Last Updated on May 20, 2021
You may think you can’t get a great trail camera for less than 200 dollars, but many companies make great trail cameras for discount prices. Of course, a low price comes with risks, and it can be hard to evaluate those when shopping online. It can be difficult to tell which cameras will live up to your expectations and which will leave you disappointed in your purchase.
We want to help you find the camera that’s right for you, and that will help you capture all the wildlife in the area, night or day. Our reviews of the best trail cameras under $150 show you everything you need to know about each model, while also helping you stick to your budget. We’ve included a buyer’s guide to help you better understand these devices so you can buy with confidence, even if you’ve never owned a trail camera before.
|Best Overall||Browning Strike Force||
|Bushnell 16MP Trophy||
|Best Value||Campark T45||
The Browning Strike Force HD BTC 5 Camera is our top choice among trail cameras. It has lots of features to help ensure that no animal will escape unrecorded. Chief among these is its lightning-fast .67 second trigger time, which is short enough to catch even the fastest animals. It can also be set to record video with sound, which adds another layer of information to your nighttime surveillance. The infrared flash illuminates areas out to 100 feet, for incredible range and brightness in nighttime pictures and videos. In fact, this is one of the best-performing cameras in that category.
Most users really appreciate that this trail camera is capable of producing very high-quality images. You’ll be impressed by both the daytime and nighttime images it produces. The one reservation we have about this model is that it seems to last about 18 months and then give out. It works so well that it’s hard to complain, but we’d like it even more if it lasted longer. Overall, there’s a lot to like about this trail camera, and it’ll leave most people very happy with their purchase.
The Bushnell 16MP Trophy Cam HD Essential (119837C) is another great choice for people looking for a good trail camera. We love its extremely fast trigger speed, which takes just .3 seconds. That lets you catch animals in view for less than a second, and you can get lots of great shots of animals that stop in front of the camera. Like the previous camera, this one includes a flash that illuminates the area out to 100 feet at night. This model also boasts excellent battery life. While the manufacturer claims that it lasts a year at 70 pictures per day, it may not last that long, but it’ll still last a long time.
The data-stamped images are a great touch. The date, time, temperature, GPS coordinates, and even the moon phase are recorded on each image, so you can easily determine when and where an event happened. What keeps this model out of the top spot are its struggles in cold weather. Sometimes it doesn’t respond to motion in the cold but recovers in the spring, and other times it goes out for good. If that were fixed, we could rank this camera higher.
The Campark T45 Trail Game Camera 1080P is a full HD video recording trail camera. If you’re looking to get the highest quality videos from your trail camera, you’ll love the quality this one puts out. The picture camera is only 14 megapixels, not as good as some others here, but the video quality is still the best. It also comes with a .3 second trigger speed, which is quick enough to capture even the most fleeting animals. Since this camera has a 120-degree detection radius, it catches more movement than many cameras at a similar price point.
Speaking of price, it’s important to point out that you can get this model for about half of what you’d pay for the top two on our list. Given that it has superior video quality, it’s a no-brainer to declare this one the “best value for the money” on our list. You may not want to use this camera in areas with high humidity, as it can mess with the image quality, especially at night. However, in drier climates, this is a great choice available at a low price.
The TOGUARD 14MP Trail Camera is very similar to the previous model and may give some readers déjà vu. It also offers full HD 1080p video, while providing 14-megapixel still photos. That means great image and video quality, though there are superior still cameras available. It also comes with a very fast .3 second response time, so nearly all animal activity should be captured, day or night. Furthermore, it has a 120-degree detection angle, which makes it superior to many competitors in terms of what it will capture. It detects animals that aren’t directly in front of the camera, dramatically increasing what it records.
Like the previous model, this one isn’t terribly expensive. However, it has one major flaw that lowers its ranking on our list. Its battery life is abysmal, and you’ll rack up heavy bills in replacement batteries when using it. It doesn’t appear to be because it takes more pictures or videos, but instead that it passively consumes more power, which is a problem the customer can’t fix. Overall, this camera will leave most people happy with its performance, though they may not like its battery efficiency.
The Meidase SL122 16MP Trail Camera has some of the best camera technology of any of the trail cameras on our list, but there are some critical issues that damage its value. It does have the best camera/video recorder combination, as it’s capable of recording 1080p video and taking 16-megapixel pictures. While that’s a marginal improvement over other cameras, if you want the best image quality possible in this price range, this camera has it. It comes with a crazy-fast .2 second trigger, which means nothing should escape without getting recorded. It also has a great 120-degree detection angle.
However, trail cameras need to be able to stand up to the elements. There’s some inconsistency in how waterproof each unit from this line is, leading to some units getting waterlogged very soon after they’re put in position. Some units also fail to take pictures or record video at night, which means you’re getting less than half the value you think you’re getting from them. Some people are willing to risk getting a bad unit, but this isn’t a model that will please most people.
