(5 of 5 Stars!),
Friday October 07, 2011
by Staff Reviews (David Archibald)
The SC-LED-IR is an impressive product, and a particularly good value. In our “run to dead” tests, battery life ranged from 2 hours 55 minutes, to 3 hours, 48 minutes. Running with the IR lights on, of course, will use the battery capacity faster. (Our testing was done with the “all IR” version of this unit.)
Care must be taken to orient the camera with the control buttons “up,” in the 12 o’clock position, or your footage will be somewhat disorienting to watch. Since the control buttons activate different features based on how long and in what sequence they are activated, practice on this feature is required.
We got high-quality IR illumination out to 15 feet in our testing, and usable quality a bit further away. The issue here is dispersal of the IR light, which increases the further away the camera is from the area being recorded. There is a faint glow from the IR LEDs, but you have to get very close to the camera for it to become visible.
There is a date/time stamp feature built into the SC-LED-IR. The date/time setting instructions come in that oddly translated English common to things manufactured outside the U.S. and are a bit unclear. (The software included for this purpose has a Windows batch file that did not operate correctly in our test unit but it is not necessary) Setting the date/time manually, however, is simple.
Here is what you do: connect the camera to your computer with the included USB cable. (You can also stick the chip in an adapter and connect it to the computer that way.) In the “root” directory of the chip (meaning NOT inside any folders), create a text file called time. (MS Word documents are not acceptable for this purpose.) Open the text file, and, on a single line, type the following: 2011.10.07 10:24:37 (You must, of course, use the actual date and time.) Disconnect the chip from the computer, put it in the camera if it has been removed, and power up the camera. Your text file will be read by the unit, and the time will be adjusted. (This must be done quickly after the file is edited, because the time you input will be the “start” time for the internal clock, and if you wait until the next day to activate, your date/time will be wrong.)
It is a good idea, with this unit and any camera 720P HD or greater, to use a class 6 card or higher. If your video appears to be choppy, we do recommend using VLC Media Player to review the files as this player supports many codecs and should improve the video playback. Rebooting your PC and closing all other programs will also help. Our testing was done with a Class 10 chip, the same as I use on actual surveillance.
The SC-LED-IR records, as most cameras of this type do, in segments. This is done to prevent the loss of data should there be a problem with operation of the camera. The segments on this camera are of three minutes duration. If you record for an hour, simply turn the camera on and let it go. After you have powered down and the camera is reconnected to your computer, you will have 20 segments, in order. (The faster chips are an advantage here, as well. Faster chips eliminated, in our testing, the occasional file corruption on video segments after the first, and resulted, therefore, in entirely usable footage.) There will be a gap of five to 10 seconds between each segment, which you will need to keep in mind when briefing a client (if you are a private investigator) or prosecutor (if you are in law enforcement) on your capabilities.
Generally speaking, you can transfer the files to your computer faster (a LOT faster) by taking out the chip and either plugging it directly into the computer or to a USB adapter and connecting that to the computer. (In our tests, doing this saved about 40 minutes when transferring an hour of recorded video.)
Although the unit will record audio only, and can be used as a still camera, I prefer to simply roll the video and extract photos as “frame grabs” later, with the software used to assemble a DVD. (This software is not included with the camera, but is a common feature to such programs as Roxio Creator, which is what I use in my professional life.) Like with any audio recording device, you are responsible for insuring it is used in accord with the laws of your jurisdiction. (The laws on recording video are, generally, less restrictive than those which regulate sound recordings.)