As technology influences every aspect of our daily life, so it changes how we hunt game. What used to take hours, days, and even weeks of scouting is now made easy with the help of technology.
For people worldwide, trail cameras have become essential equipment for outdoor recreation. Aside from hunting, these cameras are useful for a variety of purposes, ranging from theft detection to hunting. Several homeowners also use these cameras for filming or taking pictures of wildlife on hiking trips.
At the same time, there is a wide array of options available at the market, with each given camera specialized for a different purpose.
However, with so many options available it’s difficult for people to understand how trail cameras work. In this article, we will explain how trail cameras work and help users learn how to use them more effectively.
Different Ways in Which Trail Cameras Work
Trail cameras are often called game cameras owing to their popularity in game hunting. There are various factors that distinguish each different category of trail cameras.
Aside from making each product diverse, these factors allow customers to help choose a product that addresses their needs.
Although different models of trail cameras have unique features, many of these cameras have the same basic functions. The majority of these units contain a motion detection feature that activates the lens aperture.
Similarly, each camera has a specific set detection area that allows the camera to detect motion and capture images whenever something passes in front of it. At the same time, like any other camera, image resolution and sharpness are also important features in trail cameras.
Sharpness and pixel count play a key role in the quality of images and impact how these cameras function.
Since there are many types and versions of trail cameras in the marketplace, each camera has a different method of working.
Below are various ways how trail cameras work:
Digital trail cameras work similarly to most digital cameras. These cameras are self-contained units supplemented by their power source, complete night capabilities, and data storage. Once any moving object crosses the detection zone of the camera, it will record a still frame of that object.
Like many features of trail cameras, the parameters like detection zone differ according to each manufacturer. That said, many trail cameras have a surprisingly long range of image capture based on their placement.
Many of the trail cameras also offer a video option if their users need such functions. Likewise, these cameras use data retrieval features that facilitate physical downloading of the images. The majority of digital cameras provide night capabilities using technologies such as infrared, traditional flash or LED.
Film cameras are somewhat similar to digital trail cameras. However, there is one major difference, which is the medium these cameras use. Digital camera relies on memory cards to save images inside the camera for later use. In contrast, film cameras use traditional film and record all media on them.
If you are using these cameras, you would need to develop these images. Due to the time taken in image retrieval, film cameras can incur unnecessary delays during game hunting. This is why these cameras are used more in nature photography rather than game hunting. Yet, many of these cameras still offer motion-sensing features.
Cellular game cameras capture images digitally. However, these cameras don’t store these images in the unit itself. Instead, whenever the trail camera captures an image, it transfers it directly to the user’s cell phone.
Such cameras utilize wireless signals and the internet to send captured images instantly. However, cellular cameras still need SIM cards, just like a smartphone does.
This also means that anyone using cellular trail cameras must subscribe to a data package to use it properly. Furthermore, a good quality signal should also be available at the hunting site to send images.
4. Laser Aim
Like most cameras in this list, laser aim trail cameras also utilize digital photography to capture images. However, the main difference between these cameras and others is that it uses a laser- guided aim.
Using the laser aim, camera owners control the area in the detection zone and determine which part the camera needs to focus on.
Laser-guided cameras give owners greater control and also capture images of better quality.
5. Strobe Flash
Since the main goal of trail cameras is to capture images stealthily, many buyers prefer cameras that use strobe flash cameras. Strobe flash cameras emit a small flash to capture the image of the objects inside the detection area secretly.
Unsurprisingly, many homeowners use strobe flash cameras to prevent and detect theft. Visible to humans the strobe flash in the camera is a warning to potential intruders and reminds them that they are being monitored.
6. Wireless Activated
Another type of trail camera that is excellent against theft detection are trail cameras using wireless activated features. Such cameras transmit all the images they take through a wireless network.
