The Best Trail Camera

Browning Recon Force FHD Camera

Our Top Pick for 2016: Browning Recon Force FHD Camera
Read our full review.

See it on Amazon for $108.21*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
Too expensive? See our budget pick.

A large part of hunting is about being in the right place at the right time. You could be in an area that is completely inhabited by your game of choice, but if you can’t come into contact with it, you will have no opportunities to take the big shot. A great way to better your chances of being in the right place at the right time is by using a trail camera. With a trail camera, you can essentially be in two or more places at once, increasing your chances of spotting your game and ultimately bringing home your prize.

Table of contents

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Three Resolutions: 8.0mp, 4.0mp And 2.0mp
10 Megapixels With IR LED Illumination
10.0 Megapixel
Hd Video Recording 5-180 Seconds With Audio
1920 X 1080 HD Video
Time Lapse With PIR Override
Reflex Trigger Less Than 1 Second
100′ Nighttime Flash Range
Reflex Trigger: .5 Seconds
70 Ft. Range
Zero Blur Technology
42 “Black” IR Emitters: 100′ Range
Matrix Blur Reduction
Fast .067 Trigger Speed
Intuitive Backlit Menu Programming

*Price at time of publishing and may not reflect current pricing.

#1 Gold pick (Winner): Browning Recon Force FHD Camera

Browning Recon Force FHD Camera Gold Pick

View it on Amazon for $108.21*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-gold-winnerBrowning has a reputation for making a wide variety of trail cameras and trail camera accessories. Run by a group of avid outdoorsmen, the company brings years of expertise to the design and creation of some of the best trail cameras on the market. Their top trail camera at the moment is the Browning Recon Force FHD Camera.

Let’s start with the camera’s picture quality. It has 10 megapixels, which is a great deal for a trail camera, meaning there’s no doubt about the quality of pictures it will give you. A 2 inch screen allows you to preview photos and videos instantly, and includes the time, date, temperature, moon phase, and camera ID. It includes 1920 x 1030 HD video so that you can watch animals with a clear and focused picture as soon as you connect the camera to a tv. The camera can be hooked up to a television screen of over 60 inches without sacrificing any picture quality, and can capture up to 2 minutes of continuous video. Making use of Zero Blur technology, the Recon Force will never leave you guessing as to what you’re seeing in your pictures. This technology ensures that the camera uses the fastest shutter speed possible to capture the scene in one fluid motion.

For taking pictures at night, the camera has an Infrared LED illumination that provides bright and clear pictures without a flash. This will ensure that animals are not scared away to the point that they won’t come back. A solid 55 foot detection range and 100 foot night time picture range will pick up motion and snap great pictures with reliability and consistency.

Physically, the camera measures in at 5.4 x 4 x 2.5 inches, and requires AA batteries, meaning that it won’t be expensive to keep up and running. It’s made out of a camouflage-designed plastic that is durable and can withstand heavy rain, providing it with a great life span. The camouflage will keep it hidden from animals so that it doesn’t scare them and cause them to run away. On the back of the camera, there are loopholes through which you can fasten a python cable, enabling you to connect it to a tree. Allowing up to a 32 GB SD card, this camera provides excellent storage space, and can take up 10,000 pictures on a single set of batteries.

One of the camera’s highlights is its agile 0.67 second trigger speed, allowing the camera to capture excellent shots of animals within a second of when they step into the detection zone. This will allow you to get shots of the animal’s face, and not its back or sides. It’s capable of taking up to 8 rapid fire images, greatly increasing your chances of getting the perfect picture of the animal in the frame.

Online reviewers love this camera for its quick trigger time and ability to withstand the elements. Several reviewers said that they left it in rain storms for days at a time without it losing any of its quality. Another positive statement made by several reviewers is that it has excellent battery life, lasting longer than the battery life in other Browning cameras as well as other brands of camera.

One negative remark made by online reviewers were that its detection zone was acceptable, but not great. Other online reviewers stated that the plastic latch that secures the camera to objects is not of high quality and snaps in half in cold weather.