The Stealth Cam 8MP 30IR Game Camera has some innovative features, though its hardware won’t be up to many people’s expectations. This is one of the only trail cameras on our list that has a variable burst image mode. When it’s activated, you can set the camera to record between one and nine images in rapid succession. This is a good alternative to video recording since it takes up less space on the memory card and requires less battery power, but still provides a sense of how animals move around the area. It also comes with a programmable active time, allowing you to exclude day or night.
Many users are happy to report that it tends to have fewer false positives than competing brands, which is a great compliment for a trail camera. However, it only has an eight-megapixel camera, which is a noticeable downgrade in quality versus many of the other cameras on our list. It also has a .75-second trigger time, which is on the high side. Overall, this may be the right model for some people, but you can get better image quality for the same price.
The Simmons Whitetail Classic 10MP Trail & Game Camera has an itchy trigger finger. That means it has more than its fair share of false positives, but it also means that it’s unlikely it would ever miss an animal that moved into its sensor range. It has overall good daytime picture quality. However, the image quality degrades rapidly at night. That could have a lot to do with its 10-megapixel camera, which isn’t as great as those found on many comparable models.
This camera also eats through batteries very rapidly. That makes it expensive to operate in the long run. If you’re going to be running your trail camera for a long time, you may lose any potential savings in price to the higher rate at which it needs expensive batteries. Don’t underrate the poor nighttime image quality. A big part of a trail camera’s fun is to see the wildlife that doesn’t come out in the day. If you can’t do that, you’re missing out on a lot of value. This trail camera has enough flaws to leave most people disappointed with it.
Sometimes low-priced devices mean you’re getting a good deal. Other times, they leave you wishing you didn’t spend the money. The X-Lounger Game Trail Camera falls into the latter category. To its credit, it does sport a 12-megapixel camera and the capability to record video at 1080p. Even better, it supports hybrid mode, where it takes pictures in rapid succession before and after a video recording. That strikes a nice balance between performance and how much data gets recorded, leaving you with good information on a below-average energy expenditure.
However, this camera is only worth it if it works properly, and in many cases, it doesn’t. There are serious quality control problems, with customers receiving dead units or ones with nonfunctioning buttons or features. Even when these work out of the box, they often fail within a few weeks or months. If customer support was easier to reach, that might be more forgivable, but many users report that they can’t get in touch with the company. Overall, this trail camera is likely to leave most users very frustrated, regardless of the price.
Porcupines, skunks, deer, bears, cougars, wild hogs, and more: you never know just what you’ll see in your yard once the sun goes down. If you want to make sure you capture all the local nighttime activities, you need a trail camera that won’t let you down.
The two most important features to focus on with trail cameras are image quality and price. If you know you’ll want a lot of video, invest in a trail camera that records in at least 1080p resolution, so you’ll get the best quality from your nighttime encounters. If you prefer images, get a trail camera with at least a 12-megapixel camera, though more is better.
Battery life is another important area. You may buy a low-priced trail camera and save money at the outset, but if it’s significantly less efficient than other models, you’ll quickly realize that you’re losing money because of all the batteries you’ll have to buy. Efficiency is really important, and after you’ve narrowed your search to the trail cameras with the image quality you need, it’s a good idea to choose the most efficient remaining model. This will save you a lot of money in the long run.
Other trail-camera posts:
The Browning Strike Force HD BTC 5 Camera is our favorite due to its fast trigger time, recordings complete with sound, and long flash range. In second is the Bushnell 16MP Trophy Cam HD Essential (119837C), which comes with an extremely fast trigger speed, long battery life, and data-stamped images, though its struggles in cold weather keep it from the top spot. The Campark T45 Trail Game Camera 1080P has great video quality, fast trigger speed, and a wide detection angle. Those great features combined with its low price make it the best overall value for the money on our list.
Fourth place belongs to the TOGUARD 14MP Trail Camera, which also provides 1080p video, and has fast trigger speed and a wide detection angle, though its poor battery life keeps it out of the top three. The Meidase SL122 16MP Trail Camera has excellent photo and video quality and a very fast trigger, but its inferior waterproofing and issues at night cost it a few spots. In sixth, the Stealth Cam 8MP 30IR Game Camera comes with a burst image mode and programmable active time, but its poor camera quality and longer trigger time mean that there are better options available.
The Simmons Whitetail Classic 10MP Trail & Game Camera has excellent daytime image quality and a very sensitive sensor, but its poor battery life and poor nighttime images drop it to seventh place. The X-Lounger Game Trail Camera has a decent camera and hybrid mode, but its quality control problems and poor durability, combined with poor customer service, put it in last place on our list.
Hopefully, reading these reviews and the buyer’s guide has helped you think through what makes for a great trail camera, and have helped you find one that will give you a great experience on your budget.
Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.
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