2017 Browning Spec Ops Extreme Review
The 2017 Browning Spec Ops Extreme has stormed its way to being pretty much our new favourite no-glow camera trap. The video quality day and night is superb, better than we’ve seen on any camera so far, and photo quality is very solid.
Trigger speeds, particularly for videos, are very impressive and quick, at about 0.4-0.5 seconds – a stat that few can match. Detection is reliable and consistent.
The build quality and overall design of the camera is very good, with a forward-facing colour screen to help with set up and so you can review images/videos without dismounting the camera in the field. The warranty length in the UK through NatureSpy is 2 years.
The Spec Ops Extreme is also straight-forward to use – uncomplicated, without a vast array of settings, but quick and simple.
Due to it’s 12V power system (the reason night footage is so good), night time videos are limited to 20 seconds per clip. However, if activity remains, the camera can recover in under 1 second and record another 20 second clip. The no-glow IR flash range is strong, and this camera is essentially exactly the same as the Recon Force Extreme but with no-glow LEDs.
Also taking into consideration the price of the camera, we feel it’s a fantastic choice for nearly every purpose – therefore we give it 9 out of 10.
Read more of our Browning Spec Ops Extreme review below…
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Max res: 1080p (60fps day, 30fps night) Max length: 2mins day, 20 secs night
Trigger speed: about 0.5 seconds Recovery time: about 0.8 seconds
Video quality is one of the main features that sets this camera apart. It is certainly the best we’ve seen so far.
Daytime videos are crisp and the colour is great – you can watch on a large screen and not lose any clarity. Night footage is again very strong, with good contrast and an excellent level of definition.
The Spec Ops Extreme has two video resolution settings; ‘High’ and ‘Ultra’. The Ultra resolution is uncompressed 1080p HD video – and records at 60fps during the day (30fps at night), for very smooth footage. However, the only drawback here is the larger file sizes generated at this resolution. If you want to use the Ultra setting, an SD card of at least 32GB is recommended, with a 1 minute daytime clip being around 130MB in size.
We generally use the camera on the High resolution – the quality isn’t really much different, and at 30fps is still very smooth – just to help with the file sizes.
The accompanying sound is also absolutely fantastic. For the first time using this camera (and the low-glow Recon Force Extreme), we’ve been able to hear foxes crunching eggs, badgers vocalising to each other, and even village church bells in the distance. This is something we’ve never been reliably able to pick up before on other camera traps.
The exposure control at night is also fantastic, with the Browning instantly adjusting to maintain the correct light levels – you can see this in action on some of the videos above.
Only one slight drawback – if working at close range of say 4-6 feet, the light spread becomes a little narrower, and the camera will generally only focus on objects +6 feet away (the latter being true for all camera traps without lens adaptation).
It also has ‘Smart IR Video’ – with this turned on, the camera will continue recording up to 2 mins in the day and 20 seconds at night if activity remains. This can be quite useful – for example, if you set the video length to 10 seconds and Smart IR video on and a badger stops to have a big scratch in front of the camera, it will continue record until either the badger is gone or the maximum video time is reached. And if the badger just runs past, then you just get a 10 second video – not wasting any batteries or SD card space.
Max res: 20MP (lowest 4MP) Max number per trigger: 8 photos
Trigger speed: about 0.5 seconds Recovery time: about 0.8 seconds
Most users go for the Spec Ops Extreme for its wonderful video quality coupled with no-glow LEDs. However, photo quality is again very strong, especially when coupled with some of the photo settings.
There are a number of photo resolution options, starting at 4MP up to 20MP. Its important to remember, as with all camera traps, that images resolutions are due to interpolation – the process of adding pixels to an image to inflate its resolution. For that reason, using the cameras lowest or second-lowest resolution can actually give better quality images.
The Rapid-Fire mode can give 2-8 images per trigger, at 0.2 seconds apart. This results in an almost stop-motion animation sequence which can be vary rewarding. The Multi-shot mode gives up to 2-8 images at 2 seconds apart, which means longer sequences.
It means that using photo mode is more versatile, and you get more chances to get the image you are looking for, or identify animal behaviour.
