Have you ever walked through a forest and caught a glimpse of an animal from the corner of your eye? Have you ever wondered what the wildlife gets up to when no one is around?
Cameras have become a part of our modern day reality. Many homes and businesses have security surveillance cameras installed around their homes. CCTV cameras are on almost every street corner of every city around the world. It’s all about security and having a permanent watchdog in populated areas.
It was only a matter of time before cameras made an appearance in the wild. Hunters, researchers, and explorers love to keep track of what happens where wildlife like to roam. The trouble is, that most wild animals tend to be skittish when humans are around so physically observing them in their natural habitat can be a bit of a problem.
In comes the trail camera. Gone are those huge metal boxes that used to house actual cameras on timers. Trail cameras are small, compact and can be discreetly placed on trees to capture the activity from local wildlife.
When it comes to trail cameras, there’s a lot to consider. The best trail camera is one you can set and forget. You’ll only need to check it once in a while to collect your images or change the batteries.
We’ve taken a closer look at some awesome trail cameras to highlight the features they offer so you can snap all those magic moments in the forest without scaring the animals with your presence.
The Best Trail Cameras
This Stealth Cam PX12 is a great trail camera at an affordable price. It can take some great images or 15-second video recording. It is triggered by a motion detector which will then take 1 – 6 images in quick succession. It runs on ordinary alkaline or lithium batteries so it is quite economical to operate. The image quality is good for a camera at this price. It is easy to set up and you can test your settings before positioning it for. It has a detection range of about 50 feet so it will capture any images in a decent area for you to view at a later stage.
6.0 Megapixel with 15 second Video recording
12 IR emitters/50 ft.
Burst Mode 1-6 images per triggering
Durable Digital 3-D Camo Housing
Mode and Low Battery Indicator
Time, Date and Moon Phase Stamp
- BrandStealth Cam
- Weight1.25 lbs
Great day images and video
Trigger speed can be a little slow
Images may have too much green saturations
The best trail camera is one that almost goes unnoticed. This Moultrie Game Camera comes in a camouflage design, and once you position it in a tree, it’ll take all the wildlife snaps you need, and some video as well. Pictures taken in daylight come out with amazing clarity and the nighttime ones are quite exceptional too, thanks to the self-adjusting flash. The casing of this trail camera is quite sturdy so you can be sure it will withstand the outdoor elements. The pictures can be stored on an SD card for viewing at a later stage.
Nighttime invisible infrared technology Illuminates up to 60-feet
2 resolution settings, low (1920×1080) and high (4608×2592)
High definition 15-second videos
Sturdy case with a Weatherproof plastic exterior
- Weight15.2 oz
Great image quality
Fast picture detection and 80 ft. detection range
Excellent case design and easy setup options
Battery life not very effective despite requiring 12 AA batteries
Video detection can be slow
If you’re looking for an all-around wildlife camera that will take great daytime and nighttime images, then this Browning Strike Force HD Camera is for you. To start with, the casing has been made to withstand inclement weather and has been designed to blend into the local landscape thanks to the cool camouflage print.
The images this little trail camera takes benefit from zero blur technology and the motion detector triggers incredibly fast. It will also take video footage and everything can be stored on a compatible SD card for future reference. The motion detector is capable of capturing large and small animals.
10 megapixels with IR LED illumination
1280 x 720 HD video
100′ nighttime flash range
Zero Blur technology
Fast .067 trigger speed
- BrandBrowning Trail Cameras
- ModelBTC 5HD
- Weight9 oz
Great picture & video quality
Huge flash range at night
0.3 s. picture trigger speed
Incredibly fast video detection
Picture recovery time has a glitch
Max of 20-second night videos
This Stealth Cam G42 No-Glo Trail Game Camera STC-G42NG could be dubbed the best trail camera under 100 dollars. It offers plenty of coverage and superior detection. Couple that with a super-fast reflex trigger so you can be sure your camera won’t miss a thing. The burst mode can capture 1-9 images each time it is triggered and it can record video as well. The case design is strong enough for use in the wild but will not fail to perform. You will also have the option of storing the GPS coordinates of each file so you can go back over the trail at a later time. It’s easy to set up on any tree or feeder, and will conveniently store the images on an SD card.
