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Monday, 30 January 2012

Ltl Acorn 6210 MC and Bushnell 119467 - Review - Part 2

fig 1  Left: Acorn 6210  -  Right: Bushnell 119467

First impressions: Having been conditioned to the Peli case style box of many trail cameras, I initially thought the Ltl Acorn 5210 was a bit quirky; but having used them for a while, I found the design quite practical.

The first incarnation of the 6210 was basically the upgrades in the 5210 box. Then for reasons unknown, the manufacturers did a complete redesign of the whole package whilst keeping the front design almost unchanged but with a slight increase in width and depth.

Fig 2  Ltl Acorn 6210MC

It's likely that the need to accommodate the extra set of four batteries, coupled with a desire to move away from the detachable back sponsored the changes. Whatever the reasons, I couldn't help but be impressed with the ingenuity with which the designers put so much into such a small unit and kept the weight down as well.

From a user point of view, the smaller and lighter the better, and I also felt that, with its bottom opening door the Ltl Acorn 6210 was going to be a lot more weather proof than its predecessor; and all the other front opening trail cameras such as the Bushnell.

Fig 3
Water ingress of the
Ltl Acorn 6210 LED array

I then received the news that one of these cameras had water inside the LED array (Fig 3) after only a few days outdoors; which is a serious issue and not something I wanted to hear at this stage

It could most likely be an ineffective seal where the array mates to the inside of the case front; but
whatever the reason it needs identifying and correcting.

Because I've been asked to do a complete and unbiased review, I'm still at the indoor testing stage and will have to wait a few days before I can put this camera to the test, out of doors

Fig 4  Bushnell Trophy Camera
Model: 119467

The new Trophy Camera 119467 has the 'Black LED array' and also an internal colour viewer. Bushnell have stayed with their standard Peli case design and to accommodate the extra set of four batteries, as with the Acorn, they have redesigned the back (see below).

The result is a noticeably larger unit than earlier models. It's also quite a bit heavier at 320g against the Acorn and earlier Bushnells at around 250g.

I can't understand why Bushnell decided to produce this camera in a dark brown case when they could as easily given it a camo' finish. I would never willingly choose a trail camera in a plain colour over a camo' pattern, mostly from a desire to keep it hidden from the view of people, rather than wildlife.

In summary here are two almost identically specified cameras. The Bushnell which is larger, heavier and more easily seen, alongside the Acorn which is much the same weight and size as it's predecessor and less likely to be detected. The Acorn, aside from the problem mentioned above, is potentially more weather proof.

Fig 5  Bushnell - Case back

Case design: Bushnell have basically stayed with their original design but have added a small stabilising foot to the back, which can be seen (Fig 5) just below the label.

Personally I feel it would have been better without the foot and instead, have some sort of grab arrangement similar to the back of the new Acorn (Figs 6 and 6a). This would allow more flexibility when mounting on a tree that leans in the wrong direction, either because the camera naturally corrects or is blocked out using twigs, which is something I do frequently.

The mounting strap on the Acorn threads through the mounting slot on one side, passes across the back of the camera and threads out through the slot on the other side. When the strap is secured it engages the whole of the back of the camera to the mounting surface, making a much more stable platform than having the camera sitting on three projections as with the Bushnell.

Good as their fundamental design is, I believe that Ltl Acorn have made an error with the design of the access door and its relationship to the back plane.

Fig 6  Ltl Acorn 6210 new back design
Fig 6a Ltl Acorn 6210  new back design   
Fig 7  Ltl Acorn 6210  front battery box
Even with the door closed it projects rearwards slightly beyond the base plane for the grab spikes. When the door is fully opened as in (Fig 6a) it extends an arc well beyond the grab spikes; and I'm sure that, at times, this will place an unnecessary strain on the door hinge. It may turn out not to be too much of an issue, so I'll take a closer look at this when I do field tests.

The Acorn designers have done a superb job of redesigning the case to incorporate the extra batteries into one compact unit (Figs 7-7a). Battery loading is easy but with one word of caution. Make certain you read the polarity markings on the inside of the battery covers so that you don't accidentally install any cells the wrong way round.

Fig 7a  Ltl Acorn 6210 rear battery box
With bottom door access, the Acorn is a sturdy, compact unit which I believe is potentially better protected against the elements, especially when opened in the field during bad weather. (See Part 5 Water on control panel)

The issue with water in the LED display, mentioned above, should be easily fixed and may just be an unfortunate one off incident.

The Bushnell, on the other hand, with its side opening door, presents all twelve batteries plus a card slot to wind and rain. If you're engaged with serious survey work you don't always have the luxury of choosing good weather to inspect cameras; and with all the Peli style cases, they inevitably get wet inside if you have to open them up in bad conditions.

Fig 8  Bushnell 119467 with case open
I don't like the battery box (Fig 8) on this Bushnell. Having the cells end to end across six slots and then having to fiddle with the plastic crossbar; which has to be bent in an arc to slot it into place, is tedious enough with the camera laying on a flat surface.

AA battery cells are notorious for pushing up from their seating in this type of arrangement and I think, changing these cells in a working environment is going to be fun at times.

There looks to be enough room across the centre of the compartment to have a solid contact rail between the top and bottom rows which would have worked fine; and while they were about it they could have included a thin plastic cover which would clip over the entire battery and provide some protection while the door is open.

Fig 9  Bushnell tripod mount, external power access
and microphone
The rest of the camera case is tried and true with solid hinge and catches, a robust tripod mount and a well protected microphone (Fig 9). The case front can be secured with a small padlock and there is provision for a cable to lock it to a tree.

The Acorn tripod mount (Fig 6-6a) is compromised by the bottom door and frankly, I wouldn't have a great deal of faith in using it. An accident may well warp or damage the access door and render the whole camera inoperable.
Don't have an answer for that!
Then again, how often do you use a trail camera on a tripod?

The Acorn microphone is a small hole next to the lens (Fig 3) and is protected by the projecting arc above the lens. Water surface tension and viscosity will do the rest. As with the Bushnell the access door can be locked and at the top rear of the case is provision for a cable lock.

Go to Ltl Acorn 6210MC and Bushnell 119467 - Review - Part 3

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This web site is about the wildlife, particularly the mammals, of the Glen Affric National Nature Reserve area in the north west Highlands of Scotland, UK; and the equipment I use to search for them, which is chiefly trail cameras.

I provide a technical support and parts service for the Ltl Acorn range of cameras and the income from this provides for the upkeep of this site and the purchase of cameras for my own surveying.

I hope you find the site useful and informative; and please contact me if you have any questions that I haven't already covered.