These cameras can also be linked to desired receiving devices or networks. However, users must specifically configure the camera to permit receipt and transmission. The availability of Wi-Fi signals and strength is also important when buying these units. The functionality of such units is compromised in wilderness areas.
A number of users require trail cameras to function perfectly in low light or darkness. To make this possible, many trail camera manufacturers utilize infrared capabilities. Infrared cameras have embedded sensors that activate whenever needed. Pictures taken by the camera are exposed to infrared light.
In contrast with the traditional white flash, infrared camera enables users to take pictures secretly. Depending on the type or model of the trail camera, a specific unit may use either white or red infrared light.
You can buy a camera with either type of infrared light, as they don’t affect picture quality. However, image captured by infrared trail cameras are tinted by shades of red, white, or green.
8. Sound Producing
In many cases, people buy trail cameras so they can record the movement of animals. Regardless of whether they buy the camera for research or sport, these users want wildlife to approach the camera.
Sound producing trail cameras are specialized to store the recordings of animal calls and noise. Later, users can use these sounds for playback. Depending on the sound selection, these cameras can either attract or repulse animals through the noise made by the din.
These cameras store both noises and images digitally with some of the models having remote activation features. That said, many of these cameras also rely on motion sensors or timers to capture sounds and images.
9. Security Cameras
One of the most popular uses of trail cameras is in security. While sportsmen use these cameras to monitor their favorite hunting spot, others use it to maintain the security of remote camping locations and cabins. Traditional security cameras are also ideal candidates for these purposes.
Security trail cameras are connected to computer systems with the help wires or wireless connections. These cameras store data digitally through flash or USB storage.
Depending on which computer system is used, these cameras can also be used to stream live images from remote locations. However, these cameras have some legal restrictions regarding using these cameras in private spaces such as restrooms.
Frequently Asked Questions
Since many buyers aren’t aware how trail cameras work, they also have other questions related to the usage of trail cameras.
Can a game camera be used for security?
As discussed above, trail or game cameras are not only used for security but have specialized models designed for this purpose. Security trail cameras are available in many settings with several programming features.
The majority of these models can take both videos and still photos. Since audio recording is useful for security evidence, many of these cameras also capture audio along with the video.
Not only that, security trail cameras have stealth security features that enable it to take photos and images under complete darkness without using visible flashes. As trail cameras leverage disrupting technologies many manufacturers have included advanced features that were never available before.
Advanced security trail cameras are designed to capture license plate numbers of moving vehicles, even when there is low light. Furthermore, many of these trail cameras also connect to phones and transmit images, videos, and recordings to homeowners.
How do trail cameras detect motion?
Trail Cameras use various techniques to detect movement. However, two techniques used mostly are variances in temperature and motion. Motion detection cameras have components known as Passive Infrared (PIR) detectors. PIR operate in the following manner.
Each camera has a cone-shaped detection zone that extends outward from the camera. The closer an object is to the camera, the tighter the detection zone will be. However, when cameras are distant from the object, these cameras widen the detection zone.
In other words, if an object is 10 feet away from the camera, the detection zone of the camera is approximately 5 feet wide. Whenever the camera senses any infrared light changes in the detection zone. Compared to small animals, such as raccoons and birds, large animals like elk or deer are easier to detect.
PIR sensors work best when there is a significant difference between the temperature of the animal and the surroundings. Similarly, the camera can capture images of moving subjects better if they are moving at an angle instead of straight into the camera.
How do wireless trail cameras work?
Wireless cameras are one of the most convenient cameras out there. You can place them anywhere as long as you can connect it to an outlet. However, one of the major downsides of Wi-Fi security cameras is that they are rendered useless when you don’t have an internet connection.
Nevertheless, you can still use wireless cameras for capturing images and footage and store it locally in an SD card. Even when you are using these cameras with an internet connection and they suddenly lose that connection then the camera will send you a notification. The notification will be accompanied by the last image captured by the camera before losing connection.
