Last year proved to be a great advancement in the cellular trail camera market with the release of the Reveal by Tactacam. Tactacam set the hunting industry on fire with the first high-quality, dependable cellular trail camera that could be purchased for under $100, if you can find it in stock. In fact, in the resale market, I’ve seen them sell for double the suggested retail price. Also, I spoke with a dealer who sold 1,008 Reveal Cellular Trail cameras in 44 minutes!
Below is David Conrad’s in-depth gear review of the Reveal by Tactacam.
Tactacam Reveal Cellular Trail Camera
The Tactacam Reveal is available in two cellular networks: Verizon and AT&T, with data plans, starting as low as $4 per month. This cellular trail camera is powered by 12 AA batteries and capable of taking 24 MP images. This is the hottest trail camera on the market right!
- AT&T and Verizion models
- 24MP / 12MP / 8MP Photos
- Sub 1/2s Trigger Speeds
- Adjustable Night Illumination at 96+ft
- Detect animals at 96+ft
- One year warranty
The Advancement of Trail Cameras
It was many years ago, the early 90s to be exact, that I got into trail cameras when my wife bought me one from an emerging company called CamTrakker. I was in high heaven and eagerly anticipated my weekly visit to retrieve the film from the camera. Yes, that is correct, I did say film. That initial model utilized 35mm standard camera film. It was then off to the local drug store for film development and a suspenseful hour waiting for the photos to be developed.
From there I moved on to making my own trail cameras by using a motion detector that I bought at Radio Shack, a protective waterproof case, battery holder and Olympus Owl camera. The “hack” on the camera was retrieved from something known as the internet. By the time the mid 90’s rolled around there was a fledgling group of us that had a web page dedicated to hacking. It wasn’t long before several guys came out with their own boards and we jumped into the digital age modifying Sony P41 cameras. From there we jumped to modifying Jazz units for video and the popularity of “hacking” hit its heyday. I was modifying cameras as a hobby and making a few cameras for outfitters. I even traded a week-long trip in Buffalo County, Wisconsin to an Outfitter using my camera services. Those were the good old days!
Hacked Jazz video camera with infrared controller and sensor board.
Yes, the good old days have since been replaced with the modern technology of cellular trail cameras. Now you simply load half a dozen or so lithium batteries into a camera, insert an SD card, place it along a deer travel corridor, check the cellular signal and then sit back and enjoy viewing the pictures from an app on your cell phone.
In this article, I would like to introduce you to and review a feature-rich cellular trail camera that was introduced in 2020. The Reveal trail camera from Tactacam gives you quite a bang for your buck and has taken the entry-level cellular trail camera market by storm. In fact, for the past few months, it has been extremely hard to find one of these online or at a retail store.
Which Cellular Providers Work w/ the Reveal by Tactacam?
The most important aspect of a cellular trail camera is if you have sufficient cell coverage in the area or areas you will be placing the camera(s)? The Reveal is available in two wireless carriers, AT&T and Verizon. I recommend going to the most remote area of a property where you plan to set up a camera and check cellular coverage. I found Verizon to give me the best coverage in the hilly areas of Ohio.
The Tactacam Reveal has no setup or activation fees and offers three data monthly/yearly plans. Pricing depends on the number of pictures captured per month and the length of the plan. Each plan itself is broken down into two choices, a yearly or a monthly plan. A yearly plan is paid in full upon the plan’s activation whereas a monthly plan, as its name constitutes, is paid monthly. The monthly plan costs more per month but the nice feature is it can be deactivated at any time.
At the highest level, the Pro Plan features an unlimited number of pictures sent to your phone per month and costs $120.00 per year. The monthly Pro Plan also features unlimited photos but cost you $13.00, which is three dollars more per month when compared to the yearly plan. You can add additional cameras to the plan as well. The yearly plan for each additional camera is $96.00 while the monthly plan is an additional $12.00 per month.
The intermediate plan, which limits you to 500 photos per month per camera, is $85.00 dollars yearly. Each additional camera added to the plan costs $75.00. The same plan on a monthly basis is $8.00 and each additional camera will cost $7.50.
