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F A Q's






Custom Systems

Custom-built field research equipment is our primary business. We can supply specialized equipment built to your specifications. We are in the process of developing a line of off-the-shelf systems for short or long term lease.

Coming Soon! - The Crow Systems Controller®©

The NiController is a tool for automated control of high-end Nikon and Canon digital and film cameras. The NiController includes built-in infrared detectors and a micro-computer based Camera Control System with fully integrated setup interface - no computer or external programmers required for setup!
Compatible with Nikon and Canon based digital and film camera bodies that have a jack for an electronic shutter release (see your camera owners manual).
Excellent for capturing photos of wary wildlife, or for use in difficult or time-constrained situations.
A great scouting tool for locating wildlife hot-spots - don't waste time sitting in a blind at areas with no activity!

Some features of the NiController:

  • Easy to configure user settings via LCD display menu and single programming button.
  • Unique built-in dual sensors for fast, well-framed shutter control.
  • Waterproof case - access all functions externally - no need to open the case for setup.
  • Between picture inhibit timer - user selectable from 5 seconds to 17 hours.
  • Special function data logging picture inhibit timer - user selectable from 5 seconds to 17 hours.
  • Resettable picture inhibit timer modes help reduce multiple images of same subject.
  • User selectable Day only / Night only, or 24 hour operation modes with independent image capture and data logging controls.
  • 16 multiple exposure modes.
  • 10 optional pulse-counting event discrimination modes with independent image capture and data logging controls.
  • Adjustable sensitivity control - set detection range of built-in sensors from ~10 to ~50 feet (see PIR FAQ for informations about using the built-in PIR sensors).
  • Built-in Sensor / External Inputs are switch-selectable.
  • Security code lockout to prevent access by unauthorized users (with disable option).
  • In/Out ports allow system expansion with optional external trigger systems and/or data logging equipment (for gathering data on time, date, temperature, humidity, illuminance, etc).
  • Built-in Day & Night event counters - up to 20,000 events grouped by Day and Night.
  • Intervalometer mode for time-lapse photos (interval times from 15 minutes up to 24 hours).
  • Upgradeable firmware (see updates page for information).
  • Extremely low power operation for extended run-time. The Camera Control System runs for ~1 year with a single 9 volt alkaline battery. Run-time for cameras is model dependant).

Custom-built Automated Photography Systems Overview

Digital Still

Crow Systems can incorporate many digital still cameras into our systems. Our digital still systems use the same controller circuitry that has been thoroughly field-tested in our film-based products. Contact us with your requirements.

  Advantages of digital still cameras

  • Much greater number of images can be captured per deployment.
  • In-the-field instant review/delete of images.
  • Generally quieter during operation.
  • Images easily reproduced, distributed, and edited.
  • Movie mode available on some models.
  • Much lower lifetime operational costs (no film developing).
  • Image information stored in EXIF header attached to image files (model dependent).
  • Fairly easy infra-red photography on some models.
  • Less environmental impact (no processing chemicals - rechargeable batteries, etc)

  Some dis-advantages of digital still cameras

  • Weak built-in flash. Typically the flash is good for 3 to 5 meters at best.
  • Automatic metering (focus, exposure, white balance, etc) performed by the camera can cause undesirable results. The camera might meter on a small branch or clump of grass - ignoring the main portion of the target area - resulting in very low quality photos. Basic 35mm film cameras are not as selective, and seldom exhibit this problem.
  • Depending upon camera model and memory card size used, some digitals can take up to 6+ seconds to set up and capture an image. This could present problems in certain sites. Newer model cameras have much faster start-up times of around 1.2 seconds. Our unique multi-field sensor systems can reduce or eliminate this shutter time-lag in many cases.

Video - Digital / Analog

Video systems offer some of the most exciting possibilities for the researcher interested in animal behavior. Crow Systems can supply digital and analog video systems in various formats. We generally use Sony®© Night-Shot®© equipped camcorders, or high-resolution Sony EXview CCD cameras in our video equipment. Our video equipment is built on a custom basis - designed to suit your specific needs. Check here for features common to our basic video systems. Contact us with your video requirements - pole-mount, discrete, tunnel / burrow, nest cavity, time-lapse, etc.

Film-Based Camera Systems

Until recently, film-based systems had been our most requested format. The photographic film and manufacturing industry is well-developed and offers many excellent, readily available products at reasonable prices. Unfortunately, with the sharp decrease of interest in 35mm systems, we are no longer able to justify investment in research and development for this format. We may be able to supply special orders as time permits. Contact us with your requirements.

 Some advantages of 35mm film cameras

  • Somewhat lower initial equipment investment.
  • Slightly wider operating temperature range (though the film itself can present problems).
  • Longer battery life and in-the-field run-time (newer digitals are now almost as efficient).
  • Fairly powerful built-in flashes available.

 Some dis-advantages of film cameras

  • Film processing costs, time, and environmental issues.
  • Generally louder during operation.
  • Many moving parts to wear, break, or freeze.
  • Film sensitive to heat / humidity.
  • Limited to 36 exposures.
  • Infra-red photography difficult or impossible.

Not Just Imaging!

Have a special requirement? We may be able to supply your equipment! Contact us with your special requirements.

"If men had wings and bore black feathers, few of them would be clever enough to be crows" -
Henry Ward Beecher

"Who would believe that a small scene of nature could contain the images of the universe?" -
Leonardo da Vinci

Crow Systems products are designed, engineered, and built in the USA. Help keep our economy alive - Buy US!


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