Best Trail Camera
If you’re trying to capture a candid photo of wildlife, chances are you’ll be researching trail camera reviews.
Sometimes known as a remote camera or game camera, the best trail camera will allow you to monitor or photograph an animal from a distance – often entirely automatically.
|Reconyx HyperFire 2Lighning fast trigger speed combined with quality colour images in daylight and infrared at night.||View Price|
Trail cameras need to be rugged and waterproof, designed for extended and unsupervised use outdoors. Features like night vision, infrared, long battery life, HD video and fast trigger technology are essential.
Whether you’re a hunter or a photographer, these game camera reviews will help you in your search.
Here are the best trail cameras in 2020.
Best Trail Cameras in 2020
|Reconyx HyperFire 2 HF2X Covert IR Camera||View Price →|
|Browning Trail Camera Spec Ops XR||View Price →|
|Browning Strike Force Sub Micro 10MP||View Price →|
|Stealth Cam 8MP 30IR Game Camera||View Price →|
|Stealth Cam PX12||View Price →|
Trail Camera Reviews
When it comes to trail cameras, one brand you can never go wrong with is Reconyx. They’ve been in this business for 15+ years and are considered industry experts in trail camera manufacturing and design.
The Reconyx HyperFire 2 HF2X is one of the most game-changing trail cameras we’ve seen in recent years. It’s speedy, robust, and reliable.
A trail camera is useful only if it’s fast enough to trigger at the right moment. With the HyperFire 2 HF2X, you get super-fast ¼ of a second trigger speed. It can shoot a maximum of 10 frames per trigger.
Apart from the fast trigger time, the movement detection of this game camera is highly accurate. It can detect animal activity within a range of 100 feet (30 meters).
This means you’ll get very few empty frames, which will result in prolonged battery life and efficient utilization of the storage capacity.
The detection angle is at 45 degrees, which almost perfectly matches the lens angle of 38 degrees.
If you’re new to the world of trail cameras, you might have never heard how power efficient these little things are. The battery doesn’t last hours or days but a year or more. The HyperFire 2 HF2X is no different, with a super long battery life of 16 to 24 months.
It uses 12 AA batteries, and the user has to select the battery type in the menu – Lithium-ion or NiMH. However, there is no option for other battery types, such as alkaline.
There’s a pretty good reason for this: there are many issues associated with alkaline batteries, such as swelling and leakage. As such, Reconyx discourages the use of alkaline batteries with this model, and won’t cover any problems arising from their use under warranty.
In tests with different batteries, we found that lithium batteries provide the best performance with the HF2X.
The HyperFire 2 HF2X comes with a durable tree strap with a metal fastener on the backside. It also has a bracket in the front for the python cable lock.
The added security of a lock will prevent the theft of your camera and SD Card. The HF2X is also equipped with the CodeLoc™ passcode protection.
The 1/4 “-20 sized threaded mount makes it easy to use with tripods and other tree mounts.
The high-output covert infrared flash on the HF2X can illuminate up to 45 meters (150 feet). Reconyx claims it to be a no-glow device. However, we noticed a faint light emitting when using the flash at night.
It shoots color pictures during the day and can shoot only infrared monochrome images in the dark.
The 3-megapixel sensor on the HF2X produces sharp images with natural color rendition. It also captures a good amount of detail in the shadow areas.
Night images are well-exposed and produce acceptable contrast.
Reconyx states they receive a tiny number of warranty repair cases. This trust in their products could be the reason they offer a solid five-year warranty.
One thing to note about the HyperFire 2 HF2X is that it shines in the stills but not so much in video specs.
The video is limited to 720p with audio and a maximum of 2 frames per second, and the maximum duration of the recorded clip is restricted to 10 seconds.
The HF2X also shoots time-lapse videos and offers the ability to choose from 1 to 60 minutes intervals. You can also schedule the time-lapse videos by specifying the stop and the start time in the settings.
The maximum ISO strength available from this model is 3200.
The storage types supported are SD as well as the faster SDHC and SDXC. It supports cards with a storage capacity of up to 512 GB.
Another bonus of the HF2X is that it can operate in moderate to extreme temperatures ranging from -29°C to 50°C (-20° to 120° Fahrenheit).
All in all, this is a sturdy and rugged camera that gives excellent results for still images with a very quick trigger speed.
