Moultrie M-990i game camera review

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Moultrie M-990i game camera review

Postby Virginian » Sat Jun 21, 2014 4:15 pm

I originally have been using Wildgame IR4s, but the trigger sensitivity was extremely poor, and the pictures and video were disappointing. I purchased three of them for under $50 each on sale a couple years ago. Save your receipts when buying Wildgame cams! I returned two of them within 30 days that just died. With that said they lasted about 3 seasons and now all 3 are in the trash. Wildgame cams are the bottom of the barrel in my opinion and I knew that when I bought them. They are what I could afford at the time.

After reading up and checking the after season sales I wound up trying the Moultrie M990i. I chose this one for a couple of reasons, mainly battery life, LED flash, and the 'black flash' LED light when it triggers. I'm not concerned about the LED scaring game so much as poachers seeing it and having no choice but to take the camera or get busted on film.
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http://www.amazon.com/Moultrie-MCG-1263 ... rie+M-990i

I have used this camera for a couple days doing a few tests and have experimented with all the options and settings. I'll try to share some thoughts in hopes that it might help someone. While this camera does the good job of triggering when motion is detected and then capturing either stills or videos, there are several things it could do better that are not mentioned in the reviews at various trail camera sites. More on that later…

What I was looking for on a game cam in no particular order were; small, no flash, battery life, trigger range, sub >$200, and no visible LED when triggered. This cam is very small measuring 5"x3 1/4".

Features:
10.0 megapixel No Glow infrared mini game camera
Less than 1-second trigger
Up to 70-ft night range
4 operational modes: 
- IR triggered game camera 
- Time-lapse plot camera 
- Plot camera by day, motion detect camera at night 
- HD video day and night
Illumi-Night sensor provides bright, clear nighttime images
Motion Freeze reduces nighttime blur
HD video (720p) with sound
2" built-in LCD viewing screen
16:9 widescreen images and video
FastFire Continuous Shooting (1-4 pics/sec)
Multi-Shot (1-3 pics)
Barometric pressure, moon phase, temperature, time, date and camera ID stamp
5/15/30 seconds, 1–60 minute picture delay
Password protected
SD memory card slot — up to 32GB
9,500 images on 8 AA batteries
Features Mossy Oak® Treestand camouflage
Integrated strap loop with Python® cable compatibility (cable not included)

Sensitivity

The first thing I tested was how far away the M-990i would detect me as I walked across the field of view. I was able to get fairly repeatable detection up to 70 feet away during the day which I felt was excellent. The black flash worked very well. I couldn't see any light at all when the cam triggered at night. This is a huge plus for me as this gives away the position of the camera to thieves. I set the budget at >$200 as we all loose cams to thieves and bears from time to time.

I placed the camera on in my yard in video mode, and checked the SD card after a couple days. I ended up with hundreds 20 second daytime videos of grass and branches waving back and forth and nothing else. This is the downside of having a sensitive trigger but I prefer having a trigger that is too sensitive, so I don't mind this. It does mean that you MUST take the time to do some tests before you leave the camera for weeks or months at a time in order to make sure that the placement doesn't produce the same results I got in my yard.


Video/still quality

At 10 mp (megapixels) the still and video pictures I've taken are on par with a GoPro3! Excellent quality no complaints here. HD video quality is not even close to being HD. Yes, it is 1280x720 (720p) at 24 fps, but the ability to find detail is not much better than SD video. I believe the sensor is not capable of 1280x720 and the video is being increased from some lower resolution. The video doesn't take24 frames per second as claimed. The cam takes about 10-15 fps and replicates frames to get to a 24 fps frame rate. Easy to see when you view the video 1 frame at a time. At night the frame rate is even lower than the daytime video around 5 fps. I believe the cam is taking a series of flash pictures and threading them together to make a video. I believe this is by design as at night the cam used flash mode which taxes the batteries. The camera reduces the frames per second to conserve the batteries. I'm more than OK with this as battery longevity is very high on my list.

Time Lapse plot camera

This camera has a time lapse feature so it will take one still picture every 5, 10, 15, 30, 60, 120, or 300 seconds. You cannot take high-res photos in this mode so the most you get is 1280x720 which is less than 1 megapixel. The only way the camera will store the time lapse photos is inside an "MLT" file, which is Moultrie's version of a "motion JPEG" (MJPEG) video file. You have rename the file extension from MLT to MPG. Most video editing software will load it, assuming you have a motion-JPEG codec loaded. (I'm digging too far down in the weeds here on coding files which 99.9% of users won't do) Translation, you will be disappointed with the Time Lapse mode because playback is a PITA to get to work.

Moultrie offers Plot Stalker software which lets you play back these video files and automatically search to points in the time lapse where motion is detected. Their software is terrible at best and I cannot recommend using it at all. I would recommend purchasing a video editing software if you want to edit these videos.

Time lapse only runs during the day; it starts 15 minutes before sunrise and stops 15 minutes after sunset. The only option you have is to turn it off 1, 2, 3, or 4 hours before sunset and after sunrise. You do have the option to leave it on during the entire day. Once you use time lapse, none of your images (except at night, when time lapse turns off) will be high definition.

Hybrid Mode

This mode is the same as time lapse, the camera will take still pictures in high res saved as individual JPEG (easiest file for people to use) files during the night. It works well!

Multi-shot

The camera can be configured to take 1, 2, 3, or 4 pictures when the motion sensor is triggered. You can change the time between these when these pics are taken. The fast setting takes a couple pictures in about a second, damn near a video.

