Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Product Review: Moultrie GameSpy M100 Trail Camera

I want to introduce you to another trail camera that I purchased this year, the Moultrie M100.  Back in June I started shopping around for a new model of game camera, specifically after a camera that featured more distance to activate the camera, and a built in LCD screen for viewing photos.  These were basically the 2 features that I was trying to improve upon from my Wildgame Innovations cameras.  Be sure to check out my review on that camera, as I will make a lot of comparisons between the two: http://www.suhuntandfish.com/2012/07/product-review-wildgame-innovations-red.html

So back to June.  I began asking friends what cameras they used, and began asking the questions on Facebook and Twitter.  If you ever ask the question I caution you to be careful!  This time I was willing to spend a little more money to get a very high quality camera, but I was still shopping for a good deal.  You will find that there is no overwhelming answer as to what is the best camera.  This is just like the Ford, Dodge, Chevy debate!  Don't say I didn't warn you.  After about a week of listening to different opinions I simply ended up more confused than when I started.  There are a lot of cameras out there now that all come with the same features now, and are in a similar price range.  So I took to reading product reviews and checking out prices to make a decision.  Easy enough?  Nope!  For every camera I found, I could find just as many bad reviews or "cons" as pros. 

So after about a week of beating my head against the wall, by friend Steve Barker called me up.  He went right in to telling me how impressed he was with the Moultrie M100, and keyed me in on where to look for a good deal.  At this point, this was just what I wanted to hear, and I was going to give this camera a shot just to be done with the search!

As for the deal, I checked into a site called Promotive (http://www.promotive.com).  Promotive is a site that offers great deals to emergency service workers, government employees, military, and other similar groups.  I found the M100 for a great price, but I was discouraged with the $20.00 shipping charge!  A quick Google and cruise of http://www.amazon.com and I found the M100 priced the same as what I could find at Promotive, but with free shipping!  I picked the camera up for about $140 with free shipping, and added a 16GB SD card to the order.  The best deal I could find tonight on Amazon was $135.49, and that includes the $5.49 for shipping.  Not a bad deal at all.

The camera showed up at the worst time ever, about 2 days after I left home on a day fire assignment that lasted about 10 days!  So, you can imagine that just as soon as I returned from the fireline I headed right out to set the camera up.  I headed out for an early morning scouting trip and lucked onto a great bull elk that I just had to get on film.  I returned about a week later just to see if by chance I had anything, and to see if the camera was actually working.  To my surprise I had about 250 pictures!  To my disappointment, all of those pictures were of moving branches in the background!  OK, I got what I wanted, the camera obviously had a great range.

So I moved the camera to a lower elevation location (and more sheltered from the fierce June winds!) and I set the camera up in a much more open area that I believed was being traveled by a group of 8 bucks.  The next day I headed out for another 2 week fire assignment, and when I returned home I headed right up to check it out.  The results?  Well, I never caught my group of bucks, but I did manage to snag several other small bucks, a group of turkeys, rabbits, and a raccoon.  The picture quality was great, and the range of the flash at night was amazing!  The only real disappointment I had was the hard time seeing the heads and antlers of the deer as they came too close to the camera.  A simple adjustment of my Buck Jam would prevent this next time.

What happened next time?  Well many of the bucks walked right by the Buck Jam, but at least they did come by, and now I know what time and from what direction.  The awesome part was that the biggest buck, a 30-32" 4X4 muley walked right by with his head lowered, providing a great look at the impressive span of antlers!

 The setup on the M100 was very simple.  The menu is easy to navigate, although it does provide many more options than other cameras I have used.  You can set the number of shots in a sequence, time between each sequence of shots, picture or video mode, picture/video quality, digital zoom (up to 3X), trail mode, plot mode (or a hybrid between the two), video length, and much more.  I also really like that this camera comes with security.  You can program in a 5 digit code to access the menu, and there is a loop in the cover for a lock.  The camera is also very small, and the camo pattern blends very well, in fact I walked right by it the first time in to check it!  The camera has decent battery life, and runs off of 8 AA batteries.  I love the LCD screen for checking photos in the field, and there is also a feature to play all of your photos back as a video for a quick view of what you have captured.  Overall I really like this camera, you just have to be careful with placement.  With the range (50 feet) and the sensitivity, it will take many unwanted photos of vegetation movement.  I actually bought a second M100 and placed it in what I thought was a very open area, only to have 200 pictures of grass blowing in the wind!

Pros:
  • Compact/lightweight
  • Built in LCD screen
  • Great detection range (50')
  • Amazing flash range (90') This is best in it's class
  • Good picture quality
  • Audio with video
  • Security
  • Digital zoom
  • Price!
Cons:
  • Blurry night photos
  • Some day photos blurred when animal was movement
  • Almost too sensitive.  Be careful where you place it
  • Can be hard to secure with only one strap.  Camera can twist and move a bit
  •  Slow recovery time on night flash
I am torn with battery life, as far as a pro or con.  I would say it is very average, but I do feel that the AA batteries make it a cheaper recharge than the C's I use in my other cameras.