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Best Trail Camera [2019]

Best Overall: Reconyx HyperFire 2 HF2X Covert IR Camera
With one of the fastest trigger speeds, no glow IR system, and a warranty that’s unheard of, there’s no reason why this shouldn’t be the number one option on our list.

Reconyx HyperFire 2 HF2X Covert IR Camera

  • Extremely Fast Trigger Speed
  • 150-Foot Flash Range
  • Five-Year Warranty

Budget Pick: Stealth Cam PX12
For those looking to keep the price down, while still getting great pictures and/or videos, the PX12 is the best “bang for the buck”. For those starting out, this is our most “favored” out-of-the-box solution.

Stealth Cam PX12 (Best Budget Trail Camera)

  • Budget-Friendly
  • Adjustable Image Quality
  • 12 IR Emitters

Best For Speed: Browning Strike Force Pro XD 24MP
When speed matters, there’s only one choice. The Pro XD has the fastest trigger speed we’ve ever seen at a blistering 0.15 seconds. Nothing will escape the viewfinder at that speed. If you’ve been seeing the “tail end” of everything, then you need this trail camera.

Browning Strike Force Pro XD 24MP

  • 0.15 Trigger Speed
  • 120-Foot Flash Range
  • Two-Year Warranty

How We Picked

With so many trail cameras to choose from, which one is right for you?

  • Do you get one with a 15+ megapixel camera?
  • What about one with a 720p video resolution?
  • Do you need a white flash or a no glow flash?

Even then, which ones really are worth it?

Well, we’ve found ten trail cameras that we feel are perfect for you. The cameras on this list outperform their counterparts while staying budget-friendly. Plus, we’ve even given you a buyer’s guide further down to understand what we considered.

So, are you ready to see the best trail cameras for 2019?

#1 Reconyx HyperFire 2 HF2X Covert IR Camera

Reconyx HyperFire 2 HF2X Covert IR Camera

Specs:

  • Detection Range: 100 Feet
  • Flash: No Glow (IR Black)
  • Video: 720p + Audio
  • Maximum Storage: 512GB

The HyperFire 2 is one of the fastest trail cameras available on the market right now. In fact, with a trigger speed of 0.2 seconds, nothing can get out of the photo/video before it’s too late. The HF2X has a detection range up to 100 feet with a flash-range of 150 feet. There’s no chance that your image will be blacked out because of an out-of-range subject.

The image quality is equivalent to 1080p with a 5MP camera that creates stunning daytime pictures. Even at night, the images are still clear using the NoGlow Gen3 IR Black system. In fact, there are some customizable settings that even a professional photographer would appreciate (for adjusting white balance and exposure levels).

Reconyx HyperFire 2 HF2X Covert IR Camera sample image

The video quality is still good, reaching up to 720p. And while this isn’t 1080p or 4K quality, it still produces DVD-quality video without any artifacts and/or blurring. The video clips are capped out at ten seconds, but the clips include audio.

To power the HFX2, all you’ll need is 12 “AA” batteries. According to the manufacturer, you should get two years of use on one set of batteries. They did not specify if this was Alkaline or Lithium, though we would expect the best performance from Lithium batteries. If you are concerned with battery life, you can lower the flash range of 100 feet instead of 150 feet.

Reconyx HyperFire 2 HF2X Covert IR Camera side

What We Like

This is a great trail camera with a little bit of everything for everyone. The 5MP images are crystal-clear in either day or night settings. While the video is only 720p, it’s still more than enough and they’ve even managed to capture audio too.

Overall

If you want a trail camera that has the fastest trigger time in the industry, then look no further. When time is of the essence, the 0.2 second trigger time ensures nothing will slip by. This is a great point-and-shoot trail camera with a few features even a professional wildlife watcher would enjoy.