When taking all things into consideration, the Browning Recon Force FHD camera is the best trail camera on the market today. It combines incredible picture, high definition video, and a convenient preview screen to go with a superb detection range, a lightning-fast shutter, and some of the best night picture capabilities around to make a field camera that is reliable and consistent. For its price, you won’t find a better trail camera. It can be found for around $120.00 on most online retail sites, and considering its durability, it would be an excellent purchase. If you’re looking for a trail camera that will consistently take clear and quality pictures, the Browning Recon Force FHD camera might be just what you’re looking for.

#2 Silver pick (Runner-up): Stealth Cam HD Video Scouting Camera

Stealth Cam HD Video Scouting Camera

View it on Amazon for $122.97*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-silver-winnerStealth Cam specializes in making digital scouting cameras and accessories of all shapes and sizes. The company helped to usher the once-too-expensive trail camera into the public so that everyday hunters could benefit from trail cameras. Stealth Cam has won several awards to celebrate the quality of their products, and continue to create and innovate excellent products today. Currently, their premier trail camera is the Stealth Cam HD Video Scouting Camera.

Combining superb picture quality with excellent construction and long-lasting battery life, this Stealth Cam trail camera will deliver great photos while also withstanding the elements over long periods of time.

Providing up to 8 megapixels, the camera has three resolution settings, including 8 megapixels, 4 megapixels, and 2 megapixels. Using more megapixels will take a clearer picture, but will also drain battery life quicker, so getting a choice between resolutions is a great benefit to have. With HD video recording capabilities, the camera can capture up to two and a half minutes of continuous video, giving the user some truly valuable video to study and and peruse animals that surround your area.

As far as night picture capabilities go, the camera makes use of 26 infrared emitters that ensure a bright and clear picture without the use of a flash. Because there’s no visibility of the camera to alarm animals, they will not get scared and run off. The camera has a 70 foot night detection and picture range, ensuring that it will capture great shots of any animal that comes close to it.

With a durable, plastic, camouflaged cover, the camera can withstand the elements and still go on to take great photos. One online reviewer reported leaving the camera out in the snow for three straight months without encountering any problems. It is also resistant to rain. Weighing in at 7.6 pounds, it’s a bit on the heavy side, but because of its bulk, it can withstand a great deal of wear and tear. It requires 4 AA batteries to run, and users report that it lasts a great deal of time. This will save you money on battery expenses. The camera does not include an SD card, though an SD card is required to store pictures. The maximum amount of gigabytes that the camera will allow is 32, which is quite a bit of storage room. This will prevent you from having to change the SD card all the time. So that you can secure the camera to a tree or other structure with viper cables, it has loopholes through which you can attach it.

A trigger speed under one second ensures that the camera will capture a great shot of any animal that steps into its view. You won’t end up getting poor shots of the animal’s sides or back, meaning you’ll always be able to clearly identify what you’re looking at. A quick-burst mode will take a great deal of pictures in a very little amount of time, greatly increasing your chances of getting a high-quality picture. In addition, the camera is also capable of geotagging pictures as well as necessitating a password to use the camera.

Online reviewers have stated that this camera delivers top-notch picture and video, with many saying that it has a better picture than any trail camera they’ve ever used before. They also laud it for its easy setup, stating that it’s much more simple to use than other trail cameras.

There weren’t many negative reviews from online reviewers, though some did have some minor problems. One reviewer stated that the plastic hinges on the door of the camera broke off. Another reviewer complained that it doesn’t take pictures unless the animal is quite close.

Coming in at about $110.00 at most online retail sites, the Stealth Cam HD Video Scouting Camera is a truly great trail camera for its price. Whether it’s day or night, this camera will capture clear, non-blur pictures of any animal that moves into its sights. An extra-wide capture angle gives the camera the extra space needed to ensure a centered and consistent shot. If you’re looking for a high quality trail camera that’s both reliable and consistent, the Stealth Cam HD Video Scouting Camera is the trail camera for you.

