Bushnell released two new models of their Trophy Cam camera traps this May, and we’ve finally got our hands on two of the variations (model 119776 and 119774) to put them through their paces for a thorough review.
The new Trophy Cam models might look similar to last years on the face of it – but there have been some big changes… So how do the new Trophy Cam Aggressor models perform?
Please note that this review will be updated with new pictures and images on a rolling basis.
New Aggressor features
Lets cut right to the chase – what are the big changes?
Firstly, there are two very similar versions of the 2015 Trophy Cam Aggressor. The top model is the ‘No-glow’ LED version, which come in both in a brown and camo casing (models 119776 & 119777). Just sitting below the no-glow versions are the ‘low-glow’ LED versions, again coming in a brown and camo casing (models 119774 & 119775).
These two variations of Aggressor are essentially the same camera with just one big difference, as the name eludes to; the type of LEDs. The no-glow version emits a different wavelength of infrared light (940nm), which is completely invisible to humans and animals. The low-glow version however uses a wavelength that is partially visible (850nm), but has a shield over the LEDs to block some of the red glow that is often given off by these type of LEDs. Therefore, it still gives a slight red glow when the infrared LEDs are triggered.
So why bother with the low-glow? Well, no-glow has its drawbacks. It is about 30% less powerful than 850nm LEDs, meaning the flash is not as big. However – Bushnell have come up with a solution with the new Trophy Cam Aggressor model – pack more LEDs in. The low-glow version has 36 LEDs, whilst the no-glow has 48 – 30% more LEDs. However, the flash range of the no-glow is still slightly shorter than the low-glow versions, so it’s a bit of a trade off.
Bushnell has also never had so many LEDs in their camera traps.
The 2015 Trophy Cam Aggressor is the fastest camera trap we’ve worked with. It can take 3 pictures in under a second (see below), resulting in freeze-frame style motion. The trigger speed is sub-0.2 seconds for pictures, which is faster than the 2014 models and still is extremely quick. Taking video, as with all camera traps, triggers slightly slower.
Simply put, there is no faster camera trap on the market today.
The big headline change is certainly the jump in image quality that the Trophy Cam Aggressors offer – 14MP. Previous Bushnell Trophy and NatureView Cams stopped at 8MP, and we actually asked for a jump in resolution in last year’s review of the 2014 Trophy Cam HD.
Early tests certainly suggest that the resolution is much improved – though there isn’t a huge difference between the Ltl Acorn’s 12MP pictures and the Aggressor’s quality. Below is an animation of 3 pictures the Trophy Cam Aggressor took of a great spotted woodpecker flying, with half the picture in shadow and half in light. Also note the blue tit in the foreground!
All 3 pictures are taken within 1 second – showing the massive speed of these new 2015 Aggressors. The cameras appear to deal well with the different light conditions too, but can be a little under-exposed at dawn and dusk (below). This is likely to be resolved pretty quickly with firmware updates however, if it is any kind of issue. [UPDATE: A firmware upgrade has now been issued to solve this problem. Read more here]
Night time pictures coming soon…
New strap clasp
This is oddly one of the things we’re most excited about – a new redesigned clasp. It is many many times better than what we’ve previously had – two bits of plastic that clip together, and are surprisingly hard to pull tight.
The new clasp is a chunky black metal piece with a spring-loaded mechanism that you feed the strap through – it’s extremely sturdy, appears to be rust-proof, and makes it much easier to quickly strap the Trophy Cam Aggressor up without worrying about it slipping or moving around.
It’s also quick to release when needed. An unexpected change, but certainly one of the best.
One of the most important things about any camera trap is its detection zone and sensitivity.
This is basically the area in front of the camera in which, if movement and a change in ambient heat are detected, triggers the camera trap to take a picture or video.
The size and depth of this detection zone determines how you need to place your camera trap. Bushnell have traditionally had great detection zones and fairly reliable triggers in our experience, and last year’s tests on a Trophy Cam HD gave a detection distance of about 90ft. Can’t surely get much better than that?!
