A Beginner’s Guide to Trail Camera Technology

The advances in trail camera technology have been vast in recent times, manifesting in a wealth of different options and capabilities, which are often encased in a single device. Expansive features are available, including Burst Mode, Timelapse Mode, video recordings with sound, variable trigger speed, and more. What is the significance, and what would the optimum circumstances be for utilizing these distinct methods? 

This article will talk about the different features of trail cameras. It will explain the more complicated parts and give tips on using each setting best in different situations.

Choose the Right Trail Camera for You

Before buying a trail camera, you must know what you hope to get from it. There are a lot of options available today, and each camera has its own pros and cons. It is not suggested that you use your wages to buy a camera intended for taking time lapses if you want to observe your neighbor’s dog digging in your backyard. If you’re looking for how many deer inhabit your land, using a camera with various timing capabilities would be useful when placed near a food plot or watering hole.

It is essential to identify the location where you intend to mount your camera. Taking pictures of a black bear leaving its burrow in the spring may yield some spectacular shots, but using either a white flash or an infrared setting may draw attention to your camera, which could lead to an agitated reaction from the bear.  

I can attest to it. Bears can wreak havoc on pricey equipment (and I’ll tell you more about it soon).

Regardless, consider your goals and where you plan to use your camera most of the time. This initial action will lead to beneficial results in the future.

Read the Manufacturer’s Instructions

If you’re still here, please listen to what I’m about to say, even though I’m sure you were tempted to go straight to #3. I spend hours and hours dealing with trail cameras. Testing in the open air, analyzing design plans, and researching the most up-to-date technology products soon to become available. I am very interested in trail cameras but have never read the instructions. And every time, I regret it.

Although the basic technology of cameras is the same, each one offers unique capabilities and suggestions. Every camera comes with its own particularities, for instance, batteries and SD cards, that, when properly used, result in the thing running at its best capability, as well as instructions to get it set up correctly and even test stages. What could be more helpful than talking to the people who designed, engineered, and manufactured the camera that you have? Read the manual.

Adjust the PIR Sensor

Today’s cameras come with the option to alter the passive infrared sensor (PIR) settings. A PIR is a device that can measure infrared radiation from things in its field of view. Suppose an individual or creature with a high body temperature walks into the area of recognition. In that case, the alteration in the infrared radiation in that area will cause the detector to activate. Most cameras use PIR technology with their motion detection capabilities, split into two elements – measuring infrared radiation and detecting any movement from the object.

Every living thing gives off infrared, which everyone who owns a camera needs to know. Different types of animals, plants, and vegetation give off varying degrees of infrared radiation; the higher the temperature, the more radiation will be released.

By changing the sensor’s sensitivity, you can change the amount of infrared radiation that an object must give off for motion detection. With a lower sensitivity setting, the camera is less likely to pick up false motions like leaves falling from trees and the wind rustling the grass.

Using the Best Batteries

The consumer has multiple options to choose from when selecting batteries to ensure the ideal operation of their camera; these include alkaline, lithium, and rechargeable. Cameras made today often can connect to external batteries and solar panels in addition to their rechargeable batteries.

It is pivotal to pick the correct battery to get the most out of your camera. AA batteries are now needed to power almost all cameras on the market. An AA alkaline battery typically produces about 1.5 volts of electricity. In contrast, an AA lithium battery of the same size tends to have an output of 1.7 volts. Even if you decide to go for the cheaper alkaline instead of what the camera’s manufacturer recommends (Lithium), your camera should still be able to function properly. You will notice a change in how well basic functions like detection range, flash range, trigger speed, and battery life work. When given a slightly higher voltage, all of the parts in your camera work at their best.

Keep Fresh Batteries

It’s easy to see how important it is to choose the right batteries for your trail camera, but it’s just as important to keep the batteries up to date. The capacity of a battery pack is likely to decrease over time due to aging, use, and cell oxidation.

Even though lithium and alkaline batteries are made of different chemicals, most manufacturers offer a good warranty for up to 20% of the total battery capacity. The batteries have surpassed the warranty from the manufacturer if they still have 80% of their capacity.

An alkaline battery contains three sections. The initial part is referred to as the rock component. The material in this content has already been used up and is permanently unusable and unable to be restored. The second part of a battery is the amount of power left in it, and the third part is the empty area, which can be replenished if the right battery is used.

The significance of this to the longevity of your battery realizes as such. When the camera indicates 60% battery, the actual amount of energy that is still usable is nearer to 30%. When a battery is not producing at its full capacity, its voltage won’t be enough to operate your camera properly. The suggestion is to get new batteries for your camera when the power level drops to less than 70%.

