Trail Camera: Buyer’s Guide

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Also referred to as a wildlife camera, a trail camera features a passive infrared motion detector that triggers the camera into action whenever a trespasser walks into its detection range. Hunters find them useful when trying to establish feeding or migration routes of game. On the other hand, bird watchers use them to get close-up images that are impossible to capture when a person is holding the camera.

Most trail cameras have both photo and video capture modes. To select the best option, it is crucial to consider the features you require and what you intend to use it for.

We have used several hundred trail cameras over the years with mixed results, primarily we use them for deer hunting and hog hunting but often find them useful for almost all kinds of hunting. It’s really good to take inventory of what animals you have on your land – no matter what species.

Factors to Consider When Buying a Trail Camera 

Resolution

The higher the resolution, the sharper the image. To achieve good quality images, go for a camera with high megapixels or one with high definition. Most cameras provide the user with the option of selecting video resolution or still photo resolution.  

Burst Mode

This is the ability to take quick successive pictures. This allows you to make the best shots before the animal moves out of the field of view. A rapid trigger speed ensures you capture even the fastest of animals as soon as it senses the movement. A wide range of cameras allows you to select the number of images taken in a burst.

To prevent your camera from filling your memory with shots of the same event, you can choose the interval between the triggered events.

Time and Date Stamps

Some cameras will attach crucial information to the images, like the specific time and date, temperature, and the identity Number of the device used to capture the image. This helps pinpoint the exact conditions regarding the photos captured.

Recovery Mode

Recovery time refers to the time it takes for the camera to ready itself for another shot. While some cameras have their firing capability present in rapid succession, some give you the option to set the time between the shots.

Duration of Video

In the video recording, the camera will provide you with the option of determining the length to be recorded. Others will have the capability to record audio. Some will also feature the selecting your preferred intervals between the video recordings.

Hybrid Mode

The hybrid feature is on the more expensive high-end models. They enable both a video recording while at the same time taking pictures. 

Power Supply

Most trail cameras will require approximately eight AA power cells, while some can use up to twelve. More recent models also allow for external sources such as a power bank or a high voltage battery. Some varieties will accept power from a solar panel.

Mounting

To prevent theft, some trail cameras come with a channel featuring a Python-style security cable for locking. Others will have tripod style sockets threaded in to allow you to mount them on a tree.

Best Trail Camera for Deer Hunting

Browning Strike Force Extreme 16MP

 The Browning trail camera featured a detection range of approximately 80 ft.  This gives you a wide field of view for you to observe. It also features LED infrared illuminations, which serve to produce clear images without sending the deer into a frenzy.  

Features

The camera features a recovery rate of 0.6 seconds, 0.4-second triggers speed, 16-megapixel resolution, and a detection range of 80 feet.

It uses LED infrared illumination, “zero blur” technology, gives smart IR video capture, and also offers SD card management options. Additionally, it stamps photos and videos with time, date, camera ID, moon phase, and temperature. We absolutely love hunting deer with a bow, and we wrote a huge article about it a couple of weeks go, you can read it here. And we also have a beginners guide to mule deer hunting.

Pros

  • A wide detection range 
  • Sturdy exterior design 
  • LED infrared illuminations which do not scare deer away
  • Provides clear images 
  • Good night vision
  • Quick recovery rate
  • Fast trigger speed
  • Features audio and video 

Cons

  •  Videos only last for 20 seconds
  • Complains of inaccurate temperature readings

Check price and more product information, here on Amazon.

Best Trail Camera for Hog Hunting

When you are looking for a spot to strap your camera when you’re looking for hogs, have it pointing to the forest floor where the ground is covered with leaves and twigs. Their habitat is one where there is a water source close by and dense vegetation. Some common areas might be swampy areas, savannas, and forests. Look for areas with plenty of their food.  

There are many good trail cameras for hog hunting, but my personal favorite is Reconyx HyperFire 2 HF2X as it has serves us so well over the years and is really sturdy and gives you fantastic resolution.

