DSLR Nikon D700 camera trap

Wednesday, April 3, 2013posted by Bruce 4:33 PM

My most expensive, ambitious and largest trail cam yet: An old D700 is retired to stationary duty….!


Nikon D700 homebrew trail cam

This cam has been on the drawing board for a couple of years now and is finally finished and ready for the forest.

About 15 years ago, I set-up a Nikon N90s film camera with a Nikon ML-3 remote control in Huai Kha Khaeng on a sambar kill. That night, I got a whole roll of an Asian leopard and these were my first camera trap photos as seen here.


Asian leopard caught with a Nikon N90s film camera and a ML-3 remote sensor.

After some six years of continuous use in my wildlife photography (through the lens) work, it was about time to retire my old Nikon D700 DSLR with a battery pack and two Nikon lithium EN-EL3e Li-ion batteries.

It is a great camera that takes exceptional photographs because of its full-frame sensor. With a very ancient Nikon 35mm manual lens, the combo would make an excellent trail camera.

D700 and ML-3 close-up

A Nikon ML-3 ‘Modulite Remote Control Set’ (active infrared) unit consisting of a receiver plugged into the D700 housed in a Pelican 1150 case. I built this rig for tigers and other animals jumping over a fallen tree that lies across a heavily used wildlife trail. An aluminum housing protects the cam from marauding elephants and is bolted to a dead tree using five arms forward and aft.

The remote transmitter has two ‘D’ cell externals and is fitted into an aluminum box with tabs for mounting on a tree. A laser pointer is slipped into a tube above the transmitter and used to line-up it up with the receiver before locking it to a tree.

Nikon D700 camera trap ready for the forest.

 I will have to test whether to set the remote control to single shot or continuous (6 successive shots in one second).  Probably go with continuous for the first run and see how she goes.

The trick is I’m using two transmitters on either side of the tree in a ‘v-formation’ to catch animals a bit early from both directions. This is just a theory at the moment and will certainly need testing.

D700 and aluminum ‘Elephant proof’ box.

Three Nikon SB-28 speed lights using YONGNUO RF-603N wireless flash triggers with two ‘D’ cell externals housed in an aluminum box with tabs for mounting to a tree. There are no externals for the flashes yet, but opted to just use 4 lithium AAs for battery power to see if they will last one month. If that is not enough power, I will add four ‘C’ or ‘D’ cells in an external pack later. I may add more flashes if need be.

A 32gig card will provide loads of space for more than 1600 ‘Raw’ files. The set-up is extremely fast and trips easily when the beam is broken.

A Nikon ML-3 ‘Modulite Remote Control Set’ (active infrared) unit,

and a green laser pointer is used to line-up both transmitter and receiver.

Camouflage will be fake moss glued on with goop to the box, transmitter and flash units to resemble real moss that is growing all around. Leaves and bushes will be added after the units are bolted to the tree.

The biggest problem I see is excessive tripping from insects, birds and bats. I understand alcohol rubbed all over will keep the bugs and moths at bay. Salt and perspiration attracts these creatures and being active infrared, the unit will trip photos of an empty forest. Been there, done that.

Nikon SB-28 Speedlights with YONGNUO RF-603N wireless flash triggers

As soon as I get some shots, I’ll do a post. Look forward to some really neat stuff coming down my new trail captured by this full-frame D700. Hope this will influence others but the expense might be a bit over the top. I just happened to have one, that’s all…! Enjoy.







Comments are closed.