Reconyx HyperFire 2 HF2X Covert IR Camera

  • Extremely Fast Trigger Speed
  • 150-Foot Flash Range
  • Five-Year Warranty

#2 Browning Strike Force Pro XD 24MP

Browning Strike Force Pro XD 24MP

Specs:

  • Detection Range: 80 Feet
  • Flash: Red Glow (IR Red)
  • Image: 24MP
  • Video: 1080p + Audio
  • Maximum Storage: 512GB

This might be the fastest trail camera in the world right now with a 0.15 second trigger speed. There’s a good chance that whatever triggered the sensor won’t be able to get away before its picture is taken. And the Strike Force Pro has a detection range of 80 feet with a 120-foot flash range; nothing will be out of the flash range if it triggered inside of the detection range.

Browning Strike Force 24MP

In fact, the image quality is crazy with 24MP of image resolution. As the Pro XD uses two different lenses (one day + one night), it can really capture everything with magazine-quality clarity. In fact, the night pictures stood out to us because of how clear they were.

Browning Strike Force Pro XD 24MP on tree

Video quality is 1080p, or hi-def quality. In high-lighting situations, the camera will appear a little “washed out”; not enough to matter, but it will affect the color quality some. In any case, the video quality is superb and you’ll easily be able to see and identify every capture without any problems. And video length can be adjusted from 5 seconds to 120 seconds (2 minutes).

The Pro XD works with 6 “AA” Lithium Batteries and has a life expectancy of over two years. If you need “more power”, the Pro XD also has an external 12-volt power jack.

Browning Strike Force Pro XD 24MP box

What We Like

The dual-lens camera system gives you some of the best pictures and/or videos no matter the time. It has a blistering 0.15 second trigger time which is phenomenal. Even though the range is limited to 80 feet, it’ll capture everything.

Overall

When you want speed, high-quality pictures and videos, a long battery life, with a point-and-click setup, what else are you going to look for? There aren’t many trail cameras that can compete on all the levels/features that the Pro XD has – especially not for the price.

Browning Strike Force Pro XD 24MP

  • 0.15 Trigger Speed
  • 120-Foot Flash Range
  • Two-Year Warranty

#3 Day 6 Plotwatcher Game Surveillance System

Day 6 Plotwatcher Game Surveillance System

Specs:

  • Time-Lapse Camera
  • Video: 1080p + Audio
  • Maximum Storage: 32GB

This is not a traditional trail camera in that it does not detect anything, but rather it takes pictures on a set interval (that you control). There’s no need to have the fastest trigger speed or recovery time. There’s no detection circuit, cutting down on the costs and helping to increase the battery life. There’s no flash as this is not designed for night capture.

So why in the world is this even on the list?

For starters, this is used more for scouting and game watching over a longer period of time, without wasting too much space of videos + audio. Using the Plotwatcher Game Surveillance System, you’ll be able to see all the different wildlife, their traveling patterns and timings, and develop a plan based on what you’re able to see.

Day 6 Plotwatcher Game Surveillance System sample image

It’s not hard to configure the Plotwatcher Game Surveillance System either, as it has a 2.5-inch LCD screen. From the screen, you can adjust the intervals from five seconds to ten seconds. They include software called Tru-Video which makes it super-easy to look through all the pictures in just a few minutes. In fact, they claim you could store up to 1 million pictures on a single 32GB SD card.

The manufacturer claims that the battery will last up to four months on a single set of 8 “AA” batteries, which is more than enough for scouting out a new plot.

Day 6 Plotwatcher Game Surveillance System sample image of wild game

What We Like

Even though this isn’t a traditional trail camera, the ability to set it and forget it is great. If you wanted to see all the action, without having to pay a hefty price for a video camera, this is what you would choose. The battery will last longer than you think and you’ll have a ton of pictures to look through.

Overall

Even though it doesn’t work at night, it’s a great time-lapse trail camera that works great for scouting out new plots (or old plots). The battery life is phenomenal and the price makes it an easy choice for daytime scouting.

