Hunting

Best Trail Camera Reviews: Complete Buyer’s Guide

Are you looking for the best trail camera to capture photos of game and wildlife? Then read on for our review of the top options available with Pros & Cons.

Wondering which trail camera to add to your hunting gear? If so, you’re in the right place! In this guide, we offer a selection of unbiased reviews of the top seven trail cameras currently available on the market, as well as a buyer’s guide to help you select the right one for your specific needs.

Advances in modern technology have led to the creation of some extremely helpful tools for hunters. Perhaps one of the most useful technologies that has been developed is the trail camera.

Tracking wildlife can be hard. Many animals are skittish and are easily spooked when they hear or see a human nearby. Furthermore, a hunter can sit for hours or even days without ever spotting game. That’s where a trail camera comes in.

Also known as remote cameras, nature cameras, or hunting cameras, are remote cameras that capture images – photographs or videos – of wildlife for you. They are activated when the detect the movement or body heat of a subject, which means you don’t have to be present to take photos, allowing you to analyze the activities and habits of the animal you’re trying to target so you can plan strategize accordingly.

There are a lot of trail cameras on the market. The option you choose can mean the difference between successful hunting excursions and flops. Obviously, your goal is the former, so it’s imperative that you choose the right camera. But with so many different options, it can take a lot of time to sort through and determine which models are worth your while. Plus, you may not know what you should be looking for.

To help you weed through all the different options and find the best trail camera for your needs, we’ve done the legwork for you. After carefully analyzing a large selection of models, we’ve narrowed down the best choices.

We’ve also put together a buyer’s guide that contains important factors that should be taken into consideration to help you determine which option will work best for your specific needs. We also provide answers so some of the questions you may be asking when you’re shopping for a trail camera.

So, without further ado, let’s dive in and take a look at the best trail cameras on the market.

Top 3 Picks

If you’re in a rush, take a look at our top three picks for the best choice, runner-up, and budget choice trail cameras.

Best Pick: Bushnell Trophy Cam HD Essential E3 Trail Camera

Sale
Bushnell 16MP Trophy Cam HD Essential E3 Trail Camera, Brown
  • Accepts up to a 32GB SD Card (not included) and operates on 8 AA batteries (not included)
  • 0.3 second trigger speed; 16MP maximum image resolution; BandW text LCD display
  • 100 detection and illumination range; Low Glow LED night vision flash
  • Hyper Image Recovery : 1.0 second recovery means the camera takes more images. More images means more information to help you hunt smarter
  • Dynamic Video : 720p video records for up to 30 seconds while the animal is in front of the camera and stops immediately after they leave the frame

The 16MP HD Essential Trophy Cam EX from Bushnell is a durably constructed, reliable trail camera that is outfitted with the most advanced technologies, which is why it’s our top choice trail camera. Setting up and programming this trail camera is super simple and it generates really vivid images.

Runner-Up Pick: Browning Strike Force Trail Camera

Browning Trail Cameras BCA Strike Force 850 16MP
  • 16MP Camera
  • Very easy to Use
  • Infrared LED Illumination at Night

Our runner up pick for the best hunting camera is the Strike Force Trail camera from Browning. Like the Bushnell Essential E3 Trail Camera, it’s also outfitted with the most advanced technologies, is thoughtfully designed, and is constructed of durable materials, but it’s a bit more affordably priced. It can be programmed to take burst shots and produces rapid-fire, multi-shot pictures.

Budget Pick: Wildgame Innovations Terra IR Infrared Hunting Trail Camera

Sale
Wildgame Innovations Terra
  • 8 Megapixel trail camera
  • 60ft. Illumination/detection range
  • Less than 1 second trigger speed
  • Daytime and nighttime photo and video (30 sec) capabilities
  • UP to 6 month Battery life pending usage, settings, and environment. UP to 32 GB SDHC card (not included). uses 8 AA batteries (not included). includes bungee cords

Whether you’re shopping for your first hunting camera or you need a replacement camera, if you don’t want to spend a lot of money but you don’t want to sacrifice quality, the Wildgame Innovations Terra IR Infrared Hunting Trail Camera is an excellent pick.

Top 6 Trail Camera Reviews

Now that you’ve had a quick glance at our top choices for the best, premium, and budget trail camera options, let’s take a more in-depth look at each one, as well as four additional top-rated hunting cameras that you might want to consider investing in.