If you’re serious about the game and looking for the best trail camera, the Hyperfire HF2X would certainly be a good investment.
If you enjoy high-resolution images or watching your wild friends on a large TV screen, the Browning Spec Ops XR trail camera is for you. It’s an excellent tool for surveying game animals or as a security camera for your hunting property.
The Spec Ops XR combines excellent image quality, high-end features, and durability in a compact package.
It features a 20-megapixel sensor that produces sharp images with exceptional dynamic range. The contrast and color are also the best we’ve seen on a game camera.
If you’ve used trail cameras from other brands, you’ll find the responsive settings menu on the Spec Ops XR very straightforward and quick to set up.
The lens has the nearest focus distance of 1.8 meters to the farthest of infinity.
The Spec Ops XR features a PIR (passive infrared) motion detection sensor. It can detect movement in a range of up to 80 feet (24 meters).
The trigger speed on this game camera is 0.4 seconds. It shoots multiple exposures until the moving subject is within the frame. However, the number of images is limited to 8 per trigger.
Though we’ve seen faster trigger speed in the Reconyx HF2X, in our tests we noticed the real-world difference is negligible between the two.
The 1/4 “-20 sized threaded socket makes it easy to mount the camera to a variety of tree mounts and tripods. You can secure it with the provided tree strap and python cable lock.
One of the strengths of the Spec Ops XR is the invisible flash. The infrared night vision unit on this camera has a black coated glass that prevents any faint red glow.
This “invisible night vision” illuminates the area of around 80 feet.
Coming to the video department, the Spec Ops XR offers Full HD video recording with audio at 1920x1080p resolution. The video length it supports is a minimum of 5 seconds to a maximum of 2 minutes.
The footage saves in the .avi format, which makes it easily convertible to other video formats. It also comes with a TV-Out port that allows you to connect to a monitor or TV for quick review.
The Spec Ops XR can shoot full HD time-lapse videos. The interval between shots can be pre-set as 5, 10, 15, 30 or 60 seconds or 1, 2, 5, 10, 30 or 60 minutes. The included Buckwatch Timelapse Viewer software is needed for viewing videos recorded in Timelapse or Timelapse plus modes.
The camera features a USB port that lets you conveniently transfer your files to a computer.
Trail cameras are meant for long-duration unsupervised operation and need to be power efficient. For that reason, most game cameras do not come with a picture preview feature like a screen.
The Spec Ops XR is unique in that it features a 2-inch color screen without compromising on power efficiency. This is convenient for previewing where your camera is pointing in the field.
This particular model requires eight AA batteries and offers a long 7-month battery life. In our tests, we found the battery life to be shorter when only videos were shot. However, the external power jack of 12 volts provides enough flexibility to add more juice.
The Spec Ops XR supports SD cards up to 512 GB, which is a sufficient amount of storage for most users. It also comes with Smart Memory Management, a nifty feature that overwrites the oldest videos stored in the card with new files, making sure you always have space.
There’s a nifty option to see data strips below pictures and videos. The strip shows date, time, moon phase, and temperature. The moon phase data can offer insight into which animals are active during which phase.
A full moon can light up a field at night, so the moon info can also be helpful in explaining the brightness or darkness of a scene.
If you enjoy high picture quality and detail in the videos and photos from your trail camera, the Browning Spec Ops XR will serve you well with its high-resolution sensor and exceptional video and stills capabilities.
Browning is known for its quality hardware and design choices. The Strike Force Sub Micro is no exception, offering a high-performance trail camera in an ultra-compact form factor.
It also packs excellent value for the midrange price bracket it falls in.
It comes with a 10-megapixel sensor that shoots sharp color images during daytime and monochrome at night.
The picture quality is excellent with accurate colors and good contrast. It supports an SD Card with a max capacity of 32 GB, which is enough to record more than 12250 photos in the highest resolution.
Coming to the video, the Strike Force shoots only 720p HD videos with audio. The length can be a minimum of 5 seconds to a maximum of 2 minutes. Despite being low-resolution, the videos are acceptably sharp and look great on a big screen.
If you’re coming from another trail camera brand, you might find navigating the menus a bit complex. But once you get used to it, you’ll find this camera very quick to set up.
