I’m going to explode some common myths about trail cameras. When people frequently ask the following questions, we understand what they’re worrying about. Here we will correct your misunderstanding and set matters right.
Myth #1: You Must Be Technically Trained to Operate a Trail Camera
This is absolutely untrue. The programming of most cameras is made to be as simple and quick as possible. You do follow more steps to start a wireless-connected or cellular trail camera.
However, even then, there isn’t so much to learn that you can’t try it out. The essential steps take only a few minutes, even less when you know how. Most steps are “On” and “Off” switches.
While the exact menu is different from one make to another, they are all alike. Some magazines and websites feature reviews of trail camera models. Read about them when thinking of which to buy.
Myth #2: More Megapixels (MP) Means Better Pictures
This assumption is false, and makes people buy expensive but average-performing cameras. Yes, it may have 18 megapixels, but… it boils down to “interpolation”. What is that?
OK: pixels are tiny, electronic dots of one color, making up all digital pictures. The more an image has, the more detail it can carry. It will be more focused even if zoomed into or enlarged.
Most trail camera models have a resolution of 4 to 5 megapixels. Interpolation is something programming software in a camera does to enhance the quality of images. For each pixel in the original image, it adds extra pixels.
Myth # 3: Trail Cameras Give Trouble With Interpolation
Some quite sophisticated programming can “guess” the color of the new pixels and shades them. You get variety, giving depth and focus: great! What happens if it fails, and just adds more identical pixels?
Then there’s no difference between, say, one red dot and four or eight, all together. Just a larger blob of color – and a huge increase in memory used up! Zooming in will give no extra detail, nor can you sharpen it using the computer.
All interpolation of any type handicaps a camera. The camera will slow down when storing one picture, and recovering to take the next. Your SD card will fill up unnecessarily.
Myth #4: Where Did the Mexapixel Issue Come From?
The fault lies with slick advertising, because it sounds impressive and makes people spend money.
To find out whether a particular model really takes good pictures, search for reviews. Some websites give you actual photographs taken by each camera reviewed. Download and zoom in on them to see for yourself.
There are cases of cameras with four or more times the pixels than another. Taking the same scene, photographers have struggled to tell which was which!
Myth #5: All Infrared Trail Cameras the Same
They are not: there is a scale that we can divide into three types. “No-Glow”, “Low-Glow” and “Red-Glow” trail cameras. Each IR camera type has its advantages and disadvantages.
Plan how you intend to use the camera, and consider your budget.
Myth #6: No-Glow Trail Cameras Are the Same as Any Others
When used at night, these trail cameras do not shine any human-visible light. You don’t see the LEDs flash. Advantages of No-Glow trail cameras are that humans can’t see them, nor most animals.
They work well as security monitors for surveillance, and also to capture wildlife images and video.
Myth #7: Low-Glow Trail Cameras Are the Same as Any Others
Low-Glow cameras are barely visible to human eyes, and can be used for surveillance. The photographic images produced are slightly brighter and more detailed. Identification will be easier, but game may be startled, or criminals guess what’s up.
Myth #8: Red-Glow Trail Cameras Are the Same as Any Others
In darkness, Red-Glow trail cameras emit a faint red glow from the LEDs. This is just when they actually take pictures or videos, but it’s visible. Are there advantages of Red-Glow trail cameras?
There are some beneficial features here. Night images come out brighter and more focused because of the stronger IR light beam. As wildlife cameras, if frightening the critter doesn’t matter, or it’s weak-sighted, no problem.
You might just want to identify a pest animal… or a burglar. Maybe you want a good ID picture just before he’s grabbed and arrested! These cameras are usually less expensive than the forementioned types.
Myth #9: You Can’t Use Alkaline Batteries in Trail Cameras
The myth seems to be that they are just as good as rechargeable, or nearly. We don’t deny that they can work, or be cheaper – but they often perform poorly. Many trail camera models are specifically designed for rechargeable batteries.
Myth #10: Alkaline Batteries Always Cause Problems with Trail Cameras
Every time the trail camera takes a photo, the voltage and capacity start dropping. You may find that your images grow darker and darker. Cold temperatures affect alkaline batteries more than others, so the problem is bad in winter.
Eventually, the voltage may be too low for the camera to work reliably. You will think it’s a faulty piece of equipment… Meanwhile it was just the batteries.
Use rechargeable lithium batteries for the best results. Use the camera well, and they will last for many recharges.
Myth #11: You Can’t Use a Digital Handheld Camera to View Your Trail Camera Pictures
This is a similar myth to the last one, and the answer is similar. Yes, it may work the first time, or not, but it really isn’t advisable! That is because the programming and memory of a hand-held is different.
You risk locking the memory card, or corrupting the files on it, possibly losing them. You may find the SD card stops recording, and you lose all the next photos. The safest and most convenient way to view trail-camera photographs is on computer.
Insert the SD memory card in a desktop or laptop. These days, you also have the choice of using an adapter for smartphones. Some cameras have a built-in viewer, or you can use a portable bluetooth viewer.
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