Photo examples coming soon – we are currently gathering images
Trigger speed & Detection
Trigger speed: approx. 0.4s (photos), 0.5s (videos) Recovery speed 0.8s
Detection range: approx. 70ft LED type: No-Glow LEDs
The Browning Spec Ops Extreme boasts impressive video trigger speeds
The Spec Ops Extreme is certainly a quick camera trap. Video trigger speeds have seen big improvement across the board in the last year or so. However, this camera is one of the quickest – clocking in at around 0.5 seconds. When you consider that the 2016 Bushnell Essential E2 is around 1.7 seconds for video, you can start to see the improvement. It’s also marginally quicker than the 2017 Bushnell Aggressor camera traps.
This is a big deal because previously, if camera trapping fast animals, or something passed your camera quickly and you had it in video mode, you’d often catch the tail end or nothing at all, and therefore need to use photo mode. The Spec Ops Extreme means you can have the best of both worlds.
Photo triggers, as with all camera traps, are faster – but only marginally so on the Spec Ops Extreme, at around 0.4 seconds. Whilst it’s true there are certainly faster triggers for photos on some cameras (i.e. SpyPoint Force 11D, Bushnell Aggressors), it’s still comfortably fast enough.
The Spec Ops also appears to recover very quickly too. This is the time the camera takes after finishing once capture to be ready to trigger again. The lowest ‘Delay’ setting is 5 seconds; however, that just tells the Browning to recover as fast as it possibly can. We have consistently found that the Browning will generally re-trigger in under a second for video and photos – seriously quick, especially for the former.
Detection, as you’d expect, is excellent and consistent, at around 70-80ft for a human-sized animal. Due to the way PIR sensors work, it is best to place the camera so that animals will move across the sensor, rather than directly towards it.
Build quality & Batteries
Warranty: 2 years (through NatureSpy) Batteries: 8x AA (Lithium recommended)
The Browning Spec Ops is a sturdy, well-designed and well-built trail camera. It feels strong in the hand and well-crafted.
The contact with any tree/fence post etc is actually via a steel bracket at the back of the camera, meaning you can pull the strap tight and never worry about breaking any plastic. The edge of the steel bracket has small metal teeth, so it grips what it is attached to well and doesn’t slip. The strapping is the standard nylon webbing, with a strong metal clasp.
Battery life is very strong on the Spec Ops, particularly if you use Lithium batteries. As a 12V camera, it requires 8 batteries at a time. Generally, you can expect around 8 months battery life for photos (taking around 60 pictures every 24 hours) and about 3 months for video (taking around 20 videos every 24 hours). This will obviously vary depending on how active and how each video is, and if there are more night shots than day. However, we have found the Spec Ops to be very good for battery life.
Browning cameras have been very reliable for us and are covered by a 2 year manufacturer’s warranty in the UK when bought through NatureSpy.
Ease of use
A forward-facing screen on the Spec Ops makes set up and review easy
The Spec Ops Extreme is certainly not difficult to use. When turned on, you’re presented with an overview screen showing a view of what the camera can currently see and what it is set to take. It shows the files recorded and the space remaining at a glance. If you don’t press any button within 30 seconds (to access the menu etc) the camera arms itself and is ready to go.
This forward-facing colour screen is extremely useful – you can strap the camera up, then use the screen to perfect the positioning. Its also very handy when you want to review the images/videos captured without taking the SD card out and using a computer/tablet etc – just open the door and have a quick check – useful if out and about, or a sneaky look before you head to work!
There are three main modes; Trail Cam (photos only), Video, and Timelapse Plus). Most of the time, you’ll be using either photos or videos. The timelapse function only works during the day – and with timelapse plus, you can have photos taken at set intervals plus the camera will trigger day and night based on any detections.
There is also a ‘Motion Test’ feature, like most camera traps have, where a test light on the front will blink when it detects you. You can use this to find the right distances or angles and it can help with setting up the Spec Ops Extreme in the best place possible.
Overall a very straight-forward camera trap to use, and certainly one of the best no-glow camera traps available at the moment.
If you want to get your hands on the new 2017 Browning Spec Ops Extreme, they’re now available at The NatureSpy shop for a great price, and include free P&P and a free SD card. All proceeds support our non-profit work.