Trail Camera Feature Guide for Beginners

So you want to start hunting, but don’t know where to begin? Trail cameras are the answer! In this comprehensive guide, we will go over all of the basics and highlight some of the best features so that you can get started today. So if you’re new to hunting or just looking for a new way to improve your skills as a hunter then read on!

How Trail Cameras work

Trail cameras are built to operate in a condition of near-complete electrical slumber, similar to a TV on standby. The motion-sensor is the only piece that is completely awake. A Passive Infrared (PIR) detector, similar to those used in burglar alarms, is used in most trail cameras. 

When the PIR senses motion, it ‘wakes up’ the remainder of the camera, triggering a series of events: light levels are detected, and the flash is activated as needed; The image-sensor captures one or more images or videos after achieving focus; the shutter speed is selected, and the image-sensor captures one or more photos or videos. Pictures and video are saved to an SD card (Secure Digital), and the camera is turned off. 

The motion detector is able to differentiate between animals and humans because people are taller than most other mammals so they trigger speed at different levels or angles that would not set off a deer crossing.

Key Features of best Trail Cameras

The list continues on and on: Low Glow, No Glow, Hyper Burst, ARD, Freeze Frame Shutter speed, and so on. If you’re looking for a new best trail camera, it’s crucial to know what these phrases signify, which features you require, and which are mostly “niceties”. Below is a neat list of key features.

1. Trail Camera Megapixels

 The megapixel rating of a camera is the number of pixels on its sensor. The greater the megapixels, the higher quality images and video it will take.

For instance: if you have an eight-megapixel best trail camera that only has one photo resolution setting (e.g., 1280×960), then your photos will always be at least 800KB in size! But with a 12MP model, you can choose from all sorts of different resolutions such as 640×480 or 1024×768 to save space on the memory cards and SD cards while maintaining high picture quality. 

Another important thing to remember about the best Trail Camera Megapixels is how many big game animals are within range when taking pictures (i.e., under 100 yards).

2. Trail Camera Capture images modes

Trail Camera Capture Mode
Trail Camera Capture

1) Timed – the camera will take photos at a predetermined time

2) IR motion detection – Trail cameras with this mode are able to detect moving objects in an area and take pictures when they move. This is great for getting close-up shots of animals because it avoids scaring them away by using sounds or the camera’s flash but takes up more battery power than other modes 

3) Video Mode – most trail cameras offer video recording capabilities so that capturing images can be taken over an extended period of time 

4) Auto PIR (passive Infrared sensor)—a feature that detects movement from both humans and animals through infrared light reflection off their body heat; these models usually have a longer range between one hundred yards out to two hundred.

Trail camera users have had to pick between taking a still photograph or recording a brief video clip in the past. Companies like Bushnell, on the other hand, now provide cameras that can catch both sorts at the same time, giving you the best of both worlds.

3. Trigger Speed

Trigger speed or Trigger speed time is the amount of time in between when a camera detects motion and snaps an image. Trigger speed is a very important feature no doubt and  a very important consideration especially for hunters.

The best trail cameras have a 0-second delay, but anything over about five seconds can cause you to miss your target subject on occasion when photographing animals in flight. 

Manufacturers frequently include trigger-time on their webpages since it is a significant marketing element. Trigger time is likely to be slower while recording video since video recording systems require longer to ‘wake up’ than still image recording systems. As a result, if you wish to film fast-moving animals, you should use a camera with a short video to trigger speed time.

On static photographs, we recommend using a quick trigger time because you’ll miss considerably fewer creatures with this feature.

4. Trail Camera Recovery time

This is the amount of time, in seconds, that elapses between each photo captured. The average recovery time on most cameras is around six to ten seconds. 

The shorter your recovery time, the more frequently you will receive photos from your camera and be able to use those photos at a later date for identification purposes or as evidence if needed. That said, there are positives and negatives when it comes to selecting an extremely quick trigger-time trail camera: while they’ll produce higher quality images with minimal blurriness (since animals won’t have much chance of moving by), they could also cause some missed shots due to their high trigger speed – but this likelihood decreases significantly with sufficient human participation nearby.