Reconyx HyperFire 2 HF2X

The Reconyx HyperFire 2 HFX is the perfect hunting camera since it takes excellent pictures and features a great battery life. 

The best thing about this camera is that given the right power source, its utility can last up to 2 years in battery power! This is the most extended capability I have seen in the market today.

It has a lower resolution though this does not affect its visual quality much. Pictures taken on this camera are more precise and display more contrast than those with higher megapixels. A lower resolution also means that this camera can store more photos since the size of the files will have to be smaller. This means that you will take longer before having to replace or clear the SD card.

It features infrared illumination technology, which contributes to its energy saving. It allows night brightness for up to 120 ft, without a visible glow.

We have an absolutely huge beginner’s guide for hog hunting, really hope you check it out!

Features

Its main feature is the longevity of its battery life, which can store approximately 5000 images or last up to two years. It has a 3MP maximum resolution, a trigger speed of 0.2 seconds, HD video with audio, and can support up to 512GB SD memory Cards.

Pros

  • Easy to mount
  • Unparalleled night image quality
  • Superior battery life 
  • Fast trigger speed
  • Impressive illumination range.

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Short maximum video duration

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Best Trail Camera for Duck Hunting

Duck hunting is a skill that requires a long time to master. Shooting a target that is not moving is a lot easier than a fast airborne target. You will need a camera with super-fast trigger speed to catch the duck’s swift movements.

Trail cameras will do you much good when determining the area to hunt. Position the trail camera at the marsh, river slough, or any waterhole where the ducks are likely to feed or drink. 

I recommend Foxelli Trail cameras since I have personally worked with them and liked the experience.

Foxelli 57047

With 0.5 seconds trigger speed, you are assured that this camera will not miss a thing. Flying targets can be hard to catch on camera, and this camera is a welcome relief. 

It also features a 65 feet detection range, which means that you have enough field of view to work with. Its adjustable sensitivity also works in the hunter’s favor and makes their work a lot easier. Below I have outlined some of its distinctive features.

Features

Foxelli 57047 is a motion-activated camera that produces hi-resolution pictures and videos with up to 10 minute sound. It features a wide angle lens of 120-degrees and a 2.4″LCD color monitor, which has photo and video preview function.

The camera has excellent night vision, with an invisible IR flash and 42 Low-Glow 850 nm IR LEDs. It also features a detection range of 65ft and is water and snow resistant.

Foxelli boasts of a long battery life of up to 8 months when in standby mode and comes with a USB cable. It is password-protected, easy to set up and install, and includes mounting gear with a tree strap of 5 feet. Make sure you don’t miss our extensive beginner’s guide for Duck hunting.

Pros

  • The camera has a moon phase and temperature reader.
  • It features an adjustable recording time.
  • Waterproof and also snow-resistant even in temperatures below -22F. 
  • Excellent quality day photos and also good black & white nighttime shots.
  • Standard or military time
  • low night flash
  • Affordable.
  • Adjustable shot lag

Cons

  • The lens may blur pictures of animals in motion.
  • Night videos are not too explicit.
  • Instead of recording sound, there is a loud static noise.
  • Plastic buckle that is not too appropriate.
  • It does not come with a micro SD card, and you will require an app on your phone to view photos and videos.  

Check price and more product information, here on Amazon.

Best Wireless Trail Camera

Technology has dramatically improved our lives in the recent past.  Wireless trail cameras have an inbuilt transmitter that sends images out to another device through a wireless signal. To transfer the pictures, you will have to connect the two devices. These cameras have few wires to them and are extremely easy to operate.

The Spartan HD GoCam is among the best in this category. Below is everything you need to know about these fantastic cameras.

Spartan HD GoCam

The Spartan HD GoCam is among the best rated wireless trail cameras in the market today. It provides superior quality hence gaining a lot of popularity among its users, and has a trigger speed that is among the fastest in the market.

The Spartan HD GoCam is user friendly and comes with a whole lot of accessories to complement it. Its manufacturer claims to have come up with the product after researching on what the users of trail cameras needed in one.