#3 Bronze pick (3rd place): Stealth Cam G42 No-Glo Trail Game Camera

Stealth Cam G42 No-Glo Trail Game Camera

View it on Amazon for $107.99*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-bronze-awardAnother Stealth Cam trail camera that has received a great deal of positive attention is the Stealth Cam G42 No-Glo Trail Game Camera. It provides a bright, clear picture, and offers a great deal of storage space. It’s comparable to the Stealth Cam HD Video Scouting Camera, but is unique in its own right.

Let’s begin by discussing the picture quality. The camera has 10 megapixels, providing a very clear picture with a very high resolution. You will have no trouble examining deep details in your photos, allowing you to make fantastic inferences about the nature of the animals you’re scouting. The camera has video capabilities, and can capture up to 2 and a half minutes of continuous, high definition video with sound. With the picture quality that this camera provides, you will have no trouble spotting the animal you’re looking for.

The camera also does a great job of operating during the night. With 42 infrared emitters, it provides bright and clean night time pictures without the use of a flash, ensuring that animals won’t be scared off for good. The little light that is emitted is nearly invisible, and must be searched for to actually see. This will keep animals from spotting the camera and growing suspicious of it. The camera will detect motion in the night at a range of 70 feet and less, providing a fantastic radius for picture taking capabilities. The No-Glo technology will ensure that there’s no distracting and excess glare on the pictures which will always come out looking clear and detailed.

The camera is encased in a camouflaged plastic that will protect it from wear and tear, and also hide it from unsuspecting creatures. It measures in at 8 inches x 3 inches x 10 inches and weighs 1.4 pounds, making it large but light, and enabling it to withstand anything. One online reviewer said he left his out in the rain and heat for months without the camera suffering any abuse. The camera requires 4 AA batteries, and has a very long-lasting battery life. This means that you won’t have to spend a great deal of money replacing the batteries. As far as storage goes, it accepts up to a 64 gigabyte SD card, which is double the storage of any other camera on this list, meaning that it can take a ton of pictures. It does not include an SD card, so it must be bought separately. To attach the camera to trees, there are several loopholes on the back through which you can attach a viper cable or other connecting device.

As far as the camera’s trigger speed goes, it takes less than one second from when the animal steps into the detection zone for the picture to snap. This will ensure that quality pictures of the animal’s face will be taken; not poor pictures of its back and sides. The camera can be put in quick burst mode to capture up to 9 rapid-speed pictures, greatly increasing your chances of getting just the shot you’re looking for.

Online reviewers love the the fact that the camera allows no glare in the picture. They also state that is takes phenomenal pictures during the day and the night. Another aspect of the camera that online reviewers like is that it’s very easy to set up. Several reviewers said that after they tried this camera, they bought a few more because they liked it so much.

Several online reviewers complained that the camera does not capture animals that are beyond 100 feet like the camera is advertised to. Many said that it couldn’t reach past 25 feet. Other reviewers did not like how quickly the battery died, stating that it sometimes would only last around a month, even with high end lithium batteries.

Overall, this camera does a great job of taking clear and bright pictures. It particularly excels at night, when it emits a great deal of infrared light to capture the brightest night time picture possible. It costs around $300.00 on most online retail sites, making it more expensive than the other cameras on the list, but if you’re looking for a trail camera that takes phenomenal night time pictures, the Stealth Cam G42 No-Glo Trail Game Camera could be the trail camera for you.

#4 Budget pick (Best cheap): Primos Easy Cam IR LED 5MP Game or Trail Camera

Primos Easy Cam IR LED 5MP Game or Trail Camera

View it on Amazon for $64.99*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-cheap-budget-pickMaybe you’re looking for a decent trail camera, but don’t have have the budget to spend a lot of money on a high end one. If so, the Primos Easy Cam IR LED 5MP Trail Camera might be the kind of camera you’re interested in. Though it doesn’t quite match the picture quality of the previous cameras reviewed, it still provides a number of great benefits for you to enjoy.

