- Great resolution
- Excellent night photography
- Convenient, rugged and well-camouflaged design
- Somewhat tricky programming
- Day pictures can occasionally look out of focus
- Limited support for SD cards
The Short Story
Overall, the Moultrie Game Spy 990i a great camera with lots of features and a smart design despite one or two minor drawbacks. Highly recommended, especially for those who want a good night-vision camera.
With a complete design overhaul for 2015, the Game Spy M-990i Gen2 sets out to be a top-of-the-range camera for capturing game and to ‘one-up’ the success of the previous generation’s model.
The camera features a 10MP resolution ensuring your images are crisp and full of detail. iNVISIBLE Flash IR LED technology meanwhile ensures great quality night photography without scaring away your prey (though night photography is still only black and white). Likewise, great motion detection means that it always springs into action when needed. This is a no-glow camera, so it will be completely invisible under the mask of darkness.
Another great feature is the 2-inch color preview screen which is a real help when setting up your images in the field. You can also review the images and footage you’ve captured this way if you want to alter the angle on the fly.
Over last generation’s model, the M-990i Gen2 features increased weather resistance, better camo and an improved battery life. All this means you can leave the M-990i to do its thing without worrying about it getting wet or running out of steam at that crucial moment. Just how impressive is that battery power? Well, if you use lithium batteries then you can expect upwards of a year’s worth of battery life! This reportedly equates to an incredible 17,000 images before a battery refill will be necessary.
If you’re looking for a way to capture images of game at night, then this camera is one of the best in its class. The detection circuit is very reliable, ensuring that you’ll never miss the excitement. That said, the detection zone has shrunk somewhat, to around 50 feet.
Trigger speed is also very good, meaning that you’ll be able to capture animals in flight. What’s not quite so good though is the recovery time, which has actually doubled since the Gen1 last year. In total, recovery speed is now 5.4 seconds, though of course this is a non-issue if you’re looking to capture video.
It’s not clear why these downgrades were necessary but it’s worth considering if you’re currently torn between upgrading to the Gen2 from last year’s model.
In terms of picture quality, the 10 megapixel camera is able to deliver some stunning images. The image quality is further enhanced by a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio and a flash range up to 70 feet. The latter point contributes to what turns out being some really beautiful night photography. Animals will look clear and sharp, with particularly great background detail too. This is particularly impressive for a no-glow camera.
Daytime pictures also come out great. They have vivid color (in contrast to the monochrome night photography) and great detail and contrast. What’s not so great however is the occasional focus problems: every now and then the edges of a picture will appear somewhat blurry, which isn’t a deal breaker but is something we’d like to see addressed for next year. On the positive side, there’s a cool time-lapse option which is triggered by the passive infrared sensor and provides a lot of fun.
Images are very compressed meaning you can get a lot of action onto a standard SD card – 2.5 times more than with the previous generation. This is another nice little upgrade, though there’s still no internal memory and you’ll need to ensure the SD card you choose is compatible.
Appearance and Ease of Use
To look at, this is a really nice little camera and is just the right blend of camo and high tech. You’ll feel like the Predator when you’re setting it up and the newly designed case really does feel as sturdy as the manufacturer claims it to be.
The camo is ‘Mossy Oak’ and if you wedge this on a branch somewhere it will really blend in – so make sure that you remember where you left it! A tight latch system ensures that all the sensitive components stay concealed, while you have easy access to them.
For securing the camera there are two threaded inserts and a bracket for a python cable lock. It’s small enough to be carried easily in one hand, while big enough to where it doesn’t feel puny. Overall this is a fantastic design that’s very hard to fault.
With its rugged design and great look the camera could just as easily be enjoyed for a variety of other sports and activities. If you’re a trail runner for instance, or you enjoy a shot of paintball, then this could provide you with some great shots of the action!
While basic set-up is quick and easy (thanks to a ‘quick launch’ option), programming can be a little more complex and is once again a step backward from last year. Once you learn your way around though this won’t be a problem and for the technophobes out there the more advanced options can be avoided entirely.
Right now the camera has an average of 4.3 stars based on a total of 20 reviews. Users seem to enjoy the viewing screen, design and image quality, though a couple bemoaned the limited support for SD cards or had difficulty navigating the controls.
Larry237 gave the product 4 stars and had this to say:
“I have used it in my yard for about 30 nights and have found out that I have a lot of racoon and skunk traffic where I thought that I didn’t. The camera has worked well and takes great daylight shots and pretty good night shots. The software and menu system takes a little getting used to, but works all right. The initial set of batteries seems to be holding up for a long period of time. Overall, I like it.”
The M-990i Gen2 is not a perfect trail camera and in a couple of key areas is actually a step down from last year’s model. If you have the Gen1, then you might want to hold off from upgrading for another 12 months.
Taken on its own though, this is a highly sturdy and excellently designed product that comes into its own when it comes to night-time photography. It has industry-leading resilience and battery life and is generally a tough and reliable little unit capable of some stunning images. If you’re looking for a no-glow camera to capture game at night, then the Gen2 comes highly recommended.
Pick one up on Amazon for about the best price you can find online.