A ‘Hybrid’ trail cam – Sony A55 DSLR/Minolta 50mm macro lens
Sony A55 DSLR – Minolta 50mm Macro lens.
DSLR trail cameras for the most part are pretty big. Camera-trappers have built them mostly using the Pelican 1200 and even the 1300 case, and other makes like Plano and Seahorse large cases have also been used.
I have built a few now and like the smaller Pelican 1150 for my Nikon D700 and D300s plus a Canon 400D and 600D with 8-volt SLA battery packs, and even a smaller Pelican 1120 for a Sony A500 but they are still pretty big and standout sitting on a tree in the forest.
Top view of a Sony A55/Minolta 50mm in a ‘Tupperware’ type box.
In my case, elephant’s will home in on strange objects and strength plus rigidity is the No: 1 priority. With my ‘elephant proof’ boxes and three to four lag bolts, these hard and sharp edged external aluminum boxes have survived the forest giant stomping test many times…!
But I wanted something smaller. After some sole searching, I found this lockable plastic box (a Tupperware type) that would allow a small Sony A55 DSLR to just sit in the box with a Minolta 50mm ‘macro’ lens (just happen to have this lens from my old days when I used Minolta cameras). A pair of 18650 Lithium 4.2 volts for externals is used. The A55 is a 12 megabyte camera and is perfect for a camera trap.
Side view showing connections for flashes (two-pin) and sensor (three-pin).
The Minolta lens works in the Sony perfectly. The snorkel is a length of 77mm diameter thin aluminum tubing secured to the box with Goop. I prefer this to the large, thick and heavy PVC tubing. Goop is also used to attach a 77mm UV filter to the snorkel.
A dedicated ‘elephant proof’ box was built to house the fragile plastic box and camera. I have incorporated a cover to protect the wires and plugs from probing elephant trunks. Four stainless steel lag bolts and a 10mm Python cable secure the box to a tree.
Sony A55/Minolta 50mm showing 18650 4.2-volt externals.
As I won’t be using the flip-up flash or a dedicated hot-shoe flash, I’m using a TTL head and hard-wire everything using two-terminal quick-disconnect plugs for the flashes. A three-terminal plug is used for the sensor, and I seal the plugs with 3M-silicon sealant as shown in the photos. I’ve installed a thin aluminum plate to beef-up this area.
Three flashes are on 10-meter lengths of two-conductor shielded wire with gland fittings on the flash boxes. The fourth flash is on a 15-meter wire to be placed across from the cam hoping to get backlighting of some sort (the set-up and location will require experimentation). I’m using three SB-28s and one SB-80 Nikon flash. All flashes are in ‘Tupperware’ type boxes with elephant proof shrouds made up.
Sony A55 with hard-wired Nikon flashes and SSII hard-wired sensor.
The sensor is a Snapshotsniper SSII with a #5 chip, also on a 10-meter hard-wire cable to be installed on a trail about 6-8 meters from the cam. This way I can focus precisely at the sensor.
I have the perfect place for this cam…to replace the Sony P41 that has captured tiger and leopard plus many other creatures. I will be setting it up in a few days. The rainy season has started and there are not many people around in this area. I’m hoping for some dramatic shots of a black leopard and the other cryptic animals that pass by.
Sony A55 trail cam and ‘elephant proof’ box.
A Sony P41 post with tiger and black leopard to follow…!