It offers a trigger speed of 0.67 seconds, which is slightly slower compared to the other game cams we saw above. Given its entry-level price point, however, this is still an acceptable speed. It can shoot up to six frames per trigger and up to eight multi-shot images.
It comes with a superb movement detection range of 70 feet. However, the angle of the detection is slightly wider than the camera focal length, which can sometimes trigger the camera a few seconds before the animal enters the frame.
One of the most impressive features of the Strike Force is its vast flash range. The infrared flash unit on this trail camera can light up to 100 feet (30 meters).
The flash doesn’t come with a dark coating, which means the red glow is visible when it fires – but unless you’re using it solely for security purposes, this isn’t a big deal.
Unlike the Spec Ops XR, this doesn’t come with a preview screen, which means you can’t check the photos while out in the field. Again, though, it’s an acceptable compromise given the price point.
The Strike Force Sub Micro uses 6 AA batteries which give it juice for up to 12 months. There’s an inbuilt indicator that shows the remaining power.
It also comes with a 12-volt power jack that makes it easy to use with external power sources.
When it comes to build quality, this device is above average. It’s durable enough to take a few drops without causing any issues, and also comes shielded with a protective case to minimize any damage.
The Strike Force can also record time-lapse videos at 720p HD. The delay duration options are 5, 10, 15, 30 seconds or 1, 2, 5, 10, 30 or 60 minutes. Browning’s Buck Watch software is needed to watch the time-lapse videos on a PC, but you can download it for free on their website.
The mounting options available are a ¼ 20″ sized threaded hole for tree mounts and tripods, and a nylon strap for attaching to a tree. You can add to the security by fastening it with a Python cable lock.
As with the Browning Spec Ops XR, the pictures and videos out of this device have data strips that show useful information like date, time, temperature and moon phase.
As noted above, the moon phase information can be helpful for understanding light quality and animal movements – though it’s surprising to see this feature in a hunting camera of this price range.
The Strike Force Sub Micro is an ultra-compact camera aimed at entry-level to intermediate users. With its affordable price tag and excellent value, it’s easily counted as one of the best trail cameras on the market.
Stealth Cam is a brand known for providing immense value at a low price point. The G30 is a perfect example: in a nutshell, it’s a highly customizable trail camera at an attractive price.
The small form factor of the camera makes it versatile for any situation, be it security or animal surveillance.
The style option is limited to the tree bark finish. However, this is a neutral style that doesn’t stand out in the field or even at home.
The G30 uses an 8-megapixel sensor. It comes with TRIAD functionality, which allows you to use it in three different resolutions: 8, 4, and 2 megapixels. The lower resolution files require less space, giving you the flexibility to use your storage more efficiently.
The images out of this camera are sharp and have punchy colors.
The G30 shoots color images during the day and monochrome at night. It supports a maximum 32 GB SD Card, which can hold 14,000+ photos in the highest resolution. However, it’s recommended to use class 10 memory cards with it to match the trigger speed.
It has a small LCD on the front, which displays the battery status and mode information. That said, there’s no preview functionality available to check photos and videos.
The menu is straightforward, and overall it’s easy to set up and use.
The G30 uses Matrix Blur Reduction to ensure you always get sharp results. On top of that, the advanced Retina technology makes it sensitive in low light situations, so even early morning and evening shots are well-exposed and crisp.
A Reflex Trigger on the G30 hunting cam covers many zones and angles, resulting in high accuracy. You get a fast 0.5-second speed. It can shoot a maximum of 9 images in the burst mode.
The test mode lets you operate the camera manually and take shots that you can review to make sure everything looks as expected.
The G30 offers a multilingual menu (English, Spanish, French, German), which makes it suitable for an international audience.
You can conveniently transfer photos and videos via the USB port. Geo meta-tagging of the camera is also supported, which can help you keep track of the sites you’re shooting at.
There are 30 IR emitters on both sides of the camera, which can illuminate an area of up to 80 feet (24 meters). However, the flash is not invisible; a low red glow is seen when fired.
The case is well-built and can handle minor drops without causing any problems to the camera, and the rugged construction of the interior makes it durable for long term use. One notable downside of the G30 is that there’s no weather sealing.
The 8-megapixel camera shoots HD videos with audio of 5 seconds to a maximum of 3 minutes. The duration of the video is a whole minute longer than what we’ve seen on the Browning Strike Force.
Like the still images, it also records color videos both day and night.
