There’s nothing more beautiful than the great outdoors. The scenery and wildlife create a breathtaking view you can enjoy that anyone would appreciate. Of course, candid shots of wildlife aren’t so easy to get. Enter the trail camera. Also known as a game camera, this type of device is a motion-activated camera that captures movies or stills of wildlife that passes through its field of view. There’s no need for a photographer to wait endless hours just for a shot of something rare. Nature enthusiasts can easily learn about wild animals in their natural habitats. Hunters can even use the same videos to track and hunt animals. Of course, there are quite a number of factors to consider when choosing the best trail cameras for wildlife. If you don’t have the time to figure all of this out, we’ve got just the list for you – the best trail cameras for wildlife in the market today.
Top 10 Trail Cameras Of 2018 Reviewed
1. Stealth Cam G42 No-Glo Trail Game Camera
The Stealth Cam G42 No-Glo Trail Game Camera has 12-megapixel image resolution, 100-ft infrared range, a trigger speed of 0.5 seconds, and a burst mode of 1-9 images. It also features an SD card slot up to 32 GB and can record 5-180 second HD video with audio.
Aside from the usual features (i.e time, date, moon phase), this trail camera also comes with backlit menu programming, a Quick Set pre-programmed option for those who don’t like fiddling with the device, and Secure Lock password protection (you know, in case someone steals it). However, the strap on this thing doesn’t seem to perform well when exposed to the elements. The camera runs through batteries a little bit faster than other models. And the customer service of the manufacturer needs improvement.
- Excellent daytime and nighttime photos
- Secure Lock password protection
- Easy to set up
- Poor quality strap
- Poor customer service
- Eats up batteries
2. Moultrie A-30 Game Camera
The Moultrie A-30 Game Camera features 12-megapixel image resolution, a trigger speed of 0.7 seconds, and a 70-foot infrared flash range. The illumi-night image sensor enables you to capture crisp, clear images of wild game at night. The camera uses 850 nm Infrared Flash Technology which illuminates animals as far away as 70 feet without being detected. And this trail camera is also able to capture 15-second HD videos.
The buttons are backlit so you can set up even under low light conditions. Plus, you can choose between 2 resolution settings when managing image quality and storage. However, the field of view is very narrow so you need to choose carefully where you place it. The strap is a bit flimsy, easily broken. And it’s not compatible with Ultra or High-Speed SD cards.
- Very affordable
- Illumi-night image sensor
- Back-lit buttons
- Narrow FOV
- Flimsy strap
- Not compatible with some SD cards
3. Browning Strike Force Trail Camera
The Browning Strike Force Elite Trail Camera features a PIR Motion Sensor that has a detection range of 55 feet, a motion trigger speed of 0.4 seconds, and a recovery time of 0.8 seconds.
The camera has an Infrared 36-LED Flash with a 100-feet range as well as a Zero Blur Feature which eliminates motion blur at night. Other highlights of the Browning Strike Force Trail Camera include video capability (1280 x 720 HD video clips), a built-in viewing screen, and compatibility to 512 GB SDXC memory cards. However, navigating the menu isn’t easy which makes setting up quite tedious. You also can’t adjust the sensitivity so the camera won’t be able to detect movement from small animals like raccoons, squirrels, and other critters.
- Fast trigger speed and recovery time
- Video capability (2 minutes of video)
- Memory card feature
- Can’t adjust the sensitivity
- Setting up the camera isn’t easy
4. Stealth Cam IR STC-G30 Game Camera
The Stealth Cam IR STC-G30 Game Camera is an 8MP, Red Glow Infrared camera that is perfect for scouting game, particularly during low-light conditions – pre-dawn or late evening. It can be triggered by motion or manually. It has 3 resolutions – 8MP, 4MP, and 2.0MP as well as HD video capability (5 to 180 seconds). The camera also features 30 IR emitters with an 80-foot range, a trigger speed of 0.5 seconds, and a recovery time of 5-59 seconds. It also has Secure Lock password protection and an SD card slot that is compatible up to 32GB.
Even better, you can plug this in using the external 12V power jack if you have a nearby power supply. If you’re not so tech-savvy or don’t want to create custom settings, then this is a good option for you since it comes with preset settings and it’s quite easy to use. However, removing the SD card can be a pain because it’s near the hinge, making it difficult for your fingers to get around it. Also, some users have reported a little washout on their nighttime photos due to the flash. Plus, there’s no way to adjust sensitivity.
- Secure Lock password protection
- Easy setup
- Great for low-light conditions
- Flash can sometimes be too bright
- Hard to remove SD card
- Can’t adjust the sensitivity
5. TEC.BEAN Trail Camera 12MP 1080P Full HD Game & Hunting Camera
This HD IR Trail and Game camera from TEC.BEAN has a lot of features similar to other models – 12 MP 1080P high resolution, Password Protection, 32GB SD card compatibility, and blur reduction. It also has a 12V DC external and a built-in LCD color viewer. And its trigger speed – 0.6 to 0.8 seconds – isn’t the fastest we’ve seen. But it does have several features that others don’t have. It has five capture modes such as motion detection and hybrid mode, longer night vision range (up t 75 feet/23 meters), and an IP66-rated waterproof case. However, there have been complaints of poor customer service/tech support. The manual is poorly written and the strap (yes, again) is poorly made.
