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Archive for September, 2013

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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Nikon D90 DSLR trail cam catches a ‘Large Indian Civet’

Friday, September 13, 2013 posted by Bruce 10:35 PM

The ‘Big Cat Trailhead’ has proven to be a real wildlife haven with loads of cats plus other carnivores walking past on almost a daily/nightly basis. Because of so much interaction, I decided to set-up my Nikon D90/SB400/Yeti/Plano 1460 case facing the other way opposite my Canon 400D.

Large Indian civet Nikon D90

The Yeti board was very old and not working too well. I tried to adjust distance and sensitivity but it still would only trip the cam from about a meter away. However, the cam did get one shot of a ‘Large Indian Civet’ shown here. The markings on this medium sized carnivore are unique and these creatures are very common in this forest.

I have since brought the cam home and replaced the board with a Snapshotsniper SSII #5 board and it is now ‘rocking and rolling’. Look forward to checking both cams in a couple of weeks and I’m confident there will be some interesting creatures walking past…! Enjoy.

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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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