When hunting, what could be one of your most expensive investment is your trail camera. Buying the right trail camera may seem like a daunting task to you. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of trail cameras that you can choose from both in online and in physical stores.
Therefore, you must devote your time in choosing the right trail camera wisely. While you may be able to buy a trail camera that’s worth $70 almost anywhere, you can never assure that this camera can serve you and your hunting escapades for years to come.
In this guide, we are going to discuss and teach you how to buy the right camera with the following tips. What makes a trail camera worth buying? Here are the ten features that you must look in every model that you are interested in buying.
Why Should You Buy a Quality Trail Camera?
Before anything else, it is vital that you realize the importance of buying the right trail camera. Why? Because some hunters treat trail camera as something for one-time use.
Now, you must understand that owning a quality trail camera can provide you with better qualities of the picture. And the better quality of pictures means more details that you can study. In that way, you will be able to analyze the travel pattern of the bucks, what bucks have managed to survive the winter, who among them died, and anticipate their next move.
The glaring fact that trail cameras are prone to theft, tampered, and damaged by thieves in the forest is not a secret. This is also the reason why some hunters opt for a cheaper version of the trail camera.
However, hiding your trail camera effectively can help you to decrease the risks of your device being stolen. So do not worry about investing a few hundreds of dollars for your trail camera. As long as you know how to use it properly, rest assured that the device can drastically improve your hunting.
Features to Look When Buying a Trail Camera:
Here are the following features that you should look in every trail camera that you are interested in buying. Set aside the brand first, and let’s focus on how effective your trail camera would be when you set it up in the forest:
1Long battery life
This is the first thing that you should consider when buying a trail camera—the battery life. A lengthy battery life saves you from the hassle of going and replacing the batteries. It also reduces the risks of the bucks detecting your human presence because there won’t be any human scent to be leaked.
As most experts say, lithium batteries for a trail camera is highly recommended. It can last for a long time and uses 100% of its power until the very last drop. It can also preserve and lengthen the service life of your device.
Stick to trusted brands of batteries. Cheap batteries can damage your trail camera. As you may notice, one of the trail camera issues that you may encounter is the sudden shutting down of the trail camera. Its leading cause is poor batteries. Therefore, you must ensure that your trail camera has a quality battery set with a longer lifespan.
Similar to other cameras, a device with high megapixels also means you have a clearer resolution of your image. But know that trail cameras with higher megapixels are also more expensive. Unless you are planning to upload your photos online for your hunting blog, you may stick with a trail camera with eight megapixels for starters.
High resolution is also great as it can help you study the features of the bucks that you are aiming of. Full-sized yet blurry images of your target animals will not give you the answers that you want when analyzing photos afterward.
3Fast trigger speed
Another feature that your wildlife trail camera must have is a fast trigger speed. The trigger speed refers to the time that your camera takes before it can detect a moving object from a distance. Standard trail cameras will take about one to two seconds before it triggers the system.
However, if you want to free yourself from the frustration of blurry images and trailing ends of the buck in every picture that you took, opt for trail cameras with a trigger speed of half a second. This will assure you don’t miss the opportunity of taking a full-sized image of your target animal.
As a hunter, you know too well that bucks mostly travel and wander in the forest at nighttime. While it is thrilling to capture a photo of a buck in broad daylight where hunting hours are legal, it is also important to consider the nighttime photos.
Trail cameras with a traditional flash will immediately scare or startle the buck away once it emits white light. It will send them running away especially if your camera is in a burst mode where you take pictures consecutively.
Therefore, it is important to buy a camera with an infrared flash to ensure that you can take good nighttime photos without obstruction. There are no infrared glow lights, and some models have red glow infrared light. Both emit little to no light when capturing pictures but can only produce black and white photos.
5Long detection range
The detection circuit refers to the range in which your trail camera can sense any motion and send a signal to the device to take the photo. As much as possible, you should buy a trail camera with a long detection range. In that way, your camera will be able to snap some photos even if the deer is still on a distance.
The average range of standard cameras is only 60-70 feet. Having a trail camera with a 100 feet range can increase your chances of taking good photos of your target animal.
