Trail cameras for 2021
From the sounds you make to the scent you have, nearly everything about you can spook an animal. If you want to see deer or other animals in the wild and learn their habits, you’ll need something to monitor them when you are not around. You’ll need a trail camera.
One of our favorite trail cameras is the Rexing Woodlens H2 Trail Camera. This model has everything you could want, from 4K video resolution and 20MP image quality to a 0.2-second trigger and infrared night vision.
To learn more about the features the best trail cameras for 2021 have, keep reading.
What to know before you buy a trail camera
What is a trail camera used for?
A trail camera remotely records wildlife activity. Users strategically place it in a location where there is significant traffic to record animal behavior patterns. A trail camera can be used by hobbyists for fun, by hunters for tracking or scientists for study and wildlife management purposes.
How do trail cameras work?
Most trail cameras use a passive infrared sensor to detect any change in radiant heat emitted or reflected from objects. When there is a significant enough detection to trigger the camera, it takes one or several pictures. Alternatively, some trail cameras will begin to record video at this point. The detection also works at night and can take photos and videos in the dark. The quality of the nighttime images depends on the camera and the method it uses to capture those images.
What to look for in a quality trail camera
While there are numerous factors such as memory, battery life, WiFi capabilities and more, we will focus on the aspects that offer you the best chance of obtaining a quality photo on a trail camera.
While other factors affect image quality, the higher the pixel count, the better chance you have of getting a crisp shot. For example, a 12MP image contains much more information than a 4MP image.
It doesn’t matter how many pixels a camera has if it doesn’t also have a quality lens, much like if you’re looking out a dirty window, you won’t be able to see as clearly as someone who is looking out a clean window.
The detection range is how close an animal needs to be to the trail camera to trigger a detection. This feature should be in balance with image and lens quality. For example, if you have a camera that triggers while the animal is far away and it doesn’t take the best pictures, you won’t be satisfied.
Recovery speed, photo burst and time-lapse mode
The recovery speed is how long a camera waits to take a second picture. A slower recovery speed will conserve memory, but it may mean you miss the best images. A photo burst option allows the camera to take many photos in a quick burst. This is often the best way to get an image that you are happy with, but it can eat up memory. Alternatively, if your trail camera has a time-lapse mode, it will take pictures at set intervals regardless of whether it’s triggered.
Type of flash
The two most fundamental categories of flash for nighttime photos are white light and infrared light. White light takes the best, clearest, full-color images, but it may spook the animal. Infrared has much less chance of scaring the animal away, but the images will be in black and white and less clear. If you just want to know what is out there, infrared is fine, but you will need a white light flash if you want quality images.
How much you should expect to spend on a trail camera
You can spend a lot or very little on a trail camera. At the higher end, to get all the bells and whistles, you may be looking at $400 or more. However, if you just want a budget trail camera, you can get a mini model with lower resolution for around $35-$40.
Trail camera FAQ
What is the best height for a trail camera?
A. To get the best picture with the details needed, you want the trail camera at approximately the chest height of the animal. However, the animal may see the trail camera at this placement, and it will be low enough for easy theft. Many individuals opt to place the camera higher and angle it down, so it’s not noticed easily.
Why does my trail camera take pictures of nothing?
A. A trail camera is triggered by movement and variance in temperature. If you are getting a large number of false triggers, check the area where your camera is set to make sure the tree is sturdy and won’t move in the wind, there are no large branches close to the lens and your camera is correctly set. Having your camera set in the wrong mode may cause it to miss pictures. Additionally, sun glare may also be a culprit that causes false triggers.
What is the best trail camera?
Top trail camera
What you need to know: If you want the best, this top-quality trail camera performs well in all areas.
What you’ll love: This model is easy to use, captures high-quality images, is fully customizable and accurately and rapidly responds to detections.
What you should consider: While this trail camera is the best, be aware that it also costs more than the other models on our shortlist.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top trail camera for the money
What you need to know: This is not a budget model, but it is a more affordable option for an individual whose primary concern is price but still wants quality.
What you’ll love: The camera features a camouflaged casing that makes it harder to detect. The infrared sensors have a 100-foot range, and the 24MP capabilities allow for crisper photos.
What you should consider: This trail camera does not receive as high durability marks as the other models on our shortlist, but it costs considerably less.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: The standout feature of this camera is its dual-lens design. One lens is dedicated to daytime images, while the other is dedicated to nighttime images.
What you’ll love: This camera has an all-steel mounting bracket, 24MP images, and rapid-fire capabilities. It has a detection range of 80 feet and a flash range of 120 feet to capture nighttime activity better.
What you should consider: Rarely, an underperforming unit slips past quality control, but most models perform exceptionally well.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Allen Foster is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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