Nikon D3000 DSLR Traveling Trail Cams

Tuesday, January 5, 2016posted by Bruce 3:41 PM

Camera trapping in India…!

A pair of Indian or grey mongoose at the Denwa Backwater Escape lodge in Satpura Tiger Reserve, Central India…!

These small predators were not spooked by the sound of the camera or the flashes…!

Jet travel is fine and dandy if you like to go places that requires a commercial airplane to get to your finale destination. The hustle and bustle, and increased security (but very necessary in this day and age) through airports is a pain if you ask me, and baggage and weight can also add to your problems. A couple DSLR trail cams in ‘Outdoor Products’ cases, plus sensors and four flashes in ‘Tupperware’® type boxes with hard-wires and a couple 10mm Python locking cables will make your suitcase bump the scale up a bit near the maximum for check-in baggage (40 kilograms). I decided to go with a couple small Nikon D3000s that are reasonably priced cameras on the used-market here in Thailand plus they both fit is the cases I had.

Nikon D3000 #1 & #2 trail cams…!

D3000 trail cam #2 in small Outdoor Box and SSII sensor on a 10 meter hard wire…!

D3000 #2 open at the back…!

While I was in the U. S. in 2013, I picked up two ‘Outdoor Products’ or ‘Wally’ cases as they are sometimes called (one small and one large) that seemed perfect for my travel DSLR idea. I put the cameras in and they fit perfectly: one D3000 with a battery pack install in the large one for longer soaks, and a D3000 without a battery pack fit in the small case for short time soaks (3-4 days). I used 3” aluminum tubing for the snorkels and fit 77mm UV filters with Marine Goop. Two ‘eye-ring’ bolts are installed in each cam.

Nikon D3000 #1 in large “Outdoor Products’ case and a SSII in a ‘Tupperware® box…!

As the Nikon D3000 has no remote control port (older model and cheaper), the cameras had to be hacked at the shutter button. This allowed both cameras to fit nicely without any protrusions as if a shutter release plug used as any of the newer Nikon’s in the 3000 series. When I travel, I hand-carry the cameras and pack the traps in my luggage: never put a camera or lens in your suitcase..!

D3000 trail cam #1 open at the front…!

Camera No 1: Uses a Nikon 24mm manual lens with the battery pack (two batteries) and is hard-wired to a SSII in a small ‘Tupperware’® type box on a 10-meter cable. Two ports are for the external flashes: one on a 6-meter cable and the other flash on a 10-meter cable. Both flashes are in ‘Tupperware’® type boxes. A couple of ‘eye-bolts’ are used in conjunction with a ‘Python’ locking cable for minimum security.

Camera No 2: uses a Nikon 50mm manual lens but without a battery pack and hard-wired to a SSII sensor in a small round plastic ‘Tupperware’® type locking box on a 10-meter cable. The camera is hacked inside at both the shutter button and the flash connection and there are two ports for flash cables and a large pair of  ‘eye-bolts’ for a 10mm Python locking cable. A couple of bungee cords are also used to position the cams on trees or poles before installing the steel cables, and then using them to set the flashes in place. This is my smallest DSLR trail cam to date…!

D3000 #2 with two connections on the side of the case for hard-wired SB-28s…!

Nikon SB-28 in a ‘Tupperware®’ style box held in place with a ‘bungee cord’…!

Four Nikon SB-28s in ‘Tupperware®’ boxes and hard-wired from 6 to 10 meters…!

The mongoose pair tripped off quite a few frames attracted by chicken bait and Thai fish sauce

in a small cup surrounded by water in a larger bowl to keep the ants out..!

My safari to India in November 2015 was the perfect time to test these two cams out and is the first time I have used them abroad. No: 2 cam captured a couple of breeding Indian or grey mongoose at the last hotel I stayed at in Satpura Tiger Reserve shown here. No: 1 cam got a scavenger dog (which came out quite nice for sharpness and exposure) and then a feral cat that told me there was no wildlife around Earth Lodge outside Kanha Tiger Reserve.

In 2014, I got a couple of ‘jungle cats’ on a Bushnell Trophy Cam at the King’s Lodge in Bandhavgarh Tiger reserve but this time another feral cat tripped the sensor meaning the wild cats were no longer there. Even though the mongoose images are not super sharp, it was still good to at least catch something really wild. The feral cats and dog was a bit of a letdown but were still good test subjects.

A feral dog drawn in by chicken bait and Thai fish sauce in Kanha Earth Lodge, Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, India

I plan on going back to India again in March-April 2016 and two locations have already been chosen to do some camera trapping. One sanctuary where camera trapping is allowed is up north near Corbett Tiger Reserve, and the other set-up will be in the hotel grounds in Panna Tiger Reserve in Central India. This is all in the planning stage at the moment but at least the cameras are ready. I will probably just use zip-lock bags for the flashes next time to save weight and certainly don’t need the heavy ‘elephant proof’ boxes here as there are no giants where I will be deploying these traps.



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