Bushnell has a new range of camera traps out for 2014 and have reverted back to the familiar ‘Trophy Cam’ name. However, these new cameras have had a big makeover externally.
We got our hands on the 119676 (the lower end of the two new models) and have been putting it through its paces for this review…
So, how does the new Bushnell Trophy Cam 119676 perform?
A lot of the Bushnell Trophy Cam 119676’s new features are actually aesthetic.
The first thing you can see from the new Trophy Cam 119676 is the case redesign, which Bushnell describes as ‘aggressive’.
It’s likely that this new look was designed to appeal to hunters in the USA, which are major users of camera traps (also known as trail cameras, scouting cameras and game cameras – and why the Trophy Cam is so called).
The 119676 is exactly the same as the 119677, except the latter has a camouflage finish.
Although it looks a little strange on first viewing, we actually quite like the new look.
The removal of the massive ‘Bushnell HD’ branding from the base of the front is welcome – it was a bit too ‘in your face’ and opportunistic marketing, and you could also argue that it didn’t help the camera blend into its environment.
It’s been replaced with a smaller Bushnell badge which blends in much better, and the ‘Bushnell HD’ branding has been made smaller and moved to the latch on the side.
A small issue with the previous designs was how straight-edged they were. Straight lines stick out in nature, and the shape of the old cases could give the Trophy Cam away if it was in a public location.
This new design breaks up the outline of the camera slightly and thus makes it slightly less obvious when strapped up.
One slight issue is with the cavities that the new design has around the edge – even with the old design, we get used to ‘things’ living in our camera traps when they’ve been out in the woods for a few weeks.
Any little crevice seems to become a temporary home, and this new design means it’s likely we’ll providing a lot more bug homes in the future…
Anti-reflection Device (‘ARD’)
One of the new features is touted as an ‘Anti-reflection Device’ – a rather grand name for what it is – essentially some wire mesh that fits over the Infrared LEDs.
It’s easy to see why Bushnell thought they should do something about the reflection from the IR cover – it is incredibly reflective!
As you can see from the picture, the idea is that the ARD lessens the reflection from the no-glow LED cover.
It’s still fairly easy to make out a reflection with the ARD on. The true test will be whether wildlife reacts to the camera during daylight hours – but the ARD does help reduce reflection.
When we first saw a picture of this new design, we hoped that the ARD actually let you choose between having a no-glow cover for the LEDs or not; i.e. letting you choose when to reduce the red glow from the LED.
The no-glow LED cover reduces the IR flash range by about 30%, and as you can find out below, that can really be a detriment to the camera trap’s night-time images.
A removable no-glow cover so you can choose when to use it would be very useful and a fantastic feature.
A redesigned latch system means that there is just one large latch to undo rather than the traditional two smaller latches.
It’s well designed, closes with a satisfying ‘click’ and feels very tight and secure. It’s also faster and less fiddly that the previous design.
On the back of the camera, Bushnell have got rid of the traditional small ‘foot’ at the base and replaced in with two larger, tougher feet.
Whilst it’s good to have something tougher, it still can be fiddly and difficult to get the Trophy Cam in the exact position that you want it. There isn’t much room to manoeuvre.
If you’re out in the woods, few trees are perfectly flat. It means that you’ll inevitably be sticking a couple of sticks behind the camera trap to get it into the position you want.
If you use your camera trap with a tripod or prefer attaching to fence posts, this won’t be a problem however.
One sincere wish with Bushnell is that they make it easier for us to position their camera traps.
It’s difficult to get a few sticks behind the Bushnell due to where the strap goes through, and the curved edge of the strap holders means that if you do but something behind, it can slip out quite easily.
If it was flat, it would be much easier to get something behind it to angle the camera exactly as desired.
Bushnell claim that the new Trophy Cam offers an improved trigger speed of 0.2 seconds – something always difficult to fully test.
Trigger speeds are also affected by other variables, such as temperature and user settings. For example, if you set your camera trap to HD video rather than a 3.1mp picture, it will take the camera a few more 0.1 seconds to actually start recording footage.
Trigger speed is also heavily linked with how well the camera trap can detect wildlife – something we’ll discuss more below.
Nevertheless, if the camera does trigger within 0.2 seconds of detection, it is a truly quick trigger speed and up there with the best camera traps available.
No big change here – Bushnell’s maximum is still 8MP, interpolated up from 5MP.