Day 6 Plotwatcher Game Surveillance System

  • Great For Scouting
  • Store Up To 1,000,000 Images
  • 4-Month Battery Life On One Set Of Batteries

#4 Browning Strike Force HD 850

Browning Strike Force HD 850

Specs:

  • Detection Range: 80 Feet
  • Flash: Red Glow (IR Red)
  • Image: 16MP
  • Video: 720p + Audio
  • Maximum Storage: 512GB

Starting out, this is fairly fast with a 0.63 second trigger speed. For the most part, it will capture anything that steps in front of it. It does have a detection range of 80 feet with a 125-foot flash range. For Browning, this seems to be common and it works well for them. By doing this, the subject of the picture is never “hidden in the shadows”.

Image quality is above average at 16MP, but the video quality comes in at 720p (still DVD-quality). When in video mode, the camera does record audio, though the audio quality is rather pedantic. Daytime pictures are clear with good field of view, but overly washed out. The night images almost look better than the daytime pictures. The videos can be set to record from five seconds all the say to two minutes during the day; during the night the range is from five seconds to twenty seconds.

Browning Strike Force HD 850 unboxed

Just like the Pro XD above, the Force HD 850 works on 6 “AA” batteries and has a life expectancy of two years on one set. And, the Force HD 850 does have an external 12-volt power jack like the Pro XD mentioned above.

What We Like

For those looking for something that doesn’t cost as much as the Pro XD, the Force HD 850 fills the gap nicely. It’s sub one-second trigger time is still phenomenal and the 16MP image quality is hard to beat.

Overall

If you are looking for a sub-micro trail camera with great pictures and average videos, this is the one for you. With the ability to store up to 512GB of photos/videos, you’ll run out of battery before you run out of storage.

Browning Strike Force HD 850

  • 0.63 Trigger Speed
  • 125-Foot Flash Range
  • Two-Year Warranty

#5 Stealth Cam 8MP 30IR Game Camera

Stealth Cam 8MP 30IR Game Camera

  • Detection Range: 80 Feet
  • Flash: Red Glow (IR Red)
  • Image: 8MP
  • Video: 1080p + Audio
  • Maximum Storage: 32GB

Here’s another sub-second trail camera with a 0.75 second trigger speed. This is more than enough to capture most anything that trips the sensors. It has a detection range of 80 feet with an IR flash of 80 feet too. It uses 30 IR emitters to produce some amazingly crisp photos (day or night).

Stealth Cam 8MP 30IR Game Camera setup

Image quality is available in 8MP, 4MP, and 2MP which gives you a lot of control over how many pictures you can store before filling up the 32GB SD card. 4MP is almost equivalent to 1080p (video resolution) so you can capture some stunning shots without having to use the 8MP setting (if desired). The pictures do not appear to have any major washout, so that is a big plus for the trail camera. The night shots look extremely crisp, due in part to the 30 IR emitters (almost as good as day). Video quality is 1080p and the video range can be set from five seconds to three minutes, with audio.

Stealth Cam 8MP 30IR Game Camera open

Powering the Stealth Cam requires 8 “AA” batteries or it can be powered by an external 12-volt power jack.

What We Like

The night pictures look amazing bright, with good contrast between light and dark areas. The 30 IR emitters really give you more than enough light without scaring off the wildlife.

Overall

If you want a great trail camera for nighttime shots, that’s durable, can take pictures and/or videos forever, and lasts a long time on one set of batteries, then the Stealth Cam is the perfect option for you.

Stealth Cam 8MP 30IR Game Camera

  • 0.75 Trigger Speed
  • 80-Foot Detection + Flash Range
  • 30 IR Emitters

#6 Stealth Cam PX12 (Best Budget Trail Camera)

Stealth Cam PX12

Specs:

  • Detection Range: 50 Feet
  • Flash: Red Glow (IR Red)
  • Image: 6MP
  • Video: SD Quality (640 x 480)
  • Maximum Storage: 32GB

While this doesn’t stay under the one-second trigger speed time, it is still a quality camera. Unfortunately, it does have a trigger time between 1.5 seconds and 2.0 seconds, but this will still capture most wildlife shots without catching the “tail end”. It has a detection range of 50 feet with a matching flash range of 50 feet too. It uses 12 IR emitters to help capture clear nighttime images.

