I received a couple of (new) replacement S-50i cameras from Moultrie six months ago, because the M-999i cameras I had began to develop intermittent issues. I found immediately that the replacements were worse, yet, despite a lot of communication with Moultrie support, could not pin down the issue exactly. I spent several weeks testing SD cards, because this is what support told me was the problem. Since I could not replicate any issue involving SD cards, I ruled this out early on.
I continued testing and have now determined one problem definitely, so I decided to share it here. The battery tray on the S-50i is, in my opinion, simply defective. I believe this is the reason that Moultrie recommends certain batteries over others, because the dimensions of those batteries are slightly different, and tend to compensate for this defective battery tray. And I believe this is the primary cause of battery life issues with these cameras.
You can see from the technical data sheets below that the batteries that are not recommended by Moultrie can be up to 0.3mm shorter than the ones that are recommended:
In practice, they are significantly shorter and other brands may be even worse.
In my testing, this is the crux of the issue. And it specifically has to do with the length of the "tab" on the top of the positive end of the AA batteries. I have been able to mix and match different brands of batteries in order to achieve reliable operation, as long as only long "tabs" are in contact with the Moultrie battery tray terminals and not short ones. When short tabs are in contact with the terminals, the battery tray does not reliably transmit power as verified with a voltmeter. This results in excessive resistance, excessive battery usage and unreliable operation.
In my opinion, this is likely not the only issue effecting poor battery life on recent models. But it definitely is one, and one that is not openly acknowledged by Moultrie, other than via their cryptic recommendation of using one brand of battery over others. So I feel that this should be mentioned here for the benefit of users experiencing similar issues and receiving no help from support.
And, as someone who has been in the technical consulting business for almost twenty years, I just have to point out how bizarre it is for an electronics manufacturer to require of their users, not only specific battery brands, but specific types of memory cards and specific methods of formatting those memory cards. These have been industry standards for decades. Moultrie needs to start designing their products around the existing standards, to work reliably within the specifications of those standards, not impose arbitrary requirements on end users.
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