Posts Tagged ‘camera-trap’

Sony A-500 traIl cam catches Asian deer

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 posted by Bruce 11:26 PM

Some first images of a sambar stag and doe off-trail

Sambar stag -Sony A500 DSLR

A sambar stag in mid-stride.

Sambar doe -Sony A500 DSLR

A sambar doe with the tell-tale lesion on the neck.

A couple months ago, I finished my Sony A-500 trail cam housed in a Pelican 1120 and mounted horizontally. There is no battery grip but two 18650 4.2 volt lithium batteries are used as externals. The camera is fitted with a Sony 28mm lens and a Snapshotsniper SSII sensor is hooked-up. At first, I tried a radio trigger for the two flashes but they did not work efficiently so I hard-wired the two Nikon SB-28s, and they have worked great ever since. I have also hard-wired the sensor with a 10 meter cable and set it on the side of the trail. I also use the sensor in the box in case the trail sensor does not pick-up an animal, and both work in tandem. It seems to be very sensitive and these sambar were both off-trail along a stream that is quite far away. I’m hoping to catch a black leopard that frequents this area plus tiger and other exotic species such as tapir. The 28mm lens is perfect for the large giants like elephants and gaur. The cam was working real well when I left it a couple days ago…!!

 

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Nikon D700 captures ‘big foot’

Wednesday, March 5, 2014 posted by Bruce 9:26 PM

A wild elephant passing the log…!

Last month was a quiet one for my Nikon D700 trail cam…all I got was a big elephant going over the log…these are the two shots….I think the second one is unique and a bit abstract…!

Elephant crossing log - D700

Elephant crossing log - D700

The D700 is at a new location where I previously got tapir, tiger, gaur and elephant plus sambar and barking deer. Enjoy….more to follow.

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Nikon D700 captures two civet species

Wednesday, February 12, 2014 posted by Bruce 9:04 PM

My full frame DSLR trail cam still working well…!

Large Indian civet Nikon D700

Large Indian civet up on the log…!

Just returned from the Western Forest Complex in Thailand where I checked out my Nikon D700 on the log. It continues to capture some amazing creatures that thrive in this biosphere and the ‘log’ has proven to be a goldmine for me…!

Large Indian civet Nikon D700

Large Indian civet up-closer…!

A large Indian civet Viverra sibetha jumped up on the log and the D700 fired off two shots. This large civet is nocturnal and common in this forest. This critter came up close but then jumped off after the flashes fired again.

Masked palm civet

Masked palm civet a few days later….!

A few days later, a masked palm civet Paguma larvata also got up on the log and came right up to the cam. Largely arboreal, they also hunt on the ground.

Masked palm civet

Up-close…!

I did use some ‘coon bait’ by Marsyada’s Lures from Hazei Township, PA which worked real well to lure these carnivores. It was a nice catch and I’m sure they will return.

Masked palm civet

Up real close…!

Unfortunately, a tiger came up to the log but saw the red LEDs on a Bushnell setup across from the D700 and did not cross over but went around and so I missed the big cat but got him on video. Hopefully, it’ll pass over next time..Enjoy…!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sony A500 Trail Cam

Friday, January 3, 2014 posted by Bruce 2:09 PM

My smallest DSLR camera trap yet…!

Before my trip to the States in October 2013, I started working on a Sony DSLR trail cam using a Model A500 body with a Sony 28mm ƒ2.8 lens. I prefer prime lenses (24, 28, 35 or 50mm) over zooms for camera traps (for the most part) due to better quality images.

Sony A500 trail cam 1

Sony A500/Pelican 1120/SSII/18650 externals/YongNuo CTR-301P/S.

A Pelican 1120 case has just enough room for the A500 body without a battery pack and a SSII with a #5 chip is used for control. A generic shutter release cable was cut and hooked-up to the SSII. NOTE: Make sure your SSII is up-graded to ‘no refresh’ as this can actuate the camera every couple of hours and drain the battery…!

flash and externals-Sony A500

Close-up modified YongNuo CTR-301P/S wireless flash trigger plus two 18650 externals.

