This guide covers TOP-5 best trail cameras and discusses the difference between wildlife, cabin security and cellular types. You will learn how these devices work, depending on whether it is a no-glow, low-glow or a red-glow model. Find out the advantages of cellular and solar-powered options as well as other features present in modern models. Read a FAQ section to get answers to the most common customers’ questions and check a comparison chart to pick up the best bet for you.
What You Will Learn From This Guide:
- How does a trail camera work?
- Types of trail cameras
- What to look for when buying a trail camera
- TOP-5 best trail cameras
Unlike humans, wildlife do not generally like their picture taken. Specialized trail cameras have become essential outdoor aids for covertly detecting and silently capturing animals on video or photo without the need for personal interaction of any kind. They may also be effective in detecting thieves either of the animal or human variety.
These devices are typically durable, weatherproof, time and temperature stamp display instruments that can be left outdoors in all weather for extended periods. They operate day or night, and are valuable tools not only for the avid hunter, game officer, or livestock farmer, but also for researchers, wildlife photographers, and game monitors.
Many operations use such units for cabin security to ward off vandalism. Wireless technology enables anyone to capture images via a wi-fi connection. Cell technology takes it one step further and allows captured images to be sent to your phone by text or email. Networking this way enables wildlife and monitoring personnel as well as hunters and enthusiasts coordinate, communicate, and enhance their sporting/work experiences.
How Does a Trail Camera Work?
They are generally mounted high up and at a distance. This increases the camera’s overall detection range and reduces the risk the instrument may be vandalized, seen, or stolen.
The camera’s built-in passive infrared sensor recognizes temperature changes whenever movement is detected. It immediately begins taking pictures or recording video. Detection sensitivity is generally manually adjusted although some upper-scale models are programmed to adjust themselves. Motion capture also allows you more control over how many pictures the camera takes. You may set the motion trigger on delay or for time intervals so your SD memory does not overfill too soon.
Infrared models produce black and white night photos. Colorized night photos are produced by white flash devices. The camera’s night photo flash may be no glow, low glow, or red glow.
No Glow (Game) Cameras
No glow cameras do not produce night photo light/flash that is visible to the human eye. No glow cameras are recommended for wildlife and security observation.
Low Glow (Surveillance) Cameras
Low glow cameras produce night photo light/flash that is barely visible to the human eye. Low glow cameras offer brighter night photos. They are recommended for wildlife and security observation where greater detail is desired.
Red Glow (Game) Cameras
Red glow trail camera IR emitters produce a dim light/flash when pictures or video are taken at night. They are generally less expensive than no glow cameras and tend to produce clearer, brighter, and very detailed night photos. They are recommended when wildlife species ID is required.
The primary advantage of having a wildlife trail cameras is your increased ability to visually document and study animal data and behavior over a period of time without harming the animal or adversely impacting its surrounding environment. Public awareness about endangered species may also be raised as a result. These cameras may also be used for surveillance (i.e.: poaching) and securing areas (i.e.: deter vandalism).
Technologies: Wireless/Cellular/Solar Powered
Cellular and wireless models join audio/HD video, black flash, and solar powered camera technologies.
Wireless cameras allow you to check the camera, images, and video without having to physically go where the camera is located. There must be a strong wifi signal connection where the camera is located for it to work properly. It requires you to subscribe to a (2G/3G) wifi plan. SIM card size will determine the number of pics/videos you can send.
Cell trail cameras allow you to send video and photos to a remote phone by email or text over a network you subscribe to. There must be a strong (min. 3-bar) connection where the camera is located for it to transmit properly.
Texting and emailing photos quickly drain wireless trail camera batteries. Some wireless models run on solar, which extends your battery life. Solar-powered devices reduce the need to check the camera (to be sure it’s still operating) so often. It also allows you to set up cameras over greater distances.
Types of Trail Cameras
A wildlife camera takes a photo or video whenever it detects heat and motion. Different models emit a red glow (provide clearer pic and species ID) or no glow (invisible to the human eye). The pics/videos are stored on the SD memory card.
Cabin Security Cameras
Cabin security cameras are not readily visible and effectively records acts of break-ins, theft, or vandalism. They are lithium battery-powered and operate 24/7. Low glow or no glow infrared cameras capture the thief in the act day or night without detection. The camera’s SD memory card stores thousands of images.
Cellular Trail Cameras
They send captured pics/videos directly to your phone via email or text. Although it is not necessary that your camera operates on the same network as your phone, you must be subscribed to a wireless plan that gives you at least 3 bars of reception in the area where your camera is located.
What to Look for When Buying a Trail Camera
There are differences between the types of these devices. For instance, there are wireless models, and then there are wireless options that also have cell capability. Be sure the wireless/cell camera you choose has not only a great camera and functions and image management, but also is easy to setup and a reasonable payment plan.