Bushnell Trophy Cam HD Essential E3 Trail Camera

The Bushnell Trophy Cam HD Essential E3 Trail Camera is one of the most popular hunting cameras on the market today. This durably constructed camera boasts the most cutting-edge technologies, offers a range of features and programming options, is easy to use, and can capture crisp still and video images. Thanks to its super-fast response time, you’ll be able to capture the movements of even the quickest animals and get extremely accurate details of the scene via the high-quality resolution.

The Trophy Cam features a 16MP resolution with a max pixel size of 4624×3468 and takes crisp with a trigger speed of0.3 seconds, so not only does it capture crisp photos, but it captures them extremely fast.

It’s also outfitted with Bushnell’s signature Field Scan 2x, a time-lapse mode that captures photos at different intervals, allow you to observe changes in motions and time intervals.The camera also features an auto daytime/nighttime sensor, so regardless of the lighting, you’ll be able to snap clear photos.

This trail camera can also record 720p HD video at 30 seconds per frame, complete with audio. You can adjust the length of the video recordings from 5 seconds up to 60 seconds; however, do note that setting it to record longer videos will wear out the battery faster.

Bushnell outfitted their Trophy Cam HD Essential E3 with passive infrared (PIR) motion sensors that extend to a max range of 100 feet, a sizeable range. Additionally, the motion sensors are adjustable. Setting options include auto, low, medium, and high. By default, the PIR sensors are set to auto, which allows the camera to determine the optimal setting according to its current operating temperature; if you aren’t going to be checking the camera frequently or if the weather forecast calls for drastic changes during the time period that you will be using it, the auto setting is the best option.

When set to low, the camera is less sensitive to motion and heat and would work well in cold temperatures if it’s being triggered too frequently by anything that’s warm nearby. The medium setting is suitable for moderate, average weather conditions. Lastly, the high setting would work well when the temperature is warm and more difficult to detect animals.

Perhaps the most notable feature on the Bushnell Trophy Cam HD Essential E3 – and the reason why it’s one of the most popular trail cameras – is the H3 Field Scan. This revolutionary technology allows the camera to take time lapse images and videos.

When turned on, the camera will automatically take a photo or video at predetermined intervals, and you can choose the intervals, during a block or two of time that you select for the day. What’s more, a trigger from an active animal isn’t required. With the technology, you’ll be able to monitor and observe changes in motions and time intervals.

Other notable features include:

  • Low Glow LED night vision flash with a 100 foot illumination range
  • 1 second Hyper Image Recover
  • True 1 Year Batter that lasts for an average of 35 daytime images and 35 nighttime images per day
  • Data Stamp that capture moon phase, time, date, temperature, and GPS coordinates on each image
Pros:
  • Captures crisp 16MP images
  • Adjustable motion sensor with a 100 foot range
  • 100 foot flash range
  • Super fast trigger speed
  • 1-second recover rate
  • H3 Field Scan technology captures time-lapse images
Cons:
  • It lacks a viewing screen, but that doesn’t detract from the incredible images it produces
  • The battery life is a bit shorter than other trail cameras

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Browning Strike Force Trail Camera

Our runner-up pick for the best trail camera is Browning’s Strike Force. This manufacturer has a solid reputation among hunters and is hailed for their extensive lineup of high-quality cameras.

The Strike Force Trail Camera has the option to shoot in bursts. When programmed to this setting, the hunting camera can take up to eight rapid-fire or multi-shot 16MP pictures, so you’ll be able to capture super clear images of your subject matter.

It also features a time-lapse mode. Browning’s signature Zero Blur technology eliminates blur caused by motion at a range of 100 feet, which further enhances the clarity of the images it captures. The camera has a minute trigger speed of just 0.15 seconds and a recovery time of 0.5 seconds. With such incredible speeds, you’ll have no trouble capturing photos of your prey.

Browning also outfitted their Strike Force Extreme with a video processor that can capture 1280×720 HD video clips, along with audio. With an adjustable 0.4 to 0.7 second trigger speed and a 0.6 second recovery time between images, you’ll be able to capture everything in the frame. Smart Infrared technology lets the camera record when your prey is present with an adjustable trigger speed.