- Five capture modes
- Long night vision range
- IP66-rated waterproof case
- Poorly written manual
- Lack of customer service/tech support
- Strap’s buckle breaks easily
6. Bushnell 8MP Trophy Cam HD Trail Camera
The Bushnell 8MP Trophy Cam HD Trail Camera provides you with 8 MP image resolution and 720P HD video with audio, making it a great choice for those who want to monitor wildlife or scout game. It has a very sensitive PIR sensor that can detect motion as far as 60 feet with a trigger speed of 0.6 seconds. What makes this so different from all other models we’ve come across is the Auto-PIR mode where the sensor checks the ambient temperature conditions and adjusts the trigger signal sensitivity accordingly. Another feature we liked is the capability of setting the device to work only during the day or night, or for a full 24-hours.
Plus, the image is stamped with the longitude and latitude of the camera’s position which is incredibly convenient if you have more than one camera set up in the wild. However, you can’t delete pictures directly from the camera; you need to download them to a computer first. Some report the flash as too bright causing an all-white picture. Also, the device is not password protected which we kind of expected at this price point.
- Auto-PIR mode
- Fast trigger speed
- Not password protected
- Flash is sometimes too bright
- Can’t delete pics straight from the camera
7. Day 6 Plotwatcher Pro
Unlike other models in our series, this trail camera from Day 6 Outdoors is not activated by motion. Instead, it is a time lapse only camera which takes photos at preset time intervals. You can set the interval anywhere from 1 second to 60 minutes; programming the device is quite easy, by the way. Scouting wildlife using this trail camera was never so easy. The software of the camera was also incredibly impressive, enabling you to sort through hundreds of pictures in minutes. You can even get additional lenses (2X or wide angle lenses) and use an SD card to increase memory (up to 32GB). However, this is not for nighttime use. Compared to other game cameras, the image isn’t quite as sharp.
- Excellent battery life
- Best in class software
- Easy to use
- Time-lapse only
- The image is not as sharp as other game cameras
- Not for nighttime use
8. Spypoint Solar
Don’t want to run out of batteries and miss the next buck that passes through? Well, the Spypoint Solar Trail Camera should be right up your alley. It’s got a built-in solar panel which doesn’t require direct sunlight so you have almost unlimited battery life. Though, it also runs on 6 AA batteries and features an external 12-volt battery jack. This 12MP camera features red glow infrared LEDs, a 41.4° Field of view, and a 2-inch built-in viewing screen.
Aside from photos, the camera can capture 1280 x 720 video w/ audio and features hybrid mode as well as multi-shot mode. Trigger speed is 0.5 seconds with a recovery time of 0.58 seconds and a detection range of 120 feet. However, some night photos are blurry and dark. It cannot use NiMH rechargeable batteries (though it does have that solar panel). And it is quite expensive.
- Very fast trigger speed
- Built-in solar panel
- Built-in viewing screen
- Cannot use NiMH rechargeable batteries
- Blurry night videos
9. Cuddeback Long Range IR
The Cuddeback Long Range IR isn’t the easiest to set up but for those who want really good image resolution, there’s nothing better. Aside from 20MP resolution, the advanced low-light CMOS image sensor creates crisp, clear images even at night. The trigger speed is 1/4 of a second and the flash range is 100 feet. The recovery speed is also as fast, within 1 second. Other highlights include Zone Control, day/night delays, customizable time-lapse, and burst mode. However, taking out the SD card isn’t easy. And the video does not include sound.
- 20MP resolution
- Extremely fast trigger speed and recovery time
- Zone control
- Difficult to set up
- SD card is hard to get out
- The video does not have sound
10. ENKEEO PH730S Trail Camera
The ENKEEO PH730S Trail Camera has the fastest trigger speed we’ve ever seen at 0.2 to 0.6 seconds. It also features an incredibly wide detection angle at 120° which ensures you never miss getting photos of animals passing by. The camera offers 12MP full-color resolution and 1920x1080P HD video which you can view using the built-in screen. And its IP54 high waterproof certified so you can be assured that your trail camera will continue working in rain, sun, wind, and snow. Other highlights include 2 modes of time-lapse and password protection. However, the strap is a bit on the short side, making it difficult to set up on some trees. It can be difficult to remove the SD card.
- Very fast trigger speed
- IP54 high waterproof certified
- Wide detection angle
- The strap is too short
- SD card is hard to remove
Best Trail Cameras Buying Guide
A trail camera for wildlife is a motion-activated device that can take videos or photos of animals passing through the camera’s field of view. This enables nature enthusiasts to observe animals in their natural habitat or hunters to save time sitting in a blind, just waiting to find a game in the area. Take note that this is just one type of trail camera.
