Last Updated on November 30, 2020
Trail cameras are incredibly useful tools that are great for a lot more than just hunting. Of course, they’re ideal tools for hunters as well, but they’re also perfect as security cameras, for wildlife watching, and any other uses you can come up with. They trigger automatically when movement is detected, and some can even send the image and an alert to your phone.
These cameras are weatherproof, durable, and easy to use. Just set it up and leave it alone until you’re ready to see the pictures. We’ve been using trail cameras for a variety of purposes over the years, and they’ve gone through some serious improvements recently, so we decided to see what some of these newer models are capable of.
If you’re interested in learning about the 10 best trail cameras on the market, the following 10 reviews will fill you in on all you need to know. We’ll even point out or top recommendations so we can be sure you’re getting a camera that won’t let you down.
|Best Overall||Campark T80 Trail Camera||
|Best Value||TOGUARD H40-1 Trail Camera||
|Premium Choice||Alpha Cam Premium Hunting Trail Camera||
|APEMAN Trail Camera||
|Bushnell Trophy Cam Trail Camera||
The Campark T80 Trail Camera is proof that you don’t need to go broke to get a great trail camera with quality optics and all the features that you’d expect on a modern trail camera. You get complete Wifi connectivity, so you don’t have to plug the camera in to transfer your pictures. There are also 36 infrared LEDs built-in so you can see nearly as clearly at night as in the light.
But the real crux of this camera is the quality of the picture. For stills, you get a 20-megapixel sensor that takes some of the most detailed and crisp photos we’ve seen from a trail camera. It doesn’t stop there though. You can also shoot high-definition video at 1296p, higher than your standard 1080p high-definition. Your videos will even have full sound, allowing you to feel like you’re really there as part of the action.
When you need to view your prey in the field, the 2.3-inch full-color screen lets you see in great detail. IP66 weatherproofing keeps the camera safe from water and dust. It would be nice if the camera triggered faster when it detects movement though since it sometimes only catches their tail.
If you’re looking for a trail camera with solid performance at an affordable price, then don’t overlook the TOGUARD H40-1 Trail Camera. We think it’s one of the best trail cameras for the money with great features like a triggering speed of just half a second! If that’s not enough, the 120-degree detection angle will ensure that any animals nearing your camera will activate the sensor.
Of course, activating the sensor is only part of the battle. Luckily, with a 16-megapixel camera, the photos it takes will let you see your target in clear, crisp detail. Likewise, the 1080p high-definition video is vibrant and clear so you can always get an accurate representation of the wildlife your camera catches.
Most of the trail cameras we tested are IP66 weatherproof or higher, but this one is rated just IP56. It’s still waterproof against light rain, but a sustained torrential downpour might overpower this camera’s weatherproofing. At least it’s a night-photo killer with 42 infrared LEDs built-in that allow an impressive 75-foot detection and photo capturing range at night.
The Alpha Cam Premium Hunting Trail Camera takes all the traits that you’d expect to find on a modern premium trail camera and boosts them even further. Instead of IP66 weatherproofing, it’s rated for IP67; one step up. With a 30-megapixel camera sensor for still photos, this camera will show you wildlife in the most vivid way imaginable. And if you need it even more lifelike, the 1080p video shoots at an impressive 30 frames per second, putting this camera’s recording abilities squarely on par with some expensive stand-alone cameras.
Few things are more frustrating than missing wildlife with your trail camera, which is why the Alpha Cam has an ultra-fast 0.2-second trigger speed; one of the fastest we’ve ever seen. It picks up the prey that other cameras are simply too slow to catch. Also aiding in this is the impressive 90-foot motion detection range that ensures your prey never has to come too close to trigger the camera.
This camera has too many great features to name them all. It’s got a built-in LCD screen, a 30-month standby battery life, and a 100-foot infrared flash distance for night photos. No wonder it’s one of the most expensive options!
Considering the low price you can pick up one of these APEMAN Trail Cameras for, they offer a pretty decent selection of features. For instance, this camera takes 16-megapixel still images, which is pretty decent resolution. The video resolution is also more than adequate at 1080p. However, the images weren’t as sharp and crisp as we expected. Instead, appearing soft and somewhat blurry; especially when viewed on a large screen.
But when you’re in the field, you can view your images and videos on the built-in 2.4-inch LED screen and everything looked good on this little screen, so it’s great for use in the field. It’s got a fast triggering speed of just 0.5 seconds that starts recording as soon as a target enters the field of view. That said, we did notice that it’s not as sensitive when the target is walking towards the camera as opposed to walking across its detection field.
Like most modern trail cameras, this one takes photos and video at night with the help of built-in infrared LEDs. This one has only 26 IR LEDs though, which results in night images that aren’t quite as visible as other cameras we tested.