The Browning Strike Force is powered by six AA batteries and it preserves battery life well. Motion detection range for this hunting camera is 80 feet. The Infrared flash range can be adjusted according to your specific needs. In addition to infrared flash, other settings include long-range, fast motion, and power save, allowing you to maximize use of the camera.

Thanks to the dual-lenses, this camera can take crisp images at any time of the day or night. The compact size and camo casing allow it to blend into the natural environment, and the sturdy, waterproof construction can easily withstand the elements.

Notable features of the Browning Strike Force Trail Camera include:

  • 16MP image resolution with Zero Blur nighttime technology that can capture high-quality images any time of the day or night.
  • Super fast 0.4-second trigger speed.
  • Smart IR continuous daytime video recording
  • 720p HD video with crisp audio
  • 120 foot flash range
  • 80 foot detection range
  • 8 second recovery time
  • Programmable picture delay, from 5 seconds to 60 minutes
Pros:
  • Dual-lens camera captures 16MP photos and 720p HD videos with clear audio
  • Fast motion sensor and recovery time
  • Rapid-fire, multi-shot, and time-lapse modes
  • Compact design and durable construction
  • Long battery life
Cons:
  • While this trail camera can take both photos and videos, it doesn’t offer a hybrid mode, so you have to decide what type of images you want to capture
  • While it can record daytime videos up to 2 minutes long, the max timespan for nighttime recordings is 20 seconds

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Wildgame Innovations Terra IR Infrared Hunting Trail Camera

If you aren’t looking to invest a lot in a trail camera, but you want something that’s durable and you can rely on to take clear images, the Terra 8 Trail Camera from Wildgame Innovations is a great choice.

Wildgame is another trusted name in the trail camera industry. While all of their products are high-end and are outfitted with outstanding technologies, we chose the Terra IR Infrared Hunting Trail Camera because it’s one of the manufacturer’s most affordable hunting cameras, so it’s a great option for those who don’t want to spend a lot but still want to have access to reliable technology that can capture great images.

What really sets this trail camera apart is the fact that it can capture panoramic shots, something that our best and runner-up picks for the best hunting cameras can’t do. The ability to take panoramic images will really help to set your hunting bar higher. At only 10MP, it doesn’t offer as many megapixels as the aforementioned models, but the fact that it takes panoramic images really does put it in its own class. Plus, while 10MP may be less than other trail cameras, the images it produces are still quite clear.

In addition to capturing still phots, the Terra IR Infrared Hunting Trail Camera can also take video, though it’s recording capabilities aren’t as long as other cameras on our list, as it only captures 30 seconds worth of videos. Nevertheless, this feature can certainly prove to be helpful and allow you to gain better insight about your prey and the location you plan on hunting in.

This trail camera automatically adjusted between day and nighttime settings, so you’ll be able grab clear images, no matter what type of lighting you’re working with. It also has a sub-1-second trigger speed, which is quite fast for a camera in this price range. All images captured on this camera will feature a time, date, and moon phase stamp.

Outfitted with a 21-piece high-intensity LED infrared array technology, this camera has a 70 foot detection and illumination range. Again, while that may not be as impressive as other hunting cameras, for this price range, that is quite impressive and is certainly suitable. The camera is durably constructed, compact, and easy to set up and use.

Other notable features of the Wildgame Innovations Terra IR Infrared Hunting Trail Camera include:

  • Water-resistant housing that can easily withstand all types of weather
  • Comes complete with bungee cords for easy installation
  • Long battery life (runs on 8 AA batteries, which are not included)
Pros:
  • Captures 360 degree panoramic photographs
  • Takes clear 10mp photos and videos
  • Sub-1-second trigger speed
  • 70 foot detection and illumination range
  • Daytime and nighttime shooting capabilities
  • Water-resistant
  • Long battery life
  • Easy to set up
  • Durably constructed
  • Affordably priced
Cons:
  • Can only capture up to 30 seconds of video
  • Offers less megapixels than other hunting cameras, but the images are still clear and crisp
  • It doesn’t offer as many settings as other trail cameras

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TOGUARD 14MP Trail Camera

Next up on our list of the best hunting cameras is an option that comes from TOGUARD.