Time-lapse videos on this device are recorded at HD resolution. However, the time-lapse PID override saves a considerable amount of space on your card by only recording when the subject enters the frame.
The G30 has a battery life of many months. It uses 8 AA batteries, but when you need extra power you can connect a battery box to its external power jack.
It comes with a tree strap and a ¼ 20″ threaded hole for mounting a tree or tripod. You can secure your camera with password protection and externally using a python cable lock.
With a mid-level price point combined with professional features, the G30 definitely offers value that’s unique in the market.
If you’re new to the game trail and looking for the best hunting cameras, you must consider the Stealth Cam PX12. It’s an excellent option for beginners.
The 10-megapixel sensor on this game camera generally produces photos with excellent image quality. The low light sensor is rated to make low-light pictures 20% brighter.
The daytime images out of the PX12 have good contrast and vibrant colors. The night images (which are black and white only) show slight grain, but the overall picture quality is acceptable.
Unlike the other cameras in this list, the PX12 uses the image aspect ratio of 16:9. It gives a pleasing wide-angle view to photos and videos.
Externally, this particular trail cam comes with a plain grey finish. While it doesn’t necessarily camouflage with the surroundings, the grey color is pretty low key and makes the device quite stealthy.
The exteriors are rugged and are built to resist damage.
There are 12 infrared emitters on the camera front which are shielded by FX glass, so they don’t produce any glow when fired. However, the flash range on this trail cam is limited to 45 feet (13 meters) only.
The PX12 offers a detection range of 30-40 feet (9-12 meters) with a fast trigger speed. It can shoot up to 6 frames per trigger in the burst mode.
As far as setup goes, there’s a convenient EZ Dial with Quickset that gets your camera ready to shoot in a breeze.
The PX12 can be installed securely on a tree with the supplied tree strap. Like the others, it also comes with a ¼ 20″ threaded hole to use with tree mounts and tripods.
The maximum storage size is a 32 GB SD card, which is enough for literally thousands of images.
When it comes to the video department, this camera can record clips of a maximum of 15 seconds in length. The video quality isn’t the best we’ve seen, but it’s a good start for beginners.
The PX12 uses eight AA batteries and provides a battery life of more than a year. That’s pretty impressive for a camera in this price segment.
There’s an LCD menu display inside the door, which is useful for navigating through the menu.
The images and videos have data strips at the bottom which show date, time and moon phase information. This helps in understanding animal behavior patterns throughout the year.
As a security measure, you can lock up the PX12 using a Python cable lock. Unlike the others in this list, there’s no passcode protection available, which explains why it lacks a number pad.
When setting up the trail camera, it’s essential to make sure of the angle and framing. This camera lacks the LCD screen to preview the images, but you can take pictures with the test mode and preview them using the optional card viewer accessory.
The PX12 features a mini USB port to use with various supported devices. However, you can’t connect it directly to a big screen like a TV.
The auxiliary 12V power socket on the PX12 gives you the freedom to extend the battery life by attaching a battery pack.
This trail camera is suitable for absolute beginners and those looking for affordable options. It packs a lot of value for a small price.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Apeman trail cameras any good?
The upgraded Apeman trail camera comes with a high-resolution sensor that produces impressive photos and Full HD videos. The compact form factor and a durable build are plus points of the Apeman. It’s an excellent camera for the price and offers a long battery life.
What trail cameras send pics to your phone?
Cellular trail cameras use 4G technology to connect to the internet and enable you to view your photos and videos any time from your phone. These cameras come with a SIM slot and antenna for signal transmission. They’re perfect for unsupervised surveillance.
Can you use a trail camera as a security camera?
Yes, trail cameras are compact and stealthy and can be used as security cameras. They also offer months of battery life, which makes them ideal in power failure scenarios. New-age cellular trail cameras can also transmit photos and videos to your smartphone.
There are plenty of game cam options on the market, but choosing the right one requires research. With this comprehensive guide, we’ve researched and listed the best trail camera reviews to save you some time and get you up and running sooner.
If you’re looking for a game camera for hunting or security purposes, one from this article will surely suit your needs and budget.
One thing to note: because trail cameras are used outdoors, they do require regular maintenance. Clean your camera and lens before mounting and regularly check the seals to prevent accidental water leaks. Doing this will ensure a long life for your trail camera.
Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.