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Trail cameras can come in handy for lots of reasons, whether you want to scout and pattern deer or keep a watchful eye on your property. When shopping for a trail cam, you’ll have a wide range of options and price tags, so it can be helpful to do your homework before picking the right model for the job.
Compare some of the best trail cams
|Name||Average price||Images||Video||Trigger speed (seconds)||Detection range (feet)||What’s included||Purchase|
Browning Spec Ops Advantage
||$199||20MP||1920 x 1080 full HD||0.4 – 0.7||80||Camera + SD card and USB reader||Buy now|
Campark Trail Game Camera
Wildgame Innovations 360
||$139||14MP||720P||1.5||70||Camera + t-post mounting bracket system||Buy now|
Spartan 4G LTE GoCam
||$299||8MP||Not available||0.6||80||Camera + mount||Buy now|
What is a trail camera?
Also called game cameras, trail cameras are specifically designed to discreetly capture pictures and/or videos over a period of time. Most are triggered by movement, helping you detect wildlife or even a thief on your property. Most models now come equipped with night vision and generally have higher image resolution than many regular security cameras on the market.
Types of trail cams
Several types of game cameras are now available. The right pick will depend on what you want to use it for and which features are the most important to you.
- Motion-activated. These cameras only snap a picture when motion is detected, so they require very little battery power. Just make sure you know the range of your camera and set it up where it can pick up motion.
- Wireless Wi-Fi. These cameras can be connect to a wireless Wi-Fi network, allowing them to send images or videos directly to your phone, computer or other device that’s connected to the same network. The main drawback of this type of camera is that it needs to be set up within Wi-Fi range.
- Cellular. These cameras require data in order to send pictures or videos through your phone.
- Infrared. Infrared trail cameras are among the most expensive, but they can capture crisp images in pitch-black conditions. This is especially helpful for hunters, as the majority of animal activity takes place at night.
- Flash. Like infrared cameras, flash cameras are able to capture night images. But the drawback is that they use a flash of light, which can scare away the subject of your shot.
What accessories do you need to access your photos?
If you’re using a game camera that uses an SD card, you may need to buy a few other accessories in order to store and access your photos. Many models do not come with an SD card, so you’ll need to purchase this separately. You’ll also need an SD card reader that will hook up to your phone, computer or other device in order to see the photos.
Most models also require batteries, which are usually another additional purchase.
How to compare trail cameras
When comparing different trail cams, consider these features to find the best fit for your needs:
- Price. Trail cameras range in price from $30 for a basic model to around $300 for higher-end models. While a basic, budget-friendly camera will get the job done, you may want the advanced features that a higher-end model boasts.
- Use. People use trail cameras for a variety of reasons, such as hunting, wildlife photography, home security or to keep tabs on barn or farm animals. The type and price of camera that’s best for you will depend on what you plan to use it for and how frequently you’ll want to access it.
- Image quality. Check the number of megapixels (MP) for each model you’re considering. Generally, the more MP, the higher quality the images are going to be. Most mid-range trail cameras have around 7 MP, while higher-end models might have 10 or more.
- Detection range. This determines how far away you’ll be able to place your camera and still get quality photos and videos. You’ll also want to consider the detection angle. A wider angle can detect more movement quicker.
- Power source. Most game cams run on regular AA batteries, but some are solar-powered as well.
- Battery life. Some cameras can run longer than others before batteries will need to be replaced or recharged. If you plan to leave your camera for an entire season before checking it, a long battery life is a must.
- Trigger time. This refers to how quickly the camera can detect movement and then snap a photo. The faster the trigger time, the better.
- Recovery time. This refers to how quickly the camera can snap a photo and then be ready to take another one directly afterward. Again, a fast recovery time is a plus.
- Extras. Some cameras come with extra features like an LCD viewing screen, the ability to take videos and photos, Bluetooth connectivity or a security case. See what comes with each model you’re considering to choose the one with the best value.
Trail cameras come in a range of prices and types. The best pick for you will depend on how and where you plan to use it, your budget and your personal preferences for added features.
Think a security cam would be better for your needs? Read our guide to compare popular security cameras.
How did we choose these products?
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