This camera is affordably priced and features 14MP to capture clear images of your prey and their surroundings. The reaction time is 0.5 seconds, which is a bit sluggish compared to other trail cameras featured on our list, but it can certainly do the job. The trigger speed of the camera is 0.3 seconds, which is certainly fast. It also boasts three passive infrared sensors.

What makes the TOGUARD apart is the video setting. It has the ability to record 1800p HD videos, the same type of quality that devices that are made only for capturing videos offers, such as camcorders. The camera automatically switches its setting from full, color recording during the day and night vision when the sun goes down (or before it rises). When it’s on night vision, the camera capture footage up to 22 meters away with ease, which will certainly offer you plenty of space to observe your target and the surrounding area. The video setting records audio, too.

This hunting camera features 42 low-glow infrared LEDs with a 75 foot detection capturing range, both during the day and night.  A 120 degree wide angle lens offers an excellent viewing scope. There’s no need to adjust the settings on this trail camera, as it comes pre-set to the ideal settings for most species of wildlife, which makes it super-easy to use. The camera is housed in a durably constructed casing that can withstand all types of elements.

Pros:
  • 14MP crisp images
  • 3 trigger speed with 3PIR sensors
  • 1080P FHD video and audio recording
  • 120 degree wide angle lens
  • Night vision
  • 42 piece low glow infrared LEDs with a 75 foot detection capturing range
  • Housing has a IP56 waterproof rating and is dust-proof and drop-proof
  • Easy to install and operate
  • Long battery life
  • Affordably priced
Cons:
  • While the video quality is excellent, it does drain the battery quickly
  • The reaction time could be faster

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Campark 14MP Trail Camera

Another affordably priced, high-quality hunting camera is theCampark 14MP Trail Camera. While it does offer some outstanding features at a budget-friendly price, there is one downside: the casing is a bit delicate.

While it is waterproof, it should be reserved for tripod use only; in fact, it features a tripod port. With that said, this trail camera would be best suited in areas where you can easily conceal a tripod and where the ground is level.

With that said, however, the Campark 14MP Trail Camera does offer some pretty great features. Firstly, it shoots 14MP images, so you’ll be able to grab crisp, clear photos of your prey. It also captures HD videos with audio. The trigger speed is 0.5 seconds, which is a little slower than other models featured on our list, but it is certainly fast enough to shoot the images you’re trying to capture.

The daytime and nighttime image mode automatically adjusts to the lighting of the surrounding area, so you can get clear images of your subjects any time of the day or night. There’s a time-lapse mode and a timer shot mode, as well.

This camera is outfitted with 42 Low Glow Black infrared LEDs, complete with a fully automatic IR filter and night vision that has a capture range of up to 75 feet. With this technology, you’ll be able to capture clear images, no matter what the weather conditions are. A 120 degree wide angle PIR sensor with a wide angle lens ensures that you’ll get maximum coverage of your target area. The camera is powered by 8 AA batteries and has a very low consumption rate. It gets up to 8 months on standby when the batteries are fully charged.

Pros:
  • Takes clear 14MP images
  • Multiple settings, including multi-shot, interval, time lapse, and motion detection
  • Images are automatically imprinted with a time and date stamp
  • 42 Low Glow Black Infrared LEDs that can detect and capture up to 75 feet
  • Fully automatic IR filter with night vision
  • Affordably priced
Cons:
  • As mentioned, while the housing is waterproof and dustproof; however, it is a bit delicate
  • Should be used on a tripod
  • The reaction time is average

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Meidase 16MP Trail Camera

The Meidase 16MP Trail Camera, as the name suggests, captures 16MP daytime and nighttime images, so you’ll be able to get clear images, regardless of the lighting conditions. It boasts a large aperture, complete with a wide view angle and a high resolution lens. Furthermore, the camera is outfitted with deep optimization image sensor. It can also capture 1800P HD videos, too.

The no-glow invisible infrared flash illumination technology can capture images with ease when the sun goes down. The detection range is 65 feet, which is a bit less than other cameras on our list, but it should certainly be able to grab the shots you’re looking for.

With a trigger speed of 0.2 seconds and a motion activated total detection angle of 120 degrees, you’ll have no trouble capturing your prey and analyzing its behaviors. Do note, however, that you will need to enable the side motion sensors in order to take advantage of the motion activated detection angle.

