The Browning Strike Force 850 Trail Camera

a quick and honest review of Browning’s 850 series trail camera…

It’s time to take a quick look at a Browning trail camera because… well… there are some things you’ll definitely want to know.

Like the fact that “Browning” (when you say Browning people think the Browning Arms Company, now owned by the Belgian FN Herstal) cameras are not made by Browning and these cameras are manufactured in China.

I’m not going to draw this out like other websites so that I can shove a million ads in your face. So I’ll sum it up quickly, then add some more detail for those that want it at the bottom.

The Good

Fast trigger speed! When they said the trigger speed was less than half a second they meant it. So that’s nice.

Illumination seems to be exactly as stated on the box… 

And it’s easy to use.

The Bad

Horrible photos. Basically the same quality as your smart phone’s camera… in 2011. I am not exaggerating. 

The Okay

Price wise, (with the $20 discount I got), this is the best camera you can purchase for $100. If you want higher quality at a sub $100 price level you are screwed.

The camera is manufactured in China. It states so on the bottom of the box. Deceptively, printed on the side of the box it states Manufactured and Distributed by Prometheus Group LLC Birmingham Alabama. This means the company in Alabama is having the camera manufactured for them in China and they’re distributing them in the United States. It is meant to be deceptive. If you think “Browning” had to mean American than think again.

Furthermore, the Browning trademark is used under license. Browning itself is not the company responsible for these cameras.

Image Quality

Lol.

If you were thinking that you were going to be able to use the images from this camera in any kind of a professional way then you are out of luck.

The images produced by the camera are severely lacking in detail. If you’ll look at the images above, you can barely make out the deer’s hairs despite her filling up a very large portion of the sensor.

This is a fundamental problem with the lens on the camera as well as the overall pixel size. Neither is good enough to get fine details.

And during the day, the Browning 850 trail cam struggles to properly saturate photos. The photo of the deer above at sunset is the most saturation you will get out of this camera. Notice how there still is no fine detail in the image.

And in the morning things aren’t much better. Poor detail, poor saturation.

So for all the times you’re going to want a trail camera (Night, Sunset, and Morning) the camera simply isn’t spectacular. It’s usable in a research capacity but that’s about it.

Oh and if you wanted to print these photos, you are also out of luck!

At the standard recommended printing resolution 300 DPI… the images are only 6.4 inches wide by 3.6 inches high. So the picture can’t even technically fit onto a standard 4 x 6 print.

Ease of Use

And here’s something the Browning 850 actually does well… It’s easy as heck to setup and use!

The camera is very easy to setup…  basic instructions…

  • at the bottom of the camera you’ll find the battery tray, pop it open, firmly pull out. Put in your batteries.
  • Insert SD card with gold contacts facing towards you.
  • Slide slider to ON.
  • Press MODE to enter the menu system.
  • Navigate the MENU system using the UP and DOWN arrows.
  • ENTER is how you open menu options, and save your choices. Press enter on image quality, press arrows to find quality option you want, press enter again.
  • Keep going through the settings just like that until it’s how you want it.

I mean that really is all there is to it.

The Browning 850 HD Trail Camera has a very simple menu system and an easy to use strap. You’ll have your camera setup from the moment you open it in maybe 10 minutes.

Pricing

I purchased mine for $100. It does seem to be worth that… but the camera seems to normally retail at $120. However for about $15 more you enter into a better quality level of trail cameras.

It’s tough to justify the Browning 850 HD Trail Camera when for such a trivial amount more you can get something so much better.

SD Cards

Browning’s 850 HD Trail Camera can take SDHC and SDXC SD cards…

DO NOT purchase Cabela’s branded SD cards. They are a massive ripoff.

Use a Sandisk Extreme SD card (golden colored label) or a Sandisk Extreme Pro (black and red colored label) SD card.

Ultimately

The Browning 850 HD Trail Camera is a good camera at an okay price. Easy to setup, easy to use.

As a reminder, I am not compensated for these kinds of posts. I had to do the research myself and actually pay for the product unlike other reviewers. I do these kinds of things to help you. You can only tolerate being screwed by idiotic companies for so long before you try to help prevent it.

Update (9/16/2018) – Timelapse + Feature Failures

While my initial use of Timelapse + worked out well, it has become clear the feature if fairly flawed.

The camera fails to fire despite animals being directly in front of the camera. For the camera to capture a photo, a deer had to be literally standing directly in front of the camera licking it. It didn’t capture any photos of the deer entering or exiting the frame.

There is also a nasty recording error that occurs during night timelapse scenes… the entire frame will flash purple. This has occurred 4 out of 4 times now and would require some irritating editing to remove.

Which is all very unfortunate… the timelapse + feature is meant to be a convenient solution… and yet its errors are making it quite inconvenient. 

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