Game cameras, or as they’re sometimes called, trail cameras, give hunters a glimpse into what’s happening in the wilderness when they’re not around. Activated by motion sensors, these cameras take a snapshot of wildlife as they pass by, which allows hunters to understand the animals’ movement patterns. Using the best trail camera will help you make sure you’re in the right place at the right time to make your kill.
Choosing the best game camera is not an easy task. It’s an expensive piece of electronic equipment, and unless you have a complete understanding of their features, you could end up with one that has a lot more (or maybe a lot less) than you need. The game camera reviews below will help you make the right decision for your hunting needs.
The Highest Rated Trail Cam on Amazon
Browning Strike Force Sub Micro 10MP Game Camera
Of all the game cameras reviewed here, the Browning Strike Force is the least expensive, at just over $100. The lower price tag comes with some disadvantages, but it can be a great option for some hunters.
Two of the major reasons for the lower cost are diminished image quality and a relatively slow detection circuit. The 10-megapixel camera produces images similar to what you’d get with an older cell phone camera. That said, it’s not bad if you just need confirmation that there’s game passing through the area. The detection and flash range is reportedly 100 feet, but you can be confident that it will snap some decent shots around 60 feet.
Some users have found the Strike Force difficult to use, especially programming the camera and downloading images from the SD card, but these issues can probably be resolved by spending some time learning how to use the device before taking it into the field.
As far as durability goes, this is not going to be the best trail cam. It’s not made to be as tough as more expensive cameras, and with heavy usage in inclement weather, it will have a relatively short life span. But if it gets only occasional usage, this could be one of the best trail cameras for the money.
The Best Budget Trail Camera
Bushnell 14MP Trophy Cam HD Aggressor Low Glow Trail Camera
When it comes to image quality, this camera is middle of the road. It takes good photos in full sunlight, but the quality diminishes in the shade. Night photos are taken with a low-glow red LED, which means that the camera emits a red flash to light up the animal and environment. Many animals are color-blind and aren’t bothered by this flash. This camera’s night photos taken have enough clarity to make out the species, but that’s about it.
Bushnell touts this as a 14-megapixel camera, but don’t be fooled into thinking that it will take the same quality of photos as your point-and-shoot. Game camera manufacturers use interpolation to increase the photo size, and the process digitally adds pixels after the fact. It’s similar to what you see when you enlarge a small photo on your computer screen. It looks grainy. When using this camera, expect images that appear closer to 5-megapixel quality.
This camera’s best attribute is its detection circuit, capable of taking a photo within 0.13 seconds of detecting movement. It’s also able to store the image within one second, meaning it can take four photos within a five-second time span. This is great for snapping shots of wildlife moving through the frame quickly. As is to be expected, the video detection circuit and storage is considerably slower, taking 2.5 seconds to start recording and another 2.5 to store the video. It’s not great, but it’s probably sufficient for most consumers.
The Trophy is one of the best game cameras for the money] , coming in at just under $200, with a good balance of image quality it’s the ideal choice for those that need an occasional game camera.
The Absolute Best Trail Camera on the Market
Reconyx SC950 HyperFire Covert Security Camera
If money is less of a concern and you want the absolute best trail cam , the Reconyx SC950 is an obvious choice. It was designed as a security camera to protect homes and businesses, and so it takes stunningly clear photos that show every detail, even in complete darkness. The no-glow infrared flash is completely invisible to humans and wildlife, so you won’t be disturbing the animals’ movements or driving them away from the camera’s position.
This is also a great camera to leave in a remote area for long periods of time, as the long-lasting battery can take 40,000 photos before running out of juice. If you aren’t able to get back to the site, the camera will automatically overwrite the oldest images with the newest, so you won’t miss out on the most recent action.
One major downside to the Reconyx SC950 is that it doesn’t take video. If you’ve got the camera trained on something like a deer feeder, you won’t know really know what’s happening, just that the animal approached it. This camera also comes with a higher price tag than most others, costing over $400. This might seem excessive to some hunters, but the high-quality photography means it can double as a security camera in the off-season.
The Best Game Camera for You
Before you go out and purchase a game camera, take some time to think about how you’ll be using it. Will you set it up prior to hunting season, in a remote area for a week or more, just to see what might be lurking around? It should have a long-lasting battery and great image quality. Will you place it on a heavily trafficked game trail, just a couple nights before a hunt? It won’t need to be as durable and only has to take good enough photos to confirm your suspicions about the animals moving through. No matter how you’re intending to use it, the best trail camera for you will be the one that suits your needs and doesn’t have too many bells and whistles that you won’t use.