Thanks to the remote-style keypad and a 2.4-inch LCD UI built-in color screen, you’ll be able to instantly playback, review, and manage the photos or videos that the camera has captured. The LCD screen and keypad are extremely easy to use.

This camera offers time lapse and timer settings. For periodic wildlife viewing, use the time lapse feature; however, if you only want to capture images at a specific time – for night scouting, for example – just program the beginning and end time.

The durably constructed housing, with is waterproof, dustproof, and can withstand temperatures that range from -4 degrees F to 140 degrees F, the Mediase Trail Camrea can take on all types of weather conditions with ease.

Pros:
  • Captures crisp, clear 16MP pictures
  • Records 1080P HD videos
  • Features a 2.4 inch color LCD display that can be used to view and manage your photos and videos
  • User-friendly remote-style, multi-function keypad
  • 3 modes, including photo, video, or photo and video
  • Loop recording
  • Durably constructed weatherproof housing
  • 2 second trigger speed
  • 120-degree viewing angle
  • Affordably priced
Cons:
  • Battery life could be longer
  • Reaction time is average

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Other Best Selling Options

SaleBestseller No. 1
【2020 Upgrade】Campark Trail Camera-Waterproof 16MP 1080P Game Hunting Scouting Cam with 3 Infrared Sensors for Wildlife Monitoring with 120°Detecting Range Motion Activated Night Vision 2.4” LCD 42pcs
  • ◀ Faster Trigger Speed ▶ With 3 sensors, once detecting the movements,the hunting camera will be triggered instantly in without delay. You will never miss any exciting moments even at night.The trigger distance is up to 20m(65ft). (NOTE: Memory card and batteries NOT included)
  • ◀ Excellent Sensitivity and Night Vision with 3 PIR ▶ The trail camera will detect movements of wild animals as soon as they enter the detecting range.With 3 passive infrared sensors,the high-sensitive camera detect and record every breathtaking motion with lower power consumption.The 42 pcs upgraded infrared LEDs can let you catch any moment even at dark night. 850nm infrared technology support super clear night vision.
  • ◀ 16MP Clearer Image + 1080P Sharper Video Resolution ▶ The trail camera captures 16 Mega Pixel crystal images and full HD 1080P videos,providing more high-quality details during daytime(black and white at night).You could easily see the vivid world of wildlife. We don‘t recommend removing the protective foil or touching the sensor lenses on both sides as they may cause scratches (Scratches don't affect the detection effect).
  • ◀ 120° Wide Angle Lens + Waterproof Sturdy Device ▶ The game camera is equipped with 120° detecting range,which allows you to get excellent broader view.It will record any animal movements you want with wide angle lens even in rainy days.
  • ◀ Professional Service & Extra Bonus ▶ Easy to operate and mount.You could apply the device to hunting, home security, property surveillance, wildlife monitoring and scouting,farm security. ( If you bought the incompatible memory card by"Frequently bought together" feature on this product, please contact us for a replacement. )
Bestseller No. 2
GardePro A3 Trail Camera (2020), 20MP, 1080P H.264 HD Video, Clear 100ft No Glow Infrared Night Vision, 0.1s Trigger Speed, 82ft Motion Detection, Waterproof Cam for Wildlife Deer Game Trail
  • Super Low Light Sensitivity: Sony Starvis image sensor, extremely large aperture premium lens component, exclusive auto exposure and blur reduction algorithm combine to produce color images in low light, produce clear night vision in total darkness. Max 20MP still picture. 100ft night vision flash range.
  • H.264 Video Recording: Advanced H.264 1080P@30fps video recording with sound, replay more clearly, smoothly. Compared with MJPEG video used in other trail cams, its compact file size uses 80% less storage than conventional. The video is in MP4 format, more compatible with any players.
  • Fast Motion Detection: Pre-activated technology for lighting 0.1s trigger speed, Super-fast 0.5s recovery time, 82ft detection distance.
  • Very Easy to Use: TV remote style operation buttons, 2.31” high-res color screen for easy setup and playback. Accept max 128GB standard SD card (NOT included).
  • Versatile Features and Excellent Service: Time lapse, operation hours, loop recording, datetime info strip, long standby time up to 8 months, waterproof. 12-month product replacement warranty and professional customer service within 24-hour.
SaleBestseller No. 3
APEMAN Trail Camera 16MP 1080P No-Glow Infrared Night Vision Hunting Camera for Wildlife Monitoring, Garden, Home Security Surveillance
  • 【High RESOLUTION PHOTO and VIDEO】- 16MP resolution and FULL HD 1080P video automatic day/night sensors ensure crisp and realistic images and videos that take you into the world of wildlife, helping you better understand their daily activities and behavioral habits.
  • 【INSIVIBLE NIGHT VISION SHOOTING】- The fully automatic PIR sensor and 26Pcs 940nm Infrared no-glow LEDs ensure clear nighttime images and videos, longer and wider visible range in the dark, recording every fantastic moment in the night even not scare wildlife at all.
  • 【AMAZING TRIGGER SPEED】- The lightning-fast trigger speed of less than 0.5 seconds with 1 to 3 shots choice guarantees fast and accurate capture of each detected motion exposed to the field of this trail camera before shooting.
  • 【EASY TO OPERATE and MUTI-FUNCTION 】-With 2.4'' LED screen with easy navigation guide, this trail camera features time stamp including Moon Phase/Pressure/Temperature, Timer, Realtime Replay, Hybrid Mode, Interval Recording, Time Lapse, bringing it to multiple applications beyond your expectation.
  • 【AFFORDABLE PRICE and NO-WORRIES SERVICE】- Decent price and excellent performance make this trail camera an ideal choice for novice and entry users. Besides, APEMAN service team provides professional 24-hour after-sales services on Amazon to promote you a hassle-free purchase experience.ATTENTION: Our camera has been upgraded to 16MP. But the package and manual are not completely changed. If you received the old package, please contact us, we will try our best to give you a satisfactory answer.

