Posts Tagged ‘DSLR trail cam’
Last month, I had a hamburger at a joint close to my house up-north in Thailand. The next day, I was admitted to hospital with a ‘acute’ food poisoning. It has taken almost a month to get back to normal, hence not much camera trap work from my end. However, I finally got to my only Nikon D700 DSLR trail camera and got a pleasant surprise.
A male leopard (can just see his family jewels) crossing my ‘tiger log’…this is in the ‘Western Forest Complex’ of Thailand…! Daytime shots of leopard are rare for the most part but it does happen here where I work from time to time…Enjoy…!
Camera settings: 1/160 sec; f/8; ISO 400
Nikon D700 – Nikon 35mm manual lens – Two Nikon SB-28 flashes – SSII external sensor
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…!
After downloading the card on my Canon 400D DSLR trail cam, there was no tiger but this sambar doe and a young tusker had showed up tripping the sensor just past the log. The 50mm lens seems to be OK if a leopard or tiger were to come through…I’m still waiting patiently…! The first shot is a crop to see what is possible at this location..
Some first images of a sambar stag and doe off-trail
A sambar stag in mid-stride.
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…!!
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…!
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.
My full frame DSLR trail cam still working well…!
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 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 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.
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.
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…!
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/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…!
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 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..!
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 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…!
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….!!
A new DSLR camera trap
A Nikon D90 and battery pack with a 50mm ƒ 1.8, SB400 flash and a Yeticam board in a Plano 1460.
Last year in September, I made a post about a Nikon D90 with a 50mm ƒ1.8 lens and a SB-400 flash in conjunction with a Yeticam board in a Plano #1460 clear case.
It was in pieces at the time and sat on my bench until last month when I decided to finish it off. I have two sets but will test this one first to see the results. The SB-400 has four AA externals plus two in the flash for (six). I use either Lithiums or Enelopes.
D90 and an ‘Achiever’ slave flash in a Plano 1499.
The D90, battery pack and SB-400 sits nicely in the case but a relief hole was needed on the side to allow a little more room for the shutter cable. I found some ‘Meike N3’ electronic shutter release for Nikon (90 degree plug) and just cut the button off and attached the wires to a Yeti board. I used a piece of ‘plastic tubing’ and a 10 Baht coin and ‘gooped’ it all in sealing the tube.
D90 in an aluminum ‘elephant proof’ box.
A 3” X 2.8” X 1/8” aluminum tube is used for the snorkel and a 77mm filter is gooped on. No other modifications are made to the case and everything fits perfectly. The Yeticam board is set in the vertical position and an EOS chip was installed.
Achiever slave flash and ‘AA’ externals.
A huge ‘elephant proof’ aluminum box was made up to protect the cam. As this one is really large, I had my welder attach a plate on top at a 45-degree angle to keep the jumbos at bay by not allowing them to get a grip on the top.
Nikon SB-26s with ‘C’ and ‘AA’ externals.
Four 3” X 3/8 stainless lag bolts set the cam tightly on a large tree and I can use two 10mm (3/8”) Python locking cables for extra security.
SB-26s and externals in ‘elephant proof’ boxes.
In the meantime, I added two Nikon SB-26s with 6-volt externals in ‘elephant proof’ aluminum boxes run as slaves. The flashes were modified to take straight 6-volt packs and plugged into the pos. and neg. pins as shown. Real Nikon battery packs cost a fortune. This is an alternative that works very well.
The ‘elephant proof’ boxes were made for the SB-26s that have flash diffusers gooped on the front and 40.5mm UV filters on the back in line with the light sensor.
SB-26s slaves showing diffuser and 40.5mm UV filter.
I also built a small ‘Achiever’ slave flash with 4-AA externals in a clear Plano 1499 case. An old 1020 ‘elephant proof’ box was recycled for this flash. This will be used depending on some locations.
D90 in an ‘elephant proof’ box ready for the field.
I look forward to setting this cam and slaves. I probably will put it close to where I was charged by that bull gaur.
Elephant, banteng, civet and bat captured
Wild elephant; not sure why the cam tripped with the jumbo on the far side of the sensor??
Went into Huai Kha Khaeng to check my D700 trail cam a couple of days ago….the weather was horrible with a big storm brewing and rain had already started to fall. I had to get in and get out.
The young elephant headed for the cam; and it tripped again.
Instead of topping up the card, batteries and desiccant, I decided to pull the unit and two flashes that were not working. One Nikon SB28 flash was still OK and I left it.
A powerful trunk that tried to move the cam but could not budge it.
After downloading the card, I got a pleasant surprise that the D700 had performed quite well on its first stint. Elephant, banteng, a civet plus a bat had tripped the cam.
This elephant ripped most of the camouflage netting off the cam.
There were some strange false triggers but I guess with bats or birds that fly through, the unit will trip to an empty frame. I was elated to say the least.
A mature banteng bull.
I will go back in a week and will move the D700 about two-three feet closer as there is too much log in the frame and the composition is still not right.
This bull looks like he is blind in the right eye.
The elephants ripped most of the camouflage netting off the cam but it survived intact and was still as solid as the log meaning they could not budge it. The moss was OK.
A bat flying through.
Needless to say, I look forward to more sets from this cam. I will be adding another flash to the right side of the log to get rid of the shadow. It is just a matter of time before a tiger or leopard jumps this log.
A common palm civet posing on the log.
Unfortunately, the civet was just inside the focal plane and therefore not in focus. But they are so common here, I’m positive I will get this critter again…! Enjoy.
The Nikon D7oo trail cam on a fallen tree.