What Is A Trail Camera

Trail cameras are the secret to effectively keeping an eye on the wild animals around you. With lightning-fast trigger speeds, exceptionally high quality and also an abundance of images, game cameras give you all the info and visuals you need. The multitude of camouflage patterns offered assures you will certainly find the ideal trail cam to remain concealed, yet is made to give you the confidence of capturing once-in-a-lifetime pictures. Whether you wish to see where animals come together or the very best area to place feed and supplements, these cameras allow you to see wild animals in their natural habitat without scaring them.

What Are Some Uses?

Many hunters use game cameras to scout their game before and during hunting season. Another common use is for security purposes. Some people use them around a vacation home or camp property to monitor activity when they’re not around. Also, there are wildlife biologists and other scientists who use it to study the behavior of different species in the wild. It is also easy to setup and uses your game camera. There are many uses for game cams and they’re relatively inexpensive, the lowest cost cameras going for around $70 USD. Get one and try it out – you might be surprised with your results.

Bad Ideas for Hunting Cameras?

Just as there are a lot of great ideas for using hunting cameras, there are also plenty of terrible ideas for using them. Some camera housings don’t hold up well in high moisture environments – i.e., they may not work well in rain forests or other high humidity areas. Check the cons in our reviews section that is particularly bad in this area. Also, please respect others privacy. There are some places these cameras should just not be used. Enough said.

The Best Trail Camera Brands 2018

Bushnell Trail Cameras

Bushnell is synonymous with hunting optics and over the past 65 years their products have stood the test of time and I get the feeling that Bushnell is going to be the undeniable leader for many years to come. The quality of their products shows it.

Bushnell is a bit more expensive than its competitors, but you might consider the Bushnell 6MP Trophy Cam Essential. It demands performance and reliability at a really affordable price.

Have you seen the new Bushnell 24MP Trophy Cam?

Moultrie Trail Cameras

Started by the prominent game manager and hunter Dan Moultrie back in 1980, the Moultrie brand name has actually grown to be the best-selling brand name of trail cameras as well as game feeders. Synonymous with sturdiness and high quality, Moultrie prides itself on always developing products the right way as well as with the skilled hunter in mind.

Moultrie has a straightforward idea regarding exactly what all their trail cameras and feeders should help you do.

Click here to see our 4 best rated Moultrie trail cameras

Stealth Cam Trail Cameras

Stealth Cam is known for being the front-runner in new technological developments in game surveillance cameras.

  • In 2004, they moved away from 35mm cameras and introduced digital trail cameras.
  • Then in 2009, they introduced the world’s first High Definition trial camera, capable of shooting stunning full HD video with crisp clear audio.
  • Also in 2010 Stealth Cam introduced the first 3-in-1 trail camera and coined the term TRIAD Technology. TRIAD trail cameras feature the ability to be used in one of three ways. Either as a still image camera, a video camera or a time-lapse camera.

Primos Trail Cameras

Ask any hunter who makes the best game calls and, chances are, you will hear the name Primos.  Within the last several years, however, the company began making other products – such as game trail cameras – to help hunters find additional success.  The line of “Truth” cameras is named after a company video line, “Primos’ Truth About Hunting,” used to market the company’s other products in the mid-1980s.  Primos currently manufactures more than 600 products and holds more than 25 patents and trademarks.  The Primos Truth Cam 35 Camera is one of several game trail cameras made by Primos.

Comparison Guide For  Choosing The Right Trail Camera

Flash

Deciding on what kind of flash you need can be a good way of starting to narrow the choice down to the type of game camera you want. It can be incandescent or infrared. They each have their own advantages as well as disadvantages. There are other types as well, including white LED flash, red glow infrared, and no glow infrared cameras.

As previously mentioned, infrared allows you to take images at night without needing to emit a bright white flash. That way the photo is taken very discreetly, without the animal getting spooked or anybody seeing the flash. Whenever the flash does go off, there is just a small red dot directly on the camera. The drawback is that they only produce black and white nighttime photos.

On the other hand, incandescent cameras provide a color photo that clearly shows the size and type of game. So if you want to see the animal’s true color, then the better choice would be an incandescent camera. The flash provides the crisp nighttime images, which is similar to what you would get from a digital camera. This uses more battery charge up and may scare the animals away.

The two kinds also have different recovery times. The infrared has a shorter recovery time, and can, therefore, snap more photographs in a shorter amount of time. It is less for an incandescent camera.

No glow infrared cameras have a flash that remains invisible to the eye. That can be particularly useful if the camera is being used for home surveillance and security purposes. The passerby or intruder won’t know that a picture is being taken of him by the camera. Animals also won’t notice the camera. Therefore, you can be sure that an image will be captured by the camera without the animal running away. However, the drawback to this kind of camera is that a no glow camera does produce grainier and darker nighttime images. Is also has a lower flash range when compared to other kinds of cameras.

