This fall we had the opportunity to run the new Archers Choice TV Signature Edition game camera by Stealth Cam through an in-depth series of tests. We didn’t just want to do a quick review on game cameras, we wanted to give you, the readers the best understanding and quality review, so that you can make your own decision on what game camera is right for you, and be confident in that decision.
In this review we break the camera down, from the size of the camera, factory specs on the camera, to the warranty and operators manual. We will also look at the cameras mounting system, ease of use, trigger speed, sensor distance, sensor width, IR (infrared) distance test, battery life and many more series of other tests and features of the camera.
The author using the compact Archer's Choice edition game camera by Stealth Cam
Under each category I list a score. The score is based on a system of 1 through 10. The score of 1 being the worst, and the score of 10 being the best. To understand the means of scoring we were very strict about how good a 10 really is, basically a 10 means it is perfect with no room for improvement. We also used feet as well as yards to measure distance. The reason for this is most people have a hard time picturing how far 24 feet is but all bow hunters can picture how far 8 yards is.
At the end of the review we will give you an easy to view break down of the good vs. the bad of the game camera reviewed, along with our overall impression of the game camera. So let’s literally break the new Archers Choice TV signature edition game camera by Stealth Cam down to the nuts and bolts.
Controlled testing was done on September 20th 2011 in the evening hours with temperatures that averaged around 70 degrees.
Battery life test was conducted in a range of temperature from 70 degrees down to 10 degrees, along with rain and snow.
Make and Model of Game Camera:
Stealth Cam Archers Choice TV Signature Edition Game Camera. Model #: STC-AC540IR
Game Camera Size:
This camera has dimensions of 6 inches tall, 4 inches wide, by 2 inches deep. It is very small, compact and light weight.
Factory Specs features of the Game Camera:
Stealth Cam was really thinking when they designed this camera; it shows by the locations of the LCD screens, along with ease of use. Stealth Cam equipped the Archers Choice edition with the option of selecting 3, 5, or 8 megapixels. It also can capture video along with audio at 640x480 resolutions. The photos are all stamped with date, time, moon phase, and temperature. All of this data can be stored on a SD card with up to 16 GB of memory. With the camera set to take 5 megapixel pictures, you can store 5440 black and white photos, or 3264 color photos. With the camera set to take 30 second videos, you can store 544 black and white (night time) videos on a 16 GB SD card or 224 color videos. (Note that these are approximate number of images)
The Archers Choice edition is equipped with a generous 1.85” black and white LCD Display. This display is located inside the camera and shows you your different settings and menu. There is also a LCD display on the outside face of the game camera that shows the number of pictures taken. This is a great feature so you do not have to open up the camera to view how many pictures have been taken.
Stealth Cam designed the Archer's Choice edition to be easy to use and user friendly
This camera also has the capture options of 1-9 image burst mode. The burst mode takes the selected number of photos in a row. This feature is designed to capture several different angles of your buck’s antlers to provide a better judgment of the animal. The pictures are saved to the SD card in a standard JPEG format. The time that each trigger is taken by the camera or also known as the time out feature can be set from 0 seconds to 59 minutes. This is the time in between each event before the camera takes another picture(s).
This camera is also equipped with a time lapse mode. This feature is designed to provide a constant monitor of an area; the camera will bypass the passive infrared sensor (PIR) and take photos (not video) during the programed time frame. For example , it will snap a photo every 10 seconds from 8am to 8pm. Then the entire days’ worth of data can be viewed in a short period of time. This feature is handy for monitoring food plots or field where the deer may be out to far to trigger the PIR but can still be captured in the picture.
On the front of the camera it had a red LED low battery light that indicates that the batteries need to be changed without having to open the camera to check the battery status. There is also a green test LED light on the front of the camera to test the range and angle of the camera.
Next, the camera has five buttons under the inside LCD display, these buttons are-the test, confirm, menu, and the up and down buttons for setting up the camera’s modes. On each side of those buttons there are two switches, the power on/off and the Posse Mode/ custom switch.