Bushnell is known for making high-quality hunting gear, including cameras, binoculars, and more. We’ve had a lot of great experiences with their gear in the past, but the Trophy Cam Trail Camera didn’t impress us. That’s not to say that there’s nothing good about this device, because there is.
This camera has an impressive battery life. It uses the same eight AA batteries that most similar trail cameras run on, but a single set of batteries can last up to a year in this camera. For comparison, we’ve had others run dead in less than two months.
Thanks to the blazing fast 0.3-second trigger speed, you’ll rarely miss any passing prey. Additionally, the one-second recovery rate ensures that the camera is ready to shoot again almost instantly. And with a detection range of 100 feet, you’ll record prey that’s farther than other cameras.
But this trail camera costs three times what you can get other models for. And with a 16-megapixel camera, the image quality is mediocre at best. Video recording is limited to 720p, so don’t expect the same high-definition resolution you can get on cheaper cameras. You can’t even view your media on the tiny built-in screen!
With a few tweaks, the Victure HC200 Trail Game Camera could make its way into our best value pick, but as it sits, it’s just a few features short of being a great device. Still, there’s plenty to love about this trail camera, starting with the dirt-cheap price you can buy it for.
Despite its bottom of the barrel pricing, you get some standout features like 1080p high-definition video recording that you can watch on the built-in 2.4-inch LCD screen while you’re in the field. A fast trigger speed of 0.5 seconds ensures you rarely miss your targets, and the infrared LEDs even capture images and video at night.
But don’t let all those nice features fool you; this camera falls short in several key ways. The 90-degree detection angle is smaller than other cameras we tested, so your targets need to be directly in front of the device before it picks them up.
Battery life is dismal with this camera. It uses the same eight AA batteries that power most of these cameras, but this one was dead in less than two months. Also, the buttons beep loudly and can’t be silenced.
Affordably priced, the Terra IR Trail Camera from Wildgame Innovations is a very average device that offers all the main features you truly need on a trail camera. It’s got built-in LEDs for night recording and a one-second trigger speed to capture moving prey before they leave the camera’s field of view.
Once triggered, the 14-megapixel camera starts snapping photos. The pictures aren’t particularly sharp though, especially when compared to some of the higher-resolution trail cameras we tested. This camera records video, but it’s not high-definition and there’s no sound. Still, it’s usable footage for some purposes, even if you’re limited to 15-second videos.
We really wanted to like the Moultrie Mobile 6000 Cellular Trail Camera. It’s got a feature that makes it stand out from the rest of the crowd; it uses cellular data to send images to your phone and computer! This is groundbreaking. You can be sitting in the comfort of your home and get an alert with a picture from your trail camera that it just went off. The downside is that you need to pay for 4G data service from either ATT or Verizon. If you’re already a customer, great. Otherwise, it’s going to be a pretty hefty additional monthly expense.
As a trail camera, this one is nothing special with a 0.9-second trigger speed, a detection range of 80 feet, and a 16-megapixel camera. Not spectacular, but definitely solid performance. But it’s a major failure regarding batteries. This camera needs 12 AA batteries while most only need eight. Worse, those 12 batteries only last for three months!
We think the only reason to purchase this camera over another is the 4G feature of having alerts and photos sent to your phone. Aside from that, it’s an overpriced camera with mediocre features.
The Stealth Cam 45 No-Glo IR Trail Camera is one of the most expensive models we tested. But you’d never know it from the sub-par performance. It can take 14-megapixel still photos. They’re not very clear or sharp, and at this price, 14-megapixels is far from impressive. Luckily, it does capture 1080p high-definition video in clips up to three minutes in length with full audio.
Supposedly, this camera has a trigger speed below 0.5 seconds. In our experience, it sure doesn’t feel like it! It missed a lot of movement that was picked up by our other cameras. Often, this one would only capture the tail of a subject that had already made it entirely out of the viewing range before the camera activated!
It’s not a terrible device by any means, but at this price, we don’t think the Stealth Cam offers enough for us to recommend it.
With a small size and affordable price, we were rooting for the Wosports LY121 Mini Trail Camera. For the price, it does offer some decent specs. It records 1080p high-definition video, which was absent from some trail cameras we tested that cost twice as much as this one! We also like that it only needs four batteries compared to the eight that others require. The 0.5-second trigger speed is also nice at this price.
But there were just too many flaws for this camera to overcome. To start, it takes 12-megapixel stills, and they’re just not clear or sharp enough compared to the other cameras on the market. Night photos are even worse since this camera has just 17 infrareds that don’t seem to illuminate the area enough for good shots.