Most people are not aware that Sony bought all the copyrights from Konica-Minolta (K-M) DSLR and SLR programs on the lens mount and other equipment and hence, many lenses and accessories are interchangeable between K-M and Sony. I have a few leftover Minolta lenses from my old film days for future Sony DSLR trail cams. Minolta made some of the finest lenses on the market on par with German Zeiss and Leica. However, the first K-M (Digital Dynax D7 and D5 bodies) were power hogs and a fully charged Lithium battery lasts about two-days on stand-by…!

Sony A500 trail cam 2

Sony A500 in the case.

After Sony took over, power saving was improved and the A500 can last for several weeks. I decided to hack the A500 to take two 18650 – 4.2v Lithium batteries for 8.4v output as externals to increase battery life plus there was enough room in the case for them. However, the original Sony 7.2v battery must be in place for the cam to work with externals..!

SB-28 Flash-Sony A500

Nikon SB-28 and YongNuo CTR-301P/S flash trigger reciever in Tupperware box.

For flash, a YongNuo CTR-301P/S wireless flash trigger for Sony is used along with a Nikon SB-28. The flash trigger transmitter was modified so the body fits in the case as shown. The flash system works very well and the flash, transmitter and two extra 4-AA battery packs all fit in a Tupperware type box. The SB-28 is modified to take regular battery packs putting out 6 volts. I also made up an extra slave flash with a light sensor.

LBK ele' boxes-Sony A500

LBK elephant proof boxes for Sony A500 and Nikon SB-28/YongNuo CTR-301P/S.

The cam and flashes of course have my ‘elephant proof’ aluminum boxes to protect them from the marauding giants and possible theft. I hope to set this cam soon and any photos will be forthcoming…Also, a Sony A700 and a A55 trail cams are one the way…!

A500 tiger male with collar

A male Indochinese tiger with a radio collar caught by my Sony A500 on a road near the main gate…!

Hope this helps anyone with a Sony or Minolta digital camera. A Minolta D7 or D5 would probably need a fairly large SLA battery. However, both make neat trail cams….!!

 

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Bruce on the Loose in the USA…!

Sunday, December 1, 2013 posted by Bruce 11:04 AM

THE TRIP: STATE BY STATE…!

In August, I decided to do a road trip in the USA. I arrived in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas on October 18 and spent a few days with my family in Grand Prairie (between D-FW) before heading out. Got a Nissan ‘Altima’ from Hertz with unlimited mileage and got some 35 miles to the gallon. The car was very comfortable and handled well. Also, bought a Garmin Nuvi 2597 GPS and boy, did that ever come in handy. I could have bought two GPSs if I had rented one from Hertz at $12.99 plus tax a day….ouch…! Over the entire trip, it (she) took me to everyone’s front door; simply amazing.

On October 21st, I left Grand Prairie, Texas to Oklahoma (one night), then up to Nebraska (three nights), Wisconsin (one night) Minnesota (one night), Michigan (three nights), Pennsylvania (one night) and New York (for a 5 day rest). It was back on the road again down to New Jersey and back up to Pennsylvania (one night). Then it was down to Tennessee (two nights), Georgia (two nights), Florida (two nights), Alabama (one night) Louisiana (five nights) and back to Dallas. The odometer at the end of the trip was 6,240 miles. The main objective for this mega-trip was to visit my friends on Camtrapper.com forum in the the Mid-West and East.

Unfortunately, I missed Fireman Jim in Dechard, TN (he was at work) and Ron Davis in Jacksonville, FL (out hunting in Georgia)…but I did talk with both of them on the phone at length…!

I also did a wildlife presentation for the Biology Club at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. This group are serious students of wildlife conservation…!

Another objective was to meet-up with Beak, an old friend I knew more than 45 years ago in Thailand…..We visited the Okefenokee Swamp together in southern Georgia with the main objective of photographing the American alligator. It was fun and I got my gator…also met a lovely Cajun girl who was our naturalist/guide/boat operator; she was sweet and knew her stuff about the swamp…!

