Trail Camera Buyer’s Guide

Trail cameras or wildlife cameras are used to capture images and videos of wildlife in your absence. These cameras help to capture the activity of rarely seen wildlife, keep an eye on animals without disturbing them and observe the presence and movements of wildlife. Watching these animals is a hobby of wildlife enthusiasts, kids, or ordinary people who enjoy such things.

A trail camera is best suited for its purpose. There are so many options in the market that it becomes difficult to choose a trail camera. It is essential to consider the features you’ll require and how you will use that camera that will help you choose the best trail camera for yourself. So, let us have a look at the features to consider while buying the best trail camera.


  1. Image and video quality

    The main work of a trail camera is to capture images and videos of the wildlife. So it is necessary to ensure that the image and video quality matches your expectations. For a wildlife photographer, it is essential to have the highest megapixel count, but just for observing as a hobby or home security, an average megapixel quality camera may work. At least 7MP is recommended, but it is recommended to have 10MP or more for capturing at night.

    Some people use the video feature of a trail camera to record the animals. Similar to the images, the higher the resolution, the sharper and clearer the video will be. To see the most delicate details of the animals, an HD video, i.e., a video with resolution 720p or 1080p, is a great option.

  2. Trigger speed and recovery time

    Trigger speed is described as the time in which it detects and captures a picture of the motion. The less time the camera takes, the better it is considered. The range of trigger speed in cameras is from 0.14 seconds to 4 seconds. Most of the cameras have a half-second trigger speed or less. But the cameras that have a slower speed do not capture the animal entirely.

    Recovery time is one of the essential features of trail cameras. It is the time taken by the trail camera to reset itself after one photo is already captured. Recovery time ranges from one second to one minute, and cameras with slow recovery time can miss essential shots. The good cameras nowadays have a recovery time of 5 seconds or less.
    Thus, you must select a camera with a fast trigger speed and quick recovery time to capture everything in the detection zone.

  3. Battery life

    The common problem with the trail camera that most people face is that they do not get images when the temperature falls; this is mainly due to the alkaline batteries used in these cameras. These batteries shut down at freezing temperature. Therefore, one must opt for NiMH or lithium batteries as they work with consistent voltage throughout.

    Remember, the more features your camera has, the more battery it will consume. Therefore, try to choose the cameras with a battery indicator, as this will save you from an unexpected shutdown.

  4. Storage capacity

    Most of the people used SD cards in their cameras to store images and videos. The storage requirement depends upon your usage. If you use a trail camera for security purposes, it would require high storage space. Storage of a trail camera ranges between 8 GB to 32 GB. High-resolution videos and images will eat up more storage space. You must even choose the quality of your SD card wisely for the safety of your videos and photos. Not all SD cards are compatible with all the cameras. Some technical issues with the camera may even corrupt the SD cards.

  5. Detection range

    It is the maximum distance at which a camera creates a detection zone and can capture the animal’s movement. A more extended detection range is better as it covers more ground and is perfect for viewing a large field for animals.

    These cameras generally offer a detection range of being as close as 40 feet and as far as 120 feet. It is much advisable to choose a farther range as it helps in covering a large field of view. A wide detection range would help you capture more pictures and target more animals.

  6. Flash

    Another vital feature to consider in the trail camera is the flash type. Flash in a trail camera works the same as a flash in a regular camera, i.e., light up the target and capture a clear image. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that your camera has the right flash type according to the area so that the pictures you want to click are clear and valuable for you.

    There are mainly three types of flash – white flash, infrared flash, and black flash.
    A white flashlight helps to capture full-color images even at night. But its light is too bright that can scare the wildlife; as a result, they disappear from that area.

    Infrared flashes are comparatively less noticeable than white flashlights. These lights take black and white images at night. These types of lights are significant for hunters as they are less likely to alert wildlife.

    Black flash cameras are primarily similar to infrared cameras, apart from the fact that they are entirely invisible even to humans. The pictures are darker and do not capture background details but provide an image clear enough to analyze the wildlife.

  7. Viewing screens

    Viewing screens can be important when placing the camera at a height and the right angle but not all cameras have a built-in screen. A small viewing screen is of no use, but a large viewing screen may impair the size of your camera.

    In addition, this feature will consume more battery of your camera. Some cameras have HD supporting and LCD viewing screens, but it depends on your requirement for what type of viewing screen you need. An LCD screen is costly but much better as compared to a usual screen.

Types of cameras

There are five different types of trail cameras, namely:

  • Cellular camera
  • Wireless WI-Fi camera
  • Security cameras
  • Infrared cameras
  • Flash cameras

It depends on you to choose among these types according to your requirements.


Trail cameras have become an essential hunting tool. They have become so helpful that photographers even use them as a hobby and for home security. Apart from the above features, one must also keep in mind the budget and price, burst mode, time-lapse mode, hybrid mode, security boxed and anti-theft cables, and other accessories. There are many trail cameras available, but one must choose wisely considering the features and the requirement.

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