Others can be used for security purposes while some are utilized by photographers to shoot images at obscure angles such as for sports. Naturally, with all the options available as well as different factors to consider, looking for the right trail camera for wildlife can become confusing. This guide should help you get a clearer picture of trail cameras and how to choose the right one.
What are the basic features I should look for?
Weather resistance: A trail camera is going to be exposed to the elements – rain, sun, sleet, snow, and wind. If it can’t survive under any of these conditions, then it’s not worth anything at all.
Lens: a high-quality lens is required if you want clear, detailed shots of wildlife, day or night.
Megapixels: this isn’t the sole deciding factor on picture quality since the lens also plays an important role. So, don’t be fooled by manufacturers who advertise a high pixel count. That being said, a trail camera with 10 megapixels or higher should be sufficient for your needs such as the Moultrie A-30 Game Camera.
Note: the best way to judge a trail camera’s picture quality is to look at actual samples of photos from reviews. This enables you to see color, contrast, clarity, and resolution.
How can I be sure that I can get good night pictures?
Trail cameras come with infrared emitters in order to capture nighttime activity without scaring animals away from the area. The type of flash used by a trail camera will affect the quality of your night pictures.
No Glow Infrared – the infrared light is invisible to the human eye which makes it perfect for capturing images of wildlife. However, the image may be grainier and darker compared to those from other flash types. The Stealth Cam G42 No-Glo Trail Game Camera is a No Glow Infrared camera.
Red Glow Infrared – this enables the trail camera to take brighter photos than No Glow Infrared ones as well as have a longer range. However, the picture will still be in black and white and the glow of the Infrared emitters may be seen by the animals. The Stealth Cam IR STC-G30 Game Camera is an 8MP camera with Red Glow Infrared.
White Flash – this enables you to capture images of wildlife in color. However, the bright white flash can spook animals.
What is trigger speed?
This is the time that elapses from when the motion of an animal first activates the camera and when the camera takes the picture. This feature is crucial because it can mean the difference between getting a clear shot of an animal or taking a photo of their tail as they leave the detection zone. The ENKEEO PH730S Trail Camera has one of the fastest trigger speeds we’ve ever tested at 0.2 seconds.
What is recovery time?
Recovery refers to how fast the camera can store a photo, reset, then be ready to take the second one. The recovery time of a trail camera is dependent on the hardware and circuitry design, specifically the processor. If you want a fast recovery time, the Spypoint Solar is a good choice with 0.58 seconds.
What is the detection zone?
The detection zone is the area (angle + distance) where the camera is able to pick up movement and trigger a photo. This is different from the camera’s field of view which refers to the angle of what the camera can actually see. The latter is dependent on the lens while a trail camera’s detection zone is dependent on the sensitivity of the Passive Infrared Sensor. The ENKEEO PH730S Trail Camera has a detection angle of 120° and a distance of 65 feet.
A trail camera’s detection zone is critical only when you take into account the camera’s FOV and trigger speed. A slow trigger speed may require a detection zone that is wider or equal to the FOV to ensure that the animal is within the frame before the camera takes a shot. A camera with a faster trigger speed, on the other hand, may feature a narrower detection range compared to its FOV.
Other factors to consider
Whichever trail camera you end up choosing, it needs to have enough memory to store hundreds of photos or several minutes of video before you need to retrieve it. Think about how long the camera needs to stay in position as well as how easily accessible the camera is to you. You should also consider how frequently the camera captures video or pictures.
It doesn’t matter how fast or how much memory your trail camera as if it runs out of battery. Look for NiMH or Lithium batteries. NiMH rechargeable batteries last longer in cold weather and won’t require you to change batteries often which is good for the environment. In comparison, lithium batteries are more reliable and have longer battery life overall.
Any extra features I might like?
The features discussed below are nice to have but not essential to capturing images of wildlife.
Memory card: being able to add an SD or microSD memory card to your trail camera can increase the amount of storage available for your photos and enable you to leave it in position longer. You can also replace it with a new memory card, allowing you to keep the trail camera in position while you check out what photos it was able to store.
Video: not all trail cameras for wildlife have video capability. Individuals who wish to study the movement and feeding patterns, as well as interactions of animals, will benefit more with video.
Remote transfer: some cameras have 3G or 4G capability, enabling you to receive images on your smartphone as long as there is cell reception where the camera is located. Cameras with this feature tend to be expensive. However, it does enable you to save on storage space and reduces the number of times you need to visit the camera to retrieve the photos.
Onboard viewer: a built-in LED/LCD viewscreen lets you see the images stored in the camera without having to download the images to a computer. Take note that this feature may be vulnerable to moisture – increasing the potential for the camera to get damaged due to exposure to the elements. The Browning Strike Force Trail Camera is one example of a trail camera that features a built-in viewing screen.