If you need to view your media in the field, this camera isn’t for you since there’s no screen built-in. It’s also not as weatherproof as other trail cameras with a rating of just IP54. With so many other great options at the same or even lower prices, this one isn’t going to be one that we recommend to anyone.
We’ve covered a lot of cameras that range from budget-priced to premium with a wide range of features separating them. If you’re looking for an easy way out, we’re going to summarize our recommendations for you again before this article is over. But if you’d like to be a bit more informed before making your decision, then this buyer’s guide is for you.
These cameras pack a lot of features into small bodies. But it’s these features that separate each camera and help you determine which one is the best fit for you. Let’s take a closer look at the most important features that you need to keep in mind when deciding between different models.
One of the most important aspects to consider on any camera of any type, not just trail cameras, is the camera’s resolution. This applies to both still photos and videos, though the resolution for each is discussed a bit differently.
The resolution of still photos are measured in pixels, but they’re expressed in millions of pixels. You might have noticed that these cameras all have a megapixel rating. A megapixel is one million pixels. Therefore, a higher megapixel camera is taking higher resolution photos with more pixels. This results in sharper, clearer images; especially when viewed on larger screens.
Video resolution is also measured in pixels. However, it’s expressed differently when discussing video. You’ve likely heard of 1080p or 720p. Although the p in these measurements doesn’t stand for pixels, the numbers are still measurements in pixels. So, a 1080p video spans 1,080 pixels vertically and a 720p video spans 720 pixels vertically. The higher this number, the higher the resolution of the video. Thus, the clearer the image will be.
The time it takes for your camera to start recording once it detects movement is called trigger speed. A slow trigger speed means that your target might already be outside of your camera’s field of view before it even starts recording. But a lightning-quick trigger speed will catch more of the action and miss fewer targets.
We don’t think you should even consider a trail camera with a trigger speed slower than one-second. But it’s always a good bet to go faster. Some of our favorite trail cameras had trigger speeds as quick as 0.2 or 0.3 seconds, and we don’t think you can go wrong with these.
Trigger speed is only part of the equation when it comes to capturing your targets on film and photo. You also have to consider detection range and angle. If your camera has a detection range of just 65 feet but your target meanders by 70 feet from your camera, you’ll miss them every time. But in the same scenario with a camera that has a 100-foot detection range, you’ll capture your target.
Detection angle follows a similar principle. Only now, instead of measuring distance, we’re measuring the angle that the camera records out from its position. A wider detection angle will pick up and record a wider field of view. In general, we recommend looking for as wide of a detection angle as possible. 90 degrees is as small as we’d consider, though we prefer the cameras with wide detection angles of up to 120 degrees.
Once your camera gets tripped by a target within range and records a series of photos or a video, it might take some time to reset before it’s ready to capture another image. The time it takes to reset is called recovery time, and a long recovery time can mean missing out on loads of great shots. We suggest looking for a camera with the fastest recovery time possible. For us, one second is the magic mark.
All of the trail cameras we tested for this list offered night vision. But their implementation meant drastically different quality in the photos and videos captured at night. It boils down to the number of infrared LEDs included. Some of them had less than twenty IR LEDs built-in while others had more than 40. Obviously, more IR emitters mean clearer night pictures and video.
Most users will be leaving their trail camera in place for an extended period of time. But imagine the frustration of coming to collect, being excited to see all the images and videos you captured, only to find that the batteries are dead! We’ve had this experience, but it’s not one that we want you to repeat.
We’ve seen trail cameras with 12-month battery life and we’ve seen them die after two months. Ironically, both cameras were running on the same eight AA batteries, so it’s definitely a discrepancy between models. Our advice? Get the device with the longest battery life so you don’t have to worry about it.
There’s no shortage of trail cameras on the market. But if you put your faith in the wrong one, you might catch nothing but the tails of your targets with blurry photos that don’t provide you with any detail. We want to make sure that never happens, which is why we’re going to cover our recommendations once more and leave them fresh in your mind.
For us, the top choice is the Campark T80 Trail Camera. It’s got a powerful camera sensor that takes 20-megapixel stills and high-definition 1296P video with sound. Since it’s got Wifi connectivity, you don’t even need a cable to hook it to your computer and you can easily view your media in the field on the built-in screen.
Representing a more budget-friendly option, we think the TOGUARD Trail Camera offers the best value. It’s priced affordably for any budget but still packs in some great features like trigger speeds of half a second and a large detection angle of 120 degrees. With a quality camera that takes 1080P high-definition video and 16-megapixel stills, and 42 infrared LEDs built-in for night viewing, this camera can easily compete with other options that are twice the price.
Featured image credit: sandid, Pixabay
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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