The 2018 Browning Recon Force Advantage builds on the Recon Force Extreme and remains our favourite camera trap at NatureSpy. The video quality day and night is superb, better than on any other camera trap, and photo quality is very solid.
It offers better battery life, day and night video definition is improved, night time videos are also now 60fps, audio is clearer and some extra menu options compared to the previous version. Detection and sensitivity have also been improved.
Trigger speeds, particularly for videos, are very impressive and quick, at about 0.4-0.5 seconds – a stat that few can match. Detection is reliable and consistent.
The build quality and overall design of the camera is excellent, with a forward-facing colour screen to help with set up and so you can review images/videos without dismounting the camera in the field. The warranty length in the UK through NatureSpy is 2 years.
The Recon Force Advantage is also straightforward to use – uncomplicated, without a vast array of settings, but quick and simple. This year, Browning have added a menu option to reduce detection time and trigger speeds – more on this below.
Due to it’s 12V power system (the reason night footage is so good), night time videos are limited to 20 seconds per clip. However, if activity remains, the camera can recover in under 1 second and record another 20 second clip.
Also taking into consideration the price of the camera, we feel it’s a fantastic choice for nearly every purpose – therefore we give it 9 out of 10.
Read more of our review below…
Trigger speed: about 0.5 seconds Recovery time: about 0.8 seconds
Video quality is one of the main features that sets this camera apart. It remains the best available on a camera trap today.
Daytime videos are crisp and the colour is great – you can watch on a large screen and not lose any clarity. Night footage is again very strong, with good contrast and an excellent level of definition. There is just something about it that is pleasant to watch. There is a small improvement on daytime colour and video definition on this new 2018 version.
The Recon Force Advantage has two video resolution settings; ‘High’ and ‘Ultra’. The Ultra resolution is uncompressed 1080p HD video – and records at 60fps during the day and now also at night, for very smooth footage. However, the only drawback here is the larger file sizes generated at this resolution. If you want to use the Ultra setting, an SD card of at least 32GB is recommended, with a 1 minute daytime clip being around 130MB in size.
We generally use the camera on the High resolution – the quality isn’t really much different, and at 30fps is still very smooth – just to help with the file sizes.
The accompanying sound is also absolutely fantastic, and improved compared to the 2017 version. Again, using this camera (and the no-glow Spec Ops Advantage), we’ve been able to hear foxes walking through puddles, badgers vocalising to each other, and even village church bells in the distance. This is something we’ve never been reliably able to pick up before on other camera traps.
The exposure control at night is also fantastic, with the Browning instantly adjusting to maintain the correct light levels – you can see this in action on some of the videos above.
Only one slight drawback – if working at close range of say 4-6 feet, the light spread becomes a little narrower, and the camera will generally only focus on objects +6 feet away (the latter being true for all camera traps without lens adaptation).
It also has ‘Smart IR Video’ – with this turned on, the camera will continue recording up to 2 mins in the day and 20 seconds at night if activity remains. This can be quite useful – for example, if you set the video length to 10 seconds and Smart IR video on and a badger stops to have a big scratch in front of the camera, it will continue record until either the badger is gone or the maximum video time is reached. And if the badger just runs past, then you just get a 10 second video – not wasting any batteries or SD card space.
Trigger speed: about 0.4 seconds Recovery time: about 0.8 seconds
Most users go for the Recon Force Advantage for its wonderful video quality. However, photo quality is again very strong, especially when coupled with some of the photo settings. Browning haven’t updated the photo quality from the 2017 version, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
There are a number of photo resolution options, starting at 4MP up to 20MP. Its important to remember, as with all camera traps, that images resolutions are due to interpolation – the process of adding pixels to an image to inflate its resolution. For that reason, using the cameras lowest or second-lowest resolution can actually give better quality images.
The Rapid-Fire mode can give 2-8 images per trigger, at 0.2 seconds apart. This results in an almost stop-motion animation sequence which can be very rewarding. The Multi-shot mode gives up to 2-8 images at 2 seconds apart, which means longer sequences.
It means that using photo mode is more versatile, and you get more chances to get the image you are looking for, or identify animal behaviour.
Detection range: approx. 90ft LED type: Low-Glow LEDs
The Recon Force Advantage is certainly a quick camera trap. Video trigger speeds have seen big improvement across manufacturers in the last few years – however, this camera is one of the quickest – clocking in at around 0.5 seconds. When you consider that the 2017 Bushnell Essential E3 is around 1.8 seconds for video, that’s pretty impressive. It’s also marginally quicker than the 2017 Bushnell Aggressor camera traps.