Trail Camera Buyer’s Guide

Now that you’ve taken a look at our top choices for the best trail cameras currently available on the market, you’re probably trying to decide which option to choose. As you can clearly see, there are a lot of great models on the market, but how do you know which one will best suit your needs?

In order to select the ideal hunting camera, it’s important to take some key factors into consideration, whether you’re thinking about purchasing one of the cameras featured in our list or another model. Each of the flowing factors plays a vital role in the function of the camera and will help you choose the right option for your specific needs.

Image Quality

It goes without saying that the image quality is important, as it affects the clarity of the picture and what you’ll be able to observe. You probably already know that the higher the megapixels, the better the image quality.

Obviously, you want to get the clearest pictures possible, so it’s tempting to look for the highest megapixels possible; however, it’s important to note that there is a tradeoff: the higher the megapixels, the more storage space your images are going to require. In other words, with a high megapixel camera, you may be able to get clear pictures, but you won’t be able to get as many. On the flip side, the lower the image quality, the more images you’ll be able to store.

What does that mean? – You should consider which is more important to you: a camera that can take super-crisp images or one that can store a lot of photos. It really depends on your specific needs and your objectives.

Megapixels on trail cameras range from 10 to more than 16 (some models even offer 20MP). On average, a 12 MP camera will be able to take clear pictures that will provide clear detail.

Reaction Time

Reaction time is extremely important for a trail camera. Animals move quickly, so no matter what type of game you’re trying to capture, you want the camera to react almost instantaneously. As such, the lower the reaction time, the better.

The best trail cameras have a reaction time of less-than 0.5 seconds (often advertised as 0.5s); anything higher than that probably isn’t going to be worth your while. Though there’s a chance that a camera that has a reaction time higher than 0.5 seconds will capture some images, it’s likely to miss out on a lot.

If you want the most reliable images possible, we recommend looking for a camera that has a reaction time of 0.3 seconds or less.

Range

A motion camera’s range refers to how far the sensors can detect motion, which is measured in feet. For example, the sensors on a hunting camera that has a range of 60 feet can detect and take images of items that are moving up to 60 feet away.

While it might seem like going for a longer range is the best option, that’s not always the case, as often, the longer the range, the lower the image quality. However, it should be noted that range and image quality aren’t necessarily linked; in fact, it really depends on the type of lens that the camera features.

When you’re trying to determine which range to choose, you need to consider what type of items you’re aiming to capture. That said, generally speaking, a range lower than 30 feet likely won’t be suitable, as you’ll probably miss out on a good bit of images. In our opinion, the best range is between 60 and 70 feet, but again, it depends on what you’re trying to capture, as well as where you’re going to be setting your camera up.