Stealth Cam PX12 sample image of wild life

As with the last Stealth Cam, you can select between 6MP, 4MP, and 2MP image quality resolutions, giving you plenty of pictures to look at on a 32GB SD Card. While the pictures won’t win any awards, they don’t appear to have many washout and actually have good contrast (in fact, the greens are bright). The nighttime photos are clear under 50 feet, so make sure that you don’t have a wide field of view to worry about if you use this trail camera. Video quality leaves a lot to be desired if you’re used to HD as this is SD quality (640 x 480; VGA). While the videos will still look decent, it’s not near as nice as some of the other HD+ camera options.

Stealth Cam PX12 side

Powering the Stealth Cam STC-P12 requires 8 “AA” batteries or it cannot be powered by an external 12-volt power jack. Also, there seems to be an issue when using rechargeable batteries where the IR emitters don’t flash so use standard Lithium batteries instead.

Stealth Cam PX12 on stand

What We Like

Even though this is a budget camera, it still takes decent videos while managing to capture most everything. The field of view is a little small, but it works great in tight spaces. It’s not meant to be used in big and wide FOVs.

Stealth Cam PX12 open case

Overall

While the trigger speed is a little slow, it’s a budget trail camera that takes decent photos and videos while lasting a long time on a single set of batteries. With the image quality options of 6MP, 4MP, or 2MP, you’re bound to have plenty of pictures to look through.

Stealth Cam PX12 (Best Budget Trail Camera)

  • Budget-Friendly
  • Adjustable Image Quality
  • 12 IR Emitters

#7 Bushnell 8MP Trophy Cam HD Hybrid Trail Camera

Bushnell 8MP Trophy Cam HD Hybrid Trail Camera

Specs:

  • Detection Range: 60 Feet
  • Flash: No Glow (IR Black)
  • Image: 8MP
  • Video: 720p (1280 x 720) + Audio
  • Maximum Storage: 32GB

And we’re back to the sub-second trigger speed with a 0.6 trigger speed time, capable of capturing most anything that moves in front of the trail camera. It has a detection range and matching flash range of 60 feet, making it suitable for tight spots and feeding plots. The Hyper PIR, adjustable flash, gives you the ability to adjust the flash for just the right amount of light in nighttime shots.

Image quality is ultra-clear with 8MP of resolution which is clearer than 1080p (5MP equivalent). You can adjust the camera to take lower quality pictures if needed, though we wouldn’t. The images are easy to see, clear, and bright, with plenty of color (something not all cameras can say); this is due to the precision Bushnell optics. Nighttime photos are going to look amazing when paired with the 32 IR no glow LEDs. Even though the flash range is only 60, it produces some of the clearest night shots we’ve seen. And even though the video quality isn’t HD/1080p, it still produces a very clear and crisp video at 720p which is considered DVD-quality.

The Bushnell 8MP trail camera can last up to one year on a single set of 4 to 8 “AA” batteries. If you do need more power, they’ve included an external power jack to give you more options. However, the LEDs require a lot of power so make sure you’re using Lithium batteries as these perform the most consistently for the Bushnell trail camera.

What We Like

Using the 32 no glow LEDs creates some of the clearest night time pictures we’ve ever seen. The color and contrast are second to none when paired with the precision options from Bushnell.

Overall

For those who don’t want to put a lot of thought into their trail camera, this is a great start. It can be used for hunting or home security systems while taking some of the clearest night time pictures. Including a few extra features such as wireless access just gives this the extra nudge to make it another great option for our list.

