My trail cam ExperienceS

My trail cam journey

Like many others, I became aware of trail cameras while watching a BBC documentary about tigers. I don't see them here, but that didn't matter to me. I had foxes and hedgehogs visiting my garden, and I hadn't got a clue what they got up to. My interest is their behaviours and interactions with each other. Using covert cameras is a perfect way to observe this. After a brief period using wired cameras I decided trail cameras were the right way for me. I spent many hours reading reviews and asking questions, before I chose my first trail camera. A lot of them were obviously written by people with an interest in selling them, so I was sceptical. I eventually worked out what I wanted and went for it.

I started off leaving my camera in the garden. I learned what it could do, and gained experience. I got braver with it, and started to leave it in the woods etc. That's when the obsession started! Once I had one camera, I became more curious about others and carried on reading more reviews in search of my next camera. I still haven't found the perfect one in my price bracket. I've put a few of my thoughts and personal experiences down (Nothing too technical or in depth). This is where I am up to.

Bushnell 119436

The first camera I got was a 2011 Bushnell 119436. It was discontinued, so I got it for a good price on Ebay. I had looked at many brands and read all the reviews, it seemed the right one.

My camera

What I liked about it

I found the detection range very good. The night time video footage was great. The night pictures were sharp too. If I used lithium batteries the the power consumption was reasonable. The clamp that held the unit together had a nice 'clunk' to it. As I said, the price was good too.

What I didn't like about it.

The digital menu navigation was the main issue. If I set it up at home, then that is fine, however if something has to be changed in the field, (usually in the cold or rain) due to the lack of a good size screen it was a nuisance.

I also noticed as the camera has got older, the day time video became more pixelated. The loops at the back of the camera aren't big enough to put a Python type cable lock through, so I had to make something to enable it to be secured.

Examples of images with this camera.

Would I purchase another?

They are no longer made. At the time it was the right choice. It enabled me to use a good camera, and get used to the Bushnell settings. Things have moved on, so no I wouldn't buy another one.

Spypoint HD7

This is a big camera, but I really liked the look of it. It looked chunky and up to the job. I wanted it to work well.

My camera

What I liked about it.

As already said, the camera looks the part. It has been designed by people who use or understand what is really needed. There are good security features, you can put a padlock on the unit, and the loops at the back are big enough to put a python type lock through.

What I liked most was its simplicity. There is a screen, but all of the things that matter are controlled by slider switches. You put it on set/test and simply slide to the desired settings. There are no fiddly digital menus to go through. The panel is like a dashboard, you can see in one glance that everything is set.

I contacted Spypoint in Canada several times, each time they got back quickly and with good advice, so that's another plus to them.

What I didn't like about it.

For all its promise, the detection isn't great. I have however got some of my best night videos with this camera, but usually at close range, and in dry weather. If it is damp, the clips are often unviewable (maybe a condensation problem?). The videos also often have excessive audio noise.

Examples of images with this camera.

Screen captures can be taken from video later.

Would I purchase another?

I felt the detection sensor (recessed) let it down. The LED's spooked the deer more than others (but they eventually became fascinated with them). I still really like this camera, I wouldn't purchase another one, however I would purchase one of their newer models.

Maginon WK3

This camera was purchased from Aldi, so I had the reassurance that if it didn't work, it was easy to return.

My camera

What I liked about it.

The camera had a lot of features and it was a good price. I had tested the camera in the garden, and found the day time video to be ok, and pictures good. It had a good screen and a menu that was easy to navigate. There was a password protection, and a place for a padlock.

I also liked the fact that it set the date out how we do in the UK (day/month/year), others set it out the US way, with the month first.

What I didn't like about it.

It didn't pick things up. I could leave it untouched for weeks, and only have a handful of clips. I had set it with side sensors on and off, but it still didn't help. When it did activate the night time ones were very grainy. The clamps that held the unit didn't feel very strong. Another issue was, the frame that the unit is mounted on is quite thin, even if I put a lock through, it could be easily removed. It needs loops building in the back for a python type lock.

Examples of images with this camera.

Good images when it activates

Would I purchase another?

No, there just were not enough activations. Maybe someone who was just seeing what trail cams are about, and didn't want to spend a lot, might be interested in them, but not me.

Monitoring Project

At this point I became part of a wildlife monitoring project.

The existing cameras were used, and we had access to more.

We were looking at behaviours, as well as what was in the survey area. The cameras needed to have minimum delay between clips, good detection and video quality.

Bushnell Natureview 119739

After going over lots of reviews again, two Natureviews were purchased . They looked almost the same as my original camera, the difference, they were green and filmed in HD video.

My camera

What I liked about it.

I was very familiar with these, so no learning a new brand. The detection and night time video was good, and day time video was reasonable.

