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 its 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.

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12 Comments

  1. Good morning.
    I have an Acorn 5210A and have had lots of good results capturing some very good shots of the wildlife in our fields.
    I now have a problem with it as it will only take one photo at a time. The menu has been checked with all setting correct.
    Do you have any idea what the problem is and how can it be rectified.
    Regards Jim Miller

    • Hi Jim,

      Thanks for your comment. A strange one – Ltl Acorn issues are usually down to the batteries (about 95% of all problems we see). What type/brand are you using, and when were they last changed?

      James

  2. For some reason, my camera, which is filming at night, often results in videos that are too dark to see any detail, You can catch outlines but have to strain to see any movement in the picture. It doesn’t always do this, sometimes I get clear detail in a lighter screen and can see it as if it’s daylight. I wonder why? (In daylight it films normally.)

    • Hi Amy,

      Could it be weather conditions? If you’re saying it doesn’t always do it? Sometimes if there is rain or fog this can happen…

  3. We have had this Acorn camera for 2-3 years. It has worked perfectly until the last few months. Not sure if it’s the sensors that are not working but now it never picks up anything more than 3 metres away. We have it trained onto our drive and approach to our house and last year it was filming cars, people and wildlife at a distance of 20 metres away. We just don’t understand what has gone wrong when we haven’t been doing anything different. Have you any explanation please?
    Regards

    • Hi Mrs. Davies,

      An odd one – what batteries are you using? They would be the No. 1 suspect. A set of lithiums might give it a good kick and get it going again.

      If you bought the camera from us, contact us via the Shop and we can take a closer look at it.

  4. Hi
    I have an 18 month old Acorn Ltl 5210A which has been capturing nighttime videos brilliantly.
    The last few weeks I have captured no results but have noticed that the red diode hasn’t been flashing when the camera has been been switched to ‘on’ after replacing the SD card.
    I have tried a default reset but the issue still exists.
    Please can you help?
    Regards
    Dave

    • Hi David,

      It may be a faulty switch – try some switch cleaner or electrical lubricant. If you purchased the camera from us we can take a look at it – please get in touch with the Shop.

  5. Hi

    The company I work for has a Ltl Acorn 5210A for use on wildlife surveys. Unfortunately even with new batteries (fresh bought from the local supermarket no less) it failed to switch on or even go into Test Mode.

    Don’t suppose there is anything you can do to help fix this?

    Regards
    John

    • Hi John,

      Is there an SD card in the camera, and have you got another that you could try? It may also be that the batteries do not have sufficient current. Finally, try blowing, sharply and a few times, on the switch – it could be a dirty switch contact.

      Hope that does the trick!

      James

  6. Hello,
    Just been given this camera, the practice use of the drive has shown that even when camera set at one second, I seem to get a lot of empty frames and it misses a car passing my drive. Please can you advise how many seconds to set the interval on the camera before I set it up in it’s final position for wildllife?

    Not so important is there an easy way to change the date to the UK format?

    Many thanks

    • Hi – the trigger speed of the camera may be the limiter here. For photos, trigger speed is about 0.8 seconds, and for videos, about 3 seconds. So if the car is travelling even at 30mph, passing a gap in your drive, its unlikely the camera will catch it unless it is pointing in the direction the car is coming from. Interval is the setting you can change, but this just determines how long the camera shuts down and closes its eyes after its finished capturing something, before looking again.

      You can change the date to UK Format using the PC Setup file from Ltl Acorn.

      Hope that helps!

      James
      NatureSpy

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