Bushnell 8MP Trophy Cam HD Hybrid Trail Camera

  • Wireless Connectivity
  • 32 No Glow IR Emitters
  • Adjustable PIR / Auto PIR

#8 Browning Dark Ops Trail Camera

Browning Dark Ops Trail Camera

Specs:

  • Detection Range: 70 Feet
  • Flash: No Glow (IR Black)
  • Image: 10MP
  • Video: 720p (1280 x 720) + Audio
  • Maximum Storage: 32GB

Again, we stay under the sub-second trigger speed range with a 0.67 trigger speed time from the Dark Ops trail camera from Browning; not much will get away before getting “shot”. The detection range and flash range are both 70 feet, making it suitable for mid-sized plots and/or home security purposes. It uses no glow IRs to stay “completely hidden” from predators and thieves alike.

Image quality is clear with a 2MP native resolution and a 10MP interpolated resolution. Video quality is 720p/HD with most images coming out clear with a tint of “haze”; the contrast is lacking just a little. Even so, you’ll easily be able to see what’s in front of the camera. Video length can be adjusted to as long as two minutes per video, with sound.

You can power the Dark Ops trail camera with six “AA” batteries and the camera will last for about one year; use only Lithium batteries. This is an extremely durable camera built for a few drops and/or bumps.

What We Like

The 10MP image quality is great, leaving little left for the “wish list”. Plus the battery life is crazy in that you only need six “AA” batteries to get a full year of use of this camera. It still has a sub-second trigger speed which makes sure nothing gets away.

Overall

Browning makes some of the best trail cameras on the market and the Dark Ops trail camera is not an exception. While it doesn’t have the best night time pictures and/or videos, the day time shots are amazing; almost publish-worthy. It’s a great product if you can find it for the right price.

Sale
Browning Dark Ops Trail Camera

  • 10MP Image Quality
  • Only Used 6 “AA” Batteries
  • Sub-Second Trigger Speed

#9 Stealth Cam G42 No Glow Game Camera

Stealth Cam G42 No Glow Game Camera

Specs:

  • Detection Range: 100 Feet
  • Flash: No Glow (IR Black)
  • Image: 10MP
  • Maximum Storage: 32GB

Speeding up just a bit, the G42 has a half-second trigger speed that will capture anything in front of it. The detection range and flash range are both 100 feet and the 42 no glow IR emitters ensure some of the best night shots – period. This is great for home security applications and large field of view plots.

Image quality is ultra-clear with an adjustable image resolution from 10MP down to 2MP (10, 8, 4, 2). For the night time shots, the included “Matrix Blur” technology helps keep everything crisp without any blurring or ghosting.

The G42 is powered by eight “AA” batteries and has a long battery life expectancy of one year or more on a single set of batteries; stick with Lithiums for the 42 IR emitters. One extra security feature built into the G42 that adds value is the password protection system. While this won’t keep people from taking it, it will make it useless to whoever takes it (just a thought).

What We Like

Image quality is hard to beat when you get into the 10MP range. The colors and crispness are hard to match (unless your Bushnell). The 42 IR emitters really light up the night shots well and the “Matrix Blur” technology help keep all the images crystal clear.

Overall

This is definitely not a budget option, but it has more than enough features to keep the intermediate/advanced hunter happy. Whether in use as a home security solution or as a plotwatcher, you’ll love the Stealth Cam G42.

Stealth Cam G42 No Glow Game Camera

  • 10MP Image Quality
  • 42 No Glow IR Emitters
  • Half-Second Trigger Speed

#10 Amcrest ATC-1201 Trail Camera

Amcrest ATC-1201 Trail Camera

Specs:

  • Detection Range: 65 Feet
  • Flash: No Glow (IR Black)
  • Image: 12MP
  • Video: 1080p/HD
  • Maximum Storage: 32GB

And finally, one more sub-second trigger speed as the ATC-1201 clocks in at 0.7 seconds. The detection range and flash range are both 65 feet, which is about 5 feet more than the average range.

Image quality is amazing with the 12MP image resolution and the videos look great in true 1080p/HD quality. The 36 IR emitters make sure that you get amazing night shots and the 12MP camera makes sure you get publish-worth day time shots.

Battery life leaves a little on the table with a 3-month battery life. However, you can use an external power supply to give this more juice if needed.

