Well this meeting was more valuable than I could have hoped for, the Reconyx team were a great bunch of blokes and we had between 5-6 people for the most part of the day discussing various aspects of camera traps. I provided them with a copy of the Ultimate Camera design and this was discussed at length, they were very grateful to all of the contributors for the list of functions and again some of the wish list are either in place or soon to come on line. One big message for me was how willing Reconyx is to listen to researchers and that there is flexibility in what features you can have customised on the Professional Series.
Interesting fact – did you know that the very first Reconyx camera was designed for a small mammal researcher and was not for hunting ?
Hunting cameras is now a major part of the Reconyx market but closely followed by researchers and they are very keen to further develop and refine this market. I found the team very keen and they were very willing to listen to any issue and try to solve reasonable suggestions to improve the products for research.
I was able to raise many of the questions that I gathered from the Camera Trap LISTERVER and have some great feedback and advice, but Reconyx have also asked me to put the list to them in writing and they will address anything else they can. They urged users to email their help line on firstname.lastname@example.org with any problems or suggestions because they have a system in place to manage volumes of queries and they want to be able to provide customer support as quickly as possible. I have also suggested that they might set up a Q&A troubleshooting page on the website that is updated regularly and that has a search function so that our first point of call for advice is their website. I have also given them the list server address to keep an eye on so that they can contribute to the continuous questions that are raised between researchers. Hopefully this will provide an additional help avenue for use Reconyx users.
Here are a few answers to some of our questions;
The PIR sensors in Reconyx cameras are designed for animal passage across the detection zone, where possible the placement of your camera is best set facing perpendicular to the road and not at an angle and definitely not straight down a track.
Two weather conditions will impact on your data, rain and radiant heat from the ground in exposed sites, as such camera trapping in deserts is problematic esp. away from trees and shadows, but to my surprise I was told that during rain the heat signature of animals will be significantly reduced. Apparently rain and heat create a blanket to the PIR sensor, so your data will be affected.
During setting we all know how important the walk test function is but Reconyx urges everyone to use it every time to maximise your detection success.
5. Reconyx can customise the detection zone array to suit your needs in the professional series, so the standard design that I have been highlighting over the last year can be changed to suit a specific purpose, in particular some that the DZ is centrally focused.
6. Reconyx is looking at how they can add a language function to their settings or a language choice in the customise settings so that when you program the settings in the software you can name the custom in a different language for the benefit of non-English reading field staff.
They are looking at providing a date format in dd/mm/yyyy as well as the US form.
Batteries do make a big difference; Lithium is the battery of choice. The team could not say with any accuracy at what point battery life effects performance but they confirmed that the camera will be affected by low battery levels. I suggested that lower than 60% may be a time to review changing batteries before deployment and this was thought to be reasonable.
If using rechargeable batteries they are affected by extreme cold and hot weather, if you are working in very cold or very hot sites they advise only using Lithium batteries.
Six batteries can be deployed per camera trap without harming the camera although there will be reduced LED performance at some point.
The packaging of desiccant cylinders (see pictured) is problematic and Reconyx is exploring an air tight packaging option to reduce them crystals absorbing water during transport. They are looking into a great idea which should overcome this problem.
Reptile and frog camera trap users – a better way to use cameras given the heat differential problem is to set the camera in time lapse mode at high intervals in daylight ?
Different lenses are available in the professional series, you can get a 2 x telephoto lens.
While there is a function to adjust the PIR sensor sensitivity, the default choice should always be HIGH this overcomes any issues about detection variability the further the animal is from the PIR. If you reduce sensitivity it will reduce detection of small animals, so unless this is your objective always leave it on high.
Having never bought a HC800 I had never had a chance to use the Map View data base that Reconyx continues to develop for its users and I must say there are some very nice features, although in its basic capacity (Buck View) this program will reduce filing and coding time by over 50% for me. The software accessed your data, extracts the meta data (exif) including photo quality data eg saturation etc and send it to a data base, it also have a very fast viewing function that allows you to view images at a customised speed or manually. It uses Google or a map of your uploading to mark camera sites and then relates future data to those points. It also allows tagging and basic coding of your data. The data can also be exported in a CSV file and entered into your data base of choice. If anyone is using this program already, make suggestion to Reconyx on allowing some more research based customisations because they are keen to improve this software. There are still some modifications that I think would improve it and I have passed these comments on, but over all a nice bit of software. I now have a copy and will be testing it. I have also suggested that they might put a demo clip on the website so interested people can look at it and get a feel for its functionality.
The other benefit of the professional series is the additional setting that can be accessed through the software, this is also available in the outdoor series eg HC600 but the features are fewer. I have never used this software and now realise how useful this is to fine tuning settings that could just make all the difference.
A significant take home message for me was that the extra cost of buying the Professional series of cameras eg HC800 is well worth doing, the design features are a bit more suited to our needs, the electrical coating to reduce moisture issues and the software are well worth considering.
Keep your eyes on the Reconyx website because they have a number of new products in the pipeline that are very exciting and some that will be released very soon ! Also for those facebook users, Reconyx have a site and it is worth checking it out because they keep their followers updated with new information and advice. This is also a good way of getting the research voice hear d even louder so I suggest we should all check it out. Pixcontroller also have a Facebook site so check it out.