HCO ScoutGuard SG550V Scouting Camera Review:
If you are a regular viewer of our site, you already know that the HCO ScoutGuard SG550 Scouting Camera won our Reviewer’s Choice Award for 2008. Given that, we are excited about this follow-up model, the HCO ScoutGuard SG550V. As with its predecessor, this camera is about one third the size and weight of other cameras in the market. This makes it very convenient to transport the camera. It is also handy when attempting to conceal the camera in a location without a lot of cover. Although the setup is not as easy and the manual difficult to navigate, once this camera is field ready, it performs well. With improvements in trigger speed and usability, this camera once again raises the bar for all trail cams.
- Size - this is a very compact and lightweight unit, making it easy to carry and to conceal - significantly smaller than most other trailer cameras
- Camouflage housing is a bonus
- Memory slot is easily accessed
- Controls & vitals are placed well for resisting the elements
- Can run off an external 6 volt battery
- Uses 4 or 8 "AA" batteries (cheaper & smaller than others)
- 5 Mega pixels
- Setup is a little cumbersome and requires remote to be connected
- Instruction manual is a bit complex.
- Initial images appeared to be 'reddish' in color
|Picture Size - Day:
||5.0 Mega pixelsApprox 1.4 MB image file size2560 px wide x 1920 px high (72 px per inch)
|Picture Size - Night:
||Same as day
||8 (or 4) "AA" batteriesExternal: 6 volt plug-in (AC or DC)
||Internal Memory - NoneMemory Type: SD Card (up to 4 GB)
||SingleBurst (2-3)Video (AVI)
During our initial test (March 1 through March 8, 2009), the camera took 36 pictures - of those 36 pictures, 27 were from known events. So, the camera is tracking at 75%. The batteries show no signs of being worn down. In early April, the camera took over 1,000 pictures (over 1 GB of files) on the same, original 8 AA batteries and it's still going strong!Here is a picture of the "remote" which is required to modify the settings (set date, picture quality, etc.). New this year, the remote also functions as a picture viewer. Though the screen size is very small and the image quality very poor, it would allow you the ability to scan the photos in the field and see if activity is occurring. However, it would be extremely difficult to use this viewer to determine the size of a rack or even in some cases whether the deer was even a buck versus a doe. Regardless, I give HCO credit for making this remote more functional. Also, the plug for the remote has been redesigned to be more user-friendly and durable.
Below are some example pictures from the HCO ScoutGuard SG550 Scouting Camera. These pictures have been reduced to 19% of their original size for display on this site. The daytime pictures are a little strong on shades or red and tend to be a bit washed out on sunny days. Overall, we'd still rate the image quality as good. The info strip on the bottom is basic at best - displaying the camera's name on a gray background and the date and time (24 hour format, ugh).
The daytime image below shows the reddish color issue that we’ve mentioned:
The night time pictures are excellent. We estimate the effective range for the infrared flash to be closer to 20 feet. Again, this image has been reduced to 19% of the original size. The camera was setup in some brush to capture pictures of pheasants during the day, and to our surprise we see a coyote busting through the thick brush at night.
On a few occasions, the camera did take 'incomplete' pictures at night such as the example below, but this is atypical for the cameras we tested:
Here is one more sample picture from the day - a beautiful picture of a rooster pheasant after a fresh snow:
Lastly, here is a sample picture showing the ability to catpure multiple images. I have the camera set to take two images per trigger - here it is capturing a deer as it trots off:
Overall, the ScoutGuard SG550V Scouting Camera is a great camera. The core features such as its size, battery options, trigger speed, image quality and value position this as one of our top rated trail cameras!
Reviewer: - Nick Schwarz
Review Date: - 3/9/2009