Amcrest ATC-1201 Trail Camera battery compartment

What We Like

The images are ultra-clear, with no visible artifacts in the nighttime images. The 1080p videos are just as clear, making this one of the best “budget” trail cameras we’ve seen yet.

Overall

When you want a budget camera but you want high-quality images, you choose the ATC-1201. It packs a lot of punch without punching the wallet.

Amcrest ATC-1201 Trail Camera

  • 12MP Image Quality
  • 36 No Glow IR Emitters
  • Sub-Second Trigger Speed

Buyer’s Guide To Find The Best Trail Camera

With so many trail cameras available for purchase, which one do you choose? Our buyer’s guide will break down every part of a trail camera and help you narrow down what you’re looking for.

Purpose

For most, a trail camera will be used to monitor the wildlife in a certain area. This is called scouting, and a trail camera can help hunters keep tabs on a certain “pad” or area of high-traffic activity. A camera will take photos of everything that passes in front of it, letting you know how big that “trophy buck” really is or if it’s still growing. Not only that, but you’ll know how frequently they pass through, what time they pass through, how many pass through, and even help you see other animals that might be passing through too.

But trail cameras aren’t only used for scouting – sometimes they are used for home security. This is still a version of scouting, but the primary target is no longer a “trophy buck” but rather a thief and/or vandal. The reason trail cameras are being used for home security is their relatively inexpensive cost, ease of installation, and they take good photos and/or videos in low-light conditions.

Some of the trail cameras even have cellular connections so they can send the pictures and/or video to your cell phone whenever they are triggered. This is more suited for home security and/or trespassing issues as it’ll alert you in “near real-time”.

Photos

This is one of the most important aspects of a trail camera – still photography. These are the images that you’ll be looking through and they should look good. Here are some features you should be looking for when comparing trail cameras.

Picture Quality

A megapixel, by definition, is a unit of measurement that represents 1,000,000 pixels. As such, the more pixels, the closer you can zoom in without distortion or blurriness.

Manufacturers have figured out that we like big numbers, which is why they push megapixels (MP) so hard. In fact, they’ve got us convinced that a 30MP camera is lightyears ahead of a 5MP camera. And, technically speaking, they are; the only issue, you get to a point where the quality is no longer visible to the naked eye. While a higher megapixel count is better, don’t become fixated on this number alone.

Burst Mode

Whenever burst mode is activated, the camera will take a set number of pictures (anywhere from 2 to 9; fixed and/or adjustable) to capture whatever triggered the detection sensor. This can be very useful when you’re dealing with an easily spooked and/or fast subject. This will work in any lighting situation (day or night) without any issues; at times the pictures may be a little blurry if taken at night as the lighting will affect the quality a little.

Time-Lapse Mode

Whenever time-lapse mode is activation, the camera will take pictures at certain intervals (five minutes, thirty minutes). Most cameras will give you the option of setting the interval. A lot of hunters prefer this as it gives them the ability to see where the wildlife is coming from and at what time. Most time-lapse cameras only work for day use, but some of the more advanced units include night use too.

Time And Date Stamps

This is one of the most critical pieces of information a trail camera can record. Just like in a court of law, the time and date matter. For instance, you may have been scrolling through your pictures and found your “trophy hunt”. But without time and date information, you’re just guessing when they’ll show up again and if they are habitual creatures (i.e. they come back at the same time).

And while it is good for hunters, it’s a great feature for home security. Remember when we talked about use in a court of law? With the date and time, there’s no denying when they tried to break in and/or caused damage to your property.

Video

And while still photography has been the choice for many years, video has become a popular option – quickly. Video says a lot more than a still picture can, and works great for home security.

Video Quality

While a picture is measured in megapixels, a video is measured in resolutions (i.e. 720p, 1080p, 4K). The higher the resolution, the better the video quality. Most cameras offer a bare-minimum of 720p with some of the best recording in 4K.

Video Duration

Once triggered, a trail camera can run for a predetermined amount of time. Generally, the duration can be adjusted from just a few seconds to a few minutes.