Features

It features Super-fast image transmission, Video transmission technology, and three successive Photo Burst with 0.6s Trigger Time. The camera allows convenient access to images via web portals or apps. 

It produces class-leading image quality and an array of IR blasters that help capture footage at night with a 70 feet detection range.  The cameras have a photo resolution of 8 MP and a video resolution of 1024 x 576. It comes with 12 AA Batteries.

Pros

  • Good picture quality
  • Sturdy case design
  • Improved picture battery life
  • Nighttime photos have a good flash range and are clear.
  • Low resting power
  • Fast trigger speed.
  • Has a theft warranty.
  • It is a direct consumer camera, which means there are no middlemen, ships directly from the warehouse to the consumer.
  • Color View Screen.
  • It also has a lot of customization options.

Cons 

  • Only sends pictures to one phone number or email address
  • Slow trigger speed
  • Average battery life

Check price and more product information, here on Amazon.

Best Low Glow Trail Camera

Exodus Lift II trail camera

The Exodus Lift II Trail Camera is an improvement of a previous generation Exodus trail camera. It provides easy navigation, and its performance and video quality rank among the best cameras in the market today.

Features

The Exodus trail camera features a photo resolution of either 12, 8, 5, or 2 MP and a video resolution of 720P/30FPS & 1080P/15FPS w/ audio. It has a Picture Trigger speed of 1.02 seconds and a recovery speed of 4.7 seconds. 

The camera also allows you to detect your target from a distance with a detection range of 50 feet. 

Pros

  • Interior picture viewer
  • Easy installation
  • Picture quality is above average
  • Minimal “white noise.”
  • Decent flash range.
  • Durable

Cons

  • Mediocre detection circuit.
  • Poor battery life.
  • Daytime photos quality profoundly affected by light.
  • Bulkier than most cameras.

Check price and more product information, here on Amazon.

Best Video Capture Trail Camera

TOGUARD Trail Camera 14MP

The TOGUARD 14MP Trail Camera is very functional and sturdy. It provides good quality pictures that are crisp and clear. With a trigger speed of 0.5 seconds, it is quite fast and reliable to catch even the swiftest of animals.

Features

It has a detection range of 75 feet and a 120-degree lens. With the 22m night vision, 14MP photos, and HD 1080p quality video capture, you can rest assured of excellent results. The video feature automatically switches into a night vision, and the night vision can reach 22 meters.

Pros

  • Waterproof and dustproof
  • Excellent video capture
  • Video feature changes automatically into night vision.
  • Durable due to its sturdy casing.
  • It can go for as long as eight months while on standby mode.
  • Long-distance capture.

Cons

  • Average reaction time
  • Video may drain the battery quickly when not on standby mode.

Check price and more product information, here on Amazon.

Best Trail Camera under 100

Campark 14mp Trail Camera

The Campark 14MP Trail Camera is among the most affordable there is. It has a tripod port at its base, implying that it was meant to mount on a tripod stand. Though its casing is not the best you can find, it has other impressive features.

It has 42 LED lights that can capture excellent images in whichever weather. Since it can last for several months, it is reliable going by the quality of pictures in-between weather changes.

Features:

It features a detection range of 75 feet and an Image quality of 14mp with HD video recording.This camera has 42 LED lights and two image modes with night vision switching automatically, which makes it great for night hunting. It also has a viewing angle 120-degree.

Pros

  • Multiple settings
  • Great range
  • Many  LED lights enhance clear images and excellent night vision
  • Waterproof
  • Has a long-lasting battery

Cons

  • Average reaction time
  • Brittle casing

Check price and more product information, here on Amazon.

Best Trail Camera for Wide Areas

Cuddeback Trail Camera

These cameras are best used for tracking games over a vast area. 

Features

It features a four-pack bundle of the Cuddelink long-range IR cameras and utilizes a unique built-in Cuddelink camera-to-camera network with a 100 feet flash range. 

The storage of the camera can accommodate up to a 32GB SD card. It also features 24 high-power 850nm IR LEDs, a trigger speed of about 0.25 seconds, and allows 20 MP color images. 

It comes with 12 AA batteries. 