The SD card simply slides in and slides out & is spring loaded making it easy to grab the card if you have sausage fingers.
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Patriot LX Series 32GB (Model PSF32GSDHC10) $18 with a $5 rebate as of 06/14 http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications ... @gmail.com


The camera has a nice rubber seal to help waterproof the camera.
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The setup screen shows live video which makes it really easy to set up the camera. I cannot imagine having a camera that doesn't let you see exactly what you are getting before you leave the camera for weeks or months. I really like this feature.

It takes 8 AA batteries because this is a 12 volt system which should make it long lasting in the field if yo leave it on for extended periods of time. The batteries are stored in a cartridge that has an eject button. I like this feature as some cams are a pain to load/unload batteries unless you have small hands. I'm getting just over 6,000 high resolution pictures before a set of 8 Duracels died. You mileage may very if you take a lot of video or night time photos.
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Inputs for external battery, USB to download pics, and microphone and batterie cartridge bay.

Image
Color LQD (liquid crystal dispal) programming screen.

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It has loops to place a padlock on it. This is kind of sill, anyone with a pocket knife can pry and crack the plastic. I tend to put my cams on narrow tree trunks and use those locks you get when you purchase a new pistol or rifle. They wrap around the tree and thread through this lock loop ]. As a bonus the key that operates those cheesy locks you get on a gun purchase is keyed the same. They work on every lock. I never use these as I keep my guns in a safe.

It has a barometric pressure reading and it is not even close to the correct pressure. It does go up and down much like my 401k but that's about it…

SD card

I'm using a Patriot LX Series 32GB (Model PSF32GSDHC10) without any problems. Some people have have had issues getting a 32 GB cards to work. Moultrie recommends using slower than class 10 cards. I ordered this massive storage SD card (class 10 = fastest) 32mb (mega byte) card from Tigersdirect.com for $18 bucks with a $5 rebate. It pays to shop around on items like this. Buying SD cards from Moultrie, Cabelas, BassPro etc. are a ripoff in my opinion.

Pros
- Black flash LED (I cannot see any LED light what so ever at night when it triggers)
- 6,000+ high rez pics on 1 set of batteries
- Price (retail is $199, street price around $140 as of 06/14)
- 32 mb class 10 SD card works (for me)
- 70' excellent! (good during the day, outstanding at night)
- Still/video equal ro GoPro3 Hero (quality pics and video)
- Microphone for video (may be a neat feature if you catch a fight over a bait pile)

Cons

- Moultrie M-990i time lapse is video, not a series of still images, so all the video limitations apply
- Barometer (weak sauce) more of a gimmick
- Time lapse is not very good, dilutes video quality, not a true video, Moultrie is stretching the truth on this claim of 24 fps

I'll update this post with some pictures and video after I put it out in the field for a couple of months. To date all I have are pics of me testing the trigger range, grass and the neighbors cat.

As always, thanks for taking the time to read my reviews.

Eric
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Re: Moultrie M-990i game camera review

Postby Virginian » Sat Jun 21, 2014 7:20 pm

I should mention another standout feature. When you aim the camera, you just turn it to view mode. What you see on the LCD is what you're going to get on film. My other cams had an aiming laser that projected a beam to where you wanted it. This method is quick and easy. The LCD also allows you to check the pics in the field without having to bring a laptop in the field. I tend to use 2 SD cards and just swap them out and get out of there. I figure the less time spent in the area is the less time polluting the area with my sent.

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Re: Moultrie M-990i game camera review

Postby Virginian » Sat Jun 28, 2014 11:36 am

Here's a couple examples of some photos. You can see in the night shots that unless they are completely still it takes a bit of a blurry picture.
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Image
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Image
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Re: Moultrie M-990i game camera review

Postby bullseye-69 » Sat Jun 28, 2014 10:04 pm

Good review.
I will have to use this info for choosing my next one.
Jeff
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Re: Moultrie M-990i game camera review

Postby Virginian » Sat Jun 28, 2014 11:34 pm

bullseye-69 wrote:Good review.
I will have to use this info for choosing my next one.
Jeff


Jeff,

Thanks for reading and commenting.

Eric
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Re: Moultrie M-990i game camera review

Postby bucksnbears » Thu Aug 07, 2014 6:18 am

this may be my next cam to try.
it says 6000 pics/batteries. i see you use regular alkaline duracells.
are the reviews for regular/rechargables??.

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Re: Moultrie M-990i game camera review

Postby Virginian » Thu Aug 07, 2014 10:17 am

bucksnbears wrote:this may be my next cam to try.
it says 6000 pics/batteries. i see you use regular alkaline duracells.
are the reviews for regular/rechargables??.


I'm getting that many pics out of fresh Duracells (non rechargeable). I expect that number to drop some when the weather drops to colder temps. I'll update this thread when winter gets here.

Eric
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Re: Moultrie M-990i game camera review

Postby Hogpatrol » Thu Aug 07, 2014 1:15 pm

How does it work on closeups? :D
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Re: Moultrie M-990i game camera review

Postby Virginian » Thu Aug 07, 2014 2:47 pm

:D I don't know yet. Hopefully I'll find out.

Eric
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Re: Moultrie M-990i game camera review

Postby RedMist » Thu Aug 07, 2014 10:36 pm

Thanks for the detailed write-up Eric! That view mode would be a handy thing to have when setting up the cam. Good idea on their part.
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