Audio

While a trail camera may use video for recording purposes, it may not record audio. Most of the time, audio recordings aren’t needed when used for scouting purposes. However, audio may be vital in a court of law/home security situation. If you need audio, make sure your trail camera offers video and audio recordings.

Hybrid Mode

And finally, a trail camera can take a still photography and record video at the same time. While this may be overkill, it’s generally offered on the most expensive camera models.

Detection Range And Ability

The range of a trail camera can depend on a number of factors, but the biggest factor is the detection sensor. If it’s not built for more than thirty feet from the camera, anything outside of that zone will not trigger the camera. Of course, a longer detection range gives you a wide field of view (good for open plots) while a shorter detection range gives you a shorter field of view (good for tight spaces and corners).

Trail cameras are primarily used for scouting and home security systems, so they need a way to detect movement. There are two components to detection ability:

  1. Trigger Time
  2. Recovery Time

Trigger time is the time it takes for the camera to detect motion and then to take a picture and/or initiate the video capture. The slower the trigger time is, the less likely you’ll end up with a usable picture and/or video. Some of the best cameras can take pictures in less than one-half of a second.

Recovery time is the time it takes for the camera to finish storing the last picture and/or video and be ready to do it all over again. Again, the faster the recovery time, the more likely you’ll be able to capture after-the-moment movements. Some cameras can recover in under a second, whereas some cameras can take longer than thirty seconds to recover.

Flash

Without light, a camera would be useless; you couldn’t see anything and there would be a black picture or video. So, whenever the lighting is too dark (i.e. night), you need some way to create light. There are three options to work with:

  1. White Flash
  2. Low Glow
  3. No Glow

White flash cameras use a white flash that’s extremely bright but works best for full-color photos and/or videos. Unfortunately, this bright flash tends to excite and/or scare the animals and/or people being photographed and they run off.

Low glow cameras use infrared light (red light) to illuminate the area in front of the camera. This helps to give you a clear black-and-white image without creating a flash that is noticeable and/or visible.

No glow cameras use infrared light (black light) to illuminate the area in front of the camera. This works, albeit not as effectively as low glow illumination. This will give you an easy to see, black-and-white image without being visible to anyone.

Storage And Viewing

Most every trail camera available used SD cards to store their photos and videos. SD cards are fairly inexpensive and come in a range of storage capacities. You’ll need to use a high-capacity SD card for cameras equipped with high megapixel counts and/or video resolutions.

The biggest thing to make sure of when using SD storage cards is to find out what the camera is able to detect/work with. For instance, a camera that can only read up to 32GB will not work with a larger 256GB SD card. And always opt for the Class-10 cards as these are the fastest cards for image and/or video capture.

And when you decide it’s time to view your camera photos and/or videos, how are you going to do it? Most trail cameras don’t have any type of viewing screen (helping to keep costs down). Some of the more advanced ones do have an integrated viewing screen but the costs go up quickly.

Instead, most will have to pull out their memory cards and then connect them to their laptop or computer. If you don’t have a few spare SD cards, you’ll be unable to take more photos and/or videos. Some trail cameras do offer the ability to connect via a wireless network or a cellular network. Of course, these features do cost more but they give you access to the SD card without having to take it out of the trail camera.

Battery Life

And finally, trail cameras are powered in one of two ways:

  1. Lithium Batteries
  2. Solar Panel + Lithium Batteries

The one constant is lithium batteries. Lithium batteries work better, last longer, and are better suited for cold/warm weather conditions. Never use alkaline and/or zinc batteries as they could explode or leak causing damage to the camera.

Either you’ll need to replace the batteries after a certain amount of time or you’ll need to connect them to a solar panel that will recharge them when the sun is out. Of course, you’ll need to find a model that allows you to do this (generally costs more). In the long run, a solar panel is a more cost-efficient option.

Deer seen on Trail camera in forest

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is a trail camera different from a game camera?
A: No, a game camera and a trail camera are used interchangeably. Both are used for the same purpose, with two different names.