Pros

  • The camera-to-camera network can take up an impressive range
  • High-quality Images.
  • Easy to access all content from all the units through a single home unit
  • Efficient and quality wireless network.
  • Durable in different weather conditions
  • Fast-acting devices
  • No monthly fees
  • Can allow network extension and use up to 15 units

Cons

  • Uses a lot of battery power.
  • The package does not include an  SD card.
  • Doesn’t take video

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Best for all Weather Conditions

Victure Trail Camera

The Victure Trail Camera is an excellent choice for places prone to heavy storms. It has an ultra-secure case which protects it against harsh weather conditions. 

Features:

It has 16MP quality imaging and HD video. The trigger speed is about 0.5seconds. The camera offers a convenient detection range of 60ft and has an inbuilt auto programmed sensor to switch modes. It also features a password protector, time, and date stamp features and settings for altering the infrared sensor’s sensitivity.

Pros 

  •  Durable 
  • Weatherproof casing
  • Adjustable sensor settings
  • Good image quality
  • Day/night sensor

.

Cons

  • Average range
  • Mediocre reaction time

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Common Types of Trail Cameras

Low Glow Cameras and No Glow Trail Cameras

No Glow Cameras

The No Glow infrared cameras are also commonly known as invisible flash trail cameras or blackout trail cameras. The name comes from the fact that these cameras illuminate the target without it seeing the flash.  The flash must not be visible at a 10-15 inches distance. The light emitted by the LED when it is triggered to be above the 940-nanometer spectrum. This light is not detectable by humans or some of the animals. However, it should be noted that some animals can detect light above 900 nanometers. It is not the case for most animals, though, so no need to worry.

On some models, the cameras have a black filter over the light to ensure that no glow is visible.

No glow cameras, however, have a 30% lower flash range than low glow lights.

No glow cameras make up for their 30% lower light by artificially enhancing the exposure on videos. Consequently, there is a loss of definition, and the night photos tend to have a slower shutter speed. Targets in motion also appear to be blurred. 

When in very close proximity to a no glow camera, you may find that the glow may be slightly visible whenever it is triggered. 

Low Glow Cameras

 Low Glow Cameras emit an 850 nanometer light spectrum. This is not visible to human beings and some animals. Their main advantage over no glow cameras is that they have a higher flash range since their light wavelength is a bit longer. For this reason, they tend to be brighter than the no glow cameras. These cameras, however, have a red glow when in use. This may give their presence away to observant human beings or even spook deer and other animals away. However, if used in a private area, they are better since they give better quality pictures and night footage. Low glow cameras are also generally cheaper. They also have a faster shutter speed when on photo mode translating to better target capture.

Additionally, it is worth noting that some models may have a filter over the low glow lights to eliminate some of the red glow, but some do not. Others use super low glow lights, a combination of a filter, and a special kind of coating.  

No Glow vs. Low Glow: Which One is Better?

The purchase of either depends on what you intend to use the camera for. For instance, if you intend to use it on private property or your backyard, then the low glow would be a good choice. You may not be worried about attracting unwanted attention to the presence of the camera. Also, the quality provided by the extended flash range may be of more benefit to you.

If the area you are planning to mount your camera is a public place, or if the target is particularly sensitive, then you might find the no glow cameras more appropriate. You will have to make sure, though, that you position the camera close enough to the animal’s path and to take full advantage of the flash range.

Cellular Trail Cameras

Cellular cameras use the internet to transmit recorded images to your device of choice. You will need to insert a sim card into the camera’s slot, just like with a phone. Most of them work on networks such as GSM, and you are required to purchase a data package that most suits you. They come with a motion sensor that is triggered by any movement within the detection range. Also,they have very few wires inside and are also very easy to install.

They are compact sized hence can be used both indoors and outdoors. Since they have few wires, they camouflage well and are practically invisible in the woods. They are also portable hence can be regularly moved and placed in different positions. 

However, they run on batteries. If the camera does not have a battery indicator, some images or videos may not be captured if the battery is exhausted. Also, it requires a network service provider; therefore, it may not work in some areas. It is also vulnerable to hacking since it runs on a network. You may want to put up guards to protect your data from being intercepted.

