Whether you're a hunter, wildlife lover, or want to add extra security to your property, a trail camera is a must-have piece of gear. The model I rely on is the Campark T45 (opens in new tab). As a wildlife photographer, this camera allows me to see where animals are traveling day or night, and produces crisp 1080p footage. The Campark isn't the only trail camera I swear by. Read on to learn about this year's best models.
Best Overall: Campark T45
An excellent scouting camera
Animals do much of their roaming after the sunsets. Most trail cameras take decent daytime photos and videos, but capturing movement after dark is another story. The Campark T45 excels at grabbing high-quality stills and video in the pitch black of night and during daylight hours.
With three passive infrared sensors (PIR) and a 120-degree detecting range, the Campark is an excellent scouting cam for hunters and also serves well as a security camera. The 14 megapixel images that come out of the Campark are clear as can be, day or night, and the 1080p video is never grainy, shaky, or challenging to make out. The lenses detect motion accurately and trigger the Campark to begin recording in milliseconds.
The housing on the Campark is tough enough to withstand adverse weather, and it's a camo print that blends in well with trees and foliage. My only gripe is with the memory card location. The MicroSD card is in a slot is at the front of the camera and at the bottom of the unit. It seems like this would be convenient, but when this camera is attached to a tree, it's challenging to remove the card without first untethering the camera. Aside from that, this is a well-rounded trail camera that snaps excellent stills and videos.
Best Value: Toguard H40
A quality trail camera at half the price
The Toguard is proof that you don't have to overspend to get a high-quality trail camera. Housed in a robust, waterproof green camo shell, this model is equipped with a 14-megapixel camera. Stills are crisp, and no challenge for this trail cam during bright daylight hours. The motion sensor sensitivity on the Toguard can be set to low, normal, or high, so you can rest assured you'll only use the battery to grab images of animals and not trees swaying in the breeze.
There's a bright 2.4" color TFT for quick viewing, and, alternatively, you can remove the memory card and insert it in your computer or tablet for larger screen viewing and sharing with friends. This trail camera takes a single AA battery, and it's easily replaceable while strapped to a tree or pole out in the wild. This kit includes a mounting strap and plate, screws, and a user manual.
There's only one PIR in this model. Even so, it takes impressive footage after dark. Audio is another story. It tends to lock up while recording sounds, so if that's a must-have feature for you, look elsewhere. I've turned the audio feature off on my camera to prevent lockups, and the video still records flawlessly. Other than the sound issue, this is a reliable trail camera for scouting or wildlife viewing, and at half the price of similar models.
Best Cellular/Wi-Fi: CreativeXP 3G Cellular
CreativeXP 3G Cellular
Watch wildlife hundreds of miles away
When you need a camera that will take images hundreds of miles from home and email or text the action to you as it's happening, you want the CreativeXP. Other game cameras require you to insert a memory card and then return to the camera to retrieve the images. The CreativeXP has 3G (AT&T only) and Wi-Fi connectivity, which gives it the upper hand at delivering photos to your cell or computer in realtime.
The CreativeXP is water and snowproof so that it can stay up year-round. The trigger actives in less than half a second and shoots up to five photos per trigger, so in addition to being a stealthy hunting camera, it also excels at doing home security. This setup is powered by batteries or a solar panel, a plus for those who leave the camera in the woods far away from home and don't want to return to change out the batteries.
You'll need a data plan to take advantage of the cellular capabilities with this model. The starter kit includes one free SIMHERO card for AT&T, and additional cards are available for purchase. You are not required to broadcast footage via 3G. You can store photos and videos on the included memory card, instead, if you like, or beam live footage via Wi-Fi. If you're an avid hunter who doesn't want to leave a human scent near a tree stand, the CreativeXP's 3G and Wi-Fi features can't be beaten!
Easiest to Use: Browning Command Ops Pro
Browning Command Ops Pro
Easy does it
The Browning Command Ops Pro has a 55-foot detection range, and it has no trouble snapping stills or video from that distance once triggered by motion. The 14-megapixel camera takes bright stills on sunny and overcast days but does struggle a little when the sun goes down. The same holds true for video. At night, the 720p video quality lags a bit behind other cameras. Animals and surroundings are still visible, but they're a little grainy.
The sound on the Browning trail camera is exceptional and better than any other camera I've used. The audio and video are always in sync and never break up because of weather events like thunderstorms or wind. This model has a 0.5-second trigger and shoots in time-lapse, multishot, and rapid-fire modes.
The threaded socket at the bottom of the camera allows for mounting on a tripod if desired. It also comes with the hardware necessary to attach to a tree, pole, or other location. Of all the cameras we've tested, this is the easiest to setup. There's a simple on/off switch and arrow keys that help you navigate the menu quickly. It takes just minutes to unbox, insert a memory card, and begin recording.
Best Entry Level: Victure HC200
The Victure HC200 is a phenomenal trail camera for beginners. Just because it's geared toward those new to capturing images in the wild doesn't mean it lacks features. You'll get full-HD 1080p video out of the HC200 and a 2.4" LCD on which to view your shots. The camera clocks in at 12 megapixels, which is more than enough resolution to snag crisp stills day or night.
I love the 360-degree surround recording. You see and hear everything that's happening in front of the lens and nearby as it comes into view. The LCD screen is an impressive 2.4", and allows you to view images on the unit without having to remove the SD card. The housing stands up to warm weather and subzero temperatures.
One caveat: the instruction manual is too anemic to be helpful. The tech is easy enough to get up and running but could benefit from basic instructions, such as where it's best to place a camera to track animals or how to set PIR intervals. In colder weather, I recommend going with lithium batteries or using the 6V external power supply to get the most out of this model. As a beginner camera or for those wanting a backup, this is a topnotch unit that takes sharp photos and videos.
The trail camera you choose should be able to snap high-resolution stills and clear videos no matter what time of day. Since many animals roam at night, it's critical to invest in a model that can meet the challenges of low light shooting. My favorite trail camera, the Campark T45 (opens in new tab) outmatches any other unit on the market today.
With 14 megapixels, 1080p video, three infrared cameras, and a 120-degree viewing range, you're guaranteed sharp photos and rock steady video from the Campark. When motion is detected, the fast trigger never misses a shot, and it's quick to stop recording when activity disappears from view, saving battery life. We love the infrared night vision. After dark stills and videos are clear and detailed, even in bad weather.
My one complaint is that the MicroSD is hard to remove. The slot is located at the front of the camera, but it's hard to slip out without first untethering the camera. It's inconvenient, but it gets easier with time. For wildlife viewing, scouting, and home security, it's a no brainer to invest in the Campark T45. The camera comes with a belt, tree mount, three screws, USB cable, and easy to follow directions.