As discussed earlier, trail cameras are prone to be stolen, tampered, and damaged by thieves in the forest. If you want some assurance aside from hiding your trail camera effectively, you should also consider a trail camera with an anti-theft cable.
Some models come with a security box while others are sold separately. This security box will protect your trail camera to ensure that no one will be able to access the device even if they find it in the forest.
Other advanced trail cameras also have a security code. In that way, even if they have the camera, rest assured that it will be of no use for them because of the security system. These are just some of the ways that you can protect your trail camera when it’s unattended in the forest.
You may or may not want to have an LCD screen to your trail camera. For some hunters, it is important as it can help them angling their trail cameras to the perfect position. Other hunters disagree and claim that the viewing screen will only add to the bulkiness of their trail camera.
Aside from that, it is not recommended to view the photos you captured right on the field. Your human scent will linger and will alert the bucks of your presence. They will soon avoid the area, and you decrease your chances of capturing a good photo of a buck.
The viewing screen can also drain the battery of your camera fast, so keep that in mind. Even if you think of buying a trail camera with a small viewing screen, it would be rendered useless because you will have difficulty in navigating your trail camera with such a small display.
8Video or Photo mode
You also have to choose between video or photo mode. A 15-second clip of a buck-passing by your area can help you a lot in studying its behavior, travel pattern, and knowing the other bucks that he is traveling with. However, a video can easily eat up the storage of your SD card and drains your battery fast.
In photo mode, it will snap photos of the moving object as soon as it detects motion. High-quality pictures are also essential to study your target animal and knowing when to strike.
If you think you need both, some high-end trail cameras offer both modes for your convenience.
9Quality of the image
One of the myths about trail camera that you should be careful of is when they say the higher the megapixel, the higher the quality of the picture. But it is not.
The megapixels measure the resolution of a picture. However, the number of megapixels in your trail camera should justify the image’s quality. It is important to snap a picture using the trail camera and observe the quality of the picture if the manufacturer stands to their claim.
For starters, you can start with trail cameras at 7MP. Some high-end trail cameras have 20MP and above. If you are more interested in nighttime photos, we suggest that you opt for a trail camera with over 10MP to avoid grainy and blurry pictures.
Lastly, you need to consider your budget. Let’s be realistic. Not all aforementioned features can be found in a single trail camera. Therefore, you need to narrow down what you need the most and look for those features in every trail camera that you check.
Keep in mind that the higher the megapixels of the trail camera, the higher the price. The more safety features it has, the costlier it would be. The faster the trigger speed of the camera, the more it is expensive.
It is best if you set your priorities before you start looking for a trail camera. For instance, if you are planning to use your trail camera as a home security system, you will want a device that can produce image quality of over 10MP. But if you’re going to leave it in the forest for a long time, you should consider the anti-theft cable instead. If you are targeting an animal and wants to study its behavior, travel pattern, and anticipate its next move, a fast trigger speed will do.
Tips When Buying a Trail Camera
Always check the device first. Whether you’re buying online or in a physical store, it is important that you check the device first before proceeding to the counter. A sample photo could be taken by you to ensure that the megapixels they’ve stated are justifiable.
Stick to trusted brands. If this your first time buying, we suggest that you stick to trusted brands of trail cameras. These companies live up to their reputation and will only deliver quality products.
Price should not be the major determining factor. While the price of the camera plays a role whether or not you should buy the unit, it should not be the major determining factor. Expensive cameras don’t necessarily mean that it was durable and made of quality materials. Scrutinizing the device thoroughly is crucial.
Narrow down your options. As what we’ve mentioned above, you can’t have all features in one camera. So the best thing you can do is narrow down your options by determining what the most important feature you’d like to have in your device is.
The Bottom Line
Buying the right trail camera is never easy. But with the help of our guide above, we hope you make an informed and wise decision on which trail camera to buy for your next hunting expenditure.
Having a good quality trail camera will help you a lot in your hunting experience. Best of all, with proper use and maintenance, the device can serve you for many years to come. Ultimately, you’ll be able to make the most out of your trail camera in the long run. It can be your key to striking the trophy buck this hunting season!