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 Tigers 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 articles were obviously written by people with an interest in selling them, so I was sceptical. I eventually worked out what I wanted and purchased a Bushnell Trophy cam.

I started off leaving my camera in the garden. I learned what it could do, and gained experience. I got braver with it, then started to leave it in the woods etc.

I teamed up with a friend who had cams too. That's when the Trail cam 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). The page seems better viewed on a mobile or a tablet. The videos aren’t necessarily the best ones, just examples of what to expect. This is where I’m up to.

Bushnell 119436

The first camera I got was a 2011 Bushnell 119436. It was the previous years model and was then 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 original 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. And buying an older model, the price was good too.

If you look at the last of the video clips. It was taken in October 2017, the camera is six years old, and has been out for over a year, and the night time footage still is reasonable.

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.

Camera in use

What I liked about it.

The camera really 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.

The camera unit comes out of the case, so if it’s raining or awkward to set the camera, you can leave it strapped in place and alter it elsewhere.

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

Similar one.

What I didn't like about it.

For all its promise, the detection wasn'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. If these issues were sorted, then the camera would be everything I want.

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, but I wouldn't have 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.

Our camera in use

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 more were purchased.

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.

We all used one or more personal cameras, as well as the ones purchased for the project. It gave me a good chance to look at other models too.

Bushnell Natureview 119739

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

Our 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 small digital screen (or 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. I am hoping the third one doesn't have the same problem.

Another issue is the batteries often pop out. This happens on all the Bushnells of this type. Also the menu screen is hit and miss, the first one that was repaired doesn’t display. The date is wrong, but I have to leave the settings on what they are.

Examples of images with this camera.

Would I purchase another?

I don't think so. As good as the detection and night video is, 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 difference in day time 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.

Out camera
In its Bear case!
The second camera

What I liked about it.

There was a lot to like about this camera. It looked the part. It was well made, and most importantly, took good video day and night, and had the great detection sensor of the other Bushnells.

When it has been moved into different locations, it worked well. Often in woodland, the light changes quickly, and some cameras don’t deal with this, also if an animal comes too close at night, some cameras get white out issues, this didn’t seem to have those problems .

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 issue with not recording on hybrid turned out to be a fault with the one camera. It eventually stopped recording on video altogether. It will have to be sent back to check.

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 I 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!

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 was sent one for use on the project I am involved with, to see how I got on with it.

Our 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

Look at the clear settings, this isn’t always the case on a lot of brands.

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.

I did feel 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 isn’t good. The amount of activations was a lot less than cameras that were nearby. Sometimes I knew something had been through, but it hadn't picked it up (especially at night).

Examples of images with this camera.

Canada goose and goslings
Red deer hind onHigh res
Lo res

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

Would I purchase another?

The first impressions the images were very sharp, and the night time illumination was good (when it activated). The unit is very simple to use. It is one that I would purchase to use on a track where the animal is just passing by (scouting an area). If you want to get more images then a different camera could then be used.

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.

For my use, where more reliable detection and longer video is needed, it’s not one I would buy again.

At this price though it is good value.


Ltl Acorn 6310WMC

Ltl Acorn 6310wmc
Our camera

I was asked by friends who follow the monitoring project for advice on a camera. I had looked at the LTL Acorn 5310 (previous model) at the beginning, but chose the Bushnells as I was more familiar with them.

They wanted to get involved with us, and offered to purchase a camera. They liked the deer videos we get in the open. I chose this camera for them, as it is a wide angle lens. 100 degree view rather than the normal 52.

The deer tend to rub up the camera, being so close the cameras normally miss a lot, but this should view more.

Hole for securing the unit
Small padlock hole

What I liked about it.

I liked the menu screen, it is clear and straight forward. As expected it is quite sensitive and picks up plenty of night and day movement. The day time images are very good.

The wide angle lens is good if you want to get close up images.

The colour of the unit is good, it is easier to hide than some.

What I didn't like about it.

I don’t like each time you want to get to the menu, you have to loosen the strap.

The night time images aren’t good. There is a hessian type look to the dark areas, and often a blur on movement.

The battery consumption on video isn’t the best. I have had to change the batteries more than expected. With good detection you use more power, but it seems to run down quicker than the Bushnells that have even better detection. Picture mode may be different though.

Examples of images with this camera.

There were lots of activations, and the distance it picked up things was good,

Red deer in the rain
It picked up movement across the frame

Example of the close up capabilities.

Would I purchase another?

I wouldn’t purchase another one for our project. We are after good nightime video, which I feel this doesn’t give.

