Beginners Guide to Choosing a Trail Camera
You can search trail cameras on any outfitter’s website or walk down the game management aisle at their actual store and see dozens of new camera models. With all the brands and new technological capabilities it can be extremely confusing trying to figure out what is necessary and what isn’t. To muddy the waters even more, what one person may need, another doesn’t. So before you purchase a camera it is important to determine what you want it to do and where it will be. Here are a few things to be considered.
Battery Life – Whether you are a weekend warrior or a die-hard hunter, you need your camera to do its job and scout a certain area when you are away. No matter what the camera’s capabilities are, they are useless if the batteries die quickly. Some camera use C cell batteries but many newer models used AA batteries which tend to last longer. Also, avoid rechargeable batteries and use lithium batteries if possible. The battery life is measured by how many images a camera captures. It’s not uncommon for some models to capture 20,000 photos off a single set of batteries.
Memory Capacity – Once again, no matter how well a camera operates, it doesn’t do you any good if the images fill up the memory card quickly. Most models accept 32 MB cards now, so this isn’t a problem like it was a few years ago, but be aware of the cameras card capacity.
Trigger Speed – Most camera models now boast about their trigger speed, or how quickly a camera can snap a photo once something enters its field of view. While this is a plus for cameras on an actual game trail, a slow trigger speed may not be a problem at a mineral site or bait station. While there is a ton of talk about fast trigger speeds, its effectiveness depends on where the camera is set up at.
Flash / Flash Range – Most cameras use a red IR or a black IR flash that is invisible or nearly invisible to wild game. The old-school flash models are still in production and makes for better nighttime images, but there is the issue of spooking game. It all depends on what you prefer. Also, no one wants a camera you have to be 5 feet away from to trigger. At the very least, it needs to be capturing images at 20-30 feet away easily.
These are the basics that I would highly recommend considering before purchasing any camera. Next week’s blog will dive deeper into what various camera models do and when they are applicable.