In most cases, wireless trail cameras utilize Wi-Fi signals to transmit images through a connection. These trail cameras allow users to capture images from anywhere at any time. However, there is one restriction for these cameras, which is the availability of strong Wi-Fi signals.
Since a wireless trail camera utilizes Wi-Fi technology, it requires a strong signal and continuous access to the Wi-Fi network to send images effectively. The majority of wireless trail cameras have to be mounted on the exterior of a building where there is an AC power connection, which limits its usage in remote areas.
How far can a trail camera take a picture?
The extent of distance where image quality is acceptable is different according to each model. Most trail cameras have a detection range of 40 to 50 feet; however, many advanced options guarantee a detection range on the upper end of 100 to 120 feet.
However, there is another factor that impacts the quality of images at a distance, which is the flash range. Many buyers tend to confuse detection range with flash range, as both have a critical role in determining how far a trail camera takes pictures.
Nevertheless, one clear distinction separates the detection range from flash range. The detection range is the range within which the trail camera captures images of a passing game, but it is only useful during daylight hours. In contrast, the flash range represents the range within which the trail camera captures images of a passing game during nighttime.
With that said, the types of flash used in trail cameras differ according to each camera. White flash range cameras create brighter images at night, but the flash emitted by the camera can be easily by spook your game. In contrast, no-flash infrared cameras can capture images with greater stealth, but the resultant images are restricted to grainy black and white images.
Are there trail cameras that send pictures to your phone?
Trail cameras are ideal tools for scouting an area before hunting game. However, even after the advent of trail cameras many hunters still have to visit cameras weekly or biweekly to access the scouting footage.
However, not every trail camera allows users to see captured footage and images remotely. For this reason, manufacturers have developed specialized trail cameras that allow you to see footage through your phones. These cameras need to be wireless to send photos to your phone.
CreativeXP 3G HD Cellular Trail Camera PRO3 is one of the best wireless trail cameras in the market. Using this camera, you can capture and receive photos on your phones instantly. The camera has a SimHero card powered by T-Mobile or AT&T cell towers.
The camera uses the SIM card to transfer captured media using the cellular signals from these towers, making it possible to monitor images from remote locations. However, you will still need to buy a data plan from the providers to transfer photos remotely.
- SimHero data card with 500 free photos
- 12MP photos and full-HD 1080P videos with sound
- 56 built-in no glow invisible LED lights
- Wide 110° PIR angle
- 4 Trigger Speed
- Lifetime warranty
- 2 inch LCD screen
- Standalone and wireless camera
If you want to see other high-quality trail cameras that send pictures to your phone, you can read our article on Best Trail Cameras You Can View From Your Phone.
What is the best trail camera?
Today, thanks to technology we have various types of trail cameras available with each of them having unique features of their own. However, due to the diversity in these cameras and their multiple uses, the title of the best camera can vary from person to person. However, if you review the critical features needed in all types of trail cameras, there is one camera that always stands out.
Moultrie M-999I No Glow Game Camera is one of the best trail cameras we could find in our quest for the best trail cameras. It is not only brimming with various critical trail camera features but also galls within an affordable range of under $200.
With a tough and adaptable Mossy Oak Camo exterior coupled with special iNVISIBLE Infrared technology, the camera captures crisp photos and videos even in low light, making it one of the best stealth trail cameras available.
- Captures 20MP photographs
- iNVISIBLE Infrared flash offers night vision up to 70 feet
- 5-second trigger speed
- 1080p video quality supported by audio recording
If you are keen to learn more about the best trail cameras money can buy, feel free to review our article on Best Trail Camera – Game Camera Reviews.
Trail and game cameras are available in various styles, types, shapes, and features. All the subtle differences in these cameras reflect their suitability in any given situation. Although the primary usage for trail cameras is still is game scouting and hunting, many uses these cameras for scientific research, photography, and security surveillance.
Regardless of your need, these cameras can give tremendous value for your money and allow you to keep a watch over places without going over there physically.