Finally, the economical Starter Plan limits each camera to 250 phots per month, and activation for the yearly plan comes in at $55.00 or if you prefer the monthly plan it is just $5.00. There is however no discount to either plan if adding additional cameras.
So, are there any advantages of either plan, yearly vs monthly subscription? The yearly subscription, although it is all paid upfront, does give you a price reduction. On the other hand, once you pay for the service it runs continually for a year. The advantage of going with a monthly subscription, no matter what plan is chosen, although it cost you more per month, you could suspend the coverage at any time. I say suspend because if you don’t suspend or cancel your subscription it will automatically be billed the next month. For example, you can suspend coverage at the end of the season, say the end of January, and resume it a couple of months before the season begins, July.
The camera can be set up for capturing three resolution-sized photos of 24, 12, or 8 Megapixels. Higher resolutions capture more detail and thanks to a Night Mode feature, pictures in all sizes do not experience much blur at night, which is common to many cameras in a similar price range. When a picture is uploaded via cellular it is only a thumbnail image, not the full resolution of what the camera captured. This is to help cut down on overall transmission costs. The SD card captures the image in the resolution you selected, 24, 12, or 8 Megapixels. I use an SD card between 16 and 32 GB in the camera but smaller sizes as low as 4 GB can be used. If the Reveal camera does utilize all the memory on the SD card it can be set up to write over existing pictures, beginning with the oldest first. A nice feature of the Reveal phone app always keeps you alert of the available memory on the card.
So, with the different plans and picture sizes, what happens to the photo once captured? When a photo is captured, no matter what plan you have, the image is stored immediately on the SD Card. The photo then, dependent on a “Send” setting, can either be sent immediately to your phone or captured and sent along with other photos during a 12- or 24-hour period. If you do reach your limit of monthly pictures on the intermediate or starter plan the camera will stop sending photos to your phone but will continue to store them on the SD card. The camera can be thought of as going into a regular noncellular trail camera model. The camera also has a video/picture mode as well. The video portion is saved to the SD Card while the picture is sent to the phone application.
So, with the different plans and picture sizes, what happens to the photo once captured? When a photo is captured, no matter what plan you have, the image is stored immediately to the SD Card. The photo then, dependent on a “Send” setting, can either be sent immediately to your phone or captured and sent along with other photos during a 12- or 24-hour period. If you do reach your limit of monthly pictures on the intermediate or starter plan the camera will stop sending photos to your phone but will continue to store them on the SD card. The camera can be thought of going into a regular non cellular trail camera mode. The camera also has a video/picture mode as well. The video portion is saved to the SD Card while the picture is sent to the phone application.
How is the Battery Life on the Reveal by Tactacam?
Next, I want to spend a little time speaking about what I feel is a very important camera operation once you have chosen your Cellular provider and plan and that is batteries. I highly recommend using lithium style batteries, as these type of batteries allow for extended life in all types of temperatures. My first Reveal camera was installed on July 23rd in the field and is still at 60 percent and functioning without any issues as of the writing of this review on January 18th, 2021. Now I want to point out that I do not have it in a highly traveled area and average a dozen pictures per day. Since being installed it has taken close to 2100 pictures, experiencing temperatures from ninety plus to single digits. A month later I added two more cameras and I have yet to change batteries on those as well. Now I do not have any of my cameras set up on mineral licks or feeders. I would say if you do have a camera set up on a highly traveled route or food source capturing at least 30 pictures during the day and night, you should at the minimum expect batteries lasting three months. One more interesting note regarding batteries, the camera does have a weatherproof port for an external battery or solar panel.
The PIR sensor is fairly quick at activating the camera once motion is detected, which is commonly referred to as Trigger Speed. The Revel has a trigger speed of an acceptable .5 second. Not the fastest in the industry especially when compared to cameras costing 2 to 3 times as much. I prefer setting up my camera at least 12 -15 feet off the trail which is ample for allowing the animal centered in the picture.
