Dealing with nature is for many people a relaxing and enjoyable process. Whether it is a hobby or a job, one of the most important factors when doing something we love is to be properly equipped to ensure the best possible results. Many outdoor hobbies and activities require a special camera to be done properly. Whether it is for hunting or for the protection of the area, in this article we will analyze many different options to find what is the best trail game camera to buy that suits your needs.
Thanks to advances in technology, wildlife cameras are becoming more and more of an essential hunting tool. In addition to scouting for deer and other wildlife, hunting trail cameras can be used as home security cameras to give you an image of anyone who walks in front of the camera. To choose the best trail game camera for you, it’s important to consider how you’ll be using the outdoor game camera (hunting or surveillance) and the features you’ll need. In this article we will try to help you learn more about which is the best wildlife trail camera for you and your favorite hunting spot.
But first of all:
What is a game trail camera and how does it work?
A basic description of how trail cameras work provides a useful context in which to understand their various features. Deer cameras are designed to exist in a state of almost complete electronic sleep, much like a TV left on stand-by. The bit that is fully awake is the motion-sensor. In most trail cameras this is a Passive Infra-Red (PIR) detector. When the PIR detects motion, it ‘wakes up’ the rest of the camera and triggers a rapid chain of events: light levels are detected and the flash turned on accordingly, focus is achieved, trigger speed is determined, one or more pictures or video are taken by the image-sensor, pictures/video are stored on an SD card, the camera goes back to sleep. Just how much the deer camera sees (detection range) and what it can photograph is largely determined by a combination of the lens, the type of image-sensor receiving light from the lens, the level of illumination (sunlight or flash) and the trigger-time (time between movement detection and a picture being taken). Importantly, most trail cameras these days will take colored images/video during daylight and black and white at night by using an infra-red (IR) flash - as opposed to the white-light flash of a conventional camera.
All the above characteristics are analyzed below and will help you to find what to look for in a game trail camera:
- Trigger Speed
Simply put, trigger speed is how fast a wildlife trail camera goes from sleep mode to active mode. Sleep mode is a requirement for deer cameras. To help extend battery life, trail cameras use sleep mode to rest the camera between active image taking periods. The motion or IR sensor of the camera acts not only to trigger the camera to take a picture, but also when to “wake up” the other parts of the camera from sleep mode so it can function fully. How fast that sensor is triggered to the time that the camera is ready to take a picture is the trigger speed. Usually the lower the triggering time is the best performing deer camera you will have!
- Recovery time
The recovery time is the minimum amount of time it takes the outdoor wildlife camera to capture another image. While most cameras allow you to adjust the delay, the recovery time determines how fast your camera will be able to take a new photo at its highest setting. Short recovery times are great for areas deer pass through in groups, while longer recovery times are acceptable for watching food plots.
- Detection Range
The “Detection Zone” of an outdoor trail camera is an invisible area that starts at the camera face and spreads outwardly in a V shape; growing larger with relation to distance. This “zone” is where the camera detects movement. Once movement has been noticed, the camera will activate and capture an image or start recording video. The wider the detection zone angle is the more likely to find more movement and snap more photos!
- Resolution Image & Video
Since the primary goal of a hunting camera is to take images of wildlife or intruders, you’ll want to make sure the camera offers the right quality of image for your needs. Image quality is measured in megapixels, or MP. While it’s tempting to choose a camera with the highest megapixel count, this is only necessary if you want to capture wildlife photography—for most scouting or home security needs, a moderate megapixel rating is more than enough. Just as with images in video recording, the higher the resolution, the clearer and sharper the video will be. Any video resolution with 720p or 1080p is considered HD.
- Power Supply
A reliable, long-lasting power supply is a key part of capturing tons of quality images and videos. There are a couple of choices:
Lithium Batteries – These batteries are long-lasting and better in cold weather than alkaline. In fact, alkaline batteries are not recommended for use in trail cameras. Lithium batteries can last for more than a year, depending on the camera and how active it is and most it is recommended to use Non Rechargeable type batteries in all Cases as these give constant power output to the cameras as they require.
Solar Panel Powerpacks – Another type of trail cameras! The most top rated deer cameras are using the sun! Solar panels can power your trail camera indefinitely (so long as the sun is shining). Any model that has an external power port will accept a solar panel, which you can use to supplement your camera’s batteries. Always look with a Solar Powerpack that has built in Rechargeable batteries with Minimum 2000mAh for best performance as It is the only way to be sure that your camera will continue running day & night without worrying about its battery power! It is also recommended to run cameras with both External solar power packs as well as Internal batteries in the camera for Maximum power Backup especially if you are leaving cameras unattended for long periods of time.
- Flash Types
The next feature you should consider is the trail camera’s flash type, as this determines how the captured images will look and how noticeable the trail camera will be when it takes a picture. Trail cameras work similarly to other types of camera, using a flash bulb to reflect light off an object in order to illuminate the subject and capture a clear image. There are three types of flash available in game cameras—white flash, no flash infrared trail game camera, and black flash—and each is suited for a different purpose. Making sure your camera has the right flash type for the area and images you want to capture is of critical importance!
- White Flash. Game cameras with white flash use a bright light to capture images, much like a traditional camera. This flash allows the camera to take full-color photos at night. However, if you’re planning to use the trail camera for hunting or surveillance it’s best to choose a game camera without flash as the bright light will alert wildlife and intruders.
- IR Flash. IR flash simply means that the trail camera uses infrared light to capture photos and this is the most common type of Flash most trail Cameras use using a number of IR LED’s. Most common cameras start off with about 20 IR LEDs and upwards, but don’t be fooled with total IR LED lights it has as higher numbers of LED’s does not always mean better pictures. While any images taken at night are in black and white (Monochrome), the infrared trail camera’s flash is significantly less noticeable than a white flash camera. Infrared trail cameras are a great choice for hunters since they are much less likely to alert game.
There are 2 types Of IR Flash wavelengths
- 940nm:- With 940 Nano Meters Wavelength Cameras, the IR light is totally invisible and does not emit any Glow. These Cameras are great and operate in total Stealth mode, however the night vision footage quality is compromised with the No Glow.
- 850nm:- With 850 Nano Meters Wavelength Cameras, the IR light starts out with faint Glow which will decrease. This slight Glow will not deter any Animals and you can expect higher quality images and Video with cameras using 850nm IR LEDS.
- Black Flash. Black flash cameras work similarly to Infrared trail cameras, but their flash is completely invisible to most species, including humans. The pictures are often darker and don’t capture fine background details as well as IR cameras, but they still provide a clear enough image to see and analyze the deer. These are not very common in trail Cameras
- Time Lapse Mode
This is a feature to look out for when you are searching to buy the best trail camera, if nothing else because it can be so much fun to experiment with. In time lapse mode a trail camera is set up to take a picture at regular intervals - say one a minute or one a day - and not only when movement is detected (some models can do both at the same time). The sequence of images can then be joined together into a movie, effectively speeding up whatever sequence of events has been. This is the technique used for recording plants grow. Time lapse is very useful for picking up cold bodied animals that may not trigger a PIR, or indeed capturing images of warm bodied animals that are moving too slowly, or are too far away, to trigger the PIR.
Game and trail cameras have become increasingly popular in recent years, but that doesn’t mean all are created equal – the various technologies and features available let you get the most out of your purchase if you consider each one carefully. So taking into account the above analysis, will help you choose and purchase the best trail camera for surveillance, deer hunting and home security!