Ltl Acorn 5210a camera trap review

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Ltl Acorn 5210a camera trap review

The Ltl Acorn 5210a is one of the most popular camera traps in the world, owing to its versatility and above all, affordability.

We’ve taken one of our trusty Ltl Acorn 5210a camera traps and put it through it’s paces for this review…

So, how does the Ltl Acorn 5210a perform and does it deserve it’s popularity?

External features

The Ltl Acorn 5210a is actually quite a small camera trap, fitting nicely in the palm of your hand. It does look different from many other camera traps on the market however due to some of it’s features.

Ltl Acorn 5210a review

The Ltl Acorn camera traps in general do something a little different to the majority of other camera traps on the market – they have ‘prep’ sensors.

This is actually a completely separate sensor to the main sensor in the middle of the camera, and acts to ‘arm’ the camera as wildlife approaches, so the camera is ready to take a picture when the animal is in the centre of the shot (see fox example further below).

It also inadvertently serves another function; breaking up the cameras outline when on a tree or fence post, helping it to blend in further.

The camouflage on the Ltl Acorn 5210a is generally very good – we’ve actually had people walk within inches of our camera traps and be completely unaware of them. Sometimes we even struggle to spot them ourselves when they’re in dense woodland!

Ltl Acorn 5210a review size

The Ltl Acorn 5210a can fit in the palm of your hand

The camera lens sits right in the middle of the camera, and above that, the LEDs. The camera itself isn’t any standard shape, with a curved top edge and some slightly bulbous areas. All this serves again to break up the camera outline and help it blend in further.

Backpack system

The Ltl Acorn 5210a also has a unique ‘backpack’ system – the camera trap actually detaches from a backing which reveals the screen and extra battery compartment.

This backing is where the straps go through and its curved shape makes the Ltl Acorn 5210a one of the easiest cameras to strap up firmly.

Ltl Acorn 5210a review backing

The two parts of a Ltl Acorn 5210a, secured together by two clips

There is a slight downside to this backpack system however – it can be a little bit fragile if exposed. We’ve found that livestock in particular can be a problem, specifically cattle.

They like to rub up against and pull on camera traps, and this can cause the backing to break. Top tip? Avoid putting the camera trap in fields with livestock!

Ltl Acorn 5210a review backing

 

Colour screen & settings

All Ltl Acorn camera traps come with a colour screen, which can be a very useful feature. It can be used to view images and videos in the field, though it is sometimes easy to miss animals at a distance or small animals. We’d always recommend checking images on a tablet or computer.

The settings are easy to understand and easy to change, giving you good flexibility.

One major plus-point for the Ltl Acorn camera traps in general is they have two ‘timer’ functions. You can set the to camera only be active during set periods of the day or night, to the minute.

This is an extremely useful feature if you want to put your camera trap in an area with high human daytime activity and don’t want your batteries wasted or SD card to be filled with unwanted captures.

Bottom trap door

To actually turn the camera on/test/off, you need to open the trap-door at the bottom of the camera.

Ltl Acorn 5210a review trap-door

This area also houses the compartment for four batteries, the SD card slot, an external power connection, USB connection and TV out.

This set-up is fine and works well, but after sustained use the battery compartment can become brittle the trap-door itself isn’t exactly sturdy. The seal around the door isn’t perfect either, but we haven’t had any major water ingress problems after using these models for over 3 years.

Note that you need to have an SD card inserted for the camera to turn on.

Battery life

The Ltl Acorn 5210a takes up to 8 AA batteries, but can run on just 4. In our experience, if using pictures rather than video and with 8 alkaline batteries, the Ltl Acorn 5210a will last generally between 6-8 months under normal usage (approx. 20 triggers per day).

The screen does have a small battery indicator though it’s wise not to trust it – you can’t turn the screen on without detaching the camera backing, which houses the other 4 batteries. That means the indicator is only showing the power from 4 batteries rather than 8.

We’ve also found that the indicator seems to default to showing two bars out of three of battery at times, even if the batteries are brand new or almost flat…

Picture quality

The picture quality of the Ltl Acorn 5210a is it’s best feature.

Roe deer on Ltl acorn 5210a review

A roe deer mother captured by one of NatureSpy’s Ltl Acorn 5210a – click for original full-size version

The camera trap takes pictures at an eye-popping 12mp (interpolated from 5mp), which means you get large images of great quality, particularly during the day.