The Ltl acorns are a good price, and are sensitive. I was just scouting an area or just recording day time (birds feeding etc) then these would be a good option. I would look at one of the models where the unit splits in two, as the menu behind the strap on this model is awkward.

If you wanted good quality night time clips, then perhaps pay a little more and look elsewhere first.



Bushnell Natureview 119439
Our camera

As I said earlier all of the project members have allowed one or more of their personal cameras to be used. This is one of them. It is a good way to to use different models.

This model seems bigger and more sturdy that the similar 119739s that we use. From the spec supplied it seems the detection is slower, but I’ve read the picture quality is better.

Initial tests in the garden seemed to back up the slower detection. Things had gone by, but the camera hadn’t caught them in time.

We chose the site for the camera and it’s positioning carefully to get the best results.

What I liked about it.

I like this camera a lot. It has additional lenses to capture close up subjects, however we have chosen not to use them over the winter.

The worry about the slower trigger has proven unfounded, in fact with the positioning it has proven to be the stand out camera for captures.

The advertised trigger speed was for photo’s, we use video, and the recovery time between clips seems better than other models (including other Bushnells). The lesson learned from this is, if you are after video, look at the recovery time rather than trigger speed.

Other cameras set close by, were getting 100 or less captures in a week, this was getting 300 and more, week in week out.

What I didn't like about it.

It has the fiddly Bushnell menu and batteries that pop out too easily. The daytime footage isn’t the best we have, and some of the night time footage is grainy compared to the Aggressor. I can’t fault it too much though.

Examples of images with this camera.

Would I purchase another?

I would get another one just for the detection. It hasn’t been used to its full potential yet, as the close up lenses haven’t been used. Hopefully they will make it liked even more.

If you have no intention of using the lenses, then perhaps it would be an expensive choice.


Bushnell BN119877

Camera being prepared
New navigation buttons
Review screen
Good camouflage

The latest camera is a 2017 Bushnell. I haven’t seen many clips yet. First impressions are, the navigation buttons are better than the previous ones. I’ve never used a Bushnell with a review screen before (prefer to save power), but it is a good option, as you can see if it has recorded, I often get back and find no files on the card, so have to wait until I return to put it right.

What I liked about it.

It is a well designed camera. The clear clips and good detection are the same as the other Aggressors we have. The navigation buttons are better than the previous models.

The review screen is a nice to have, but not essential. If you use it though, it is a battery eater.

It has the dynamic video function, that continually records, while detection is present.

What I didn't like about it.

They are good cameras. They are the ones we use if we want good images.

All cameras seem to have flaws or issues. This one had a dark patch to the right of the image, when recording at night. You can see it in the Muntjac and Bat clip. It turned out to be failed LEDs. To be fair the supplier and Bushnell agreed to cover postage, and repair or replace it.

Examples of images with this camera.

Would I purchase another?

Yes I would get another one. They are a higher mid price range camera, but the video quality and detection are good. You are paying for less frustration, that you can get on cheaper makes.


Do I look at any other brands?

Yes all the time. It is obvious that most of the cameras are made in China. A lot are made by companies who have multiple brand names for different markets. Some make models for other companies which are rebranded too. There are others who rework old models, and there are some who copy other makes. It's all very confusing.

I've even looked at who the likely manufacturers are of the big brands, to see if they have a similar own brand versions.

They often do, but then you have the 'what iff's' to worry about. It is more expensive buying from an EU supplier, but you are usually better placed for solving issues, sorting returns and not having to pay import duty etc (There are a lot who advertise from abroad, and it is unclear about import duty, so what seems like a bargain might not end up being).

Other models I have looked at.

These are some of the models (in different price ranges) that have got my attention. Some are lower priced, so I wouldn't expect the images and the build of the higher priced ones. I have never used any of them, so cannot comment on what they are like in use.

Reconyx XS8

This would be my money no option camera

They are expensive, but well made, and up to the job.

If you have a budget that stretches this far, or are fed up of cheaper ones failing, then this might be the one.





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


Kuman H801

I liked the look of the H801 model. It looks very similar to my Maginon, but with no glow LEDs.

It is priced at the moment (25/06/2017) at £69. On paper for what you get, that seems a good buy. It states a 120 degree detection range, but that's not that important, as the lens can probably only capture around 52 degrees.

The menu looks the same as the Maginon too. I find this very easy to use, the nice big screen makes digital menus less confusing.

If the detection circuit is better than the Maginon, then I would have a place for these.



An advert appeared on my Facebook for the Lift 2 (probably targeted because of the of searches I do).

Advertising is meant to get your attention and sell products. I visited the web site, and copied the quote below for the original camera.

