Everything You Need to Know About Trail Cameras

Affiliate Disclaimer

As an affiliate, we earn from qualifying purchases. We get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Trail cameras are still unknown to many people who aren’t hunters. Even hunters may be unaware that they can be used for more than hunting. Not only can they detect animals, but they can assist in protecting homes and businesses.

These cameras are capable of high-quality photography for a professional. Trail cameras can help zoologists studying and conserving wild animals. Their sophisticated detection can help you to pinpoint and unmask burglars and miscreants alike.

A key feature of this type of equipment is how easy it is to hide. This article will answer some of the commonest questions people have about trail cameras. I want you to know everything about trail cameras before you buy one.

Q1: What Are Trail Cameras?

Trail cameras are photographic devices that were invented to track wild creatures without frightening them. They are made to stay outside in all weather conditions, operating independently for long periods. Various models take light or IR photos, video film, or time-lapse exposures.

These cameras are digital and use rechargeable batteries, being computerized. Images are stored on a memory card, or can be transmitted by cellular wireless. Their picture quality can be outstanding, and captured at high speed.

You can place trail cameras to work in a huge variety of settings. They operate silently or near-silently, and can be camouflaged if you need that.

Q2: What Is the Difference Between Trail Cameras and Game Cameras ?

There isn’t one. Trail cameras, game cameras, and security cameras are all more or less similar. Each one, however used, is battery-operated and takes pictures rapidly by electronic means.

When tracking game or human movements, the camera uses either visible light or infrared. At nighttime the infrared LEDs glow only minimally. Either way, you get the exact location of the target as well as its picture.

Trail cameras embody good design and high technology, so they are easy to set up.

Q3: How Do Trail Cameras Work?

The are many parts to a camera like this, but we describe the most important. Motion sensor, infrared LEDs, lens, computer processor, memory card and batteries deserve mention.

The Motion Sensor

This detector triggers the camera out of its standby mode. It doesn’t just set off when there is movement: it includes a heat-detector. This stops the camera from wasting energy and pictures on moving shadows or branches.

Both motion and heat must be set off to trigger the camera’s LEDs. Higher-quality sensors work faster, and let it take more images across its scope.

The Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs)

These beam Infrared light, that’s below the spectrum of what humans see, or most animals. They work to assist the motion-detector, and shine invisibly to make night pictures. There is almost no glow, especially not with the best models.

In this way, you don’t have to worry that night-active creatures are frightened off.

The Lens

You cannot have good quality images from a camera if the lens is trashy! The material has to be clear, scratch-free, and not covered by dirt or condensation. Having many electronic pixels is all in vain if the lens is inferior.

The light, whether infrared or visible, has to reach the inner photographic surface undistorted.

The Computer Processing

Coordinating the other elements of the camera, and turning images into pixels, needs computer-power. A well-made trail camera achieves a high turnover time between one shot and another. Every pixel, that is, point of color, needs to be transformed and stored rapidly.

A trail camera doesn’t look like a desktop or laptop, but it’s equally computerized.

The SD Memory Card

Cheaper, older cameras or memory cards often struggle to store all the images captured. Good SD cards will save you so much time, because their capacity is greater. You go into the field less often to pull out filled-up memory cards.

Some trail cameras can transmit photos like a cellphone does, but all need storage. The SD card also needs to be able to put images into storage quickly. This makes more video frames or rapid photograph series happen per second, and more easily.


If the batteries were dead, then a camera would be useless. No intruders would be caught, or no birds or animals snapped in the forest. Trail cameras require long-life batteries, period.

Longer-lasting batteries are like better SD cards – fewer trips are needed to change them. Rechargeable batteries, like those in your cellphone, save you money and the planet from contamination. These are the commonest type of battery in trail cameras you buy thesedays.

One potentially valuable innovation is having a solar-powered battery charger set up nearby. Obviously, these must be where they won’t glare or disturb wildlife. Security cameras could have them visible, but you mustn’t see that it’s a camera connected.