What I didn't like about it.

As before, I didn't like the menu operation. For the first few months I was happy with them. I then had one fail to record, it was sent back for repair, as soon as it came back the second one had the same issue.

Examples of images with this camera.

Would I purchase another?

I don't think so. The reliability issues have put me off. Not only that I think it is based on an older model, after using a more modern design like the Aggressor, the video quality is noticeable.

Bushnell Aggressor 119776

Two of these cameras were purchased for the monitoring project. The first one was set up on a post aimed towards a mineral block. It was a no glow camera, so something different to the others.

Our camera
In its Bear case!
The second camera

What I liked about it.

There is a lot to like about this camera. It looks the part. It is well made, and most importantly, takes good video day and night, and has the great detection sensor of the other Bushnells.

What I didn't like about it.

As before, I didn't like the small digital menu screen (but I am well used to it now). The only problem I have had, was when leaving it on hybrid mode, no video was taken, just pictures. Other than that, the only thing I didn't like was the price.

The screen I don't like.

Examples of images with this camera.

Would I purchase another?

Yes, most definitely. It is a good all round camera. It has now been updated with a new version, that has a few more features such as a 24 MP camera, but the model we use is fine. The only issue is the price compared to other models..


While I was looking online at the Kuman H801 I noticed the H301. It is no glow and has the slider switches that I like too!

I was sent one for use on the project to see what I thought of it.

My camera

What I liked about it.

When you first hold it, it feels solid, and seems well built. The case is in a camoflague pattern that blends in.

I liked the simplicity. I just set the delay to the shortest setting, the resolution to one of two video settings or photo's on hi or lo res. If you aren't sure about the range, there is an IR aim setting, you can walk past the camera, and a light flashes, so you know where to aim the camera. All that's left to do is to set to auto.

Simple to set

When the camera is set , there is a digital countdown, and an audible sound that lets you know when it is activated, which is a good idea.

The price at the moment (25/06/2017) is £60, so thats good. Other than the Maginon, all of my other cameras were at least twice as much.

Despite its low price, the video and images are very good.

What I didn't like about it.

It seemed more of a hunting camera, the delay between clips is longer than the ones I use. It's fine if you want to see what goes by, but not so good to watch behaviours, as it only records 10 second video clips. Both of these features may be to prolong battery life in use (which is good if you want to leave it out for long periods).

I felt the latches that fasten the unit together (like others in this price bracket) seemed quite delicate.

The one thing that I found awkward, was that it uses a micro SD card, these aren't good when you are in undergrowth, I dropped it on the first attempt, and had to find it (I now lay something underneath to stop it happening again).

The detection could be better, sometimes I know something had been through, but it hadn't picked it up.

Examples of images with this camera.

Canada goose and goslings
Red deer hind on high res
Lo res

I often chose photo mode on the camera rather than video .

Would I purchase another?

First impressions are the images are very sharp, and the night time illumination is good. The unit is very simple to use. It is one that I would purchase to use on a trail for photo only.

I feel if the delay was shorter and there was a choice for longer video, then it would make the camera more of an all rounder.

The detection needs to be better.

At this price though it is good value, but I wouldn’t have another one for us.


Ltl Acorn 6310WMC

My camera

This camera had a wide angle view, so it seemed ideal for viewing animals in the open.

What I liked about it.

First impression was it had a good menu. The screen was big, it is easy to set and had a playback feature.

The day time footage is good.

The detection is also good.

What I didn't like about it.

I find the camera frustrating. The menu screen is at the back, every time I want to change something, the strap has to be undone. The on off switch is underneath, which is difficult too.

The night time clips are very grainy. It is similar to the Maginon.

It seems to run batteries down a lot faster than the other cameras (on video), on photo it seems ok.

Due to the batteries running down, I would often have no clips.

Examples of images with this camera.

Would I purchase another?

I wouldn’t have another one. For a little more I could get a camera that is more reliable.

They do cameras that come apart. For scouting these might be worth looking at.


Bushnell 119439

This camera belongs to one of the group members, but is being used on the project. It has additional lenses. As yet we have decided not to use them until warmer weather (they suffer with condensation).

What I liked about it.

We had read that the detection was slow. We found with the right placement, it is probably the most reliable camera we use.

The detection circuit activated at a good distance.

What I didn't like about it.

It had the Bushnell battery compartment, that the batteries pop out too easily.

It is expensive compared to other cameras.

Examples of images with this camera.

Would I purchase another?

Yes most definitely. It is a good camera, however if you don’t intend using the lenses, a cheaper model would be worth looking at.

Bushnell BN 119877

This is the 2017 Aggressor model with 24mp. It was one that was purchased by one of the members, to use on the project.

What I liked about it.

