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Moultrie Panoramic 150 Trail Cam Review

Moultrie Panoramic 150 Review

From the moment I pulled the new Moultrie Panorama 150 out of the box I had concerns.  Not because of any design deficiency or quality issue, but only because I only had one unit and I had dozens of locations it was perfect for!

The first thing you have to understand about this unit is that it is a departure from the traditional trail camera.  All other models require that you point the sensor in a static direction.  From there you basically hope the target passes inside of that narrow angle and trips the sensor. As we all know, animals rarely follow a script and that is where this trail cam got my attention.

Click for Specs and Pricing

The Panoramic 150 covers a very wide angle of 122 degrees.  This gives you incredible latitude for covering trails and areas where travel routes may vary.  For my test, I placed my 150 on an apple tree that divided three food plots.  There were no trails in this area, the deer just wander around between the plots.  In previous seasons I used three cams pointing in three different directions. This is expensive and cumbersome but it worked.  With this camera, I could cover most of those directions with a single unit.

There were two design considerations I needed to explore fully before getting too excited - both centered on the mechanism that rotated the lens and LEDs.  Does the mechanism generate noise that might alarm game?  The second consideration was whether the mechanism’s movement would spook animals and draw unnecessary attention to the unit?  I will answer both of those questions later in our results.

Most cams, like my Moultrie M100 have three basic modes of capture; Trail Cam, Video, and Time Lapse (plot mode).  This camera has additional modes including:

  • Panorama
  • Time Lapse (in Panorama)
  • HD and SD Video (detection zone only)
  • Photo (detection zone only)
  • Hybrid (time lapse day, trail cam Night)

I had very little interest in using this cam for time lapse but I tested it anyway. My main interest was in HD Video (detection zone) and taking panoramic photos.  So my first test occurred in July using only the panorama photo mode.  The results were striking.

 

Photo Results

Because of the activity on my food plots, I captured over 3000 panoramic photos on this unit. I would also add that those photos were taken using a single set of (6) Duracell Alkaline ‘C’ Batteries.  The detection zone was most impressive, but so was the range. I caught deer movement as far as 80’ from the sensors with enough LED power to illuminate the subject.  Local subjects got washed out a little but the results were acceptable.  Using a photo quality setting of medium, the image was magnificent with great color saturation during daylight and extremely sharp focus at all times.

Image Samples (click for full size)
Panorama Catch - the buck on the left is the better one, caught by the Panoramic Photo in broad daylight at 15 yards
Panorama Catch - The buck on the right never entered the center frame but was caught by the Panoramic photo.
Quality Example - While this small buck did trip all three sensors, we included this to show you the photo quality.
Distance Catch - This intense buck fight was captured 42 yards from Trail Camera at night. Showing you the range of the sensor and the LEDs.

Video Results

With a successful Photo test under my belt, I then wanted to use the Panorama 150 to capture HD quality video within the detection zone.  Basically the camera works like this; if an animal passes the left sensor, the mechanism rotates to the left position and starts filming/illuminating the subject. The video will continue as long as your video duration settings will last. My first test was set at 30 second clips, but I found that lowering that to 15 was optimal at capturing deer on more than one zone.  Obviously, the power consumption on video was far more demanding than the photo modes including Panorama so make a note of that.  While the unit will shoot HD sized video of 1920x1080 resolution, it is not capable of producing an HD bit-rate. If you are expecting the same quality out of a trail camera powered by batteries and saved to an SD card you probably need a reality check. I found the video acceptable, but you won’t be making a Blu-Ray DVD from these clips. 


 

Time Lapse Results

I had no intention of wasting this cam’s design on a plot cam but for the sake of testing the main capture modes I did it anyway.  The Panorama 150 uses a different format for producing Time Lapse/Plot observation mode than the previous Moultrie cams. Instead of producing a proprietary .MLT file requiring a separate program to view, the Panorama 150 uses a standard JPEG format. This is both good and bad. The format can be viewed on any device (Good) but the individual file sizes were very large (bad). In all honesty, I don’t know why anyone would use this cam for Time Lapse but if it’s important to you, plan on buying big cards and changing a lot of batteries.

Sample Time Lapse Images

Sample Close to Sunset shows the detail in each Time Lapse Frame.
Same Time Lapse Scene with morning light.


Time lapse images are stored as JPEG files and viewed from your PCs folder, no more need to install a separate Plot watching software.

 

Noise & Movement

As I mentioned earlier, when I first heard about this camera I was concerned about both noise and movement as the mechanism rotated.  Let’s talk about movement first. The mechanism has to pivot between one of three positions so movement is necessary. The pivot is unnoticeable unless you are staring at the camera when it is moving. In addition, the LEDs are not lit during the rotation and this alleviates any concern for night shots.   As far as noise was concerned it was a non-issue. I don’t know how Moultrie did it, but it’s about a close to silent as you can imagine. You basically have to be within a few inches of the unit to hear anything at all, and even then it’s subtle.  But the proof is in the pudding and a test was in order. My test location was on an active apple tree with lots of close deer activity. If this camera was going to spook game this was the best place to test it.  In 200 video clips only two deer seemed to be bothered by the trail camera and since there was no movement, I believe the concern was from the LED, not the movement since the position never changed. If they ever equip this unit with black flash technology it would address this issue. The overwhelming majority of deer videos, some as close at 1 foot, showed no alarm at all. While our test is not entirely conclusive, it’s damn close.

Battery Life

While I was a bit disappointed to see the unit requires (6) ‘C’ batteries instead of the usual (8) ‘AA’ which I am used to buying, it was a small issue.  I did not perform an exhaustive test on power consumption but I believe other review sites have and the conclusions were acceptable. That certainly was my result for all tests except the time lapse, which really sucked power due to mechanism movement and the larger file size. I found the photo modes to be excellent on battery life (some 3000 photos before the unit dropped into a “low battery” warning) and I never ran down the fresh batteries on video mode after 200 clips.  I should note that none of my unit tests were conducted in temps below 33 degrees.  My farm in upstate NY sees temps down to -35 and we will definitely have the unit out in those extreme temps.  I will report back my findings on Bowsite’s forums when I have more results to share.

Conclusion

This trail cam is fantastic. The unit I tested performed flawlessly in all tests. Setup was a snap and the image quality is far better than expected.  The fact that we can now cover such a wide field of view on a single cam is a Godsend for trail cam junkies like me.  The downsides are minor, I found the Time Lapse mode basically a waste of talent for this device, and I found the HD video mode to be high definition in size only, not quality. I didn’t expect a $230 trail cam unit to shoot HD quality video anyway, they are not designed for this. The key selling features of this cam are the incredible detection zone flexibility, the ability to produce mesmerizing panoramic photos, and the fact that you can do all of this in a cam that lists $250. That is the most impressive quality of them all. In the future, if Moultrie adds black flash and live view technology to this camera I’ll probably never need another cam again. 

 

 

 

 
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