Keep Guard cam at Amazon

I have had the Keep Guard for almost a week and have used it to see what wildlife is around (particularly Hedgehogs) in my garden at night.  I have a Hedgehog feeding station and a Hog-House, so these have been my main subjects so far, I have also only used video so far so after I have used still images I will add to this review.

I am initially impressed with the Keep Guard {but read FINAL CONCLUSION at the end of page} and it produces better night-time videos than I expected. The cam takes 4 or 8 AA batteries and so far it looks like they will last quite a long time.  The unit is very easy to setup with a menu system via the inbuilt small screen and keys, you can view videos/pictures on the screen also if using it away from a computer but sofar I have connected it via USB to download everything and view on my computer.  I also like the facility where I can set times between when I want to cam to operate and thereby not wasting battery power during the day if I only want night time recordings.

So it does what it says it does and quite well, however there are a couple of niggles, not major but annoying…

The front of the unit, and therefore the camera, hinges so that you gain access to the small screen and buttons to setup the unit, this means that you cannot see the field of view that the camera will have when closed and in its operating position.  You can judge to some extent but you do not know exactly what is in the frame and what isn’t.

The passive infra-red detector seems to take 1-2 seconds to detect something moving and then start the cam up, I have been looking out the window when a HedgeHog has gone by and it moved out of shot before the cam started to record.  I am using the ‘normal’ sensitivity setting but perhaps putting it on ‘high’ might overcome this but at the risk of more false triggers.

Another problem, and this applies to a lot of infra-red cams and not confined to Keep Guard,  is that when the unit is taking a picture or recording a video, the infra-red led’s visibly glow red just a little, this means to me that if you leave this unit somewhere at night where people may pass by, then there is a chance that they will see the unit and possibly steal it.  As I said a lot of these units have the same problem, but there are one or two available that are designed to overcome this problem and anyone wanting there unit not to be seen then these are the ones to go for.

Overall I am quite satisfied with the Keep Guard, I will update this review when I have used it more especially after using it to record still images which I have not done yet.

UPDATE: 21 September 2011

Just a quick update to say that I am finding the fact that you cannot see exactly what the camera will record (because when in position the screen is inside the unit) a little frustrating.  I notice another model by Keep Guard has a plug in keypad and monitor so you should be able to see the area that will be recorded when the unit is in position much better.

I also think the PIR (Passive Infra Red) detector actually has a wider view than the camera meaning that the camera can be triggered by something that is actually not in the camera’s view and this can lead to ‘false triggers’.  I think this is a reasonable approach though as it would be much more frustrating if something within the camera view didn’t trigger it.

Battery seems to be lasting quite well but I will give another update sometime soon with more thoughts on this.

BATTERY LIFE UPDATE

A set of 8 batteries lasted me 12 days/nights.  The Keep Guard was used in what I think is its most power useage mode i.e. video at night.  It recorded approx. 60 x 30 second videos each night which meant the Infrared LED’s were also on for this length of time.  If I was videoing during the day the power useage would have been much less and of course if I had been taking only still photographs then it would have lasted much longer.

SLOW DETECTION

I can also say that this unit misses an awful lot of things (in my case Hedgehogs) because it is so slow to recognise something moving and start videoing.  e.g. I often see a video with a Hedgehog go into my Hedgehog feeding station, there will be another video a couple of minutes later that shows the Hedgehog must have been ‘Beamed’ up to some alien craft as s/he is no where to be seen.  How did s/he get out of the feeder and disappear, well I have looked many times and the Hedgehog comes out and this unit is so slow at recognising that fact and start to record that the Hedgehog is out of the frame before the recording starts.  I suppose the only thing to do is move the camera back but its not as though he is big in the frame in the first place.  I do not know if other units are similar but expect they are.

FINAL CONCLUSION

I would NOT buy another one of these and would pay a bit more for a Bushnell, I cannot say that they are better because I have not used one but I suspect Bushnell would be better.

The problem I have with the KeepGuard is that is misses a lot of action because it is so slow to start recording, by which time my subject is quite often out of frame {I have personally witnessed this}. If I switch the sensor to its most sensitive setting I literally get hundreds of recordings and 95% of them seem to be false triggering.