This camera is has a 1.85" B&W LCD display
The posse mode is a pre-set mode for the camera’s ease of use. If you’re not a very technologically advanced individual, all that you have to do is flip the switch to on, then flip the other switch to posse mode and walk away. In the posse mode the camera will automatically take 5 megapixel photos, with a two picture burst and a one minute delay until the next event. Or you can flip the switch to custom and program the camera to take video, time laps, or photos.
Both the photos and videos are illuminated by infrared LED’s giving it a 50 foot or approximately 16.6 yard range.
Ok, now that we have a good back ground on the specs and features of the new Archers Choice edition game camera by Stealth Cam let’s start breaking it down and seeing how it scores.
Initial Impressions of the Camera:
Upon receiving the game camera we noticed that the camera had a very durable housing. The camera is sealed tightly by two heavy duty plastic latches with metal C-bar. Compared to other game cameras that we have used the Archers Choice edition game camera was more durable that most others on the market, and is able to with stand the abuse that the average hunter will put it through. This camera is a camera that can take a licking and keep on clicking.
Initial Impressions of the Camera score: 8.5
Operators Manual and Lay Out, Tech Support, and Warranty:
Stealth Cam’s game cameras come with an in depth operators manual. If you lose your manual to your Stealth Cam you can go to Stealth Cam’s web site at www.stealthcam.com and print off the manual to your model of Stealth Cam.
On the first page of the Archers Choice edition game camera is all the customer support information for the Stealth Cam Company. Not only does it provide the web address for the website, but also the companies mailing address, customer service number along with the email address to technical support.
The Stealth Cam Company has a one year limited warranty on parts and labor. The warranty covers defects in workmanship and materials.
Operators Manual, Tech Support, and Warranty score: 9
Camera’s Mounting System:
The Stealth Cam comes with a nylon web strap. On the back of the camera there are two molded slots for the web strap to slide through to secure the camera to the strap. These molded slots can also be used for other ways of securing the camera to a tree or fence post. An example of this would be if you wanted to secure the camera using bungi straps instead of the supplied nylon strap.
The Archers Choice edition also has a tree screw mounting option on the bottom of the camera. This is designed for use with a tri pod to place the camera on if no tree is available or if you wanted to use a tree screw to mount the camera to a tree and not the strap.
Camera’s Mounting System Score: 9.5
Independent test have been conducted on the Stealth Cam Hunters Choice model and has shown to have a trigger speed of approximately 1.5 seconds.
With a 1.5 second trigger speed Stealth Cam is not the fastest camera on the market. This is one area that I would like to see Stealth Cam improve on. On field tests this slower trigger speed didn’t affect the number of deer that we were able to capture on the field test as much as I had expected. If a deer was feeding his way or even walking past, the camera does a good job at capturing the deer. If the deer was trotting through or on a run, the 1.5 second trigger speed may have a hard time capturing that image.
Trigger Speed Score: 6.5
Camera Ease of Use:
When the Archers Choice camera was designed you can definitely tell that ease of use was priority number one. All it takes to get this camera going is a flip of two switches. If you’re not person who likes to read owner manuals, just flip the power on and flip the second switch to the posse mode. The camera preprogramed to take 5 megapixel photos with two picture bursts and a one minute time out. That’s it, just set it and forget it. It’s that simple.
If you wish to set the camera to your own custom settings, just preset the different features in the menu mode prior to heading out to the woods. Once in the woods just flip the power switch to on and walk away. Unlike some cameras on the market, you don’t have to go into the settings and manually arm the camera; with just a flip of the switch you’re ready to start taking photos.
Camera Ease of Use Score: 10
We wanted to add this topic into the review because we have tested several cameras that make a “clicking” noise while it is taking the photo. This can be a major problem because it will tip of a mature buck of the cameras presence. Once that buck is spooked and realizes his home has been invaded chances are he will shy from the area of the camera.
No camera noise is improtant so an animal close to the camera does not hear when the picture is taken
While testing the Stealth Cam and taking hundreds of pictures with it, not once did we notice any noise from the camera, so much so the only way we knew the camera took a photo was by picture counter on the front of the camera, or under low light the LEDs lighting up.
Camera Noise Score: 10
PIR (Passive Infrared) Sensor Distance Test:
Under a low light condition we set the camera up and began to walk towards the camera, once the LEDs light up we would measure the distance to the camera. We conducted this test numerous time to be sure we got the most accurate results.