When taking a photo, light is emitted by a red glow camera. However, it is only a faint red glow. Unless you are looking at the camera directly, you most likely won’t even notice a flash. Typically red glow cameras are more clear and brighter compared to the no glow infrared camera.

The only kind of flash capable of producing videos and color images during both the night and daytime is White LED flash. As the camera is recording a video, the LEDs stay on, which results in color images. The drawback is the flash’s bright light, just like there is with an incandescent flash camera. No matter what the object is, a kid playing around, an intruder or animal, that is passing by will be alerted of the camera’s presence. What that means is that anybody who sees it can also steal it potentially.

Which Is The Best Flash Option?

Many users of game cameras prefer the option of infrared for several reasons. However, there are also benefits to the LED flash.

You can expect to get superior picture quality with LED flash trail cameras. They have higher resolution and are more clear and crisp. Another benefit is being able to capture color photos both at night and during the day. However, the flash’s bright light can also scare an animal. LED flash cameras also need to have some time for charging before the next picture can be taken. That results in higher power consumption and longer recovery time.

Infrared cameras, on the other hand, only are able to take black and white photos at night. They may have some blurriness and not be quite as clear. However, as passing object, they do stay nearly invisible, which means there is less chance that the animals will be scared or the camera will be stolen. The faster trigger time and longer battery life are big benefits as well.

So if you are going to be using your camera for watching wildlife from your backyard or care about having higher picture quality, then the better choice might be the LED flash camera. However, if you will be using your camera for home surveillance, scouting or hunting purposes, then it is recommended that you use an infrared camera.

Detection Circuit

The detection circuit is another important characteristic of trail cameras that you should consider when purchasing a trail cam. It is comprised of three features: the recovery time, trigger time and the detection zone.

Detection Zone

When selecting the camera, it is very important that the specifications be checked on the detection distance and width. The detection zone will tell you what the maximum distance is between the animal and camera that will allow it to trigger the animal. This zone includes both the distance and width.

The range gets measured in feet. Usually, the lower priced models will provide about 50 feet, and more advanced models can reach 85 feet or more. Unless you will be mounting the camera in an area with a narrow view field, you should make sure there is a wide detection range on the camera. It would be a real shame if the animal ended up being just a few feet outside of your camera’s detection zone. That is we recommend that you invest in a model that has better distance and width.

Trigger Time

The trigger time refers to the time in between when your hunting camera picks up the motion and heat necessary for triggering the shot and when the photo is actually snapped. The speed on high-end cameras usually is just a fraction of one second. You should try to find a trail camera that has a fast trigger speed since that can mean the difference between just missing the animal and capturing it in the shot.

Look for cameras with trigger speeds of under one second. Otherwise, the animal will most likely be out of range by the time your camera is triggered. Currently, the fastest speed available is 0.25 seconds. Slow models might have trigger speeds up to several seconds.

The only times a slow trigger speed might work for you is if you are going to be using your camera for monitoring a game feeder or food plot. In those situations, the animals are going to moving slowly around the area, so it won’t be all that necessary to have a fast trigger speed.

When trigger speed is a requirement, I suggest you look at the Cuddeback IR Plus trail camera. It has a 0.25 seconds trigger speed. What makes it more impressive is the recovery speed that is less than a second. Imagine a trail camera that takes 2 images while others are still recovering. See pricing and other features.

Recovery Time

This refers to how much time a camera needs before it can capture the next photo. Obviously having a faster recovery time means you can take more photographs. Some of the older models have recovery speeds that are as slow as 30 to 60 seconds. What that means is you can only take one to two pictures a minute. With today’s cameras, it can be as fast as only several seconds.

However, cellular and wireless game cameras (Review) have slower recovery times due to also needing time for transmitting that first captured image. They are reading for taking the next picture after that.

Image Quality

For a hunting camera, one of the more important features is image quality. The devices offer various degrees of view. What that means is the angle width that the camera lens is able to capture. Although 50 is the standard degree, if you are able to get one degree above, that is even better. During the day they are able to produce video and full-color pictures. However, nighttime images are black and white. Infrared flash technology is used for taking nighttime images.

Resolution is another important factor. It refers to the number of pixels that can be contained by an image. Just like with other kinds of cameras, having a higher resolution result in clearer and crisper image. They are also more expensive. You can still get the animal inside the shot using a lower resolution camera. It just won’t be as clear. So you need to decide how important it is for you to have clear images of the animal. Our recommendation is that you look for a camera that has a picture resolution of at least 8 megapixels. When you have a high-resolution trail cam you can zoom in on your picture and view the animal clearly.