Motion Activated Cameras

A motion activated camera is suitable for the individual who is looking for minimum interference, be it manual or remote. You will simply set it up then forget about it. It is popular for games or even sports recordings. They are mostly suited for scenarios with limited window period for the shots and need accurate timing to deliver. It is ideal for both indoor and outdoor environments.

Pros

  • It can be installed in a setup that could have otherwise proved dangerous for human presence.
  • They offer an excellent detection range hence can be set up in a field or vast area.
  • They require minimum interference when properly mounted can serve you for some time.

Cons

  • They have varying ranges and sensitivity hence require your attention before buying. Ensure that the range is not too short, and the sensitivity is enough; otherwise, it will not serve its purpose.

Wireless Wi-Fi Trail Camera

Wireless Trail Cameras have an inbuilt transmitter that transmits images through a wireless network. To connect the two devices, you will need to choose the wireless networks of the receiving device inside the camera. They are user friendly and relevant to today’s technology and are appealing as they have very few wires on them. These cameras can be used for both indoor and outdoor settings.

Pros

  • It is easy to install, and tech-savvy individuals can find it easy to manipulate.
  • The camera does not require other attachments and USB cords to transmit images since it uses Wi-Fi to connect with other devices.
  • It is very user friendly hence recommended by many. 
  • An excellent camouflage hence suitable for outdoors.

Cons

  • It may not withstand harsh and rough outdoor environments.
  • May not be used in areas with no or poor network connections like the wilderness or other lonesome areas making movement limited.
  • Since it uses the internet to transmit images, it may be prone to cyber-attacks. 

FAQs

What is the difference between Game Camera and Trail Camera?

Game Cameras are also referred to as Trail Cameras. They are made specifically to help you capture the target’s image and location, which is sometimes not easy to determine in woods. They usually have a detection range of 50- 100 feet. When installed and set up, they sense movement and activate the trigger, thereby taking useful information in your absence.  

Is the quality of the image and range the same during night time?

There is a significant difference between the images shot during day and night. The difference depends on the camera’s functionality and key features. The LED mounted cameras take crisper and brighter colored pictures in the night compared to the infrared cameras. However, when compared to the day shots taken by an incandescent camera, the clarity is less, and colors are blunter. The infrared cameras allow black and white snaps only at night, and they sometimes are a little blurry.

 The range of the camera is the field of view through which the target passes to activate the camera trigger. The motion sensors are not influenced by light or darkness; hence it does not matter whether it is day or night. However, the further the target from the detection range, the lower the quality of the picture taken.  

Should I invest in anti-theft devices?

Chances are you will not be around the trail camera most of the time once you set it up. There is a chance that someone will gain access to it and may even try to steal it.

It is also worth noting that due to the high price tags on some of these cameras, it would be worth investing in anti-theft devices. Even if the camera is not that pricey, you do not want it stolen at all. For this reason, there are anti-theft devices made for all models, so I recommend getting yourself one.

Should I opt for flash or infrared?

It depends on your specific goals. If you intend to have your trail camera to capture night color images, your best option would be to invest in a white flash. However, it is good to note that a flash will most likely spook your target, which will not give you the right results. To avoid scaring away your target, it would be better to go for the infrared light.  

What is the most appropriate size of an SD card?

Standard SD cards are available in the market with a wide variety of capacities, ranging from 128MB to 2GB. Higher capacity SD cards can store more images and video as well, ranging from 4GB to 32 GB. This is the most common capacity in most trail cameras. Additionally, there are SD capacity cards available, which are available from 64GB to 2TB.

Conclusion 

When choosing the right trail camera, ensure that you get all the right specifications before making the purchase. Make sure you review its reaction time, battery life, image quality, casing durability, and other features. Also, remember that some features necessitate consideration. For instance, higher image quality results in less storage space. 

All these products are great, but each has a specific job or area best suited for it. If you are new to the trade, consider looking for products that are meant for beginners to have an easier time. 

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