SD Card

It is best to format every SD card you use with a trail camera to get the most out of its storage and speed and to reduce the chance of data errors. Making changes to the layout of a document is not hard, which can save you a lot of stress. 

Different cameras will vary, but generally, if you turn a camera on, you should be able to format the disk in whatever location you are in. When you format a memory card, you delete all the pictures and documents on it before. This makes the card ready to receive data that the camera can use.

Once you have transferred your images to your computer, simply deleting them can be tempting. However, to get the best out of your camera, it’s preferable to format its memory card after each use. It is worth remembering that SD cards can be safely used in different types and brands of cameras, so long as you format the card for the specific camera in which it is inserted.

Animal Protection

It is indisputable that wildlife can be curious about trail cameras. A young whitetail deer buck was so bold to rub its antlers against a camera. At the same time, a hefty black bear of 250 lbs showed no fear, going so far as to treat the camera like its own plaything. Although bear-proof boxes are effective, most cameras have plastic casings, and a full-grown bear can easily tear the camera from the tree with its sheer weight. The best way to stop an animal from wanting to know more is to camouflage it. The most effective way to take wildlife photos is to employ silent cameras featuring no-glow technology and reduce the smell from the photography equipment.

Test the Trail Camera

It can be frustrating to spend three months getting your camera ready to take pictures in the woods, only to miss a step and find that none of the pictures came out. Configure your camera how you desire for its outdoor usage, then attach it to a shrub in the garden or tie it to a seat in your cooking area. 

Allow the camera to operate for 24 hours and then review the images. Ensure it is in full working order and all image markings are accurate.

Additional Trail Camera Tips

Photo Mode/Video Mode

This is the primary and fundamental configuration that all game cameras possess. This mode will capture still photos of animals at any time of day or night when it is set off by any movement in its vicinity.

This product is useful for any type of trail camera, whether you’re using it for hunting, security, or recreation.

Most trail cameras have the option of taking videos instead of pictures. This technique requires a camera to be set up that records videos of animals both during the day and night if it is triggered by movement in front of it. The length of the video can be adjusted to whatever you would like, whether it’s 5 seconds, 30 seconds, etc.

Video mode is great for getting more information than you can get from a single still image. For example, get footage of a male white-tailed deer during the hunting season close to mating season. A video with audio will provide increased insight into how the deer behaves. Was he making a low, guttural sound as he walked slowly by the camera, maybe looking for a female deer?

Smart IR Video

This feature lets the camera keep recording video footage during the day as long as it sees movement. Suppose the camera doesn’t see any more movement. In that case, the video will stop when the time limit you set in the configuration menu has passed.

With this feature, you can learn more about how an animal acts if it stays in front of the camera longer than the time you set for the video clip. It’s also great in a surveillance situation. For instance, set up your camera to record a ten-second video every sixty seconds. Any person trespassing or illegally entering your house would likely be recorded by the camera for longer than ten seconds. 

Suppose the Smart IR Video mode camera detects motion again within a minute. In that case, it will not take another video and will continue to record the footage. In this situation, it is more probable that you will be able to figure out the details of the intruder than if you used regular video recording.

Timelapse & Timelapse+ Feature

A time-lapse function on trail cameras will take pictures at regular intervals throughout the day based on the chosen time. For example, suppose Timelapse mode is enabled. In that case, the camera will take a picture every 10 seconds all day, even if nothing is happening in front of it. The images that have been captured can be seen with the use of software created by the trail camera corporation. You can watch the images in order, similar to playing a video.

Browning Trail Cameras has a feature known as Timelapse+ Mode, which works similarly to the way mentioned, but with an additional component that photographs any motion within the camera’s recognition field, similar to what occurs when it’s in regular photo mode.

Timelapse and Timelapse+ mode is great for observing a large area, such as a sprawling field. This setting lets you snap photos of wildlife without the camera’s scope. Consequently, you would have remained unaware of the animal’s presence. This is beneficial for deer hunters attempting to locate the optimal spot to put a game camera with either photography or video capabilities, to set up a tree stand or blind, etc.

Burst Mode

This setting lets the camera take multiple pictures instead of just one when turned on in photo mode. For example, when selecting the Rapid Fire setting with Browning Trail Cameras, the consumer can determine how many images will be taken when the multishot camera is set off – up to a maximum of eight.

Burst mode is ideal if you put a game camera in a spot where wildlife will pass rapidly through the area that the camera monitors. This way, you can obtain more than one image of them, giving you a better understanding of what is happening in the space. Choosing a spot where an animal is likely to feed for a long time and be in front of the camera would not be suitable for this situation.


As technology has improved, it can be hard to figure out how and when to use all the different features added to trail cameras. I trust that the data I have provided will assist you in deciding which features to select when configuring your trail camera, whatever situation you are in.


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