It can. The new Trophy Cam Aggressor models can detect out to over 100ft – a staggering distance.
This, coupled with the Aggressor’s speed, again make it comfortably the best camera trap on the market today.
There is a small drawback to this large detection zone however; the infrared flash doesn’t reach out this far – instead about 50ft – meaning that at night, you sometimes get some blank triggers when the subject has passed through in the distance, and the LEDs can’t reach it. You can turn the sensitivity (and therefore detection zone) down however using a setting on the camera.
Another issue comes from the extreme sensitivity – lots and lots of blank images or videos. Occasionally, a combination of wind and patchy sunlight (especially in forests) can trigger camera traps, particularly around midday. We left two Trophy Cam Aggressors in a forest for 2 days with the sensitivity set on ‘Auto’ and they triggered almost non-stop for hours. Bushnell’s ‘Auto’ setting used to be fantastic on previous models, but ever since the upgrade in sensitivity on the 2014 models and now these, it doesn’t seem to do anything other than make the cameras extremely sensitive. The setting has to be turned down to at least ‘Normal’ sensitivity in most cases, if you want to avoid going through a lot of blank images.
However, we think it’s better to have an extremely sensitive camera trap that you can turn down when needed than a under-sensitive camera trap that misses the wildlife altogether…
No big changes here – the video quality is 1080p widescreen full HD. One of our favourite things about Bushnell Trophy Cams is their video quality – our iWild North Wales project uses last year’s model exclusively for the video quality.
Click for example daytime Trophy Cam Aggressor video (be sure to watch in HD!)
The video this year appears to be roughly similar, although we noted that the file sizes are a third bigger (60MB for a 30 second video). The bitrate of the videos is higher which should be a good thing (and explains the increased file size) but there doesn’t appear to be a major difference in definition between this year’s and last year’s models.
The main question for the new Trophy Cam Aggressor models is whether the LED changes have affected the night time video footage – certainly, for the low-glow version, the night time footage is vastly improved – the flash is clear, bright, and adjusts well. Note the exposure correction in the first few seconds, showing that this flash is pretty powerful but can also quickly adapt and deliver high-quality night time footage.
Click for example nighttime Trophy Cam Aggressor (low-glow) video (courtesy of customer Chris Burt)
No big changes here – Bushnell have stuck with last year’s Trophy Cam design. It does feel extremely well-built, and both models are the same size – fitting in your hand comfortably.
The same drawback to the design remains – all those little nooks are great places for bugs to call home if you leave you’re Aggressor out for long periods…! It does however break up the outline of the camera when strapped up, and the option to have a camouflage casing certainly helps.
Bushnell camera traps have a great record for battery life, and its one of the reasons we favour them over other manufacturers. Bushnell themselves say that the camera can last up to a year on one set of 8 AA lithium batteries – that’s a little ambitious though, and the camera trap would have to barely be triggered for that to be true.
Realistically, and if taking pictures only, the camera will last about 6-8 months on one set of batteries. Video is more power hungry (especially at night when the LEDs are on) but you will still get a decent amount of life from the batteries (avoid Duracell!).
Honestly, it’s hard to find a major area to pull the new Trophy Cam Aggressor models up on. It feels like they are what we’ve been waiting for – a camera that can do it all, and do it all well. The speed of these things is what’s most impressive. It can’t really get much faster.
The Trophy Cam Aggressor is so sensitive that it’s almost an issue – but then that issue goes away when you just turn the sensitivity setting down. This of course shortens the detection distance slightly however.
The upgrade to image quality is certainly welcomed too, and the video quality is still superb.
Bushnell have long had problems with their night time imagery and the Aggressor models again seem to have sorted that problem out.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Bushnell have been sensible about pricing these new models, for the first time. The camera is actually fully worth the cost this time round, which is probably a first for them.
Basically, it’s hard to say anything other than this is comfortably the best camera trap available today.
If you want to get your hands on the new Bushnell Trophy Cam Aggressor, they’re now available at The NatureSpy shop for a great price, and include free P&P, a free SD card and dedicated email support. All proceeds support our non-profit work.