Reflex Trigger – .5 seconds
Burst Mode 1-9 images per triggering
SD Card slot up to 32GB
HD Video recording 5-180 seconds with audio
- BrandStealth Cam
- Weight1.49 lbs
Fast trigger speed
Sharp and vivid day photos
High-quality video with sound
Great battery life
Recovery time could be better
Some of the night time photos have white out
LDesign has designed this great Hunting Trail Game Camera for the serious outdoorsman. It is perfect for observing animals and hunters find it perfect to study their habits. This camera offers quick and easy surveillance in the wild, around your home or business. The infrared night vision is triggered my motion and the images that are stored can be played back on your computer or other devices. The images are amazingly clear and the case looks every bit as robust as it is.
Full-color CMOS sensor
1920×10820 HD video record，
Brightly colored images captured during the daytime,
Multi-shot modes available for photo and video
All weather camera
- Weight1.28 lbs
Easy to use and very durable.
65 feet of real night vision distance from outdoor wildlife
5-60 seconds programmable video length
Long standby time
Can only be powered with 6AA batteries
Only accepts 32GB SD card
Wildgame Innovations Terra Extreme is the best trail camera for the game enthusiast. This camera can capture images up to 55 feet so you can capture images to track animal migration and habits. It can also be used to report illegal hunting and other activities in the forest. The matte finish makes this camera difficult to detect and with a battery life of up to 6 months, you’ll get plenty of images for all of your research and exploration requirements. All you need to do is set this camera up in a discreet location and simply check on it once in a while.
10 Megapixel with 55ft. Invisible flash Illumination range.
Daytime and nighttime photo and video (15 sec.) capabilities
Less than 1-second rapid trigger speed
Energy efficient for long term Use in the field.
Battery life up to 6 months
- BrandWild Game Innovations
- Weight13.8 oz
Solid, well-built camera
Great Video Footage
Good battery life
Red light flashes when image is captured
Hard to detect unless you look straight at it
Shutter speed and reset not very quick
This Force Si Trail Camera is an infrared game camera from Spypoint has an incredibly fast detection speed and will capture any images whether it’s day or night. The night images are somewhat blurry, but still above average when it comes to night imagery. The daylight images it can capture are exceptionally clear. It is easy to set up and with long battery life, you can set up your camera and let it do your surveillance work for you. It can also take video footage and the super strong casing will ensure your images are protected until you are ready to collect the SD card and view them on your computer.
Photo resolution 10 mpxl
Red glow infrared flash
Long battery life
Quick motion trigger
- Weight1.1 lbs
Super-fast detection speeds
20-month battery life in picture mode
Very easy to setup
Great night videos
No built-in python bracket
Moderate blurring on pictures with movement
Cannot use rechargeable batteries
Campark manufactures this fantastic Trail Game Camera and it does an amazing job of capturing images of wildlife in their natural environment. The resolution is sharper and clearer than most cameras can capture so you will enjoy some spectacular images. The wide angle lens allows for an even wider span so you will see more. The motion detector ensures long life battery because it will only work when it needs to work and the trigger speed means you won’t miss a thing. This camera is waterproof and tough enough to withstand all the robustness in the forest. It looks every bit as tough as it is.
14MP Clearer Image + 1080P Sharper Video Resolution
Faster 0.3s Trigger Speed
Excellent Sensitivity and Night Vision
120° Wide Angle Lens
Easy to operate
- Weight1.1 lbs
Can detect movement till 20m
Long standby time
Waterproof, sturdy and resilient
Easy to set up/operate
Slight buffer with video
Although the night time images may be a little blurry, the trigger is less than 1 second and will take 3 images instantly. That makes Victure Trail Camera an exceptional wildlife night camera for the budding hunter. The photo and video quality are crystal clear so you’ll be happy with your snaps. This camera is easy to set up and you don’t need to monitor it too closely as it will also alert you when the battery is too low.
Overall, this is a fantastic camera for the wildlife enthusiast, but also exceptional as a security camera or to track the movements of wildlife on your property. It is also weatherproof and can withstand even the most difficult weather conditions including strong winds and torrential rains
12 MegaPixel video and picture capturing
Up to three pictures per trigger
Low-glow black IR LED flash
Multiple recording modes
Two-inch LCD screen
- Weight1.31 lbs
External and internal power ports
A trigger can be overly sensitive
Night vision pictures can be unclear
This device from BoneView is for use with a wireless game camera. It is compatible with Apple iPhones and iPads and will generally work with any wireless trail camera on the market. BoneView SD MicroSD Card Reader Trail Cam requires no batteries so you will not miss out on capturing your wildlife images. Because it can be adapted to your phone, this device does not require Wi-Fi or an internet connection.