List of Camera Trap guys that I met on this trip:

1) ghoot – Gary Kohout at Snapshotsniper – Duncan, OK

2) TRLcam – Jeff Dale – Walton, NE

3) jjkscf – Joe Kahl – St Croix Falls, WI

4) willy – Sean Hall – Cloquet, MN

5) wolvenkinde – Lon Ludach – Ironwood, MI

6) IroquoisArcher – Jon LeVan – Erie, PA

8) johnnydeerhunter – John Lockburner – Boonton, NJ

9) Buckhunter1 – Bruce Kisner- Wyalusing, PA

Other people I visited along the way as follows:

10) Wayne (Beak) Sivaslian from Schenectady, NY (My dear friend and buddy for more that 45 years).

11) Dr Robert Orr in Knoxville, TN (retired professor at the University).

12) Brad Preston and Chris Lytle, in New Orleans, LA (business associates).

13) Bryan Marlborough in Baton Rouge LA (my webmaster).

And finally, stopped by my 5 acres of timberland outside of De Ridder, LA…as I was leaving my property, a bobcat bounded across the front of a pickup coming towards me. I will camera trap this thicket one day knowing that many animals pass through…!

Politics in Thailand have just had another negative downturn and I might have to set-up some sort of a fall-back in the US. I’m thinking I could homestead my land if Thailand went into serious civil unrest….I’m just prepping for what might come…!!

I enjoyed my trip in the States and look forward to another one in the future. I would like to thank all of you who extended your kind hospitality and friendship. and look forward to doing it again…!

6,240 miles

The odometer back in Texas. 6,240 miles total..!

Bruces trip2

The route and guys I met on the trip. I will post (Part Two) more photos ASAP.

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A Jumping Tiger: Nikon D300s DSLR catches a big cat

Wednesday, October 16, 2013 posted by Bruce 8:31 PM

The speed and reaction time of an Indochinese tiger is measured in milliseconds….!

http://youtu.be/O2vV31ND_T0

The video is a bit raunchy and music is strong but I wanted something else for a change…! This is the most amazing behavior of a tiger I have ever seen.

I set my Nikon D300s DSLR trail cam deep in the forest at a mineral spring where all of Thailand’s large wild mammals like elephant, gaur, banteng, tapir and sambar plus others come for ‘life-giving’ minerals and a drink, and where tigers coming looking for prey.

This cam (set to manual 1/125 – ƒ8 – ISO 400) with a 35mm lens with a Snapshot Sniper SSII sensor fires-off salvos of 8 frames a second every time it records motion. The Nikon D300s was perfect for this location

I was hoping to catch a tiger and thought I might get lucky…but after going through the files, I found 13 photos of a tiger jumping  away from the cam. This action footage is my best so far of the tiger in Thailand. The cat is not exceptionally sharp but movement never is and it does not have to be…..!

Amazingly, this male tiger heard the first shutter and reacted in less than three frames and started moving away in what I would like to say, blinding speed…! He looks to be mature judging from his scrotum. This place is truly the last great tiger haven in Thailand and worthy of it’s ‘World Heritage Site’ status…!

All I can say, it’s going to be tough to top this sequence….!

Enjoy…!

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Canon-Nikon ‘Hybrid’ DSLR trail cam

Thursday, September 26, 2013 posted by Bruce 1:11 PM

A 600D/T3i and a Nikon manual 50mm ƒ1.4 lens combination

 

I recently acquired a Canon 600D/T3i DSLR to be used as an HD video trail cam but with its present Canon programming, it will not stay on stand-by in video mode for more than 10-15 minutes and then shuts down, and must be restarted manually. The control circuits for the still camera and the video are separate. For the moment, to control the 600D in video mode as a trail cam, a remote triggering device or a hack to the video switch on the camera is needed and connected to a motion sensor.

 Canon-Nikon Hybrid trail camCanon-Nikon Hybrid trail cam.

Also, a sensor board with the right programming to turn the cam on, go into recording mode and take a video clip for 60 seconds and then shut the cam down for a delay (as short as possible). If there is still motion, start-up and a repeat of the video cycle will activate the cam again. I can hack an IR remote or the video switch on the Canon to accomplish this task for now. More battery power for the cam will probably be needed and will be doing some serious testing real soon. On the video remote option, and since it is IR controlled, it would have to be in front (line of sight) or next to the sensor inside the case.

