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PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2018 12:32 pm 
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Location: Pennsylvania
Hey all!

I'm relatively new here. I'm finally finishing up my camera trap build - it's been a long process. I'm using a Nikon 5200 secured inside a pelican case (with a pvc extension for the lens), three flashes, and a snapshot sniper (SSII) which is wirelessly synced to control my camera (and flashes).

I'm getting ready to set it up and try it out, and had a couple questions I hoped some of you could answer regarding changing light and temperature conditions...

Changing light:

First off, what are some settings that you guys like to shoot in? My first thought was Manual, but I’d hate to expose to a photo for late night time and have my subject come through at dusk, resulting in an over-exposed photo. Has anyone used the shutter-priority or aperture-priority setting?

What would be the best way to set up a camera trap for both day and night trapping?

Changing Temperature:

My other concern was actually condensation. While I was working on building my camera trap, I did a couple of overnight test runs and I sometimes had trouble with dew or condensation building up on the camera’s waterproof case I made. (Like I said it’s a pelican case with a PVC pipe extension out the front for the lens.) Sealed in front of the PVC I have a large clear protective lens filter. This is what would often have moisture build up on the outside face of it.

Does anyone have this problem, and is their anyway to avoid it? Again, I’d hate for a subject to trigger the camera, only to have the entire picture blurred because of dew/condensation on the outer filter.

I would appreciate any tips or suggestions. Thanks!


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2018 12:54 pm 
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I don't use SLRs for camera traps so I can't help you with the settings. I use silica gel inside my builds in an attempt to control condensation, BUT ... Whenever there are fairly wide temperature variations (warm in the case and cool outside or cool in the case and warm outside) morning and evening or when a significant front comes through and it's humid there will be condensation on one side of the glass or the other. The silica gel may help somewhat with inside condensation but I don't think you can impact condensation on the outside (when the air inside the case is cool and the outside air is warm and humid). Some folks use an anti-fog (the type used for diving masks) but I don't know how well it works, if at all.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2018 1:47 pm 
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Woody Meristem wrote:
I don't use SLRs for camera traps so I can't help you with the settings. I use silica gel inside my builds in an attempt to control condensation, BUT ... Whenever there are fairly wide temperature variations (warm in the case and cool outside or cool in the case and warm outside) morning and evening or when a significant front comes through and it's humid there will be condensation on one side of the glass or the other. The silica gel may help somewhat with inside condensation but I don't think you can impact condensation on the outside (when the air inside the case is cool and the outside air is warm and humid). Some folks use an anti-fog (the type used for diving masks) but I don't know how well it works, if at all.


Oh, ok. Well thanks!


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 26, 2018 8:52 am 
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Joined: Sun Feb 18, 2018 12:48 pm
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Location: New Jersey
west5trapper wrote:

First off, what are some settings that you guys like to shoot in? My first thought was Manual, but I’d hate to expose to a photo for late night time and have my subject come through at dusk, resulting in an over-exposed photo. Has anyone used the shutter-priority or aperture-priority setting?

What would be the best way to set up a camera trap for both day and night trapping?



I usually shoot manual where I've been camera trapping doesn't have a lot of day light activity, so perhaps someone with more experience with both day / night shooting can chime in, but on your D5200 I would imagine you'd want to use Aperture priority mode which I'm pretty sure you can set a min / max shutter speed. So something like minimum 1/2 for night (or whatever) f/8 ISO 400-800 or something like that could work. I'm not 100% sure on this but I think your camera battery will drain faster as the camera will constantly be metering the scene. Hope this helps,

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 26, 2018 5:25 pm 
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I find that if you set your camera to Apeture it wont adjust for the flashes at night time and it will mess up. Trial and error, I find a shutter speed of 1/80 or 1/100 is generally fine with an iso of 100-400 (depending on how strong your flash units are).
Try your camera during the day time and then see what results you get at night time if the flashes add enough light, they generally dont over expose during the day from what I have found (although i work in jungles which are super dark and notoriously hard to get lighting right)


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2018 6:40 am 
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Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2016 10:45 am
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Hi

On exposure, manual always when using flash (as you are doing). Main reasons are that: 1) With multi flash I'm expecting flash to be the main light source on the subject animal, so daylight levels only affect the background. 2) I need to keep the shutter under sync speed for flash (i.e. 1/250s) so using an auto mode is more problematic (even if it is shutter priority) 3) I'm usually shooting in woods or shaded areas so sunlight levels are mostly low anyway.

I might have to reevaluate if I were working in open very sunny lower latitudes and aiming to photo diurnal critters but then I'd not likely be using flash except for maybe fill. In which case I'd set up for daylight exposure and would use a single TTL flash at -1 exposure comp for the flash (not overall) exposure. (That's basically how I'd use fill in daylight shooting normally).

On condensation, I use a few sachets of silica gel inside the pelican box. That stops internal condensation and protects your gear about condensation. External is much harder. You can follow astronomers practice a bit here. Optics exposed to the night sky will radiate energy into the void (i.e space) which is always much colder than the air temp. Thus you get condensation on all exposed services because your surface (particularly the lens filter) is colder than the air. However, if the lens is shielded from the clear sky then the cooling is cut down an only occurs through convection to the air. Basically, this means using large hoods / flags out the front (rain hoods on the Peli case) as big as you can make without them in frame. This does cut condensation through having a cooler than air surface but doesn't prevent condensation altogether. Biggest issue is the period after sun set when the air cools and gets super saturated and will condense on any 'rough' surface (that includes the apparently smooth glass filter surface) irrespective of its relative temperature. You know you are in these conditions when the evening air condenses on your clothes even though you are warmer than the air. Really the only thing you can do here is to use a lens heater like astronomers do. OK for astronomers but not so good for us trying to minimise battery usage over weeks. Finally there is one issue with the hood/flagging I just advocated. In the morning as the air warms up, the lens filter is coolwr than the surrounding air because it's not getting warmed by the sun. If you are in a relatively humid environment the warming morning air begins to take on more moisture and that can now condense out on the cool filter (I think I had this happen recently). That can be equally frustrating. Seems like you can't win with the condensation thing - just depends on your climate. :-(


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2018 7:17 am 
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Joined: Tue Sep 26, 2017 1:21 am
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Location: Finland
Hi

I have had a system up n running for little short of one year at the South coast of Finland.

Last fall we got 700mm of rain October-dec, in every direction one can imagine. Then the winter came and the camera was every now and then berried in snow. And temperatures going as low as sub -15deg C in february/march.

Camera Nikon D200, 2-3x SB-28 Flashes via radio (Youngnuo 603II modified to take bigger batteries)
PIR a sub 5€ Chinese sensor, driven by a 9V battery (lasts abut a month).

Camera Case, a cheap Pelican case clone. Flash enclosures PCV wast water pipe with plugs.

I often shoot at about 1/100-1/250s f8-11 manual focus point at 1,5m 18-24mm SB 28s are often at 1/2-1/8 power
The record was about 500-600 flashes from the SB 28's and about 1000 frames in one stormy night :)

I bought a second camera Nikon 3200 with 2 batteries and a 18-55mm for 230€ and should have a second Active laser beam system up and running at some point.


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