Digital Stealth Cam STC-WD3
I had read a lot about digital Stealth Cam scouting cameras. Those posting on the hunting forums generally didn't have much good to say about them so after letting all of the talk keep me away for some months I finally decided to give the digital Stealth Cam a trial run.
I purchased the STC-WD3, which is the 3.0 mega pixel model with a viewing screen. Since I had heard bad reports about the Stealth Cams I didn't want to get the cheapest model and possibly not see any of the improvements that the manufacturer may have made.
The picture quality for the digital Stealth Cam is a hard call. Overall the pictures are not bad but not as good as the scouting cameras that use a real digital camera. The color is somewhat off and the pictures lack brightness but they do blow up well to see better details. Some pictures are completely black and the flash does not illuminate at much of a distance. The lack of flash distance has become clear since we've began using our digital game cameras in food plots. It was not as much of a problem when the digital Stealth Cam is placed at a feeder.
I have been somewhat surprised; this unit takes better pictures than the older digital scouting cameras with lower megapixel photo electonics. Go to the stealth cam picture quality page to see the sample pictures and explanation of the picture quality grade.
One issue that I have is that I am having a problem with the pictures in the preview mode with my picture viewing software. Pictures from my other cameras show up in the previews. When you click on the picture to view it the correct picture comes up but you cannot just browse through the thumbnails to pick pictures. I do not know why this is happening, the pictures are in a jpg format which is a common format.
The other issue I have is the size of the date and time. Even though I'm starting to have trouble reading without glasses the numbers take up too much room. If a deer has its head down it is often behind a number.
The digital Stealth Cam operates on six C size batteries. In my experience with digital game cameras to date, I have become enamored with re-chargeable AA batteries and the units that use them. The first set of batteries lasted about three weeks. I installed another set of fresh batteries and the Stealth took only a few pictures over the next three weeks in very cold weather. These new batteries were drained even though very few pictures were taken. I then installed six more new batteries and received only 18 pictures over the next two weeks. The viewing screen showed that these batteries were dead after only two weeks and 18 pictures.
I've given up on regular alkaline batteries in this unit and have now purchased a 12V Lead Acid Battery Kit to run the camera.
The first trial run for the rechargeable battery did not work well. Something (raccoons) unplugged the cord so it worked for 8 days. I put it back out and it lasted for 4 more days before it went dead. This accounts for about two weeks of operating time and 305 pictures taken with the new battery on the first charge.
Since it takes 15 hours to charge I had to bring it back home. The 15 hour charge time makes it difficult on the occasions that we do not stay overnight at our hunting property. This will force us to remove the unit from the woods until we get it charged and make another trip when we do not stay overnight.
We were getting 5 to 7 days on each battery charge and as many as 300 pictures when placed at a feeder soon after purchasing the battery. Recently we placed this camera and rechargeable battery at a mineral lick and got 316 pictures and over five days before the battery went dead.
A solar panel is also available to operate the digital Stealth Cam but I'm not sure about its performance.
Initially, the set-up and operation of the digital Stealth Cam was relatively simple. A quick read of the instructions and you should be able to set the camera up. I'm now having problems with the operation of the push buttons. The camera is not responding to the buttons I am pushing. This is very frustrating when setting up the camera, for example I haven't been able to set the time or date for a while now. So far is seems to go ahead and take pictures but changing parameters is impossible.
I had read in forums that you should point the unit slightly downward, this is stated in the directions as well. So far it has taken pictures in the three locations that I have had the unit except for the seeming dislike of cold weather.
To test the power up time I sat it next to the Leaf River, which has been the slowest camera to power up to date except for the Moultrie. The Stealth Cam was about a full second slower than the Leaf River. This raises some concern if you are trying to catch deer along trails. You will have to be especially diligent to aim the unit at an angle to the trail to try to get the longest exposure that is possible. If you can stop the deer the time delay is less important.
The digital Stealth Cam comes with three options for attaching it to a tree; a nylon strap, a metal attachment that you screw into the tree that threads into the bottom of the unit and a locking bracket. So far I have been using the nylon strap. I can't find the instructions for the locking bracket but is looks like it slides through the strap slots and then you would need a locking cable to run through the holes in the bracket. There is also a plastic eye where you could put a padlock.
The unit has 32 MB of internal memory and also has a port for using a compact flash card. As with each of the other cameras I use the removable compact flash memory card to store the pictures.
The unit also comes with a USB cable to download the pictures as well as a TV out cable to view the pictures on a TV or viewing monitor. This model has a 1.8" color LCD monitor that you can view the pictures on and it also serves as the screen for changing all of the settings. I've had trouble seeing pictures in the LCD screen. In the outdoors I cannot see the pictures and now I can no longer get the buttons to work at all.
The digital Stealth Cam has ample time delays. It can be set from 1 to 10 minutes in 1 minute increments and from 10 to 60 minutes in 5 minute increments. I like delays of less than 1 minute when setting up on trails and food plots but it is adequate.
You can manually take pictures with this unit but there is not a camera that can be removed from the unit and used separately. This is not very practical but could be useful on limited occasions. It surely isn't anything you can stick in your pocket and take to the soccer game to take pictures of your kids.
Like all of the other digital scouting cameras I have tested to date the Stealth Cam is capable of taking short video clips.
In August of 2007 The Digital Stealth Cam started taking random pictures and stopped counting the pictures taken on the LCD number screen. I've since quit using this camera and we are now using the rechargeable 12V battery with another camera.
This is one of the pictures taken with the Stealth Cam.
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