In 2009 Stealth Cam released the first High Definition (HD) trail camera into the market. Continuing on their track of setting trends, they have done it again with the new DS4K trail camera. You may be wondering why is this a big deal? The answer is because it is the first trail camera capable of recording 4K video recording and 30 MP daytime picture camera in the hunting industry. This is a big step for the hunting world because it is first in its class.
With the new quality that this handy little camera produces, it really makes you feel closer to the animals and the audio quality is just as impressive. The new video quality allows you to take a closer look at the fine details like antler kicker points or find out exactly how many rings the raccoons have on their tails! Did you see the Lightning storm captured on the DS4K? It’s exciting to be an outdoorsman at such a time as this where technology is advancing so fast and our scouting tool options get better every year.
So what is all the hype about this 4K camera and what the heck is 4K?
4K is a video resolution quality that captures video with a much higher (3840 x 2160) resolution quality than normal High Definition (HD) video (1920 x 1080). This means your videos are higher resolution and offer more clarity and detail. The DS4K’s dual image sensors gives it 2x and 4x better quality than standard full HD video recording or 1080p. To view the highest quality video at its best, it requires a newer model monitor screen that can process the format and view the Ultra High Def video. Most modern screens are capable of viewing, so not to worry. Let’s take a look at the upgrades to this new model, the best ways to use it, and how it can best help you in the field.
The IR brightness control has 2 settings FULL or HALF. FULL flash setting uses more battery life but provides brighter shots for large open areas especially at a distance. Use “HALF” for close up shots so the images aren’t overexposed. The half setting works great in controlled situations where animals are going to be at know, close distances such as feeders, mineral stations or even scrapes.
Unboxing the DS4K
I’ll be honest, the box itself was actually really hard to open without completely destroying it! My first impressions were that it is slightly thicker (front to back) than the last Stealth Cam G45NG Pro we reviewed and it takes 4 more batteries as well.
The larger size is probably due to the slightly larger battery tray that now has room for 12 AA batteries to power the upgraded camera. Stealth Cam also has new firmware that substantially increases the battery life in its new cameras. Stealth Cam hasn’t always had the best reputation for battery life on their cameras but it has now been greatly improved on the latest models.
The tree-bark finish on this camera is aligned with some of their previous models like the G34 with a brown molded bark pattern and not the matte camouflage pattern. The swing door hinges left concealing the SD card, the settings buttons, and the eject button for the battery tray. I really like how the securing clip has a molded hole that lines up with the holes in the back of the camera that is made for a Python cable lock. This enables the SD card to be locked inside when the python lock is securing the camera to the tree without any additional lock.
The new battery tray holds 12 batteries (6 in the front & 6 in the back)
This camera can take rechargeable, alkaline, or lithium batteries. I tested both types of batteries in this camera as well as many other cameras and have found that the lithiums will last a lot longer in the field because they discharge slower and therefore require less trips to the woods to swap them out. I think this is a distinct advantage. 12 lithium batteries will cost about $20 dollars whereas 12 alkalines will cost less than $5. Needless to say you can save a fun dollars running alkalines, but when it comes to trail cameras often that’s not the best policy. After all, how frustrating is it to check your camera that’s been deployed for weeks, even months, to find out the batteries are dead? Lithium batteries will not only last longer but will also provide better flash performance for a longer duration. So choose wisely! Stealth Cam says that you can expect about 15,000 images with one set of batteries.
I set the camera on Time Lapse (TL) Mode to take a pic every 5 seconds on 30 MP day / 14 MP night pic on FULL IR. At this setting, I was using the cameras highest energy sucking capabilities aside from the 4K recording. The camera took 8,202 pictures on 1 set of 12 Duracell Alkaline batteries, about half of which were night. What was funny was the camera was reading 00% battery and still taking pictures! I do think 15,000 daytime pics is a reasonable estimation of what the camera could do given the right conditions. It is reasonable to think the battery life could last 3-6 months in the field which is pretty awesome. Additionally, there is a 12 volt battery pack available for $69.99 direct from Stealth Cam.
Setting up this camera is not difficult and thanks to Stealth Cam’s Quickset (Q1, Q2, Q3 settings) getting it rolling is pretty easy. After inputting the basic date / time / camera name etc by selecting the “Custom” switch and toggling through with the menu button, the camera is basically ready to go. One thing unique to this camera is that the SD card MUST BE UPGRADED to work with the QHD or 4K settings. Stealth Cam recommends the following in the manual…
For QHD video recording: read / write rate of 50k bits per second and video class V6 or above.
For 4K video recording: read / write rate of 60k bits per second and video class V10 or above.