Trigger Speed

A trail cameras shutter is triggered by movement, and the amount of time between when the camera detects movement and when the camera captures a photo is referred to as trigger speed. Clearly, a faster trigger speed is the best option, as the camera will be able to react and capture images faster because you want the photo to be taken or the video to begin recording before the subject moves out of the camera’s view – and animals can be pretty quick, especially small game.

We recommend going for a camera that offers a trigger speed between 0.2 seconds and 0.3 seconds; anything higher than that will likely miss out on a lot of the images you want to shoot, as the camera isn’t going to react in time to capture various types of subjects.

Recovery Time

The recovery time of a trail camera is directly related to its trigger speed. Recover time refers to how long it takes the camera to set itself up to shoot another image. Not every hunting camera manufacturer specifies the recovery time, but it is something that you should look out for when it is specified. Just like trigger speed, the lower the recovery time, the better.

A lot of trail cameras feature a burst mode, meaning that they are capable of firing off multiple shots in rapid succession, or a multi-shot mode with a customizable period between shots, which you can select. Many cameras also allow you to choose the interval between triggered events, which prevents the memory card from filling up with similar images.

Flash

In order for a hunting camera to capture shots at night or during inclement weather, it needs to be outfitted with artificial light. Trail cameras can be equipped with three different types of flash, including:

  • white
  • low-glow infrared
  • black or now-glow infrared

The latter two options – infrared – are the most popular flash options because they’re much less likely to scare the subject away, and obviously, if the camera spooks your prey, you aren’t going to get the shots you want. Low-glow infrared flashes function at just above the visible spectrum, so they do generate some degree of light, but not as much as white. While there is a chance that low-glow will startle some prey, this type of flash generates clearer images. If you want to completely eliminate the risk of startling your subject matter, opt for a camera that features a black or no-glow infrared flash. This lighting makes for stealth operation, as it functions well above the visible spectrum. When there’s no visible light, your subject matter won’t even realize it is being filmed, so you’ll be able to capture more images in low- or no lighting conditions. However, do note that the images generated with no-glow infrared flash aren’t as clear as those that are taken with a low-glow flash. White flash is the most likely to spook your subject matter, but this is the only type of flash that can capture nighttime color images, as low- and no-glow flash can only produce black-and-white images.

Which type of flash should you choose? It really depends on your specific needs, including the type of subject matter you are hoping to capture and your purpose for taking the photos.

Price Range

It’s also important to consider your budget, as trial cameras vary widely in price. Some models cost hundreds of dollars, while others are under a hundred bucks. The features and the build of the camera directly reflects the price; however, that’s not to say that you need to spend a fortune to get a reliable hunting camera that will capture clear images. In fact, there are several trail cameras – several on our list – that offer excellent features, take great images, and are affordably priced.

Before you shop, make sure you set a budget and stick to it. As with a lot of hunting gear, you can easily end up spending more than you can comfortably afford to if you don’t plan ahead. However, be reasonable; don’t expect to get a premium, top-of-the-line trail camera that’s loaded with all of the bells and whistles for $50. When planning your budget, think about the features that are most important to you and what you hope to achieve with your hunting camera.

Additional Features to Consider

The above-mentioned factors are the most important to take into consideration when you’re shopping for a trail camera, as they have a direct impact on the camera’s ability to capture clear and reliable images; however, there are other additional factors that could help you determine which camera will best suit your needs. There are additional features that you may also want to consider, and while they won’t affect the overall reliability and quality of the images the camera takes, they may impact ease of use.

  • External LCD. Some trail cameras are outfitted with an external LCD display. While this feature won’t impact the quality of the images or the camera’s reaction time, it is a handy feature, as it allows you to instantly review your pictures.
  • Solar panels. If power is a concern for you, a trail camera that features a solar panel might be something you want to consider. There are models that are outfitted with solar panels that power up a rechargeable Lithium ion battery. With this feature, you won’t have to worry about running out of power or replacing batteries; however, do note that you can expect to pay more for this feature, as cameras that come equipped with solar panels and rechargeable batteries have a higher price tag.
  • Event counter. This feature allows the camera to keep track of the time and date that an animal crossed through the viewing path. This may be beneficial, as it will allow you to gain a better understanding of your target subjects’ habits. While it isn’t a totally necessary feature, it can certainly come I handy.