A Quick Trigger Time Trail Camera is best used in areas where humans cannot easily reach- such as farm fields, wetlands, swamps etc.

5. Trail Camera Flashes

Trail camera infrared flash/illuminator units are industrial facility fitted and in this way, in light of the fact that the situations wherein a camera can be utilized are to a great extent dictated by its flash/illuminator type.

Maybe the most profoundly discussed feature of a trail camera is the type of flash it produces whenever it is triggered.

There are three types of flash-

 i) No-glow Flash

Black LEDs are used in cameras with a “no-glow” infrared flash function, making them completely undetectable to not just game animals but also people. It should be mentioned that with this choice, all photographs recorded at night will be black and white.

Trail cameras with no-glow flash, on the other hand, are a favorite of ours, especially when used in sensitive situations. The flash range isn’t as long as other camera flashes, but that isn’t nearly as important as deer being aware of your camera.

 ii) Low-glow Flash

If you’re looking for the best of both worlds, a low-glow device is a perfect choice.

It produces less light than other types of flash but it’s still bright enough to illuminate game animals and their surroundings while not giving away your position due to its low glow. The hue will usually be a faint red glow.

LED arrays generating infrared at a wavelength of roughly 850 nm are used in standard low-glow flashes. Although most cameras are less sensitive to 850 nm infrared than to white light, they may nonetheless produce an excellent image quality when exposed to this light. This is a nice option if you don’t want to pay for the no-glow feature. Night pictures will be black and white as well.

 iii) White light Flash

This is the brightest type of flash, but it also has a high glow and will give away your position. White light flashes are most often used for daytime shots where that doesn’t matter as much because sky reflections in water or foliage on trees provide camouflage against you.

When it comes to flash choices, it’s worth noting that utilizing “No-Glow” instead of the conventional “White-Flash” will result in darker and grainier night photos. When comparing no-glow, red glow (low-glow), and regular flash trail cameras, the flash range will vary. Because of its capacity to light up the forest from a greater distance, the white-flash usually performs better.

6. Trail camera Detection Zone

Trail camera Detection Zone
Trail camera Detection Zone

Detecting an animal in your camera’s detection zone is one of the more important features of a trail camera. Most cameras will have different sized zones and some even allow you to set up multiple zones.

The camera will activate and take an image or begin recording video if movement is detected. A smaller detection zone could mean that animals are going undetected while larger ones might cause too many false positives, so make sure to pick wisely!

When it comes to detecting zones, keep in mind how big and long your specific model is since, depending on where you want to deploy it, a huge zone may not be necessary.

7. Lens

A trail camera should come with a lens and there are two types of lenses: wide angle or telephoto.

The wide-angle will capture images more area in the frame, but it doesn’t zoom as far – this is perfect for viewing larger areas like meadows or open fields where you don’t know what to expect! 

The telephoto has narrower detection range, but can magnify objects that are close by without distortion.

Some manufacturers provide a selection of factory-fitted lenses for a given make and model, and Bushnell makes the Nature-View camera, which features user-changeable lenses with a very close near-point of focus — ideal for capturing birds on feeders.

8. PIR Angle

PIR Angle

Most trail cameras come with a motion sensor called PIR, or “passive infrared.” The angle at which the device is set to detect movement can be adjusted in most devices. This will determine what sets off your camera and it’s usually best to use an angle that’s perpendicular to the direction of any anticipated subjects for maximum coverage. 

If you have limited space on your property, a narrow-angle may make sense because it covers less ground but still provides adequate detection range. But if there are many areas where potential targets could appear — such as open fields — then wide-angle lens would cover more ground without sacrificing anything!

If you’ve ever seen half a deer in one of your trail cam photos, you’re familiar with the consequences of a low PIR Angle, such as 10 degrees.

The PIR Angle of high image quality cameras is generally 48 degrees. As a result, these cameras are capable of capturing photographs of practically everything that passes within their range of vision, even fast-moving animals.

9. Sensitivity Adjustment

Trail cameras have different sensitivity settings. The higher the setting, the more sensitive trail camera is to motion and heat changes in its field of view.