My favorite when it comes to image quality is the Bushnell 14MP Trophy Cam HD Aggressor No Glow. It does a remarkable job with its 14MP camera and records still images as well as 1080p HD video clips. You can get it on Amazon for a reasonable price.

Battery Life

A majority of game cams are battery powered. They may run on D, C or AA batteries. Fewer models use 12 or 6-volt batteries. Lower price tends to mean shorter battery life, with more expensive models having the ability to work for longer periods of time. Just remember that if you choose a camera that has a short battery life, you’re going to have to check and replace its batteries continuously. That can be time-consuming and expensive. Infrared cameras work longer compared to incandescent ones since not as much battery life is used. Another factor affecting battery life is temperature. You will need to replace the batteries more frequently if using it in a cold environment.

If you don’t live close to a mounted game camera area, then making sure that your camera has good power is a genuine concern. With many cameras, the batteries will last for months. On the other hand, on other is will only be a couple of weeks. Therefore, you shouldn’t overlook the batteries. Just makes sure the batteries are good quality, no matter which ones you choose. Two good options are Duracell and Energizer.

Game Camera Sites

Choosing the best game camera will depend highly on the area in which you want to watch. Because all game has different behavior patterns and reactions it is important to get the right camera. You want to get as much footage as possible to help you hunt your quarry and the appropriate game camera is just the help you need for accomplishing this task.

Bait Site

Bait sites are commonly used for luring bears into a particular location. They are also used for animals such as deer or coyotes. The basic premise is that you set up a bait site and then obtain footage or pictures from your game camera to monitor when and what types of animals are being attracted to the site. For these reasons, it is important to find a camera that the animals can’t spot. Infrared flash will likely work better here because the bright flash of the incandescent will scare the animals away and prevent them from coming back.

Trapping

When using a camera in a trap site, using the utmost care is paramount. You want to be absolutely certain that the animals in the area cannot see, smell, or detect the camera in any way. For this reason, a black flash camera is often the recommended type. In addition, you’ll want to make sure and choose a camera with wireless capabilities so that once the trap is set, you don’t have to disturb the area again until something has been caught. In addition, you’ll want to know right away when you have caught something.

Food Plots

When using a game camera on a food plot, you are probably going to want the largest range possible. Food plots cover a large area and you’ll want to be able to see what all animals are passing through the area regularly. In order to get the best range, you’ll need a camera with infrared flash. Because food plots are generally on an open field, there is a great chance of other humans coming to the area. For this reason, it would be wise to choose a camera with a lockbox to prevent both human and animal tampering.

Knowing where you’ll use your game camera is the first step in choosing the right one. Each scenario will call for different specifications and requirements. After all, the last thing you want to do is miss out on that trophy buck because of a camera malfunction.

Trail Camera Flash

When it comes to game camera flash, you basically have two options; incandescent or infrared. As with just about anything, there are pros and cons to each. Naturalists, photographers, or anyone who is looking for extreme clarity and high-resolution photos during the nighttime hours will likely prefer the incandescent flash cameras. These cameras emit a sharp, bright, white light that is good for capturing pictures but generally scares away the animals. For hunters or scouts, an infrared flash is probably better. The images aren’t as good, but the animals will be unaware of the camera and will not get spooked. Also, infrared flash means that the camera can still record videos at night, unlike the incandescent versions. Ultimately, it’s going to come down to personal preference and a little trial and error to see what works best for you.

Infrared

Bright flash will give you much better resolution on your nighttime photos, and you have the option of having them saved in color instead of just black and white. An incandescent camera tends to be more budget friendly since it relies on the old school technology of crude flash and shutter. Incandescent cameras do not allow you to record videos at night or during low visibility weather. Also, an intense flash will use up more battery power and can scare away game.

When it comes to the type of flash you want for your game camera, it is a matter of personal choice. Many hunters swear that intense flash spooks game, especially bucks, while others have shown that they notice more animals in the area of a bright flash. If you believe that the flash will scare away game, then choose infrared. If not, then your options are open. Some models offer the option to switch between incandescent and infrared with the flick of a switch, so this might be a good option if you’re on the fence about the matter.

Incandescent

Bright flash will give you much better resolution on your night time photos, and you have the option of having them saved in color instead of just black and white. An incandescent camera tends to be more budget friendly since it relies on the old school technology of crude flash and shutter. Incandescent cameras do not allow you to record videos at night or during low visibility weather. Also, an intense flash will use up more battery power and can scare away game.

When it comes to the type of flash you want for your game camera, it is a matter of personal choice. Many hunters swear that intense flash spooks game, especially bucks, while others have shown that they notice more animals in the area of a bright flash. If you believe that the flash will scare away game, then choose infrared. If not, then your options are open. Some models offer the option to switch between incandescent and infrared with the flick of a switch, so this might be a good option if you’re on the fence about the matter.

