Moultrie has good options for those who need basic trail cameras, namely Moultrie A-5 and Moultrie A-8. They also have good products in high end cameras at decent price like Moultrie M-880. But what about when you are in a need for a low priced trail camera that can provide more than just the basic features? Moultrie’s answer: M-550.
Moultrie M-550 looks really good on paper. Competitive price, 7MP images, good flash range, small size and above all; plenty of bells and whistles to play with. This really could be a recipe of a very successful trail camera model. Unfortunately the execution is not the best possible. Lets dig deeper.
Moultrie M-550 provides 7 megapixel images and/or max. 90 second AVI video clips at 640×480 resolution. The camera features a 20 LED low-glow IR flash with a range up to 70ft. Unfortunately in real life the flash is not that powerful and maximum effective range is closer to 50ft.
The day time images produced by M-550 are quite good, not spectacular, but at least above the average. The camera has hard time dealing with the motion though, so don’t be surprised if you encounter some blurry day time shots. The night time shots are a bit disappointing. The flash just does not have enough power to decently illuminate the images and thus the images end up dim and really blurry if the object(s) are moving.
Very little has been improved when it comes to object detection when compared to A-5 and A-8 models. The detection range is only slightly better, roughly 50ft. The trigger speed is less than 1.5s which is too slow for a trail camera in this price group. At least the recovery time has improved significantly, M-550 recovering in 5 seconds.
Moultrie M-550 is powered by 8 AA batteries and the battery life is solid Moultrie quality. The manufacturer promises 17,500 images on set of batteries and it should not be impossible task to achieve. Please note that the manual states that Moultrie M-550 is only compatible with alkalines or lithiums.
Moultrie M-550 Features
- 7 megapixel images
- 4 photo quality settings (Enhanced, High, Medium, Low)
- full color day pictures, black and white night pictures
- photos stamped with time, date, moon phase, temperature and camera ID info
- 640×480 AVI video clips (5, 10, 30, 60 or 90 seconds)
- trigger speed <1.5 seconds, recovery time approx 5 seconds
- 20 low-glow IR LEDs flash, range up to 70 ft
- Motion Freeze option for better night time image clarity
- detection range up to 50 ft.
- small LCD text screen for displaying settings
- backlit navigation buttons
- adjustable interval (5, 10, 30 sec or 1, 5, 10, 30min)
- time-lapse mode (adjustable interval from 10 seconds to 1 day)
- multi-shot mode of three images
- burst mode, 3 shots in 1 second
- security code protection
- runs on 8 AA batteries
- takes 17,500+ images on one set of batteries
- USB and 12V external power connection
- adjustable mounting strap and Python® cable lock compatibility
- supports SD memory card up to 32GB
- ¼” -20 socket on bottom and back of the camera
- one year warranty
Excellent battery life is one of the biggest strong points of Moultrie M-550. In addition to low power consumption M-550 features external power connection, allowing you to extend your field time even more by using a battery pack. The battery tray design of M-550 is brilliant.
Compared to price, Moultrie M-550 does offer quite nice amount of different features, like time-lapse, burst mode and multi-shot.
Day time image quality is quite good for a camera of this price category.
Night time image quality is disappointing. The images are bit dim and tend to be blurry.
You would think that 20 IR LEDs could provide adequate amount of illumination, but no. The flash range and coverage just don’t meet the expectations.
Trigger speed could be faster. Especially if you compare to trigger speeds of other similarly priced trail cameras (for example Stealth Cam G30 with trigger speed of 0.5 seconds).
Moultrie M-550 is a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand it is a well designed, sturdy trail camera that offers lot of features at relatively low price. On the other hand it does not do the basic job (night time image quality, flash, trigger speed) well enough.
So is it worth its price? Naturally it depends what you are looking for, but we would advice at least checking models like Stealth Cam G30, Stealth Cam G42 or Moultrie D-444 before purchasing decision. Another option is to consider again if you really need all the extra features at all. Or could you settle for a cheaper basic model like Moultrie A-5, A-8 or Stealth Cam P12.