Before buying, review the camera’s specs and capabilities:
- Do you want a digital camera w/SD card that can be left unattended for extended periods, that transmits via text/email?
- How well, and what is the maximum detection range?
- What is the battery life? Does it offer an alternative power source (solar)?
- What type of infrared flash does it have? Will it produce the nighttime detailed pics you want and need?
- Is there an internal viewing screen?
- Have you compared picture/video (brand and model) quality from established camera traps?
- Is it easy to set up?
The type you choose will depend on how you intend to use it (i.e.: hunting, research, surveillance, artistic, etc.) and if you want photos only or photos and video capabilities. Any trail camera should give you high quality images, be easy to conceal, and weatherproof.
Detection Range/Detection Zone
The detection zone is the camera’s field-of-view. The detection range is how broad the camera’s heat and motion sensors span is. Detection width and reach make up the detection zone. Each camera model has its own specified detection limits.
Trigger Speed and Recovery Time
Cameras used for surveillance, wildlife observation, etc. need a trigger speed that can readily capture quick action without blurring. The trigger speed and detection range work together. When heat and motion are detected, an image is automatically taken. Any person or animal entering or crossing the detection field is immediately captured by photo/video. The trigger speed is the time between sensor detection and the photo capture of the motion. The recovery time is how fast the camera can store the first pic and be ready for the next photo.
More megapixels means greater image resolution and quality. A researcher, for instance, needs higher image resolution for minute photo detail. A trail camera that enables you to adjust image resolution not only gives you control over picture quality but it also helps you avoid running out of memory (during extended use).
The size and capacity of the camera's battery determines the uninterrupted duration of the device’s operation. A larger battery does not need to be recharged or changed as often.
If your camera will be left unattended for extended periods, you may find a larger rechargeable battery not only has a longer life and fare better in colder months, but they also save you money in the long run. Lithium batteries are typically the most reliable and have the longest battery life.
TOP-5 Best Trail Cameras
Below, you will find a review of TOP-5 best products at a price ranging from $40 to $320. All these models have high-resolution cameras and run on batteries but differ in design and detection range. Generally, such devices are waterproof, something that is crucial for long-term exploitation in the wilderness. In addition, there are motion-activated and night-vision models, which is particularly essential for hunters.
Waterproof 14MP 1080P Trail Camera | Campark T45
The sturdy, waterproof Campark T45 hunting scouting trail cam is an affordable, user-friendly game camera that produces crystal clear 14MP images and 1080P video.
The T45 is powered by (8) 1.5 AA batteries and supported by an external DC 6V power supply. It has a long and wide-angle 65-foot (20m), 120-deg. detection range. It also has 3 passive infrared sensors for superior infrared night vision, increased trigger sensitivity (shorter 0.3S time), and less battery consumption. The upgraded, low glow IR 42 pcs LED, 850nm flash technology produces clear, detailed nighttime images without setting off a bright flash that may spook the animal(s).
The Campark T45 trail hunting scouting game cam is well-suited for hunting and wildlife and farm monitoring as well as for home security. The required micro SD card and batteries are not included. It does include a 45-day money back guarantee and 1-yr. warranty and after-sale service.
Campark T45: Check the current price
Hunting HD Trail Camera | Campark T70
The waterproof Campark T70 game hunting trail cam is a high-quality, user-friendly camera that produces vivid 14MP color daytime images/B&W night images and 1080P FHD (1920*1080) video displayed on a 2.4” color TFT LCD screen.
It has a threaded tripod and mounting strap for easy installation and USB 2.0 connection for wifi/cell operation. It also features a timer and time-stamp options, hybrid mode, interval recording and real time replay.
The T70 is powered by (8) 1.5 AA (LR6) batteries and supported by an external DC 6V 2.0A power supply. It has a long 65-foot (20m) detection range, increased trigger speed (0.5S), and low battery consumption that may be extended when in standby mode. It has a fully-automatic no glow IR 44 pcs LED, 940nm flash technology that produces clear, detailed nighttime images/video.
The Campark T70 game hunting trail cam 10-60sec /1-3 min video is best for hunting, wildlife, farm, and security monitoring. The required micro SD card, batteries, and external connector are not included. It includes a 45-day money back guarantee and 1-yr. warranty and after-sale service.
Campark T70: Check the current price
Motion-Activated Trail Game Camera | Victure
The IP66 waterproof Victure HC200 trail cam is a high-resolution game camera that produces vivid 12MP color daytime images/B&W night images and 1080P video. It is powered by (8) 1.5 AA (LR6) batteries, supported by an external DC 6V power supply, and has 3 camera/video working modes for controlled recording and images.
