How to set up your Spypoint Trail Camera

Trail Cameras and their use.

We sell Trail Cameras for many purposes from gamekeepers checking which predators are pinching their poults, to companies looking to keep an eye on who may be lurking around at night.

We have even had Paranormal investigators buy our cameras, so that they can capture spooky goings on that are invisible to the naked eye.

Wildlife reserves use Trail/Nature cameras as a way of keeping an eye on rare species such as Peregrines or nesting migratory birds. They are also a handy tool for seeing the patterns of nesting, and for showing the public video clips on the habits of nocturnal animals.

Setting Up your camera

The initial set up of your camera is essential for its results to be effective.

Your camera has a detection area, in which the PIR's will detect any movement, so it is essential you bear this in mind when attaching your camera to a post or tree. 

Angling the camera towards the ground is ideal for picking up small ground game such as hares, or rabbits, but as the PIR's will be scanning the ground you may miss larger animals such as Deer, foxes or people who may walk past.

Try to position your camera on something sturdy like a tree, fence post, or a building so that the camera is not disturbed causing false readings.

Gamekeepers normally know where predators are entering an area, so it is a good idea to point the camera lens in the direction you think the animals will be coming from, of course this isn't always practical, particularly if you are operating in a new area but you ideally want to capture the species not directly in front of the camera, so that the camera captures the whole species and not just the back end as it quickly trots past. Normally you can see a trail that animals use regularly so position the camera set back from the trail to give a wider field of view.

It is important that you consider the impact of ambient light to your camera particularly if you are using the camera during the day. As with all cameras, CCD's (the small chip that takes the image) suffer from over or under exposure. The Spypoint cameras have a built in auto exposure adjustment but this can still be a problem if you are shooting in snowy conditions. There are several software packages on the market for "cleaning up" images such as Adobe Photoshop, so not all is lost if you capture a fantastic shot that is spoiled by poor lighting.

If your camera is facing directly into the sun, and an animal walks past, the image may become over exposed as too much sunlight "bleaches" out the image, the opposite can also happen if you set the camera up in a dark area, however the distance adjustment of the camera can help this, but we will cover this later.

Wildlife Cameras

Ok so let's cover the initial set up.

1. What do you want to photograph: Think which animals you plan to capture, and set your camera at the height you expect the animal to be. For example if you wish to capture deer, then it should be higher off the ground, and if you wish to capture mice or rabbits, then the camera should be placed nearer the ground.

2. Secure Placement: It's always a good idea to camouflage your camera when you have placed it, as animals are susceptible to changes in their environment, and even though modern trail cameras are small, they can still be detected. Also trail cameras are expensive and you don't want a passer by to take a fancy to it and remove it from the tree. We can always supply a security cable for this, but it doesn't stop vandalism!

3. Which Mode: You can choose between Photo or Video mode depending on which format you require your footage to be in. You can have a series of still images which give you an idea of who or what is about, or you can set it to Video and capture exciting full motion video to play back later.

4. Setting Distance: For distance setting you can adjust the slider on the camera. This will ensure that the IR illumination is adjusted for the zone you wish to photograph. 

For example if you are looking to take pictures of a bird nesting area, then you can set the distance small as the camera does not have to illuminate to its max power to capture objects at the limit of its range. On the other hand if you are looking to capture deer movements in a clearing, then you would like the camera to illuminate wider and further to capture all species in its range.

The range of the detector on the Spypoint cameras is 5 to 50ft. The best method to determine a proper distance is to turn the MODE switch to TEST and to walk perpendicularly to the front of the camera where action is anticipated.

When the detector is activated the test light on the front of the camera will blink once, at this moment the camera operator may wish to adjust the distance setting, and or change the direction or height of the camera.

5. Setting up the cameras menu: You can choose from the menu the following options:

Work: Day, Night, or 24Hr operation

Delay: Selects the time the camera will wait before recording another photo or video, this option prevents taking too many photos of the same object if it remains in front of the camera for long periods of time.

Multi-Shot: Allows for a 20 second interval between 4 consecutive photos, this option shows a different view of all four photos.

Video Length: Selects the length of footage when camera is in video mode.

Date and Time setup can also be done in this menu.

Stamp: Selects or cancels imprinting of date and time on photos.

6. Testing the camera: When in test mode the camera will allow you to test your set up. Put the camera in test mode, and when motion is detected the light will illuminate, but no pictures will be taken. If the light does not illuminate as you walk the path you expect animals to follow, then re-adjust the camera to a better position.

When you are happy with your set up and select your mode the test light will blink for 1 minute, allowing you time to walk away from the camera so that it doesn't capture your behind as you walk away.

 Check out our Trail Camera guide, for more information on purchasing a Nature Camera.