Trail camera guide: what beginners should know

You have already bought a good trail camera to improve your hunting trip. Then, the next step is to know how to use it properly and effectively, especially those beginners. So, in this article, we will show you the ultimate Trail camera guide.

What is a trail camera? What does it look like?

A trail camera is a camera that is often equipped with a motion sensor or an infrared sensor to detect movements. It is often placed by the photographer in areas that they can’t be there by themselves. They are often used for selfies, scientific researchers, and security purposes. Usually, the areas are the wilderness, tight places or limited access places. The camera will ensure that the moments can still be captured manually or automatically and around the clock.

What is a trail camera? What does it look like?

Image sourcE: Best Trail Camera Reviews For 2015 & 2016 Models

They are often placed in suspended positions. They are often mounted on arms and clamps. Some of the models can be wired on a tree. They can use battery or can be connected to a power source. Most of the new models will use a Wi-Fi network or sim network to transfer the images to your laptop or phone. They often have camouflaged cover so that they are not detected and scare animals off. This trail camera guide will help you to select the features for your camera and recommend some brands for you to choose from.

Trail camera guide: Features to consider

Trail Camera Megapixels

Usually, people regret because they didn’t pay attention to the Megapixels when buying the camera. Don’t buy a camera with low Megapixels if you don’t want your picture to look old and blurry. Also, just because the number is high doesn’t mean that the camera would give you high-quality pictures. You need to pay attention to the quality of the lens also.

Trail Camera Megapixels

Image source: YouTube

We recommended that you should never buy a camera online. You need to go to the store and check the lens yourself. Use the camera to look outside and zoom in objects that are far away. That’s what most trail cameras are supposed to do. The Megapixels and the quality of the lens are the first factors to determine the quality of the photos. Take them seriously.

Camera capture modes

Probably the 2nd most important feature of the trail camera guide, the capture modes determine whether you are going to have a still photo or a video. Depending on your purposes, choose wisely. If you are looking for something flexible, go for a camera that has both modes. Still, photos are great for magazines and blogs while videos are essential for researchers and study.

Some brands can help you to capture both video and photos without having to switch the modes.

Trigger speed

Every fraction of a second can make the difference between two photos. The trigger speed is also one of the very first things that come to my mind when writing this trail camera guide. Having a camera  with a good trigger speed can start your video or take more photos for you at the first sign of movement. The trigger speed doesn’t have to be too fast, but it must not be too slow. Or else you can miss the whole thing.

Trigger speed

Image source: Shame on Cardozo

Detection Zone

The V-shape zone starts the lens of the camera and spreads forwardly. This is the zone where your camera detects the movements. So, if there is any movement in that zone, the camera will be activated and starts recording.

Most of the times, the zone will be fixed depending on the models. But some models can be adjustable. Depending on the purpose, select a zone that is appropriate for you. You don’t want too many useless pictures as they will drain the battery out of your camera. Neither have you wanted to miss important movements.

PIR angle (Passive Infrared angle)

Cameras that have high PIR angle can detect movements faster. Also, they can capture objects at the center of the camera. You don’t want a picture where the main object is somewhere on the edge of the camera.

A good camera should have a PIR Angle of 48 degrees. They can capture anything that moves quickly and keep them in the center of the frame.

Sensitivity adjustment

If the trigger speed indicates how fast your camera would respond to movement, the sensitivity indicates how well it will. A camera with high sensitivity doesn’t always mean a good thing. It may capture almost anything like the movement of the clouds, the streams of water or when there is the wind on the field.

Anyway, the sensitivity level should be adjustable depending on where you are placing your camera. Setting it on low will help you to focus on large animals. Setting it on high can help you detect even the slightest movement in your home.

Laser aiming

Among all the trail camera guide features, laser aiming helps you to know where your camera is pointing at. A bad angle can ruin all the videos and photos especially when you are setting up your camera in the dark

Burst mode

The burst mode decides the number of photos that your camera would take when it is triggered. It is a good way to have a series of photos. Pay attention to the SD card as this mode can fill the space quickly.

GPS Geotag

You can be forgetful sometimes and lose track of your camera if you are in the wilderness. This feature will help you to keep track of it and make it easier to locate where you placed it. Your camera can be stolen as well, so you want it to have this feature.

GPS Geotag

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Wireless connectivity

A lot of new models can be connected to a network which helps the camera to transmit the photos directly into your computer or tablet. What is better than watching the wilderness from your place? However, security is a problem as your camera can be hacked easily.

Motion freeze and freeze frame shutter

Blurry pictures can be annoying. The bad news is that blurry pictures are likely to happen due to fast movements. So, having this features means that the shutter of your camera won’t be left too long during the capture process. Therefore, the photos won’t be blurry.

SD card capacity

Having your SD card full is the last thing that you would want when setting up your camera. Spend generously on an SD card. If you can’t, copy the photos to your hard drive often.

SD card capacity

Image source: Find Hunting Leases

Time Lapse

You will be able to watch a whole day in just minutes with the time-lapse feature. This is also how they get that kind of scene you see in the movies. Some modern cameras can run in the time-lapse mode while still being able to capture images.

Data Stamp or Time Stamp

Data stamping will help you to keep track of the images as well as the surrounding factors like temperature, weather, and wind speed. This feature is perfect for scientific studies.

Battery life

Last but not least, the thing that can bug you the most while using your camera should be its battery. The more your camera works, the quicker the battery runs out. That is why infrared cameras with a motion detector are preferred over cameras that run all the time. Anyway, make sure that the battery can last long. Charge your camera before going on a trip.

Brands and cost

In this part of the trail camera guide, we’ll go through a list of a few popular brands, just to save your time from thinking too much.

Bushnell Trail Camera

Price range: from $100 to $400

Bushnell Cameras have competitive price and good quality. Their customer service is highly rated by many. You should buy Wireless cameras from Bushnell.

Bushnell Trail Camera

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Moultrie Trail Camera

Price range: $90 to $300

With special design, these cameras are quite durable and have long battery life. They have a highly competitive price.

Tasco Game Camera

Price range: $60 to $400.

Tasco cameras are famous for their capacity. You can set up them easily, and they are also user-friendly.

SpyPoint Game Camera

SpyPoint Game Camera

Image sourcE: Sportsman’s Guide

Price range: $120 to $350

These cameras are real tanks. They sit quietly in the wood with their camouflage cover. They are highly durable. Their battery lasts for a long period.

You are getting what you pay for when you are shopping for trail cameras. Quality usually goes with price. Don’t hesitate to invest decently in your camera. Once you have bought a bad camera, there is no going back. We hope that this trail camera guide has provided you with sufficient information.