Everyone’s uses for a trail camera varies, so there is no “right” or “wrong” model, as different models offer different features that are better-suited for specific uses and purposes. In order to choose the best trail camera, consider your particular needs and what you hope to achieve, as well as the above-mentioned features before you make your final decision.

Trail Camera Frequently Asked Questions

Do you still have questions about trail cameras that you would like to have answered before you start shopping? In this section, we’ve compiled a list of some of most frequently asked questions that consumers have regarding hunting cameras.

Is hiding a trail camera important? If so, how do I hide one?

Yes, in order to achieve maximum effectiveness, you’re going to want to conceal your trail camera. The less visible it is, the less likely it will spook your target, and hence, the more likely it is that you will shoot the images that you’re hoping to capture.

The most effective way to hide a trail camera is by attaching it to a tree. Many models come with straps specifically for this purpose. Select a tree that will allow offer the optimal vantage point of the target area and secure the camera to its trunk or a branch. Remember, when affixing the camera to the tree, you want to be sure that it maintains the best vantage point. Another important tip to keep in mind: avoid harming the tree you’re attaching it to.

If there isn’t a tree in the location where you want to shoot your camera can’t be affixed in this manner (it stands on a tripod, for example), choose a location where the stand and the camera can be easily obscured; behind bushes, brush, or tall grass, for example.

Should I opt for flash or infrared?

As mentioned above, it really depends on your specific goals. If you want your trail camera to capture nighttime color images, a white flash is the better option; however, keep in mind that a flash will likely spook your subject matter and you may lose out on a lot of images. If you want to avoid spooking your subjects, infrared light is definitely a much better way to go. A low-glow infrared flash will generate some degree of light, but it isn’t as noticeable as a white flash. A no-glow infrared flash will not generate any amount of visible light, so it’s the least likely to scare away your subject matter, which means you’ll have much greater success shooting the images that you’re hoping to capture.

What size SD card will I need?

Standard SD cards are available with a wide-range of capacities, ranging from 128MB to 2GB. Higher capacity SD cards can store images, as well as video, ranging from 4GB to 32 GB, and this is the most commonly used card in trail cameras. There are also SD capacity cards available, which are available from 64GB to 2TB.

To determine what size SD card you’ll need, read the instruction manual that comes with your trail camera, as it will clearly state which type you should use.

Should I invest in anti-theft devices?

Chances are you aren’t going to be sitting nearby your trail camera once it’s set up. Unfortunately, there’s a chance that someone could come by and take it (it’s a sad reality, we know). Some trail cameras are quite pricey, but even if you purchase a less expensive model, you probably aren’t going to want to have it stolen. It’s for this very reason that anti-theft devices are made for trail cameras, and yes, we do recommend purchasing one.

There are two anti-theft device options: boxes and cables. With a box, you’ll be able to house the camera right inside and lock it. This not only protects it from theft, but it also provides an extra layer of protection against the elements. Cables attach onto the camera, wrap around the object you’re attaching the camera to, and lock in place. The option you choose really depends on your own unique needs; however, we prefer security boxes to cables.

Conclusion

Trail cameras are a very handy form of hunting gear that can really take your tracking success to the next level. With the right hunting camera, you’ll be able to keep tabs on and gain an understanding of the habits of the prey that you are trying to target.

There are several hunting cameras on the market that offer different features, different benefits, and are available at different price points. As we’ve mentioned, there is no “right” or “wrong” hunting camera, as the one that’s right for you will really depend on your specific needs and what you are hoping to gain from the camera.

In this guide, we’ve provided six of the best trail cameras currently on the market. We firmly believe that each option offers excellent benefits, but again, there are differences between each one. Just remember; before you decide which one to choose, make sure you consider the above-mentioned factors and you should be able to make the best choice for your specific circumstances.

 

Jake is an explorer, he loves all types of outdoor pursuits such as hunting, fishing & hiking. Jake has been a full-time writer & blogger for many years now and he's here to share his passions with the BeActiveOutdoors readers. Contact Jake@beactiveoutdoors.com

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