With its misshapen molded fascia resembling a strip of tree bark, the Stealth Cam Fusion Global, like the same manufacturer’s DS4K Ultimate model, has been fashioned to blend seamlessly with natural surroundings, the screw-on black antenna than fixes to its top right-hand side notwithstanding.
The whole point of a trail camera is being able to remotely capture images that we wouldn’t be able to achieve if our subject was aware of our presence or that of our camera, so it makes perfect sense that this isn’t a sleek, shiny device that we’d want to sit next to our iMac.
Photo Resolutions: 26MP/16MP/8MP/4MP
Photo Upload Resolutions: 1025×576
Detection & IR Range: 80 ft
LEDs: 4pcs 850nm Power LEDs
LED Flash Type: Infrared
Trigger Speed: 0.8 Seconds
Burst Mode: 1-6 Photos Per Trigger
Recovery time: 2-59 sec/3-59 min
PIR and IR Array: Tinted FX Shield
Image Stamp: Time/Date/Moon Phase/Camera
SD Card Support: 32GB
Batteries Required: 8xAA
Lock Latch: Integrated Python Provision
External power jack: 12V battery box
As well as incorporating a built-in sensor that will automatically prompt the camera to begin remotely recording when a subject is within its vicinity, with imagery saved to an optional SD card, this one ups the ante by adding the ability to access and transmit whatever it captures via a mobile device and an app.
That means in theory we don’t have to wait and retrieve our media card from the Stealth Cam Fusion Global before we can see whether we’ve successfully got anything – or indeed get the card back to our card reader and PC or laptop before we can begin viewing or sharing images.
The sales pitch here suggests that thanks to a theoretically quick and easy setup process via the scanning of a QR code – once we’ve first downloaded a dedicated app – users of the Stealth Cam Fusion Global will be able to be up and running and receiving and sharing images from the device in a matter of minutes. Indicating that this particular trail camera is going to be best suited to those who are using it regularly for their hobby, rather than every now and again, its remote accessibility and connectivity are tied into a chargeable data plan, although the first 30 days are free of charge.
Of course, all the connectivity options in the world are for nothing if the images we’re looking at aren’t clear, or of usable quality in the first place. The Stealth Cam Fusion offers the choice of very respectable 26MP, 16MP, 8MP, or 4MP still photo resolutions, along with low-ish resolution HD video (640x360 pixels), which, if we’re just viewing it on our phone screen, is adequate.
The built-in sensor has the ability to detect subjects up to an adequate 80ft range. By contrast, the same manufacturer’s recent Stealth Cam DS4K Ultimate model, which granted doesn’t offer the Fusion’s remote wireless connectivity, delivers up to 32MP stills, plus 4K video recording and boasts a 100ft range. So while we get hands-free remote access here, there are alternatives with better specs.
The Stealth Cam Fusion Global requires slightly fewer batteries to power it, however – 8xAAs compared to its sibling’s weighty 12xAAs requirement, which, as before, aren’t included out of the box. Unusually, the bare bones hard copy manual provided cautions against using rechargeable batteries in the camera, as these can muddy the waters and cause the app to display the battery percentage incorrectly.
While the necessary batteries aren’t supplied, neither is the essential SD card for the storage of the imagery it captures. Up to 32GB capacity cards are compatible with this device. A slot is provided at the side of the camera, which is otherwise hidden and protected when the backplate is clamped shut.
While a media card slots into place with a definite click, retrieving the card is slightly fiddly as it doesn’t pop out sufficiently far to be able to get any more than a fingernail purchase on it. This requires us to drag it out with a fingertip until it’s free of the housing. Luckily the point of this camera is that we don’t need to retrieve it all that often.
Other standard features to note include the built-in infrared flash and, here, a 0.8-second trigger speed with the ability to capture between one and six images per each triggering of the device. With stills from trail cameras typically resembling video grabs, the image aspect ratio provided is a widescreen 16:9.
For those seeking to keep a record of their visual surveillance, images have the further ability to be stamped with time, date, and even moon phase.
Stealth Cam Fusion Global: Design & Handling
Remote operation of the Stealth Cam Fusion Global is achieved by first downloading the Command Pro remote app from the Google Play store to our Android phone, as we did, while, alternatively as expected, compatibility with Apple iOS is also offered. When this is downloaded and installed and we’ve registered and logged into the app, we’re prompted to pair the app with our device via an ‘Add Your Device’ request.
