A trail camera is also known as a game camera and a scout camera which increases your wildlife viewing pleasure by showing you what has been happening when you are not there.

These cameras are usually triggered by motion and can store the images for later viewing. 

Trail cameras were initially used only in wildlife management research. However, with advancements in camera technology, the technologies let them become affordable for the general public as well.

Wildlife cameras offer a lot of educational benefits, in addition to providing entertainment. 

Using these cameras, you can create a cumulative list of the species of wildlife found on your property to enrich the wildlife section of your property’s management plan.

Key Features Of Trail Camera

A trail camera should have the following features while you select the camera,

Detect Animals

Many trail cameras use PIR sensors, although some cameras can be connected to external motion detection devices. A change in temperature occurs whenever anything moves, which is a difference in temperature from its background. 

The movement of a large animal far away will likely be detected easily as well as the movement of a small animal in close proximity to the camera if both represent the same change in temperature compared to the background. A large animal that is motionless and very close to a PIR will not be detected.

Time of Trigger

The trigger time is defined as the interval between motion detection and a picture taken. 

As you detect motion, the trigger-time gives you a clue as to whether or not the animal is still (motionless) in front of the camera at the time of the photograph! The shutter speed of a camera is entirely determined by its make and model and can range from as fast as 0.1 seconds to as slow as 1+ second, which can make all the difference between capturing a fast-moving animal or missing it altogether.

Time of Recovery

It is defined as the time between a photo or video being taken, and the camera is ready for the next one.

Trail cameras with the best image quality take multiple pictures in a row with no recovery time, but this feature is often overlooked.

Imagine the situation where a herd of deer was to walk in front of the trail camera, but just one picture would be taken because of the slow recovery time, which meant that the rest had passed the camera before it could be used again.

The Lens of the Camera

lens

A trail camera typically has a fixed-focal-length (and thus field of view) lens. In this case, the near-focus point is fixed. 

A wide-angle lens allows you to manage a lot into a photograph. However, individual subjects may appear small in the image because of its wide field of view. A zoom lens with a narrow field of view will miss the details.

The Flashlight

The flash units of trail cameras are factory installed, and since the use cases for a camera are closely tied to its flash type, the choice of model is crucial. 

Since both flash and illuminator are one and the same, it makes sense to refer to them as one and the same. For still images, the lights flash instantly, while for the video, they are ignited for a longer period.

Photo and Video Quality

Generally, the resolution of cameras is expressed in Megapixels (MP) and is simply the number of pixels in each digital image. A megapixel is equal to one million pixels.

The higher the megapixel count will result in better image quality, but the downside is that a high Megapixel count will also result in forcing you to use up your digital camera’s memory storage (SD card).

Image and Video Setting with its Effects

Still picture vs. video:

In our opinion, selecting a camera that offers still images or both video and stills seems obvious, and given that a majority of cameras offer both at a reasonable price, we recommend you choose both. It is important to note that many robust, reliable, and energy-efficient trail cameras and, especially those with the fastest trigger times in the market, only take still images.

Still image vs. burst still vs. video:

On the basis of this direct comparison of stills and videos, consider that most cameras now allow a sequence of shots (say, up to 10), with almost no recovery time in between, and some even offer ‘near video’ at a frame rate of around two frames per second.

‘Bursts of stills’ will capture much of the action as video, but they require much less battery power and memory storage.

Supply of Power

Most trail cameras are powered by a bank of AA batteries inside the camera enclosure. The external power supply is, however, available on some models.

This could be one combination of DC (transformed from mains power), a high capacity rechargeable battery (e.g., 12V lead-acid or lithium), or maybe a solar panel.

When compared with AA batteries, external power options dramatically extend camera longevity in the field and are especially useful when the camera is using flash frequently, especially during video recording.

Working of Trail Camera

A basic overview of how trail cameras work provides you a context in which you can understand their features. Trail cameras are specifically designed for existing in a state of almost complete electronic sleep like a TV is left on stand-by. The bit which is fully awake is the motion-sensor of the camera.

Most of the trail cameras have a Passive Infra-Red (PIR) detector, and when the PIR detects motion, it will wake up the rest of the camera and triggers for a rapid chain of events: so the light levels are detected, and the flash turned on accordingly; the focus is achieved.

Trail cameras of the present age take colored images or video during the daylight and (black and white) images at night by using an infra-red (IR) flash as they are opposed to the white-light flash of a conventional camera.

Suggestions For Maximizing View Potential

  • You should place your trail cameras higher and angle them slightly downwards. This will increase your visibility by increasing the chances of seeing both large and small animals.
  • Use a mount over a strap for better stability of the image.
  • You may consider putting some cameras closer to the ground if you are interested in seeing some amphibians, snakes, carnivores, or other animals? 
  • Place your cameras slightly off the trail at a curve, which will cause the animals to walk towards it. This will increase the number of pictures of the animals looking directly at the camera and decrease the number of blurry photos if your camera has a slow trigger speed.
  • You wipe out branches, shrubs, and leaves from around the camera to minimize setting off the motion trigger excessively on a windy day.
  • When scouting for animals with the camera, wear gloves to minimize your scent. 
  • Be sure you double-check the camera placement and that it works before you leave.

FAQ's

Can we use trail cameras as home security cameras?

Yes, you can. But, many people don’t know that a trail camera can be used for your home security needs. However, they can be an excellent choice in some circumstances.

A trail camera is great for taking pictures of wildlife and scouting deer, but it is also excellent for adding security to a home.

What are the uses of trail cameras?

You can use trail cameras in successful hunting, wild photography and much more.

How trail cameras worth it?

The trail cameras are worth it for those who regularly rely or depend on them for hunting, wildlife watching and photography, or home security.

Can I view trail camera photos on my phone?

Simply plug in the SD card of the trail camera into the phone and then you’re good to go to view the trail camera pictures on your phone.