Q4: How Can You Use Trail Cameras in a Security System?

Anything that moves within a trail camera’s line of operation, and is warm, triggers it. The motion sensor is sophisticated, and you have detailed pictures helping you identify problems. We say “problems” because sometimes you don’t know what or who is out there…

With a game camera as security equipment, you may identify the subject being photographed. Is it a cat, a raccoon, a fox, a dog, or a human troublemaker? Once you know that, you can angle your alarms to avoid animals, but get humans.

Some properties have repeated intruders, and you need to identify them. So good is the quality of camera photos, that you could use facial-recognition technology. And it doesn’t matter if it’s sunny, cloudy, or night, the trail camera takes them.

Q5: How Are Your Photos and Videos Stored?

The commonest way is using an SD memory card kept inside the camera. It stays there until it’s almost full, when you remove it and put in another. You copy the pictures at home on computer.

There’s a revolution in connectivity – now wireless trail cameras are sold that use a mobile application. They can send pictures and video through the app to you at home. Some broadcast from their wifi hotspot, others by bluetooth to you in your vehicle.

You can actually have your pictures sent to your phone using the trail camera app. These apps are available both for Android and iOS, and save you going out. You could still have photos even if your camera were stolen, destroyed or damaged afterwards.

Q6: How Far Can Trail Cameras See?

Most trail cameras can pick up movement over 40 feet, and some models almost 100. Take into account that very close targets, and those near the limit, will be blurred. All others will be visible in detail: type of animal, human faces, even license plates.

Q7: Do Trail Cameras Make a Noise?

In daylight, trail cameras are absolutely silent, because they use no moving parts then. Combined models, at night, may produce a very soft click from their IR filter. This is meant to be almost inaudible. Dual-lens models with separate daytime and nighttime lenses don’t make an IR filter click. This means that the camera will not surprise either a bear, or a burglar!

Q8: What Is the Infrared Flash for in a Trail Camera?

At night, if something sets off the motion sensor, the trail camera flashes. However, it isn’t visible light, but instead it’s infrared “warmth” or waves. This is not noticeable to humans, and only to a very few animals.

Thus, animals photographed at night will not be alarmed or look shocked. Thieves and vandals will not know that they’re “in the picture”.

Q9: How and Where Should I Put UpThese Cameras?

This is one of the most important questions on this topic. Identify precisely what you want to do, and what kind of information you seek. If you track game, then think about where the animals will be and move to.

If you have cameras too high or low, or right into the sun, it’s useless. In forested areas there might be too many obstructions; in the field, they’re too visible. Too far or near, and your images will be indistinct.

Camouflaging a trail camera can be necessary, and security cameras need to be hidden. Do you want to catch buck at a waterhole, or criminals breaking an entrance-gate? Make sure to set cameras high so that faces are seen and not foxes’ feet.

Q10: How do I Protect a Security Camera?

Placing a security camera will need you to think about what potential offenders may do. Make sure you have a broad view from the camera if you want wide surveillance. Otherwise, focus it on a key entrance-point for a good view of suspicious individuals.

Q11: How Can I Safeguard My Trail Cameras?

Disguising cameras by some kind of camouflage is possible. The best solution, though, is probably to use security-boxes fixed sturdily to surfaces. A security-box fastened to a tree, pole or fence can’t be knocked off easily.

In a secure box, a camera is safer from animals as well as human thieves. It’s also a deterrent to people who want not your camera, but your SD card. You put the trail camera in and lock it with a padlock or combination-lock.


I hope that these answers will encourage you to use trail cameras more and better. Their deployment in surveillance of homes and premises is impressive. Consider using one of these integrated devices to help you at home or out tracking!

Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc, or its affiliates.

Which is the Best Trail Camera

Previous Post

Which Trail Cameras Are the Best?

Next Post

Introducing the Cute, Affordable KUFA Mini Trail Camera

Kufa Mini Trail Camera