Trail cameras have been a game changer for hunters. With the use of trail cameras hunters are able to track their hunting areas, track potential targets and its habits without setting foot in the woods. Providing hunters with the ability to stalk their game prior to stepping into the woods is the main and most important advantage of hunting with trail cameras. For hunters it’s like getting the gift of time. However, with so many trail cameras on the market today and so many options to consider when purchasing one, how do you choose? Look no further, we’ve broken it down into the top ten features you need to scout out for your next trail camera.
1. Image Quality The resolution or quality of the picture seen on the camera is measured in mega pixels. The more MP the better the picture will be. Basic trail cameras start at 2MP and get to as high of a resolution as 20MP. Having at least 7MP is recommended. But for capturing and studying game at night, nothing lower then 10MP is recommended.
2. Trigger Time Trigger time is the time in which the camera detects movement and captures a picture of the movement. The less time the better the camera. Trigger time in cameras can range from 0.14 seconds to 4 seconds.
3. Battery and Power Options Most brands offer a range of battery life between six months up to a year. Keep in mind the more tricks and features your camera has the more likely it is to drain the camera battery much sooner. Look for cameras with at least eight sockets for AA batteries or rechargeable ones will be more expensive in the beginning but will last for years. Always try to go for a camera with a battery indicator included.
Photo courtesy of OutdoorHub.com
4. Detection Circuit Detection circuit identifies the range (feet) in which the camera is able to detect motion and trigger the camera to capture a photo. The longer the range the better the camera and average range for most trail cameras is between 60-70 feet. Field of view is another important element to take note of which will provide the width of the angels which the camera can detect movement. A wider field of view will aid you because the wider the shoot the longer time the game with be in camera view.
5. Memory Measured in Giga Bites, the memory is the amount of photos or video your camera will be able to store if it is not cellular or wireless. Trail camera storage on an SD card can range between 8 GB to 32 GB. 6. Flash vs. Infrared Flash (LEDs or incandescent flash) has a bright white light in order to take pictures in the shadows or dark. Picture quality and contrast are excellent and fairly decent in the day time. The disadvantage of the flash is the ability it has to spook your game. Infrared (invisible flash) creates an invisible zone and won’t spoke your game. Ideally suited for capturing game at night.
Photo courtesy of Remote Camera Trap
7. Video or Picture Similar to picture quality (measuring in Mega Pixels) average resolution is 5-7MP. Most trail cameras available today have video option and will support a video ranging from 3-300 seconds. Trail camera flashlights can have a huge impact on the video picture quality and detection range. See #6: Flash vs. Infrared.
8. Security Boxed and Anti-Theft Cables Trail cameras can become victims of theft or damage. Using a camera with a theft cable or a security box can greatly insure the safety of your camera when unattended. Security boxes are made in strong materials like steel and the exteriors appear to greatly enhance the covertness of your trail camera. Buy a security box only after trying it out with your camera – a mismatched box and camera could put off the camera’s shutter and or flashlight. Anti-theft cables are necessary and must be bought along with your trail camera, enabling you to install and re-install your camera in different conditions.
9. Viewing Screens Not all cameras come with a built-in viewing screen but they can be important when setting up the camera at the right height and directed at the right angle. Downside to the viewing screen is the increase bulk of the trail cameras itself. A small viewing screen will be un-useful but a large viewing screen can compromise the size of your camera. Keep in mind this feature will drain the camera battery.
10. Budget and Price Ranging from $80.00 to $10,000 it all comes down to what you can shell out. Are you a beginner or a pro hunter? How often will you rely on your trail camera? The longer the detection range the higher the cost. The greater the quality of pictures the higher the cost. More card storage means higher cost. Ultimately, it comes down to what is important to you as a hunter and what you need. Have a budget in mind and stick to it.
All you have to do is determine which features are important to you and your needs in the woods. Happy trail camera hunting this season!
Photo credit for main and marquee images: Bushnell