Are you looking at purchasing a new trail camera? Here are five features that are important and are worth keeping in mind.
By: Alex Comstock
When I talk to hunting buddies who are older than me, I find it fascinating when I listen to them talk about trail cameras in the past. Given my age, I never experienced the old school trail camera where you had actual film and had to go to Wal-Mart and get the photos developed. Since those cameras back in the day, technology has obviously improved dramatically. Some argue that trail cameras have such great technology; they are sometimes depended on by hunters. I like to think that they can be great tools that play a part of my hunting arsenal. Trail cameras have many features now and are incredibly advanced. Here are a few features to keep in mind if you are looking at purchasing a new one for your arsenal.
A detection area or detection zone is, in essence, the area of which a trail camera will pick up movement. When trail cameras market their specs, they usually give a detection distance, or how far away an animal can be from the trail camera and still get picked up. It is important to know the distance each camera can detect out to because this could play into your decision based on what type of scenario you will have a trail camera deployed in. Both the Exodus Lift and Exodus Lift Mark II have a 60’ detection distance.
There are three main types of flashes for a trail camera. There are white flash cameras, infrared flash (“low glow”), or no glow cameras. Each one is different and presents unique advantages and disadvantages.
White Flash: White flash cameras give off a literal flash as if you were taking a photo with a DSLR camera. These cameras can give you spectacular night images, especially if you are looking for night photos with color. The downside to these cameras is that they are much more prone to spooking deer. If you are targeting a mature buck, or are trying to be as low impact as possible, these cameras can get a little dicey.
Low Glow: When it comes to the infrared flash cameras, they produce a visible red glow from the infrared emitters when taking night photos. You can see the red glow when looking at the camera, but in most cases, it is believed to be that they don’t necessarily spook deer. Personally, I’ve had situations where I believe the IR glow spooked a mature buck when I used an IR camera on video mode. I don’t know if this has to do with the IR emitters being on longer or not, but it is something to note. An advantage of the low glow over the other two types of flashes is that you typically get better night photos than the no glow cameras, and you don’t have to worry as much compared to the white flash cameras when it comes to spooking deer.
No Glow: No glow cameras don’t produce any visible light when taking night pictures. There is an advantage to this and a disadvantage. The downside is that traditionally they don’t take as good of pictures at night, but the upside is that with the improving technology in cameras, they still take decent night pictures, and you don’t have to worry one bit about spooking deer. An added benefit you may want to consider is that these trail cameras are far less likely to get stolen by any unwanted trespasser who may be lurking in the dark. If they get their picture taken, there will be no white or red flash to warn them.
Trigger speed is essentially how fast a camera can take a picture once it detects an animal. This could be important to you, or not matter much depending on how you plan to use the trail camera. If you will be placing a camera in a funnel during the rut, trigger speed should be much more important to you, because deer will most likely be moving by the camera quickly and if the camera is slow, you may only get a picture of a deer’s hind quarter, or even a blank photo. If you plan to use the camera over a bait pile or mineral site, the deer will be more stationary and in front of the camera for a longer duration. In this scenario, trigger speed isn’t as critical because you don’t have to worry about the deer escaping the detection zone before the camera is able to snap a photo.
As technology continues to improve, wireless trail cameras are becoming more and more prevalent. With that, they are becoming a litter more affordable as well. Wireless trail cameras give you the option to have trail camera pictures emailed to you, or sent straight to your phone. These cameras can be great options if you are wanting to place a camera on a hunting property that is a long distance from your home, and takes a lot of time to drive out to the property to check the camera. If you are thinking about purchasing a camera with wireless capability, be sure to look into their coverages, and what kind of cell service you have where you intend on placing the camera.
Battery life is an important feature to simply know how long to expect a camera to last in the field before it needs new batteries. For instance, the Exodus Lift should get you 20,000 images with 8 lithium batteries, and the new Exodus Lift Mark II will get you roughly 25,000 images with 8 lithium batteries. Note that this can change if you have your camera in video mode as well.
Trail cameras have a number of features that some people may find important, and others won’t. These aren’t the only features that cameras have, but I believe them to be five important ones. The next time you are looking at purchasing a new camera, be sure to know what you will get out of these features.