 

Canon-Nikon Hybrid trail cam Canon-Nikon ‘Hybrid’ SSII Pelican 1150.

 

However, there is a ‘Magic Lantern’ firmware program for the Canon to control it with a shutter release cable but I’m not sure at the moment. That seems to be in the field of programming, something I don’t do. I’ll leave that to the pros but will be looking into the ‘Magic Lantern’ program at a later date. For now, I will be setting this cam to shoot stills and hopefully test it in video soon.

 

Canon-Nikon Hybrid trail camHybrid close-up.

 

The Nikon lens is a very old manual 50 ƒ1.4 I’ve had for ages back in the days when only glass and metal were used for lens materials, and clarity and sharpness is superb plus it’s very robust. A converter was bought to allow the Nikon to fit on the Canon. I’m now using manual Nikon lenses except for a Canon 400D and Nikon D90 with their newer 50mm glass/plastic lenses. I love the old prime manual lenses from Nikon.

 

Canon-Nikon Hybrid trail cam Hybrid in aluminum ‘elephant proof’ box.

 

The 600D fits easily in a Pelican 1150 using a 77mm diameter aluminum tube snorkel and a 77mm UV filter for the lens, and a Snapshot Sniper SSII #5 board/HPWA connected by a Canon shutter release cable (shortened) with a 90-degree plug. The cam is set to ‘continuous mode’ and fires off 6 or more shots on each trigger. It is very fast…!

 

Canon-Nikon Hybrid trail camNikon SB-600 with PT-04NE FM radio transmitter.

A PT-04NE FM radio transmitter is used on the Canon and two receivers trip Nikon SB-600 and a SB-800 housed in ‘tupperware’ type plastic boxes with 4-locks on the lid and will be airtight. I will also have another spare flash (a generic ‘Speedlight’ 850/Canon flash mount) with a PT-04 receiver in a slightly larger plastic box. I got this idea from Cutter on the ‘Outdoor Talk’ forum that used them for externals and many thanks to him for a great idea. I will certainly be using these boxes for all my future slave flashes and some external battery builds.

 

Canon-Nikon Hybrid trail camNikon SB-600 with PT-04NE FM radio transmitter in a ‘tupperware’ box.

 

Another sensor to be used with this cam will be an old ‘TrailMaster’ TM1500 ‘active infrared’ unit housed in two separate aluminum boxes to be securely attached to trees between a trail or over a log for precise tripping. The only drawback is the loose wire between the receiver and cam…! However, I will be using special aluminum braided telephone cable to connect the two as rodents and other small creatures could chew/gnaw on the wire. It will also have to be secured to the tree using clips and lag screws, and then buried in the dirt.

 

Canon-Nikon Hybrid trail camNikon SB-800 with Nikon SD-8 battery pack and PT-04NE FM radio transmitter.

 

As usual, the cam and three-four flashes are housed in my aluminum ‘elephant proof’ boxes that are bolted to trees in conjunction with ‘Python’ lock cables. Due to time restraints and a cracked molar, I did not get the boxes done in time for this post but they will be finished soon. Anyway, that’s the way these very strong boxes look from the welder. The ‘TrailMaster’ units are also shown in unfinished boxes. When they are all done, I will post some photos later.

 

Canon-Nikon Hybrid trail camA TrailMaster TM-1500 ‘active infrared’ unit in unfinished boxes.

 

The cam will be set to manual focus and exposure: ƒ8 – 1/125 @ ISO 400 to test the Canon/Nikon combo and depending on how the photos come out, can increase ISO. Look forward to setting this cam not far from the ‘Big Cat Trailhead’ with images and videos to ­follow…!

 

As there is loads of space in the 1150, I’ll be able to add various items needed for video including another sensor with a sister board to get white light for the video at night. I’m certain a large battery with loads of power will be needed close by…I’ll be addressing these issues as I go forward with this project.

 

Canon-Nikon Hybrid trail cam

The hack to the camera to operate video only is as follows. It is a difficult modification but is doable. Only two wires – positive and negative is needed. I’m waiting for a chip for my board with the right programming.