The camera has 5 megapixels, meaning that it isn’t as detailed as the other cameras, but that it still provides a solid and clear picture. You certainly won’t have any trouble making out what is in the picture, making it a suitable camera for the purpose of identifying the existence of animals. Unlike the other 3 cameras reviewed, this camera does not have video capabilities.

With an automatic infrared filter, this camera is capable of taking clear and aesthetically pleasing photos at night without the use of a flash. This will ensure that it doesn’t scare off the very animals that it’s documenting. It has a night detection and image range of 30 feet which will capture any animal that’s roaming around it, though some reviewers report that it is not consistent in the fact that it sometimes takes very bright and white pictures.

Made of plastic, the casing of the camera is durable and capable of withstanding heavy rain and snow as well as severe heat. Unlike the other cameras on the list, this camera does not have a camouflage design. However, its very small size does an excellent job of keeping itself hidden. It comes with a strap with which you can attach the camera to a tree, and it can hold up to 32 gigabytes. It does not come with an SD card. As far as battery life goes, the camera requires four AA batteries for standard use, and 8 AA batteries extended use. The user gets a choice between how many batteries he or she wants to use.

Its trigger speed is 1 second, making it slower than the other cameras on the list, but still giving it a fairly quick speed for snapping quality pictures of any animal that comes its way. Though you might get some poor shots of the sides and backs of animals, you’re still likely to get a fairly decent shot.

Online reviewers love the quality of picture that this camera takes for such an affordable price. Many stated that they bought it at as a means of finding out what was tearing up their yard or attic, and that it did a great job of finding the culprit. Reviewers also stated that the camera is very durable and capable of withstanding a great deal of wear and tear.

A complaint made by online reviewers is that it is not easy to set up. It takes a bit of computer know-how to get it up and running correctly. Reviewers also say that it does not take the greatest picture in the world, though for the price, it gets the job done. Many reviewers state that it’s ability to take pictures at night is fairly poor.

This camera does not meet the same standards as the high end trail cameras on the market today, but it does provide some suitable pictures for a budget price. If you’re simply just looking for an affordable trail camera that takes passable and acceptable pictures void of ridiculously high quality, you might want to take a look at the Primos Easy Cam IR LED 5MP Game or Trail Camera. It’s a highly functional camera for its price.


Pre-purchase considerations

Picture quality

As with any camera, the quality of the picture is one of the most important aspects. However, with a trail camera, because the pictures are typically not going to be used for any other reason than to scout animals, picture quality is not the end-all-be-all. For a trail camera’s purpose, any picture that allows the user to distinguish different objects in the picture will suffice. Of course, you’re probably going to want something a little better than just the bare minimum when it comes to picture quality. Almost any trail camera you purchase will have a suitable picture, but if you’re looking for something a little better that just suitable, there are trail cameras that will suit your desires. Typically, a camera with more megapixels will deliver a better picture. So if you’re looking for a trail camera with maximum picture quality, look for one with a lot of megapixels.

Trigger speed & recovery time

An often overlooked aspect of trail cameras is their trigger speed and recovery time. Trigger speed refers to the amount of time that elapses between when an animal first comes into the camera’s detection zone, and when the camera takes a picture. Recovery time refers to how long it takes for the camera to reset after taking a picture. In some trail cameras, 1 or 2 seconds can elapse between the initial detection of an animal, and the picture being snapped. This can result in poorly framed pictures, wherein they only include the sides and backs of the animals, and not their faces. This may be suitable for some people’s purposes, but for others, a better picture is desired. The recovery time, in turn, can affect the amount of quality pictures that are taken of a specific animal. If it takes a long while for the camera to reset, precious time will be wasted, and great opportunities for pictures will be missed. Trigger speed & recovery time are two very important aspects of a trail camera. For casual hunters, a slower trigger speed & recovery time could suffice. But, for very serious hunters, the quicker the speed the better.