Instantly view, save, share and delete your images and videos with your smartphone!
COMPATIBLE with Apple iPhone & iPad models
WORKS with all trail cameras on the market
No internet, Wi-Fi or phone service required
No batteries required
- Weight0.8 oz
Works with Apple iPhones and iPads
Can be used in isolated areas of the forest without Wi-Fi
Free app for viewing images
Can break easily if mishandled
If device becomes unresponsive, images could be lost
Trail Camera Buying Guide & FAQs
How We Chose Our Selection Of Trail Cameras
Brand - When it comes to selecting trail cameras, we chose brands and manufacturers who do not skimp on using top quality materials. Quality construction is important, but even more, so is understanding how a trail camera should function. For this reason, we chose brands with a proven history of producing exceptional cameras for use in extreme conditions.
Price - When it comes to outdoor and hunting equipment, participants are already spending a considerable portion of their disposable income. That doesn’t mean they have to break the bank with every piece of equipment they purchase. For this reason, we looked at a variety of trail cameras in different price ranges to suit all tastes and budgets.
Price is often a reflection of quality and different features and although this is also the case with trail cameras, spending the most money doesn't necessarily mean you have the best camera. It is usually a matter of evaluating your requirements and selecting the best trail camera you can afford. Fortunately, there are several exceptional trail cameras to choose from that offer a wide range of features so that it is possible to choose one at a suitable price for you.
Reviews - One of the best ways to gauge the effectiveness of a product is to try it for yourself. Unfortunately, this isn't always possible so we often rely on word of mouth. This too, may not be possible unless you personally know a person with the particular product you are considering purchasing. That is why product reviews can be an invaluable tool in narrowing down the list of what's hot and what's not for a particular product.
When we checked reviews for trail cameras, we paid close attention to the best points of each review. As important as the positives are, the negatives give us the best information. The negatives tell us what to look out for. Of course, we need to consider that each review is an independent evaluation of one person's experience and we still like to look at the overall picture before drawing our own conclusions.
Things To Consider When Purchasing Trail Cameras
Range - The range of a trail camera should depend on the area you are hoping to photograph. If you plan on setting up near a cave or a small clearing, you may be able to get away with a range of 40 feet. However, if you need to cover a larger area, you can get a range as high as 120 feet. It will primarily depend on the types of animals you are hoping to photograph and the area you plan on photographing in. It is also worth keeping in mind, that the range will be less during the night.
Battery - With most trail cameras you can use ordinary batteries or lithium batteries. Depending on the batteries you choose, you could have power from 2 - 6 months. The other variable is the amount of activity in the area where you have set up your trail camera. Most trail cameras work on motion detection so if the area you have set up the camera has very little activity, the camera will not be working as often and that means it can power the camera for longer. However, that would defeat the purpose of setting up the camera because the idea is to capture as much wildlife movement as possible. Don't opt for cheap batteries though. You may be saving at the checkout when you purchase them, but you will need to replace them more often so you should look at getting long life batteries that will last longer.
Storage - There is a possibility that you will leave your trail camera at its post in the forest for months on end. During that time it will be capturing hundreds of images. That means you will need an SD card with considerable storage capacity. Many of the trail cameras in this selection need a minimum of 32 GB of storage and realistically, you will need that amount and more. When you first start using your trail camera, you may find yourself checking the memory and other features quite regularly. Once you can establish a pattern of usage you can then check your storage at appropriate intervals.
Camouflage - It is highly unlikely that animals will pay attention to a plastic box on a tree, however, camouflage is still a major consideration when it comes to purchasing a trail camera. Concealment is still a priority where trail cameras are concerned. The less noticeable they are the less likely animals will develop a curiosity for the "thing in the tree".
Another reason camouflage is important when choosing a trail camera is to avoid having your unit stolen by other hunters. While most hunters will not be looking at thousands of trees for a wildlife camera, if they do spot one, human nature may tempt them to take the camera for themselves. The more it blends into its surrounding s the better. This is doubly important if the camera is being used by authorities to deter poachers or illegal woodcutters.
Night Mode - Some trail cameras only capture during daylight hours. Others take photographs during the day and night. The images captured in night mode will always be of a lesser clarity than those captured during the day. Most trail cameras will not be able to capture night images in color, however, they will still be able to produce clear imagery.