Game Camera Extras

No matter which game camera you choose, you’ll likely have the basics covered. You’ll find a time and date stamp somewhere on your photo, a resolution somewhere between one and eight megapixels, and a variable trigger speed. But along with the basics, many cameras have additional features that will make your camera that much more efficient and much easier and more enjoyable for you. Some features to consider:

Some cameras feature laser aiming aids that help you align your camera exactly where you think it will be most effective. This can be especially useful for cameras that have a smaller range. Cameras with a lower range only trigger when there is movement directly in front of the lens, so you want to make sure and make the most of the occasions by having your camera aimed exactly right.

External LCD’s are also becoming common. These readouts will give you information such as how many photos have been taken without you having to open up or trigger the camera. Some models also feature the ability to view small thumbnails of captured photos on the LCD. In addition to an LCD, external viewers are also becoming very common. This means you can watch live video recordings from your camera while you’re at home or work. This allows you to keep even better tabs on what’s happening in your area.

If for whatever reason, you can’t make frequent trips to your camera, it might be worth considering investing in a camera that features an external battery jack. This way, you have the option of hooking the camera up to a 12-volt for an extended battery life. Another alternative is to plug the camera into a solar charger, and the camera can pretty much run indefinitely without a battery change. This would work well for those cameras that also feature the ability to retrieve your photos wirelessly. Fewer trips to the site mean less disturbance for the wildlife to detect.

As with most technology, game cameras are always evolving. Each year, new features become available and the cameras themselves become more efficient. Finding the right game camera for you might take some time and a little trial and error but just about every hunter would agree that it’s worth it in the long run. Most claim that once they tried a game camera, they would never go back to hunting without one again.

A Little Game Trail Camera History

It’s hard to believe that it was in the 1800’s when the first version of a trail camera was used. It seems so long ago. The cameras were called ‘camera traps’ back then because the cameras were usually triggered by a trip wire. The camera itself was bulky and large box-shaped. As soon as photographers were taking photographs, many photographers wanted to capture wildlife of all kinds on film in their natural environment. They shared their findings with people and would hold events called, “slideshows” or “picture shows” as a form of entertainment and a way for the photographers to make a little extra money for their next trip to the wild. Many photographers were sought out for their pictures to be published in magazines.

Wildlife has always intrigued me. My mother was probably the instigator of such an affection of God’s creations no matter how great or small. She always had her eyes peeled for some winged or 4 legged critters in the wild. She always pointed them out to us kids so that we could enjoy that moment with her. I believe that everyone, deep down, has a likeness or respect and awe for the world’s wild animal population. I believe this is what brought photographers to the wilderness in the 1800’s with their big box-shaped cameras and all their added gear they had to tote around with them to get those shots. Granted, the photos back then were certainly of a relatively poor quality, not at all like the photos our game trail cameras produce today, but still, imagine the excitement of being a person in that time viewing an elk, a buffalo, a deer or a grizzly bear from Yellowstone National Park in photo form for the first time. That would have been an absolutely amazing experience and I am sure it was for many.

Time has certainly moved on and photography has not stood still in time. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, there were cameras that were developed that would be triggered by motion, but they still needed to be a little more refined. If you lived in places like Wyoming where most places the wind blows 40 mph 90% of the time and if using one of those cameras, a lot of your photos would have been a disappointment when triggered by blowing dirt, leaves, branches moving and trash instead of wildlife. As camera manufacturers refined the motion sensors in the trail cameras, they could now regulate the amount of motion and determine if it is something of significance before setting off the sensor and taking the picture. It has made it a lot better and less frustrating.

Photography has made an aggressive advancement in technology. We are so spoiled now with these advancements in our now digitally mastered world. It was back in 2006 when the digital cameras actually came into play. So, given this information, if you think of it, game trail cameras as we know them today, really are quite new, but the technology continues to make better game trail cameras which work in any weather or setting and detecting movement at greater distances.

Game trail cameras are not only used for tracking wild game for hunting but for those who may just want to observe the wildlife and capture images of exotic creatures wandering around in the jungle of their back 40, just like wildlife photographers did 200 years ago. Game trail cameras can certainly help you accomplish that task only in a much more simple and accurate manner.

There are a great variety of game trail cameras that come in different sizes, shapes, colors, with flash and infrared flash, which is not detectable and therefore, more discrete. Some game trail cameras come with HD videos and sound and can be used along with solar panels. It all depends on your need or usage of a game trail camera that will determine which one is best for you.

Further Reading:

  • Pros & Cons Of Trail Cameras
  • Security Tips For Trail Cameras
  • Best Rated Trail Cameras
  • Best Trail Camera For The Money
  • Where To Setup A Game Trail Camera
  • Where Should I Place My Trail Camera
  • Black Friday Trail Camera Deals
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