Monday, July 17, 2017
2017 Spypoint Solar Review
Almost unlimited battery life
Fastest trigger speed/recovery we have ever tested
Bright, colorful pictures
Internal picture viewer
No built-in python bracket
Blurry night photos
Ever seen a camera like the Spypoint Solar? Neither have we. Spypoint has always been known for innovative trail camera products, the Solar trail camera is the latest innovation.
MOULTRIE A-30 GAME CAMERA is a Force 11D with a solar panel permanently attached to the top of the camera.
Picture Quality: 73/100
Photo resolution: 12 mpxl (interpolated)
Video Resolution: 1280 x 720 w/ audio
Flash Type: Red Glow Infrared (very faint)
As expected, the picture quality is identical to the Force 11D. Daytime pictures have been very impressive. Bright color, good clarity and plenty of depth whether the camera was placed in bright sunlight or heavy timber.
Night pictures have pros and cons. There is a decent amount of flash range, but the pictures do have a slight halo (more light in the center of the image - less on the edges of the photo). We also have a high number of blurry photos. The Solar has three modes in the settings that control night image quality:
IR Boost - Max flash range but higher frequency of blurry images
Blur Reduction - Less flash range, but better clarity on moving animals
Optimal - This is a compromise of the two modes above.
Our sample images are a combination of all the modes the camera allows. Overall, the night photos are a mixed bag. We consider the Solar's night photos to be very average.
Battery Life: 85/100*
Resting Power (on): 0.61 mW
Picture Daytime & Nighttime Power Consumption: 1.38 Ws | 2.26 Ws
Video Daytime & Nighttime Power Consumption: 17.9 Ws | 2.25 Ws
This is silly battery life. The draws are so efficient, this camera lasts forever before you even start to consider the solar panel.
If this camera were to take 35-day pictures and 35-night pictures every 24 hour period, this camera would last 15 months in the field on a set of lithium batteries. This does not include the solar panel.
If this camera were to take 15-day and 15-night videos (10-second videos) every 24 hours, it would last 2 months in the field on a set of lithium batteries. Once again, considering the camera is only using 6 batteries, 2 months is very respectable video battery life. This does not include the solar panel.
How does the Spypoint Solar work with internal batteries and how does it know which battery source to draw from? The camera pulls power from the solar panel until the charge goes below 25%, at that point, it pulls from the 6 internal AA batteries. We highly recommend lithium batteries, as they do not have a daily self-discharge like alkaline or rechargeable batteries do.
Spypoint claims that if you buy the Solar trail camera you will "Never buy batteries again." In our opinion, if the camera continues to operate as it has to this point, that could very well be a valid statement.
Tenergy rechargeable batteries do not fit in the battery compartment. The batteries are too thick. For that reason, we only recommend lithium batteries with this camera.
Detection Circuit: 93/100
Picture Trigger & Recovery Speed: 0.05 s. / 0.50 s.
Video Trigger & Recovery Speed: 0.58 s. / 0.7 s.
Detection Range: 70 ft.
We had to test this several times just to make sure our eyes weren't lying to us. Fast doesn't even begin to describe the Spypoint Solar. Instant trigger and recovery - even when in video mode. This is still hard to believe.
When we first tested video detection, the times were really good. Spypoint took a look and said they could do better. A week later we had cameras in hand that can start a video in half a second and recovers in under a second. This is unheard of in terms of speed. Spypoint put a lot of time into their R&D for the Force Solar and it paid huge dividends.
The 70 ft. detection range is above average.
Overall, this is on of the best cumulative detection circuits we have ever scored.
Quality of Design: 89/100
Dimensions: 7" x 4.25" x 3.25"
Battery Type: 6 AA Batteries
External Battery Jack: 12-Volt
The solar panel immediately drew our attention. We talked to Spypoint extensively about this and they had some interesting things to say. We were worried that 90% of consumers would put the camera under a tree, negating the benefit of the solar panel. However, this particular solar panel doesn't need direct sunlight. It charges with any light that is present, even in thick timber. In fact, it was charging in our office just from our inside lighting.
"This solar panel doesn't need direct sunlight"
Better yet, on the internal menu, it shows a percentage that the camera is charging when you are positioning the Spypoint Solar. You can immediately see the benefits of angling the camera one way or another. The solar panel does not detach, it is fixed permanently on the camera. As this incredible technology is very new to us, we are continuing to test and evaluate this panel to learn more about how it works.
The Spypoint Solar is very small and would be easy to conceal in almost any environment. The camera has a detachable bracket for mounting or removing quickly from a tree. There is not a built-in python lock bracket, but there is a 1/4" x 20 threaded insert on the bottom of the camera for a tripod or Slate River Mount. It would have been nice to have a python bracket built into the case design.
On the back of the camera, there is a cover that unscrews to reveal the battery compartment (it requires 6 AA batteries). The batteries are easy to insert/remove and are held firmly in place. There is no chance they would become dislodged on their own. The battery cover feels a bit flimsy, but it attaches in a way that removes that as a concern. It is perfectly flush with the back of the camera and is not exposed to anything that would risk damaging it.
It hasn't been an issue, but it would have been nice for Spypoint to have a bigger, beefier latch. The internal viewer quickly scrolls through any pictures or videos the camera has taken. This is an underrated feature on the Solar trail camera, internal viewers make setup so much easier and ensure you walk away from a camera knowing it is monitoring the terrain exactly as you want it to.
Programming is incredibly easy and intuitive. Whether this is your first camera or 21st, you will enjoy the programming options and fluid navigation. All programming is done on the internal viewer, so for those of you that do not enjoy squinting at small LCD screens, you will appreciate the bigger font on the viewer.
The Solar trailcam has custom start/stop time, which is useful for anyone looking at this camera for security.
Durability has been outstanding. In the last 12 months, Spypoint has had one of our lowest warranty rates.
Overall, the case design could be beefed up to feel sturdier, however, we gave the Spypoint added points for having a solar panel that can charge without direct sunlight. That is pretty cool technology and could potentially save you a ton of money over the life cycle of owning this trail camera.