Other Notable Features:
2.4” LCD Screen for Setup/Viewing:
The Reveal features a 2.4” LCD Screen for setup and includes an activation switch, menu button, arrow keys, and OK button. The activation switch selects the mode of the camera, off/setup/on. Turning the unit to set up displays the current status of the camera, picture or picture/video mode, picture resolution, picture multi-shot mode, cellular signal strength, and how many pictures remaining on the memory of the SD Card. The menu button changes the display to the four-tab main menu on the screen. It will also default back to the menu selection tab if pressed while within a menu selection. The four directional arrows allow for ease of moving through the selection state of each menu. An OK button in the middle of the arrow keys confirms your menu selection. All buttons are large enough to use with gloves and when pressed give a mechanical feedback verification.
The 2.4” screen on the camera can be utilized for viewing photos stored on the SD Card. To view pictures, move the selection switch to the Setup Mode. Press the up-arrow button once and the display will show the last photo captured by the camera. You can use the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the pictures.
Multi-Shot can capture up to 5 photos when the sensor is tripped, but only the second picture is sent to your phone. The others are captured on the SD Card.
The delay is the actual time between photographs when the sensor detects motion. The setting can be as little as five seconds up to 23 hours 59 minutes and 59 seconds.
This timer sets a start and stops time during the day to begin and end photo capture. The camera could be set up to run specific hours of the day or night.
Determines the amount of movement necessary to trigger the camera. Three settings Low, Middle, and High. For a feeder, I recommend low since the feeder is a close distance and will experience a lot of motion. The middle for a trail or path which you expect the deer to pass through. High on an open field where deer could be a fair distance away from the camera.
The easy-to-use Android interface on my phone allows me to make changes to the camera at a moment’s notice. With a few clicks on the menu, I can instantly review each of the camera’s specific details such as battery level, Cellular Signal Strength, SD Card status, and even temperature. Any changes that are made to the settings on the camera are delivered within a 24-hour timeframe. The reason for this is the camera will check-in for updates once in a 24-hour period if no motion or pictures are captured.
Cameras are set up individually and the pictures can be placed in their own folders. For example, I have three cameras, each identified by name with their own folder. When accessed from my phone I can look at the picture of each camera individually via their folder or view all pictures at one time, scrolling through the sequence they were taken.
The great feature of the interface is that you will receive a notification on your phone when a picture is captured and delivered. Any setting that I can set on the camera manually can be set from the phone interface as well. I can also email or text individual pictures to family or friends.
The Reveal produces great daytime pictures and more than effective nighttime photographs. On each photo, the battery level, moon phase, temperature, date, and time are clearly imprinted on the bottom border. When viewing the photo on my phone the date, time, camera folder, and location appear on the screen as well.
The Reveal is waterproof and comes with an IP66 rating. The locking flange down the side ensures a dust-tight enclosure as well as withstanding water driven by a hurricane!
Overall this is a great camera for the price and I could only find one fault and one recommendation. I like the fact that it has two standard tripod mounts located on the bottom and back of the unit. I find it easy to attach my home-made adjustable mount for securing to trees at different angles from either mount. The fault is the Reveal does come with its own mounting strap, which has a plastic buckle. I find it susceptible to cracking and breaking in extremely frigid temperatures. A metal buckle would be a better choice. For my recommendation, I would like to see a web version available to be accessed by a computer through a website. I do have another brand of cellular trail camera that allows access through a website. I can sit in the comfort of my den and view pictures as well as make setting changes. Hopefully, this is a plan of Tactacam in the future.
Tactacam Reveal Cellular Trail Camera Summary
In conclusion, I have seen the Reveal sell from $99 to $120 online or through local retail stores. For that price tag, I am more than pleased with the performance and features of the trail camera. I understand that Tactacam will be releasing an upgraded Reveal X camera in the near future and look forward to seeing what it has to offer.
David Conrad is an outdoor enthusiast with over 35 years of outdoor and hunting experience. He has a passion for bowhunting that he enjoys to share with family and friends. To him bowhunting is a 365 day adventure.
Thanks to David Conrad for writing this unpaid gear review. Hunting Gear Deals is funded by affiliate commissions. We may receive a small commission when you buy from our partners using the links provided. There is no additional cost to you. Thanks for supporting us by using our links when making your purchases.