 

Canon Video mod 1 w

 

Canon Video mod 2 w

 

Canon Video mod 3 w

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Canon 400D DSLR catches a ‘black leopard’

Friday, September 6, 2013 posted by Bruce 9:33 PM

Once again, the ‘Big Cat Trailhead’ situated deep in the Western Forest Complex continues to be a real hotspot for the big cats. Both black and yellow phase leopards were captured on digital stills and video at this location.

Black leopard Canon 400D

In July at the beginning of the rainy season, I set my Canon 400D down low (about two feet off the ground) on a tree at the trailhead wanting a real low-down set-up. When I returned, the lens was completely covered by sand and mud from extremely heavy rain and splatter…and no photos were on the card: a disappointment…! I then moved the cam way up about five foot and angled down about 45 degrees.

After some three weeks, I was back and a black leopard had passed the cam at night. Only one flash went off (a Nikon SB-28) and just one good shot was acquired. A bunch more were captured of the cat but it was standing half-out of the frame. The Canon flashes (270EX) have proven to not be very reliable and I will probably just drop them out eventually. The Nikon flashes (especially the SB-28s) are better and last longer on stand-by.

Even though the composition is not the greatest, it’s still a good record shot…I have since moved the cam back down to about three feet hopefully to catch a full-frame head-on shot of this melinestic creature. I have now caught this cat 5-6 times including a beautiful daytime video as the black cat passes by and another IR video showing its spots…I will be posting these vids soon.. Enjoy..!

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Nikon D300s trail cam: A multi-purpose DSLR

Tuesday, August 20, 2013 posted by Bruce 10:35 AM

A camera trap with two sensors and two flash systems

A Nikon D300s trail cam in a Pelican 1150.

My latest cam is probably the most versatile DSLR trail cam I have built so far specifically put together for the varied conditions and camera trap setups found in Thai forests. With fantastic opportunities for the big cats, wild cattle and other amazing creatures, I decided to build this unit for several reasons.

My choice of a Nikon D300s was three-fold: I found one in used condition at a fair price. I already had a Nikon ML-3 ‘Modulite Remote Control’ trigger that works with the Nikon D200 up to the D800 plus the pro-size Nikon bodies with the 10-pin plug. The D300s is a medium sized camera that just fits in a Pelican 1150 case that I also had. I prefer this size for most of my DSLR trail cams.

The Pelican 1150 opened showing internal components.

Another motive for the D300s was its ability to produce very little noise at high ISO settings. The cam has a Nikon ‘DX’ fixed 35mm ƒ1.8 lens and uses a MB-D10 battery grip with two EN-EL3e batteries. I will be starting out with ISO 400 and if I get too many dark daytime images, will go up a notch or two and probably stay at 800.

This unit has two sensors: the active infrared ML-3 and a passive infrared Snapshot Sniper SSII board that can be easily switched from one to the other. A special aluminum holder was made-up for the ML-3 receiver attached to the case with three 8/32” button head machine screws at the top on the right. The SSII was placed on the left over the flash.

The top end showing three screws holding the ML-3 receiver.

The ML-3 transmitter is housed in an ‘elephant proof’ aluminum box and has 10mm pivot bolts and L-plates. A laser pointer fits in the tube at the top to help in alignment and the box is adjustable for all angles. A 10mm ‘Python’ locking cable 10mm runs through a pipe welded to the faceplate.

ML-3 transmitter with the ‘laser pointer’ in an ‘elephant proof’ aluminum box.

There are two flash systems: a Nikon SB-400 with two AA externals and SC-17 sync cable (shortened) to fit upside-down next to the cam on the left, and to fire off on every shot tripping a Nikon SB-80 with two 4-pack AA externals (either new Eneloop or AA Lithium) with the flash set to remote. An ‘elephant proof’ box houses the SB-80 and battery packs with stainless steel 10mm pivot bolts, nuts, lock washers and L-plates and is adjustable for most angles. Another ‘Python’ cable secures the flash.

