Cuddeback ExPert Digital Scouting Camera Review:
The Cuddeback ExPert Digital Scouting Camera is an excellent scouting camera. If you are a person who isn't concerned about a flash scaring off game or if you'd rather have color night photos instead of the black/white infrared photos, this camera is a good fit. The ExPert Digital Scouting Camera takes very good quality photos both day and night.
- Image quality - exceptional color photos
- Housing - controls are easily accessed on the camera
- Can easily see battery status and number of pictures taken
- Tree screw is nice mounting option
- Trigger time is excellent
- No external battery options
- Setup can be a bit complex
- No multiple image capture option
|Picture Size - Day:
||3.0 Mega pixelsApprox
1 MB image file size
2048 px wide x 1536 px high (72 px per inch)
|Picture Size - Night:
||Same as day
||4 "D"batteriesExternal: no external options
||Memory Type: CompactFlash cardInternal Memory -
||White flash (On/Auto/Off)
- only during day
Below is a sample image taken at night. The original resolution of this image is 2048 pixels wide by 1536 pixels high and about 600KB in file size (typical file sizes are closer to 1MB). The image has been reduced in size by 20% for display here.
The camera is easy to mount - either with a #25 Torx screwdriver (if you plan to purchase a Cuddeback and don't have a #25 Torx, get one) or with a strap or wire around a tree. Accessing the menu, card and batteries is excellent and very easy and can be done via a removable front panel and without having to physically move the camera. We like the dual menu mode - which allows you to see either only the essential options (set date, picture delay, etc.) or an advanced menu which gives you several additional options (i.e., turn off the flash). We also like the time-lapse photo option which is great for taking photos of a growing food plot or of something that changes slightly over time.
The ExPert Digital Scouting Camera uses a CompactFlash card. It also has a USB connection and a TV (RCA) connection giving you multiple options for retrieving the pictures.
The battery compartment has been improved on the 2007 models (versus prior years) - batteries are held into place by a metal bracket that can easily slip on or off via a thumb-screw.
In testing this model, we did run into an issue with batteries - on multiple occasions the camera only took one or two photos and then failed and took no more photos (these failures happened in cold temperatures -below freezing). The batteries tested just fine and worked in all other devices (brand new Energizer batteries). Cuddeback's instructions do suggest using Rayovac or Duracell batteries (see below). We still prefer cameras that offer the option of using an external 12 volt battery. Even though Cuddeback's designs typically outperform its competitors in terms of the life of four 'D' batteries, an external 12-volt can exponentially increase the battery life. This can be extremely important when cameras are placed in more remote or distant areas where they are not checked as often. Additionally, we just don't like the notion of sportsmen using and discarding D batteries on a regular basis.
Here is an excerpt from the manual regarding battery selection. SportsmansReview.com did not test or validate these results.:
We have tested various brands of batteries and these are our results.So far, in our tests, the batteries (Rayovac) have failed to take 50 pictures without getting down to 25% battery power or less in the winter - so, if you plan to take lots of pictures in the dead of winter, be prepared to burn through batteries.
A. Rayovac - 800 images at 25 degrees, 1600 images at 70 degrees
B. Duracell - 600 images at 25 degrees, 400 images at 70 degrees
C. Energizer - 500 images at 25 degrees, 1200 images at 70 degrees
D. Other brands - other battery brands typically took less images
E. Below 25 degrees battery life will be less than shown
Test Method - Cameras were set to take 4 images per hour, with 50% of them being flash images. Test results are for comparison only, your actual results may be different. Temperature, flash operation, video mode, battery age, and other factors can affect battery life. (Source: http://cuddebackdigital.com/images/pdfs/Expert%207_11_07.PDF)
The Cuddeback ExPert Digital Scouting Camera is a rather expensive camera. We scored it lowe in value, because for $400, we'd expect to see more advanced features including IR/no-flash options. Additionally, we scored it lower in the Sportsman's Edge rating due to the battery issue as described above. However, in terms of Performance, this camera takes great pictures and has excellent trigger time - so it scores well here.
Update: Feb 1, 2008
The camera failed for a third time early this year, so we went onto Cuddeback's website and followed the trouble-shooting procedures. Eventually we were assigned an RMA number and had to ship the camera back to Cuddeback. This process was relatively easy (although we had to box it up and pay for shipping) - Cuddeback provides a nice tool to help send it in and then follows it up with good communication during the process. We sent the camera in on Jan 17 and it was returned to us just over a week later. The main board was replaced and the camera now seems to work. Here is a picture taken at a real close range (3 feet) after it went in for repair:
Update: Feb 22, 2008
Ahhhhh!!!! The camera failed again! After taking 8 pictures over 10 days, the camera once again failed flashing an error saying "BATTERY FAILED". I reset the batteries and the batteries were not dead as one might expect - instead, the camera shows the batteries at 50% power. I have once again submitted a return request and have sent in the camera for repair/replacement. Quite frustrating! Below is a picture of the error, followed by a picture showing the battery power once I reset the batteries (took them out for a second and put them back in).
Update: October 2008 - The camera now seems to be running fine. Despite the issues we experienced, we do truly appreciate Cuddeback's warranty and service! This camera is consistently taking beautiful pictures for us once again!
Reviewer: - Nick Schwarz
Review Date: - 12/4/2007