The maximum range we were able to get the PIR to take a picture was 14 yards or 42 feet
The camera would trigger at a distance of forty two feet or fourteen yards. The most effective range for best results is thirty feet or ten yards.
PIR Sensor Distance Test Score: 8
PIR Sensor Width Test:
Again under low light condition we used the distance of 24 feet or 8 yards from the camera. I then walked across the plane of the camera marking the location that the PIR sensor first picked up my motion. We copied this from the other side of the camera.
The PIR sensor width at 8 yards is 5 yards or 15 feet wide
At 24 feet or 8 yards from the camera, we had a PIR sensor width of 24 feet or 8 yards wide.
PIR Sensor Width Test Score: 8
Infrared Distance Test:
We used a 3-D target to represent our deer at the given distance to judge the picture quality and the effective distance of the Infrared flash.
The above picture shows the IR capabilities at 30 feet or 10 yards to the deer target
The above picture shows the IR capabilities with the deer target being 50 feet or 16.6 yards
After testing the infrared at the distances of 30 feet and the recommended maximum range of 50 feet we reviewed the photos. This test showed that we could still identify antler characteristics all the way out to the 50 foot maximum range with good quality.
Infrared Distance Test Score: 9
To decide the score for the picture quality we reviewed photos that were taken under both the black and white infrared night pictures and color day photos. We also compared and reviewed both photos taken during the tests and in the field photos.
Stealth Cam takes great night time photos and has an excellent IR range
Some of the color pictures taken in the morning have a blur to them
The Stealth Cam took great quality night time photos, both in the field and under testing conditions. The day time photos taken under the testing were of good quality, however some of the day time photos in the field had a haze to them.
Picture Quality Score: (9 for infrared) (7 for day time)
Special Feature Test:
In the PIR mode the Stealth Cam has different zoom levels to achieve a close up picture at a further distance.
The above picture showing the quality picture set at the two power zoom
The above picture shows the picture quality of the camera set at the four power zoom
During the testing the zoom modes is a great feature, especially when using the camera for home security. The zoom at 4x (the maximum) showed a little bit of blur.
Special Feature Test Score: 8.5
Battery Life Test:
This camera runs off of 8 AA batteries and has the optional connection for an external 12 volt battery pack. Using the AA batteries we had the camera in place set on the PIR photo mode taking 8 megapixel photos. The camera battery life was monitored from the last week of October to the last week of December.
We wanted to test the battery life through this time frame since this is the time when most hunters have their cameras in the woods. Also this time frame gives us a wide range of temperatures. During this test we had temperatures ranging from 70 degrees down to 10 degrees, we also had sunshine along with snow.
We started with full battery power at the end of October, the last week of December we were down to ¼ battery power. Given the weather conditions which this camera was tested in, we were very impressed with the battery life using the AA batteries.
Battery Test Score: 8.5
Final Impressions of Camera:
After running this camera through a strict series of tests, we are very impressed with the Stealth Cam’s Archers Choice Signature Series game camera.
This camera is small and compact in size, light and easy to transport. It has many great features that are useful for many different applications. It also has a good battery life, which has shown to be reliable under a variety of weather conditions.
The trigger speed is slower than we would like, however it is not the slowest on the market nor is it so slow that you’re going to miss animals walking through.
The picture quality and IR range at night is excellent, we were very impressed with the IR range. The day light photos were good quality with some of the early morning pictures having a slight blur to them.
We were also impressed with the durability of this camera. Stealth Cam did not make a cheap quality camera here; this camera can take a licking and keep on clicking with the quality and durability of the camera body.
Also this camera is very reasonably priced. You can buy several of these cameras for the price of a different company’s camera.
If you are looking for an easy to use camera that does not require reading the owner’s manual from cover to cover and days to learn, this is the camera for you. You will spend less time reading and learning the camera and more time having the camera in the woods scouting for you. Stealth Cam designed this camera to be a no brainer and is super easy to use.
Over All Score: 8.5
Hopefully this review will help you with deciding which camera is right for you this year. All cameras have their strong points along with their weak points. There is no perfect camera on the market, and we hope that this review helps to assist you in picking out your next camera to get you on the biggest buck of your life.