Q: How do I mount a trail camera?
A: Most trail cameras come with a mounting strap that can be used to mount to any object it can wrap around (i.e. tree, post). Some even have thread-mounts for a durable, sturdy mounting platform.

Q: How do I know it’s mounted properly?
A: When a trail camera is mounted properly, it will not fall off when pulled on (up/down + left/right). It may slide up and down, or even turn, but it’s not meant to be moved a lot once it has been positioned.

Q: How do I know it’s aimed properly?
A: Some cameras include a “motion test” feature that allows you to walk in the area you want to monitor. When you pass through the sensor’s range, the motion test will alert you that it sees you. However, if this is not a feature on your trail camera, you’ll have to use trial-and-error (i.e. take a few pictures, check if it’s capturing what you want properly).

Q: Can I use a trail camera as a security camera?
A: Yes. In fact, trail cameras are becoming more popular in security system setups because thieves are focused more on traditional cameras than cameras that can be hidden in trees and/or bushes. Plus, these cameras are internally powered so they don’t have any extra wires to worry with. Another reason they are popular is the fact that they only take pictures and/or record videos when triggered. And finally, some trail cameras can even send pictures and/or videos to your cell phone when activated.

Q: How can I keep my camera from being stolen?
A: If you’re worried about trespassers and/or thieves, then you can use a locking cable to help secure your camera from being stolen. These cables are thick, hard to cut, and cinch down extremely tight making it difficult to steal your camera (not impossible, just difficult). A truly dedicated thief will find a way to steal any camera, no matter how many safeguards are put in place.

A trail camera’s primary function is not to function as a security system, but as a scouting camera. It just happens that they can serve multiple roles. There is a chance that your trail camera could be stolen by someone trespassing on your property/pad or looking to do something unethical. In either case, you can only do “preventative security” to slow down a criminal.

Q: Will photo/video quality be the same at night as in the day?
A: No. Unfortunately, night pictures and/or videos will not be as clear or easy-to-see as pictures taken in the proper lighting. The closest option you will have is used with a “white flash” system as this will illuminate the field of view the best.

Q: How can I view the photos/videos on the camera?
A: If all you are doing is viewing the photos and/or videos, you can use any device that will read an SD card. However, if you delete and/or change any of the pictures on the SD card, you may corrupt the filesystem and have the format the whole card (losing all the photos and/or videos). Instead, you should use a dedicated trail camera viewer and/or a computer system with the proper software.

Q: Can I get alerted when the trail camera detects movement?
A: Some cameras do have cellular connectivity, giving you the ability to have real-time alerts sent to your phone. This is more for use in security systems as the need for a response is urgent.

Q: Why did my SD card stop working after I deleted pictures?
A: Again, the filesystem is very sensitive to changes. If you deleted a picture and the device changed the way the filesystem was written, it will create issues. In most cases, the card will have to be reformatted causing you to lose all the previous data (i.e. photos and videos).

Q: Why do I have so many “blank” pictures on my trail camera?
A: This happens from time-to-time because of “ghosts”. In all honesty, it’s because of a tree limb that wiggles enough to trigger the camera or leaves falling frequently (i.e. fall) or some other unrecognized motion. If this is the case, you may want to move your camera or figure out what is actually causing the sensors to be triggered.

Conclusion

While there are a lot of trail cameras on the market right now, not all of them are worth your time or money. In fact, we were able to break it down to just ten that were worthwhile competitors. We looked at all kinds of factors, considering picture/video quality, detection sensors and types, storage capacities, power options, and a bevy of other extras too.

In the end, we were able to cut the list down to ten units that we feel are the best trail cameras for 2019. Of course, you might not agree with us – that’s alright. If not, we did include a buyer’s guide to help you make the best decision regarding all the major features that trail cameras have. We even went so far as to answer the most common questions people have about trail cameras. There’s literally no reason why you shouldn’t be able to find a trail camera that will meet all of your needs.

Product Boxes: Last updated on 2019-08-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API