This is where things got tricky for us, as, with the app open, it didn’t appear to recognize the QR code printed on the camera’s interior that requires scanning by our phone. When this was unsuccessful, we instead tried manually entering the ‘IMEI’ code likewise printed on the camera’s interior as prompted, but this wasn’t recognized either.
We noticed the version of the app we were using had only been updated mere days before, and since we weren’t doing anything obviously incorrect ourselves, we assumed it might be a bit bug-y. Frustrated, we decided to leave things for a while – a few weeks in fact. Happily, when we returned to both camera and app they appeared to have finally recognised each other and were finally in sync.
Once we have everything up and working, the Stealth Cam Command app installed on our smartphone or digital device in turn allows for camera settings to be adjusted, shots to be sorted through in terms of defining subject matter, and imagery to be previewed before downloading to our camera roll. Provided there are no technical glitches this in theory offers much more flexibility and control than most trail cameras. Alternatively, as with alternative models, we can still retrieve the inserted SD card and view, store, and catalog our images that way.
Stealth Cam Fusion: Performance
Our usual experience is that stealth/trail cameras provide just a small LCD window and a few tiny buttons on the camera itself with which to affect menu or operational changes before the unit is sealed and placed in situ. Here there’s no screen at all, as we’re expected to use our smartphone and the Command app instead.
The only operational buttons on the Stealth Cam Fusion Global are a tiny on/off switch and a button marked ‘sync’; a press of the latter allows us to manually take a shot and check things are working. We also get a trio of tiny bulbs indicating battery life (or lack of), network, and user account.
Generally, the build of the unit matches previous examples we’ve handled, with a hard plastic outer shell protecting the interior tech, battery tray, and card. Obviously installing 8x AA batteries adds further to the heft of the unit, lending a more substantial, almost brick-like feel.
Strap mounts are visible at the back of the unit when shut, and a strap for tying the device to a tree trunk, branch – or whatever we choose to keep the device upright and in place – is provided out of the box. A screw thread for tripod attachment is also found at the base of the unit, as is a port for 12-volt auxiliary power.
As with other trail cameras, we’d describe the widescreen ratio visuals it provides as resembling video grabs, with information and data provided across the bottom of each shot to usefully relay when and where each was recorded. As this is a surveillance tool rather than something from Leica, Nikon, or Sony purporting to deliver gallery-quality results, the Stealth Cam Fusion Global fulfills its purpose, and for the features and the price that is all we can ask of it.
On a practical note, it’s worth noting that the manufacturer recommends Class 10 SD cards are used, and up to a maximum capacity of 32GB are supported. Recommended operating conditions are between minus 10°C and +40°C, which until recent years we’d have regarded as extreme in the UK at least.
Stealth Cam Fusion: Final Verdict
Although we had some issues setting this camera up and getting it working, which we’ll charitably put down to a recently updated and perhaps somewhat bug-y Command app, construction quality is as commendably rugged as we’ve found with its less tech-festooned predecessors, providing us with reassurance that it’ll survive being left out in the open for long periods.
There are trail cameras out there with better operational range and image quality and which don’t require the setting up of accounts and service plans that may be more suited to infrequent users, but as we live in a world that increasingly puts our phone’s handset at the center of operations, it makes sense that the Stealth Cam brand is offering up a trail camera that is more or less completely controlled and monitored that way. The future of trail cameras has arrived.
Though the Stealth Cam Fusion Global sets itself apart from the pack of very similarly specified and functioning trail cameras by virtue of its extra connectivity features, it’s otherwise our available budget that will inform a purchase decision.
If it’s higher resolution results we’re after, then an obvious alternative to consider is the same maker’s Stealth Cam DS4K Ultimate or the very similar Bushnell Core DS-4K No Glow trail camera. Both these options proffer a 32MP resolution. Bushnell’s device further distinguishes itself via its speedy 0.15-second trigger response, as opposed to the 0.8-second trigger response of the Stealth Cam Fusion Global.
In terms of cameras boasting slightly more connectivity and even more potential for remote use, there’s the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-enabled Browning Strike Force HD Pro X trail camera, thereby making it a closer comparison with the Stealth Cam Fusion Global.
Of course, such features always command a premium cost over more basic and therefore cheaper setups, so if budget is tight then we feel Bushnell’s Prime L20 Tan Low Glow trail camera is another option worth recommending.
Other trail cameras previously reviewed by us include the Spypoint Force 20, which offers a slightly less impressive if still usable 70ft detection range when compared with the Stealth Cam Fusion’s 80ft reach. Ultimately with quite a few alternatives out there as outlined, you pay your money and you make your choice.