramatically very soon we are going to move on to the next camera in line and close this review.

09-19-2009 update:  For several days we've had this camera out in video mode taking 15 second, high res videos.  The video quality is acceptable but the exposure (lighting) is identical to what we see in the photos.  Date and time are not stamped into the video but the camera saves a low res photo with each video that has the date time.  We have not experienced any white outs with the camera either in photo or video modes but what we see are increasingly dark color pictures during the transition to IR mode..  So far we've taken 173 15 sec videos and 506 photos and battery level now reads 56%.

09-26-2009 update:  Currently the camera has taken 862 photos and 108 movie clips.  The battery reading is at 46%.  We have the camera running in multishot mode now.  So far there have been no additional issues other than what we've covered above.  We will keep this camera out until the batteries die and provide a final update.

10-25-2009 update:  We completed the battery life test on this camera and it came out to a respectable 1746 photos and 173 (10 second) videos.

 

 

Trigger Time
without flash - 1.5 seconds




with flash - 1.5 seconds


 
Flash Range
 
Internal/External Photos of the camera
Sample Photos 1 (High Resolution)
Sample Photos 2 (Enhanced Resolution)
Sample Photos 3 (Medium Resolution)
Movie Samples 640x480

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