This setting will also determine how much time elapses before trail cam takes a photo or video after detecting movement or other triggers (such as sudden drops in temperature). 

Setting your game scouting mode on high-sensitivity can help you see what’s happening at night when many animals are most active but there’s very little ambient light available for illuminating them with natural illumination sources such as moonlight. 

A low sensitivity setting would be good if you want to capture images of every detail of an animal that approaches within range without having any photos miss because they weren’t triggered by something else going on nearby .

10. Laser Aiming 

This function allows users to hang the camera and then use the “laser” pointer to view where the lens is looking. Trail cameras can be set up to detect motion and automatically take a photo or video of that movement. 

This is called “game scouting mode.” The camera’s detection range, field-of-view (FOV) and trigger speed settings will determine how the trail cam reacts to any detected movement in its FOV. 

11. Burst Mode

Burst Mode
Burst Mode

Some trail cameras allow users to take a series of photos in rapid succession. This is called “burst mode.”

This feature can be handy if you want to capture multiple images from one moment because it helps eliminate the risk of getting blurry, out-of-focus shots. 

Burst mode also works well for capturing video clips that are shorter than 30 seconds long.

12. Photo Stamps and Time Stamp

Another trail cam feature that is often included with this type of camera are “photo stamps” and a time stamp.

Photo stamps are text or images on the bottom corner of each photo taken to identify where, when and by whom it was taken. 

This can be important if you’re trying to track animal habits over weeks or months–you may not remember which photos were captured at what point in time unless there is some sort of identifying mark on them. 

A timestamp lets users see exactly how long ago an image was captured so they know whether it’s still relevant for their research purposes.

13. Trail camera GPS Geotag

Another popular trail camera feature is the GPS geotag. 

This allows users to capture photos along with their latitude and longitude coordinates so they can be plotted on a map using software like Google Earth or National Geographic’s EasyTrails tool. 

The trail cam will also document how far away from the trail it was set up, which might come in handy for those who are interested in estimating animal population densities (assuming all other factors remain constant).

14. Wireless Connectivity

In the past, trail cameras needed to be connected with a cable in order for users to change settings and view images.

This can get tricky if you’re trying to scout without leaving any traces of your visit. 

Luckily, many modern trail cams now come equipped with wireless capability that let’s you see photos from your computer or mobile device as soon as they are captured while still maintaining complete discretion about where you set up camp (or how long it took you).

15. SD Card Capacity

Trail cameras run on battery power, which means that the camera needs to conserve energy as much as possible. 

This is one of the reasons why SD card capacity can be important when scouting for trail cam placement. The more images your camera takes, the faster it will use up its battery and potentially stop working before you have a chance to return.

16. Time Lapse

Time Lapse

This feature is ideal for anyone who wants to know what’s happening outside without having to constantly monitor a trail cam.

Within the hours of your choosing, time-lapse technology automatically shoots photographs at predetermined intervals of one minute to one hour. After that, users may go back and see a complete day’s worth of action in only a few minutes. The same functionality is now accessible on conventional trail cameras.

Some camera manufacturers include this functionality with two time slots, allowing you to observe movement at night and morning. Because the greatest ones aren’t activated by games, they have the largest viewing area.

17. Battery Life

The battery life of a trail camera is also an important factor to consider. Depending on the model, some cameras may only last for a few hours before needing recharging or replacement. On average, most will last between two and 12 months with normal use without requiring a charge.

Some factors that affect the shot time are daytime temperature, how often you turn your camera off by using their “sleep mode” setting (i.e., from every day to once per week), and whether it’s set up in motion detection mode so it can capture anything moving around within its field of view at any given moment during daylight hours.

While more expensive, lithium batteries last longer, perform better in cold conditions, and can even extend the range of the camera’s flash. Rechargeable nickel metal hydride (Nimh) batteries are also an excellent option depending on your area because they can be recycled after a long period of usage, making them a bit more cost effective.


If you’re considering getting a trail camera, this blog post is for you. We’ve outlined the features that will best suit beginners and how to keep your hunting game strong by using these tools effectively. The conclusion of our guide is one last reminder – always remember to take care of your equipment so it lasts as long as possible! Happy trails .

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