This is a big deal because previously, if camera trapping fast animals, or something passed your camera quickly and you had it in video mode, you’d often catch the tail end or nothing at all, and therefore need to use photo mode. The Recon Force Advantage gives you the best of both worlds.
Photo triggers, as with all camera traps, are faster – but only marginally so on the Recon Force Advantage, at around 0.4 seconds. Whilst it’s true there are certainly faster triggers for photos on some cameras (i.e. SpyPoint Force 11D, Bushnell Aggressors), it’s still comfortably fast enough.
The Recon Force also appears to recover very quickly too. This is the time the camera takes after finishing once capture to be ready to trigger again. The lowest ‘Delay’ setting is 1 second; however, that just tells the Browning to recover as fast as it possibly can. We have consistently found that the Browning will generally re-trigger in under a second for video and photos – seriously quick, especially for the former.
Detection, as you’d expect, is excellent and consistent, at around 80-90ft for a human-sized animal. Due to the way PIR sensors work, it is best to place the camera so that animals will move across the sensor, rather than directly towards it. Remember that PIR sensors are looking for a change in ambient heat + motion, so detection distances can vary based on ambient temperature.
This 2018 Recon Force Advantage adds two new menu options; the first allow you to reduce the detection range, to 60ft from 80ft. These numbers are a little arbitrary, as a hedgehog won’t trigger a camera at 80ft whereas a red deer will – it depends on the infrared heat signature of the animal in question. Therefore, its best to think of this as a sensitivity setting – higher or lower. It can occasionally be useful to lower sensitivity, so its a nice option to have.
The other new setting is to slow the trigger speed from 0.4 seconds to 0.7 seconds. This isn’t something the majority of users will ever want to do, as one of the reasons this camera is great is the trigger speeds. However, if you want the camera to trigger when the animal is more central, or wait until an animal gets a little closer to a feeding area, it’s something that could improve results.
The Browning Recon Force Advantage is a sturdy, well-designed and well-built trail camera. It feels strong in the hand and well-crafted. The actual design hasn’t changed for the last 3 versions.
The contact with any tree/fence post etc is actually via a steel bracket at the back of the camera, meaning you can pull the strap tight and never worry about breaking any plastic. The edge of the steel bracket has small metal teeth, so it grips what it is attached to well and doesn’t slip. The strapping is the standard nylon webbing, with a strong metal clasp.
It also has a battery tray which is released using the eject button. This has a catch about 3cm down, which stops the tray flying out into rivers, puddles, mud etc when out in the field. On the first few uses, it requires a very firm pull to release it.
Battery life is good on the Advantage; it requires 8x AA batteries at a time. We strongly recommend using Lithium batteries, as they don’t care about cold temperatures, have much higher currents and voltages, and can provide power consistently.
Generally, you can expect around 6-7 months battery life for photos (taking around 60 pictures every 24 hours) and about 3-4 months for video (taking around 20 videos every 24 hours). This will obviously vary depending on how active and how long each video is, and if there are more night shots than day. We’ve found that this camera is excellent on battery life, and one of the best available.
Browning cameras have been very reliable for us and are covered by a 2 year manufacturer’s warranty in the UK when bought through NatureSpy.
The Recon Force Advantage is certainly not difficult to use. When turned on, you’re presented with an overview screen showing a view of what the camera can currently see and what it is set to take. It shows the files recorded and the space remaining at a glance. If you don’t press any button within 30 seconds (to access the menu etc) the camera arms itself and is ready to go.
This forward-facing colour screen is extremely useful – you can strap the camera up, then use the screen to perfect the positioning. Its also very handy when you want to review the images/videos captured without taking the SD card out and using a computer/tablet etc – just open the door and have a quick check – useful if out and about, or a sneaky look before you head to work!
There are three main modes; Trail Cam (photos only), Video, and Timelapse Plus. Most of the time, you’ll be using either photos or videos. The timelapse function only works during the day – and with timelapse plus, you can have photos taken at set intervals plus the camera will trigger day and night based on any detections.
There is also a ‘Motion Test’ feature, like most camera traps have, where a test light on the front will blink when it detects you. You can use this to find the right distances or angles and it can help with setting up the Recon Force Advantage in the best place possible.
Overall a very straight-forward camera trap to use, but if you do require any help or have any questions you can just get in touch with us.