If your hunting activities involve looking for nocturnal animals a trail camera with night vision is a great tool. It is also an invaluable tool for researchers to track animal activity in a particular area during the night.
Another effective use for night mode is to track any illegal activity that may be going on in the wilderness at night. Of course, this is also the case if you choose to install your trail camera at your home or business.
Connectivity - The main purpose of a trail camera is to photograph wildlife and game. That usually means the camera is set up in a remote or isolated area far away from modern amenities. This means you may not have direct connectivity between your trail camera and a digital device like your smartphone or laptop.
However, a Wi-Fi game camera installed as a component of home or business security may be able to be set up to work via your Wi-Fi connection.
Trail Camera FAQ
Q: What Is A Trail Camera?
A: A trail camera is often referred to as a deer camera or a remote camera. Trail cameras are mostly used in sports photography but they have become popular with hunters and other outdoorsmen. These cameras are sensitive, high tech pieces of equipment enclosed in a sturdy, weatherproof casing. The cameras are attached to trees, feeders or another area in a remote area and are then set to detect motion and take pictures accordingly.
The main purpose of the camera is to be used in a situation where it is not possible for the photographer to take capture the images himself. When it comes to taking photographs in the wild, it is not always possible to take happy snaps of animals because they tend to avoid any close proximity to humans. By setting up a trail camera, the images of wild animals can be captured in their natural environment and behaving naturally. They don't pay any attention to the camera leading to more natural photographs.
Field cameras can have also become popular in professional uses. In many countries, the forestry authorities have used the footage to stop illegal hunting, unauthorized wood chopping, and other illegal activities. They can also be used by large property owners to track the movement of animals on their properties.
Q: How Much Range Do Trail Cameras Have?
A: Trail cameras need to have a good range. The range can be as low as 40 feet, or as high as about 120 feet.
Choosing the right range depends on the area you are hoping to capture. If you are only looking at capturing images inside a cave or a small clearing, choosing a lower range trail camera would be fine. However, when it comes to large fields or mountain areas, the longer range would be more beneficial.
Q: How Do Game Cameras Work?
A: The primary purpose of game cameras is to capture and record images during the day or at night. These images are then stored to an SD card so it can be viewed at a later stage on a computer or other device.
Photographers, particularly wildlife photographers, came up with the idea for this type of cameras so they could get the most realistic photographs possible of wildlife. Without a human presence, the animal's behavior will be more natural and calm.
Trail cameras are generally inexpensive and yet perform extremely well. They can be set up to take photographs on motion detectors. That means the cameras will stay idle until they sense movement in the range finder.
Some field cameras can send captured images directly to a smartphone or other digital device, while others require the insertion of an SD card to store the images to be viewed at a later stage.
Q: Where Do I Set Up A Trail Camera?
A: The most obvious place to set up a trail camera is where it will most likely pick up images of animals. One of the easiest places to set up a trail camera is where animals eat. This could be in an area where animals habitually feed, but they can also be set up next to feeders or places where salt is left for animals.
Another place to consider is where there is a source of water. Just like feeding, animals need to drink so it is inevitable that they will come to quench their thirst at some point. Animal droppings or feces are also a good indication that animals are nearby.
Depending on the animals you are hoping to capture, you should look at placing your trail camera about 4 or 5 feet above the ground. However, you may need to raise the camera during the winter if you live in an area that gets a considerable snowfall.
If you're mainly looking at using field cameras for surveillance, then you will definitely need to consider placing them a little higher, but not too high so that the camera won't be able to capture the images. The correct angle is also important and you should never aim the camera directly at the sun. The glare will blur all of your images.
Whatever your reasons for considering purchasing a trail camera, there is sure to be one to suit your needs. Bringing technology into the wilderness will make it easier for hunters, nature enthusiasts, and authorities. They will also be a crucial piece of equipment for those who are studying animals as they will have access to images and footage without disturbing the natural habits of the wildlife in a particular area. You’ll have the information to study the animals feeding and migration habits as well as discovering where their favorite feeding spots are.
Taking pictures has become a hobby for many people and social media is evidence of this trend. Instead of the usual boring selfie, plates of food and other mundane photographs, how much more exciting and impressive would it be to share photographs of wild animals, up close and personal?
Who knows, you may end up with a photograph an elusive animal that normally likes to remain hidden.