12 mp is also larger than the highest offering from Bushnell camera traps (at 8mp), meaning Ltl Acorn still have an advantage in this area.

Images generally are crisp and the subject not blurred, though this does depend a little on what the subject is doing and the temperature. If its very cold, the batteries discharge power slower and therefore slow the shutter speed.

Night-time images are generally good quality, despite the Ltl Acorn 5210a having just 24 LEDs (image below taken with standard LED version).

Badgers camera trap hibernation

This badger poses nicely for the camera trap…

The night-time images are much better quality than Bushnell cameras and for this reason we generally use Ltl Acorn for picture work over Bushnell. You can see what the new Bushnell Trophy Cam HD night time imagery is like in our review here.

As mentioned above, the prep sensors work to try and ensure the subject is in the middle of the frame when captured. It doesn’t always work perfectly, but a good example are these three photos of a fox we captured;

Fox on Ltl Acorn 5210a

 

Video quality

On the flipside, the video quality of the Ltl Acorn 5210a is generally poor. The video resolution is 640×480 which is quite a long way behind most other modern camera traps. If you just want a record of animals rather than high quality video it can still be useful.

The night time video quality is still ok, perhaps better than the daytime footage due to the difference in contrast providing more detail.

If you want a camera with great video quality, then the Ltl Acorn 5210a may not be for you – although bear in mind that it is the most affordable camera trap currently available in the UK and has excellent picture quality.

Detection zone

One of the most important things about a camera trap is its detection zone.

This is basically the area in front of the camera in which, if movement and a change in ambient heat is detected, triggers the camera trap to take a picture.

The size and depth of this detection zone determines how you need to place your camera trap. We set up a test on a warm day to see at what distance the Ltl Acorn 5210a would first detect motion.

Ltl Acorn 5210a review detection zone

Each cane represents 10ft – and the first trigger on the camera trap was at approx. 50ft. Not a bad distance for such an affordable camera trap, especially on a warm day.

Detection zones are sometimes fickle – temperature can have a big effect, especially if it’s hot (as there is a smaller difference in temperature between the subject and the air), and smaller mammals are less likely to trigger the camera at distance due to their size.

The Ltl Acorn 5210a in this test was set to take 3 pictures at a time. The interval between these images is pre-set and unchangeable at 3-4 seconds, which explains the blank frames.

However, you shouldn’t generally put a camera perpendicular to a trail, as it gives the camera less time to trigger. You can see from the fox images above that when at an angle to the animal’s path, the 3 images system works quite well.

IR flash

The Ltl Acorn 5210a is available with two variations of LEDs – standard or ‘no-glow’. The camera in these pictures is the no-glow version (the LEDs appear blue) which means that the infrared flash is reduced by approx. 30% compared to the standard LED version.

However, it means that the camera trap doesn’t give off a slight red glow (see here for an example) when triggered, which can alert wildlife and people.

The amount of LEDs on the 5210a is also quite low – 24. However, the flash is still quite good given the amount of LEDs it has.

We tested the ‘no-glow version’ to see how far the IR flash would reach…

Ltl Acorn 5210a review Infrared flash test

IR flash test – click for original full-size version

With these no-glow LEDs, the flash range is about 30ft. You can see the difference in flash distance between the no-glow and standard LEDs on the badger picture above.

Ltl Acorn 5210a reviewVerdict

The Ltl Acorn 5210a is a versatile little camera trap with some excellent features. Although there are some areas that could be better (video quality namely), this is one of the most affordable camera traps currently on the market and a great place to get started with camera trapping.

Besides, if good video quality is a must, you could always take a look at the 6210MC or 6310MC, which offer 1440×1080 video resolution.

The picture quality is really the standout feature for this model, and we’ve been lucky enough to get some great captures with the 5210a.

We’ve used Ltl Acorns for years and rarely have they let us down. After so much use they do require a little TLC from time to time, but generally work without complaint in a wide variety of situations.

Our oldest 5210a (pictured right) is still going after over 3 years of almost constant use, only requiring a little coaxing to do so!

And its difficult to argue with the price too – at around £99, they are nearly half the price of the cheapest Bushnell camera trap, and with better specs in some places.

 

If you want to get your hands on the Ltl Acorn 5210a, they’re now available on the non-profit NatureSpy Shop for a great price with free P&P in the UK and dedicated email support.