Obviously, that’s still nice and clear, but we did hope they’d take the plunge and offer 10 or 12MP. Maybe with the next one…
The Bushnell Trophy Cam 119676 offers HD video at 720p. That’s less than the resolution you get with your HD programming, but still more than adequate for filming wildlife.
One of the reasons we use Bushnell more than other make of camera trap is because of the consistent video quality – it’s hard to beat.
We get used to hearing “Wow, the quality is really good” from people at training events and workshops when we show footage from our Bushnell cameras at 720p, and that’s normally on a large projector or screen.
You can also get the Trophy Cam HD Max 119678 version which offers 1080p resolution if you want even higher quality.
The video quality of the 119676 is again very good, as you can see from this footage we took at Howsham Mill (make sure you watch in HD!)
One slight concern was that daytime footage was always fairly dim, as you can see from the grey wagtail at the beginning. This was the case during every daylight capture; morning, midday and evening.
The night time footage was good – the badger in the example video is clear and well exposed.
One of the most important things about a camera trap is its detection zone.
This is basically the area in front of the camera in which, if movement and a change in ambient heat is detected, triggers the camera trap to take a picture.
The size and depth of this detection zone determines how you need to place your camera trap.
Bushnell have traditionally had great detection zones and fairly reliable triggers in our experience. For the 119676, Bushnell say the camera can detect motion out to 60ft.
For this new Trophy Cam model, we decided to put that to the test…
We set up measurements and walked along lines 10ft in front of the camera, starting further away (90ft) and coming all the way in.
Happily, the 119676 triggered at 90ft – but only after the subject had walked most of the line. Still, that’s 30ft further than Bushnell is advertising and quite impressive.
You can see from this animation that the camera trap also consistently triggered on every 10ft line we walked.
Detection zones are sometimes fickle however – temperature can have a big effect, especially if it’s hot (as there is a smaller difference in temperature between the subject and the air), and smaller mammals are less likely to trigger the camera at distance due to their size.
Our human size subject is fairly large compared to most British wildlife you can expect to capture, so it’s likely that animals such as foxes and rabbits will trigger the camera at about 70ft.
With the new design (holding 33 infrared LEDs) and the ARD cover, we were interested to see if the IR range had been adversely affected.
Bushnell say that the IR range for this model is 60ft. That seems like a big distance.
We again tested the IR flash range of the 119676 on a clear, still night. From what we can gather, the flash range is at most 40ft, and the subject is still grainy and difficult to make out, passing at just walking pace.
Even at 20ft the subject is still grainy and grey.
When set up overnight to test it further, these cat pictures then turned out better than we expected:
The example video footage of the badger however also does appear quite clear – and again it just might be Bushnell’s poor night time image quality coming through.
We never use the Bushnell for pictures as the night time quality just isn’t good enough in our experience.
There is a new setting on this camera however to try and help; ‘NV Shutter’.
This lets you control the shutter speed for night vision shots – setting the shutter speed to ‘Low’ means more the picture will be more exposed but you may get more subject blur, and vice versa for the ‘High’ setting. These pictures were on ‘Medium’.
The battery life of the 119676 in good conditions is meant to be as much as 1 year – and this is something that NatureSpy can certainly say Bushnell has a good track record with.
We use standard alkaline batteries in most of our camera traps, and Bushnell always last the longest, even under a good amount of usage.
We can’t vouch for the 119676’s battery life just yet however having only had it a few weeks, but so far it looks like it will carry on the good battery life tradition of its predecessors.
A lot of the old ‘hits’ are still there, and nothing has really been sacrificed from the old cameras to make way for this new model.
The video quality is still the stand-out feature, and although daytime footage is sometimes a little under-exposed, night time footage is still pretty good and well lit if you get your camera positioning right.
Night-time picture quality is certainly the low-point and a shame – though with the video quality being as good as it is you may choose this over pictures anyway.
The case design overall is good, if a little over the top, but breaking up the outline of the camera when it’s out in the woods is very important for security; even if it does provide more homes for bugs.
The ‘ARD’ may not actually do much and isn’t really a major feature, though the new latch design is much better than the previous models.
Overall, the new Bushnell Trophy Cam 119676 is a great camera and offers a lot of useful features for anyone looking to watch or study wildlife. This, plus the two year warranty and sturdy build quality, means it’s hard to look past this new offering from Bushnell.