The camera WILL NOT work on QHD or 4K mode without the proper card. With the wrong card on the 4K or QHD setting, the camera will read “SD card too slow”. It is also important to remember that these 4k videos use up a significant amount of storage space. For example, a 10 second 4K video file size is roughly 72 MB. A single 30 MP image uses up about 6 MB of space. So, on a 32 GB card SD card, it will hold just over 400 (10 second 4K clips). Definitely something worth considering before setting this camera out. This is why Stealth Cam made this camera capable of receiving a 64 MB SD card. One thing worth mentioning that is really neat about this camera is that while on “PIR COMBO”, it will take a still image of the first frame and then additional frame snapshots every 5 seconds while the video is recording. This allows you to capture videos as well as images on each triggering of the camera.
GENERAL USE OVER VIEW
- 4K Ultra HD Video
- 30 MP Ultra Hi Res Performance
- Dual Image Sensors
- Range Control – Adjustable PIR
- Security Mode (re-write SD memory)
- Reflex™ Trigger < .4seconds
- 42 NO GLO IR Emitters
- Intuitive backlit menu programming
- Matrix ™ Advanced Blur Reduction
- Retina™ Low Light sensitivity
- 16:9 Wide Image Ratio
- Quick Set pre-programmed option.
- Burst Mode 1-9 images per triggering
- 5-59 sec / 1- 59 min recovery time out
- Time / Date / Moon Phase / Temperature / Name Stamp
- GEO-TAG GPS Tagging
- Manual shot capability
- Secure Lock password protection
- SD Card slot up to 64GB
- Test Mode
- Video & USB output
- Operates on 12 AA batteries
- External power jack for 12V battery box
- Active Time Setting
- Multi Lingual (English / French / German / Spanish)
- Preset Time & Date (CST)
A “MP” or Megapixel is the amount of pixels in one square inch (so this 30 MP image has 30 million unique pixels in 1 square inch of picture)
Most trail cameras have 1 image sensor that is usually between 2-5 MP and when a camera’s MP advertised rating is higher than that that, it uses digital interpolation to make the pictures more clear. For example a 4 MP sensor in a camera will be digitally interpolated to a 12MP advertised camera. This camera does have 2 sensors and is interpolated to 30 MP which is another first in class and producing great images.
The overall goal for trail camera use depends on the user. Some people want the best quality images and video possible. Others don’t care as much about the quality, but more about the price and general functionality. This Stealth Cam DS4K has an MSRP of $299, but in realty you will probably be able to find it for around $200. Compared to other cameras in the $200 price range, you would normally expect to see a built in picture viewer which this camera does NOT have. However, it IS the only trail camera on the market that can take 4K quality videos like this example below.
I was very impressed by the PIR Sensor sensitivity of this camera. The PIR sensor is rated to 100 ft, but I had arrow markers in the grass up to 50 yds (150 ft), and it was triggering activity well past 100 ft.
DS4K Video Examples
The videos below were captured by DS4K cameras earlier this summer.
The only thing that I am hoping they will improve moving forward is the 15 frames per second (FPS) 4K image capture. For reference, the I-phone 7 takes 4K video at 30 FPS and is clearly top notch. When capturing a video of an object that is fast moving and moving across the camera in 4K / 15 FPS it appears a bit choppy *as seen in the video below* However, most users will use these cameras to capture wildlife that are walking or grazing and not in an all out stampeded, so I am being extra critical here. But it is interesting to see the difference. The QHD 2K recording option may will produce high quality footage that is still beyond HD resolution without the risk of looking choppy – and the video files will be smaller. QHD is a very solid option for those looking to capture a high quality video and be able to fit more on a memory card in between camera checks.
The above video set at 4K resolution and 15 frames per second shows a little choppiness as the bucks run by. Although it’s certainly not bad by any means, it’s certainly worth noting.
This camera is for someone who wants extremely high quality trail camera pics & video at a mid level price point. For some one who is willing to spend a little bit more to have just a tad more quality of an image or video, this one is for you. Or maybe you just want to brag about having the first 4K trail camera on the market, then that’s fine too. I imagine that in years to come – this high level video quality will become more standard and we will see it more and more in trail cameras. For now the DS4K is leading the way in terms of resolution and image quality.
So where is the value really added with this product? What sets this camera apart is obviously the 4K and 2K options. The images and video that this camera is producing in the field are absolutely unmatched. However don’t lose sight of the phenomenal battery life, super fast trigger speed, ease of use and some of the other great features this camera offers. 4K video is great, but the DS4K really shines in almost every aspect we tested.
As always, keep a look out for new firmware updates – these can be downloaded to an SD card and then follow the steps to update it on your camera.
This camera can produce amazing image and video as seen in the examples in this article. But just because your pictures don’t look like the front page of Field and Stream – don’t get frustrated. There are a lot of factors that go into good outdoor photography such as lighting, positioning, camera angle and object distance. The quality of this camera is just one piece of the pie that can give you an edge in the field.
We are curious to see what’s next for Stealth Cam after this, but I would guess it would be another 4K camera at 30 frames per second (fps). It is absolutely incredible to think of a trail camera producing as high quality video as the cameras we use to film TV shows, but it’s just a matter of time!