2017 Bushnell Essential E3 Review
The 2017 Bushnell Trophy Cam Essential E3 picks up where the E2 left off - offering some improvements throughout, and the same great video quality.
Recovery times have improved a lot from last year's model, particularly for video; now re-triggering in well under a second. Photo trigger speed has improved to under 0.2 seconds, though video triggers are still a little slow at around 1.8 seconds. The detection circuit has also had an upgrade - now able to detect out to around 80ft.
The video quality, particularly at night, is what makes this camera so popular however - and the night video is still great. It is 30fps, which is better than the more-expensive Aggressors, at 18fps, although at a slightly lower resolution of 720p.
The build quality and overall design of the Essential E3 hasn't changed much on last year - its still a sturdy, well-built unit.
Bushnells have also been easy to use, and the E3 is the same - it's quick and easy to change the settings to what you need.
Like the E2 before it, the Essential E3 is using a 12V power system (the reason night footage is so good), and this means night time videos are limited to 15 seconds per clip. The better recovery speeds on this new version however means it can re-trigger in under a second.
Also taking into consideration the price of the camera, we feel the Bushnell Essential E3 continues to be an excellent choice for those looking for a great camera without breaking the bank. Night video is a particular draw, though the trigger for videos isn't quick. We give it a solid 8 out of 10.
Read more of our 2017 Bushnell Essential E3 review below...
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Max res: 720p (30fps day, 30fps night) Max length: 60 secs day, 15 secs night
Trigger speed: about 1.8 seconds Recovery time: about 0.6 seconds
The video quality on the Essential E3 is certainly it's draw for most people. Although 720p, its very well defined at night, and captures good colour during the day. Both night and day videos are also at 30fps, for smooth viewing.
The video trigger speed, at 1.8 seconds, is still just slightly on the slow side for a modern camera - although most of the time its perfectly fine, it just means occasionally the video will start when the animal is already well within shot. For slower moving animals however, it isn't an issue - but if you expect wildlife to be pelting passed the camera, you may need a faster video trigger.
Sound is ok - fairly standard for a camera trap. Nothing fantastic, but you can hear birdsong, animal calls, running water etc.
The exposure control at night is still good, but perhaps not as good as last year. Mounting the camera to ensure that there is no over-exposure in the foreground or on close objects makes a big difference.
Due to the 12V system, night videos are limited to 15 seconds, but improved recovery times on the new E3 means that another video can start in under a second, if the interval setting is set to its lowest.
Max res: 16MP max. Max number per trigger: 3 photos
Trigger speed: about 0.2 seconds Recovery time: about 0.6 seconds
The Bushnell Essential E3 is a great camera for photos. Daytime photos have great colour and the camera seems to cope well in low-light conditions/.
Night photos are very strong, thanks in part to that 12v system. Like videos, it doesn't seem to be as good as older version on correcting overexposure however - but is good at controlling motion blur.
Most users of the Bushnell Essential E3 go for this camera for the video however, so this may not be too big a concern for most. We also have no idea why photo recovery speeds are slightly slower than video trigger speeds - normally this is the other way around.
Photo examples coming soon - we are currently gathering images
Trigger speed & Detection
Trigger speed: approx. 0.2s (photos), 1.8s (videos) Recovery speed: 1s (photos), 0.7s (videos)
Detection range: approx. 80ft LED type: Low-Glow LEDs
The detection circuit on the Bushnell Aggressor cameras has long been a major strength, and this year Bushnell have brought the Essential E3 a good step closer to the Aggressor range. The camera has an improved detection range compared to the previous version, and is generally more sensitive.
Video triggers are a little average for a 2017 camera, especially when compared to the photo trigger speed. However video recovery speeds have seen a huge improvement and are now amongst the best.
Photo triggers, as with all camera traps, are faster, and a big chunk so on the Essential E3 at often under 0.2 seconds. This makes this camera, together with the 2017 Aggressors, oneof the fastest currently available for photo trigger speeds. The recovery is not as fast as some other cameras however.
Build quality & Batteries
Warranty: 2 years (through NatureSpy) Batteries: 8x AA (Lithium recommended)
Bushnell cameras are known for their sturdiness. You can tell they are well built and strong units, and the E3 follows the Aggressor design of the last few years.
The look of the camera - somewhat akin to a grenade/stormtrooper - is a little unnecessary, but does serve to break up the outline of the camera trap.
Battery life is ok from 8x AA Lithiums - generally, you can expect around 5 months battery life for photos (taking around 60 pictures every 24 hours) and about 1-2 months for video (taking around 20 videos every 24 hours). This will obviously vary depending on how active and how each video is, and if there are more night shots than day. It is below average however, which is a shame - power consumption has increased compared to last year's models.
The Bushnell Essential E3 is covered by a 2 year manufacturer's warranty in the UK when bought through NatureSpy.
Ease of use
Bushnell cameras have long been amongst the easiest to use, and the Essential E3 is no different. The internal design of the camera is basically unchanged from last year.
The camera trap has quite a lot of settings, but most of these you won't need to worry about too much initially. Most users just want to go straight for video - changing the resolution to the full 720p and setting video lengths. Interval is always an important setting to play with too, and it's all straight-forward to change on the onboard menu.
We tend to notice that Bushnell camera's field of view is always a little higher than you think it may be - therefore we generally always angle the camera down, just a touch - it can make a big difference. Be careful not to go too much however as the camera can over-expose at night!
Overall a very straight-forward camera trap to use, and one of the best lower-end camera traps available today.
If you want to get your hands on the new 2017 Bushnell Essential E3, they're now available at The NatureSpy shop for a great price, and include free P&P and a free SD card. All proceeds support our non-profit work.