This is a good camera. The night illumination, detection are what we wanted. The navigation buttons have been improved on previous models. It has a big navigation screen which is useful, but something we don’t always use to save batteries.

What I didn't like about it.

There’s not much not to like. The camera had a fault with the LEDs, but it was replaced (we were told later that the night filter sometimes stick, but to give it a tap).

They aren’t the cheapest.

Examples of images with this camera.

Would I purchase another?

I would buy another one. You are paying a little more, but are less likely to have failures.

What cameras would I purchase if I started again?

You don’t always need the very best cameras. To keep cost down I’d have some cheaper scouting cameras. They would be the workhorses. They would need to be reliable, and easy to use.

I would also have some for best, and use them on the locations where the investment is worthwhile. These would be the ones with great video footage (not always the most expensive).

“Best” choice

BROWNING Recon Force Advantage 2018

For me price, video quality and good detection are the most important features on a camera. I have seen footage from this low glo camera, and it is excellent (for the specs see the link below).

I might be being over critical, but the only criticism I have, is background noise on some of the clips. Our Spypoint is similar, also could there be an option for longer than 20 seconds at night? (but batteries run down quicker).

That said it looks really good.


There is a no glo version called the Spec ops pro. It is a little more expensive. https://shop.naturespy.org/product/2018-browning-spec-ops-advantage-btc-8a/

Bushnell Aggressor

I have already gone over these. They are good all round cameras.


Bushnell E3

I have not used these, but know others rate them. They are similar to the Agressors, but with less features, and a lower price.


Spypoint Force 10

Another one I haven’t used, but have read good things about. They are supposed to be very quick.



Something I haven't touched on much so far is battery consumption. If you use cameras a lot and care about the environment then batteries are something that needs to be looked at. A lot of cameras seem to eat them! This isn't good. You often have footage that has wavy lines due to lack of power or worse still, no recordings. Some cameras advise you don't use rechargeable batteries. Along with the obvious cost, it is wasteful. This one gets around this. The detection is good, but I’ve read the night illumination and video quality isn’t as good. http://www.spypoint.com/EN/products/solar-trail-camera/product-SOLAR.html

What would my ideal camera look like?

If money was no object, then my ideal camera would be a Reconyx Hyperfire, but I have to take cost into account. I imagine even with these, there would be things that could be improved. Technology and features change quickly. What you think is good today might change in a short time.

There are lots of features that would be good. The camera could be Wifi compatible like many security cameras. It could connect to an app and you could set the controls by Bluetooth.

The app could control a digital zoom, so that you can view smaller animals at close range (no additional lenses). It could have a live view through the app too, to enable you to set the position better.

One of my pet hates on trail cameras, is the wrong time and dates. Often when you change the batteries it resets to a different date. The app would be a good way of checking it is correct.

It could have a cam finder. Often you struggle to find your camera. Imagine pressing a button on your mobile, and the camera beeps.

It would have a continuous record option. If something is moving then the camera will record for a preset time.

It would be no glow. To prevent spooking the animals.

It could have dual lenses, one for day and one for night. This would do away with the IR filter, and would be quieter.

It could have a solar option, it wouldn’t power the camera directly, but charge an external battery pack. When the cameras own batteries drop below a certain point, then the external pack would take over. The camera could then be left out indefinitely.

One I would like is a quick clear button, so you could format the card without going through the menu.

I could go on, but all of the gimmicks drain more power and cost more money. As I have said the simple to use cameras with good video and detection are the best in my opinion.

More information

If you are interested in purchasing a camera, I've put links to other sites (they are more in depth than what I have gone over). Some are sales, some offer advice how to use and position them. Some will offer it all.


The best site for trail cam information. It is very thorough, everything they say is backed up. It is aimed at cameras for hunters, but is always the first place I look. https://www.trailcampro.com/


Another site aimed at hunters, but with good information. http://deerlab.com/blog/trail-camera-feature-guide


A social enterprise that puts its profit back into projects. A great site for advice too. http://www.naturespy.org/

Exodous Outdoor gear


‪@PinemartensUK ‬

Stuart runs the Shropshire Pine Marten group, he filmed the first recorded Martens in England for over 100 years. He uses many trail cameras to film them. It doesn't get much better than that here! Check out his YouTube channel https://youtu.be/gOexliYhWDo and find his Twitter account ‪at ‪@PinemartensUK ‬

Cannock chase wildlife project

The web page of the monitoring project I am involved with. https://spark.adobe.com/page/7J2yAhXoffs5F/

Wildlife Kate

And last but not least the person who I probably annoyed the most with questions and suggestions http://www.wildlifekate.co.uk/

* All pictures of the cameras have been taken from the manufactures own literature or from the sales sites listed (Apart from pictures of my own cameras).

cannockchasewildlife at gmail.com

Created By
Paul T

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