Detection zone

Trail cameras work by detecting motion. The detection zone is the space in which the camera will detect motion from moving creatures and be able to snap a picture. There are three aspects of the detection zone: detection angle, field of view, and detection range. The detection angle refers to the space from the outside of the camera’s lense to the maximum angle that a creature can be detected by the camera. This is often around 45 degrees. When an animal enters this zone, the camera will start the picture-taking process. The field of view refers to the space from the outside of the camera’s lense to the maximum angle that a picture can be taken. This is typically around 35 degrees. Whatever is in this space after the animal steps into the detection angle will be included in the picture. Detection range refers to how far away a moving creature can be when the camera detects it. This is usually around 100 feet. Detection zone will usually be greater on higher end trail cameras, but a large zone is useful for anyone who uses a trail camera.

Battery life

The thing to consider when talking about a trail camera’s battery life is what type of battery the camera uses. A camera that uses more expensive batteries to take 3,000 pictures is inferior to a camera that uses less expensive batteries to take 25,000 pictures. If you’re going to put you trail camera in an area that’s heavily inhabited by animals, a lot of pictures are going to get taken in a short time. In this case, you would be wise to choose a camera that requires the least expensive batteries possible. Different cameras will take different amounts of pictures on a single set of batteries. While some will only take 3,000 pictures, others can take 15,000. It’s important for the consumer to consider what his or her exact uses for the camera will be. This will ensure that the consumer picks a camera with the appropriate amount of battery life.

Night time picture capabilities

The fact of the matter is that the majority of pictures taken by trail cameras are taken at night. It would be great if this weren’t the case, but unfortunately it is. Considering this fact, it’s obviously very important that the camera taking the picture has excellent night time photographing capabilities. Some trail cameras make use of a flash. The problem with a flash is that it’s likely to scare animals off. Once an animal realizes it’s being blinded every time it goes for food, it will stop coming back to the area where it’s being blinded and find food elsewhere. This is why trail cameras with flashes are not ideal. Ideally, a trail camera will make use of infrared light to take pictures at night. This does not involve a flash, and at worst will only emit a very small beam of light. Some cameras don’t emit the light at all. With the use of infrared light, the camera will take a high-quality black and white picture of an animal without disturbing it.

Cost

Consider the cost. Trail cameras can span anywhere from $50.00 to $500.00. While, in general, there is undoubtedly a difference between a low-priced camera and a high-priced camera, there are still a great many excellent trail cameras that can be purchased for affordable prices. The important thing to do is to purchase within your budget. There’s no reason to spend $500.00 on a trail camera when you can buy one for $200.00 that does a very comparable job. Of course, if you’re only spending $50.00 on a trail camera, there’s a good chance that you’re going to get what you pay for. But, this is not a definite. In any case, it’s important to get a good idea of the camera’s capabilities. Once you have done this, you will be able to see how it fits in your budget.

Conclusion (Wrapping it up)

Every veteran hunter alive knows the importance of a good trail camera. A quality trail camera can be the difference between bagging a 14-point buck and going home empty-handed. It’s one of the most effective tools in any hunter’s arsenal, and so it’s important that it be one that can get the job done.

Consider your budget. Once you have done this, you can start considering what exactly you’re looking for in a trail camera. Want a camera with excellent motion detection? Want a camera that takes clear and discreet pictures at night? Maybe you want a camera that takes as many pictures as possible in a short amount of time? There are trail cameras available that can meet all of your needs. You just have to do the research to find the one that works for you.

Discussion and comments

We want to know what you think. Do you own any of the products we discussed? Which did you buy and how did it work out for you?

Do you know of an even better product?

Comment below and help your fellow consumers make the right choice. Over to you!

Resources

  1. Browning Recon Force FHD Trail Camera, B&H Photo Video and Pro Audio, August 14, 2015
  2. Browning Recon Force Trail Camera Review, Advanced Hunter, August 20, 2015
  3. Stealth Cam G42 No-Glo Trail Camera, cheaptrailcameras.com, July 3, 2014
  4. Agentsacco (Forum Member), Primos Easy Cam Trail Camera – 5MP, Dick’s Sporting Goods, April 28, 2016
  5. Point Optics, GSM Stealth Cam G42 No-Glo Trail Game Camera Review, pointoptics.com, March 30, 2015

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