Cuddeback Expert Review
The Cuddeback Expert came out in the spring of 2006 and since I had just tested and reviewed their former 3.0 mega pixel model I didn’t jump right in and purchase the newer model. We also didn’t have much success with the previous two models that we tested, they had both quit working. Well, one year later and it doesn’t look like Cuddeback has anything new out for 2007 so I decided to give this one a try.
The picture quality is OK. It seems to be very similar to the picture quality of the old 3MP model. We gave it a B for picture quality. You can see example pictures here.
I tested the Cuddeback Expert against the EagleEye and it was faster. Cuddeback has maintained its fast trigger speed and continues to be the fastest camera through the 21 digital trail cameras we’ve tested.
The Expert uses four D size batteries. These batteries lasted for four weeks when the battery level went to 1 and I changed them out after the fifth week. The instructions state that the batteries should be changed once the battery level reaches 1. I'm not sure how much longer the camera would have worked but it seemed reluctant to take my picture when I retrieved it the last time and I had to turn it off and back on to get the screen to tell me anything. Five weeks for four D size batteries is not stellar.
I've been using Energizer recharegeable batteries for a while now and have gotten from one to two weeks battery life with them. This is on the lower edge of acceptable battery life for rechargeable batteries.
The operation of the camera is frustrating and I’m not a big fan of it. I’ll have to admit that I’m tired of seeing the words Do Not Remove Card on the screen. Every time I want to change a setting these words keep scrolling across the screen. I remember this from their past models and it just seems to get to me. Do Not Remove Card is getting harder to tolerate as I continue to use this camera. I have to push the mode button numerous times to get the unit to respond. Most of the other cameras are so much simpler. An on/off switch has been added which is an improvement over the former Cuddeback models. Since it will switch to live mode after 12 minutes you can just turn it on, set it up and leave.
Securing the former Cuddebacks to trees was a weak point and it has only gotten worse with this model. The only way to attach it to a tree straight out of the box is to screw it to a tree with the provided screws. I’m not going to carry a torx head screwdriver with me to do this. I’ve used a bungee strap instead, which seems to be working but can be a problem depending on the size of the tree and the length of the bungee cords available. There is a hole for a padlock to lock the case closed if you wish to do so.
There is an internal memory that will store 20 pictures at a reduced resolution. I’m guessing that they are 680x480. The resolution when using a compact flash card is 2048x1536 pixels.
There is no LCD screen on the camera and there are no cables provided with the camera to download the pictures. I suppose that since 99% of people will use a memory card this may not be a big deal, but it is disheartening to purchase a digital trail camera for the first time, take some pictures with it and then realize that you can’t even see the pictures without purchasing a memory card and card reader or cables to download them to a computer.
Time delays range from 1 to 60 minutes. Although a delay of less than 1 minute can be handy when putting the camera along a trail or food plot those provided are acceptable.
The Cuddeback trail camera will take short video clips as most of the other scouting cameras do.
The Cuddeback Expert also has some additional features including: password protection, capability of entering your name and phone number, surveillance mode and time lapse photography. In surveillance mode the camera will keep taking pictures after the memory card has filled up by deleting the oldest pictures. Time lapse photography allows you to set the exact times that you want pictures taken. You can disable the motion sensor during this time or still allow it to operate.
The older Cuddeback digital trail cameras missed pictures when we compared them to our better cameras at the same time delay so we tested the Expert against the Trail Watcher 2040 at a one minute delay with both cameras on the same tree. The Trail Watcher took 132 pictures and the Cuddeback took 125 pictures. I'd say that the old problem of missing pictures isn't occurring with this camera.
Our overall grade for the Cuddeback Expert is a C. The Cuddeback Expert has become one of our dependable trail cameras but did not make the cut when we wanted to leave our best cameras out during deer season. The factors that kept the Expert from recieving a B were the poorer pictures at dawn and dusk, the one minute delay and it's overall setup is not the friendliest from the incessant Do Not Remove Card to the poor system for attaching it to a tree.
A little over one year after purchasing the Expert I'm having trouble getting it to operate. At first I had trouble getting the batteries in good enough contact to operate the camera and after adding some metal shims to get contact the camera is now saying that all of the memory cards I try are full. This is a shame since I have not even used the camera for a full year. The Expert sat in my office for several months over the winter and spring months unused. I didn't get a full year of operation out of this camera.
Return from the Cuddeback Expert review to the Digital Trail Camera Reviews.