Posts Tagged ‘DSLR camera traps’
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nikon and Canon DSLR trail cams
Nikon D700 camera trap installed on a fallen tree trunk.
Set-up my Nikon D700 and Canon 350D at two locations in Huai Kha Khaeng that are frequented by tigers and leopards, plus many other Asian animals like elephant, gaur, banteng and more. Both cams trigger in continuous mode (three to four shots per actuation).
Nikon D700 camera trap with moss and old leaf camouflage.
The D700 was attached to a fallen tree with six legs bolted down with 3” x 3/8” stainless lag bolts. The transmitter was installed on an aluminum pole pounded into the ground and hidden in the tree roots.
Nikon ML-3 active infrared transmitter in aluminum box.
The Canon 350D was bolted to a standing tree with four lag bolts. Python cables secure both cams and the transmitter to the tree. They are both solid and if an elephant can move the tree, they can move the cams.
Canon 350D and flash installed on a tree next to a wildlife trail.
The Nikon has three flashes set off by ‘YongNuo’ wireless flash triggers with ‘D’ cell externals and three Nikon SB28s. The flashes trigger on the second shot.
Canon 350D beefed-up snorkel.
The Canon has only two flashes (Canon 270EXs) at the moment and this cam triggers them with the ‘YongNuo’ on the second shot too. A third Canon flash is in for repair after some ‘D’ cells leaked and left some residue in the box. I have beefed-up the snorkel as shown here and this should keep the elephants at bay.
Canon 350D beefed-up snorkel – close up.
I’m using four AA ‘Energizer’ Lithium batteries as power in the flashes and we’ll see how long they can last. The next job would be to add externals or ‘flash battery packs’ if the Lithium batteries are not enough for a month’s soak. I’ll be checking the Nikon and the Canon on May 17th and post something after that.