The model has a long and broad 65-foot (20m), 90-deg. detection range. It also features time switch/pre-set, time lapse, and time-stamp options, and password protection.
It has quick trigger sensitivity (0.5S) for lower battery consumption. The no glow IR 26 pcs LED flash technology produces clear, no-blur nighttime images without a bright flash spooking the animal(s).
This Victure trail hunting scouting game cam is well-suited for hunting, wildlife, farm monitoring and home surveillance. It also includes a 1-yr. warranty. The required micro SD card and batteries are not included.
Victure: Check the current price
Full HD Trail Camera | Foxelli
The all-weather, water-resistant Foxelli trail cam is a wildlife, scouting, hunting, and security camera that produces vivid 14MP color daytime images/B&W night images and 1080P FHD video displayed on a 2.4” color LCD screen. It is powered by (4 or 8) 1.5 AA (LR6) batteries.
The model has a long and wide-view 65-foot (20m), 120-deg. detection range. It has a 5-ft. mounting strap and USB cable/connection and features an intuitive menu, password protection, timer and time-stamp, hybrid mode, interval recording, and real time replay.
It has quick PIR trigger sensitivity (0.5S) and extra-long battery life in standby mode. The low glow IR 42 pcs LED flash technology produces clear, no-blur nighttime images without a bright flash.
This easy-to-operate Foxelli trail game cam is well-suited for hunting, wildlife, farm monitoring and home surveillance. It also includes a 120-day money back guarantee and 1-yr. warranty. The required micro SD card and batteries are not included.
Foxelli: Check the current price
Cellular Trail Camera | SPYPOINT Link-EVO
The premium-brand, easy, app-activated SPYPOINT Link-EVO is an inexpensive, high-performance cellular trail cam with AI Buck Tracker. It has a pre-activated SIM card and connects on Verizon 4G/LTE and AT&T cell towers. It produces 12MP color daytime images/B&W night images and HD video displayed on a 2” color screen.
It is powered by (8) AA batteries and has an external 12V battery jack. It comes with a RP-SMA male connector and USB cable/connection. It has an 80-foot detection range and quick trigger sensitivity (0.3S) for longer battery life. The red glow IR 42 pcs LED, 90-foot flash range technology allows clearer nighttime images.
This easy-to-setup SPYPOINT trail game cam is one of the least expensive cameras on the market. SPYPOINT offers a long omnidirectional antenna for reliable cell operation, high-end products/services, app plan, and 2-yr. warranty. The required SD memory card and batteries are not included.
SPYPOINT Link-EVO: Check the current price
Comparison Chart of Trail Camera Effectiveness
Power: Internal: (8) 1.5V AA batteries; External: DC 6V power supply
Power: Internal: (8) 1.5V AA (LR6) batteries; External: DC 6V power supply
Power: Internal: (8) 1.5V AA (LR6) batteries; External: DC 6V power supply
Foxelli Full HD
Power: Internal: (4 or 8) 1.5V AA batteries; External: DC 6V power supply
Power: Internal: (8) AA batteries; External: 12V power supply
Which trail camera is the best one?
Of those reviewed, SPYPOINT’s Link-EVO is a tested/well-known, easy-to-setup and use cellular device for anyone on a budget.
Which camera sends photos to a phone?
Wireless/cellular models send text/email photos to your cell phone.
How do you set up the device?
Ensure your camera’s location can receive adequate wireless/cell reception. Install charged batteries and SD memory card. Test the trigger speed, frequency, and flash mode. Mount the camera and personally test its activation and results.
Will a SDHC card work in a trail camera?
Standard size SDHC SD cards work in modern trail cameras (post 2017) that record HD video.
Can it be used for home security?
Yes. A well-placed, battery-powered security model can monitor your property 24/7 in all weather conditions.
Advantages & Drawbacks of Using Trail Cameras
Trail cameras are an efficient and easy means of remotely spotting, observing, and photographing and/or video recording wildlife and security. You may view what the camera sees in real time receiving photos and/or videos via text or phone.
Mounted digital models with long-life batteries reduce the time invested in checking the camera and films. The mounted camera alone can be a deterrent to trespassers. The flash and resolution determines detail clarity and clear identification of species, persons, etc.
The primary drawback of trail cameras is its limited scope and the cost of needing to buy several cameras to ensure the full scope, range, and all angles of wildlife observation or surveillance are covered. Theft is another potential expense.
Trail cameras have increased the types of information collected and the advances in hunting and wildlife research and preservation, photography, and artistic pursuits as well as for property security.
Longer-life lithium batteries and solar powered camera technologies enhance the benefits of modern digital wireless/cellular models with minimal maintenance. These cameras are weatherproof, wifi and networked connected, easy to set up, and convenient to use. They provide photo series and video sent right to your phone that is detailed and not blurred.