Slave flashes to be used with the D300s; Nikon SB-80 (right)

and National’ generic slave flash (left).

The other system is a PT-04NE FM Radio Speedlite trigger (transmitter and a couple receivers) mounted to an SB-80 and a SB-28 as slaves. I will explain my reason below for the ‘two in one’ system on both the sensors and flash. Another slave flash was built using a ‘National’ generic flash with two 2-pack AA externals for a total of eight AA batteries. A ‘Nissin’ flash trigger I had for more than a decade and recently found along with a ‘National’ sync cable to control the flash, works very well. This all fits nicely in a clear Pelican 1030 and I built my ‘elephant proof’ box as shown that is also adjustable.

Unfortunately, the Nikon ‘wireless flash system’ using the pop-up flash is not viable because the cam will only fire once (even in continuous mode) and then wait a second or two before tripping again. I need multiple shots in continuous mode (5-6 shots) to catch quick stepping animals more than once. The Nikon SB-600, 700, 800 or 900 can be tripped with the pop-up flash (line-of-sight) but it’s just too slow for this cam.

The reason I’m using a SB-400 is simple; it will fire on the first trigger and follow-up shots specially with AA Lithium batteries. It also has loads of power (better than the flip-up) to fill the frame and is TTL. A few remote slaves strategically placed will reduce ‘eye-shine’. I have made up a simple mirror system to direct light straight into the flash sensor as an experiment.

Experimental mirror to be angled directing light into the flash sensor

and attached to the tree above the flash unit.

The camera was a tight fit actually expanding the case a bit but after some serious sanding with a drum sander on both the case and cam, it now slips down nicely to the bottom and it closes easily. The sides of the case are slightly thinner but will not be a problem. However, a notch had to be cut for the shutter cable but that’s all.

The snorkel is thin aluminum tubing with a 77mm UV filter. The flash hole is covered with a shortened Nikon diffuser and the ‘ML-3 receiver’ is covered by a 40.5mm UV filter on the right, and the SSII and HPWA are fitted on the left. Marine ‘Goop’ is used on all ports.

D300s trail cam in an ‘elephant proof’ aluminum box.

As usual, an elephant proof box was made up for the cam to just fit and is installed on a tree using four 3” x 3/8” stainless lag bolts from inside the box. Four 12mm socket and two 10mm ‘power torque’ machines screws attach the faceplate and two 10mm (3/8”) ‘Python locking cables’ slip through pipes welded to the front for extra security. Camouflage paint in my usual ‘no two alike’ pattern. I will also be using dried moss glued on to the faceplate and sides of the box. Plastic leaves are wrapped around the box and locking cables to conceal everything.

The reason for the ‘two in one’ system: When there is heavy insect activity during the rainy season (now), large beetles, butterflies and moths will trip an active infrared sensor shooting an empty forest. I would use the passive infrared during this time. But during the dry season and for exact tripping, the ML-3 active infrared is more precise.

On the flash: some setups that can use light sensitive slave flashes, the SB-400 would be activated. Others sites that would require radio transmitted flash control due to tree or root placement, the radio trigger would be used. I can be selective on both systems and everything stays in the 1150.

I really look forward to setting this cam and will post the first set-up when done. Hope this helps those with ‘DSLR’ madness (like me). Just kidding…! Enjoy.

 

 

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Nikon D700 trail cam set

Monday, July 29, 2013 posted by Bruce 5:25 PM

Creatures on the log: A giant rodent, a pitta and an eagle

Not much passed over the dead tree last month but I did get a few interesting creatures that stopped by. The Nikon D700/35mm lens/ML-3/Pelican 1150 with three Nikon SB-28s worked very well. An Asiatic porcupine crossed over, and a blue-winged pitta and then a changeable hawk-eagle with prey landed on the log. Due to the 35mm lens, it seems a bit wide with the full-frame sensor and had to crop these images. I will be putting a 50mm when I get back to the unit next month…in the meantime, the cam is working very well and looking forward to those big cats with stripes and spots….!

Porcupine

Blue-winged pitta

Changeable hawk-eagle with prey (feathers already plucked)

Changeable hawk-eagle’s departure

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