"Honestly, we built this camera because we got tired of waiting on somebody else to, and we set out to match our product quality with the highest level of customer service in the industry. From day one, we wanted to build a better alternative for folks who use trail cameras as tools instead of toys. We really believe that The Lift stands up to that challenge".

Reading the rest of the literature and watching the You tube video, it seemed more than advertising.

I did read the Trailcam pro review about the original cam http://www.trailcampro.com/collections/exodus-trail-cameras/products/exodus-lift?variant=18633050181

The detection doesn't look good in their test, but the new camera is supposed to be better.

Im not sure if the new model will be available in the U.K, but would be good to see what it is like.


Spypoint solar

My biggest issue (and expense) with cameras, has been batteries.

So when you see a model that has a built in solar panel, and claims to have unrivalled battery life, it gets your attention.

The first paragraph on their webpage “Never buy batteries again! The SPYPOINT SOLAR trail camera has a built-in solar panel & rechargeable battery.”.

I’ve read reviews and spoken to people who say the detection the recovery speed and video quality are excellent too.

The only negative I’ve read is that the night photographs aren’t the best.

They are expensive to start with, but if you add up how much you spend on batteries, that should easily be recovered.

This is the camera I want to try most of all.


Bolyguard BG 962 X-30

These are are well known brand, just not one that I am familiar with.

The shape of the case is different, but the specifications on the BG962 X30W, and BG962 K30W are amazing, ninety foot illumination stands out, and a a 14mp sensor. Most cameras seem to use 5mp sensors, then they are digitally enhanced to provide a higher rating, so the images on these should be better than most.

A lot of cameras are now going to 12v to enable better performance, these ones are managing it on 6v.


Bushnell E2 Essential 119836

This is now discontinued, it is being replaced by the E3. There are some very good deals for the older model. http://bushnell.eu/uk/produits/all/trail-cameras/trophy-cam-essential/119836/


I am familiar with the Bushnell cameras. This looks very similar to the Aggressor model that I was impressed with. It doesn't have as high specifications e.g. The video is 720p rather than 1080. That isn't a problem though. I've seen night time footage with these cameras, and even the most experienced people I know have commented on the video quality. They have also commented on the reliability, one said that "they seem to have gone back to basics with this model". It seems to have worked! The other good thing is that it is in a more affordable price bracket than many lesser cameras.

* The links are just examples of what I have looked at. There are many more you could explore. No endorsement is being given.

More information


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, especially when it’s cold! This isn't good. You often have footage that has wavy lines due to lack of power or worse still, no recordings.

Many manufacturers say not to use rechargeable batteries, as they don’t have enough power, so that’s not an option.

A lot of models now seem to be going to 12v rather than 6v. This may be good short term, but it hides the fact that they can’t get the efficiency sorted. You will be changing them less often, but using the same amount of batteries.

I like the idea of an external battery pack too. This is one Browning make. https://shop.nationalgamekeepers.org.uk/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=6

Lithium batteries cost more, but they perform to their full until they stop. Alkaline ones are cheaper, but you get a gradual deteriation. The camera will activate, but the images especially at night, are often poor. It’s a false economy, you often put up with it for another week, then if you get a good clip, wish you’d put in better batteries

All the extra features and the conditions are the things that use the power. Often to conserve the batteries, you have to reduce the length of time you record, turn the IR down or just take photos. It’s only when you do this you will get anywhere near the advertised battery life (which is done in test conditions, probably indoors).

I think to conserve power, the future will be, the the dynamic video feature of the Reconyx cameras, along with the solar panel on the Spypoint.

Camera failures

Cameras often fail, some weeks, especially in the cold, more fail than work.

It is mainly batteries or how the camera, or you manage them. I have also had card and the camera itself fail.

It’s part of the hobby. If you don’t want as many failures, you will pay three or four times the price. Most will look for s compromise though.


A lot of the cheaper cameras and some more expensive ones have poor detection. It’s not the end of the world, you just have to place the camera in a better position.

Look for a path or a point that the subject is likely to pass. It narrows the field of view down, but improves the chance of detection.

Night illumination

As with detection, not all cameras give great illumination. Some can’t cover the area it detects.

Like ones with poor detection, you can choose right spot. Narrow the angle down you are trying to record.

With our cameras, we try and aim at a bank, to give more light.

The best way to explain it is, if you drive your car up to a garage door at night, the light being emitted from the car and the light being bounced back creates a bright area. Now if you are pointing the other way, it’s just the light from the Car going out in a beam. A bank creates a similar effect (obviously not as bright).


The thing that held me back the most, was worrying about security.

I had my camera, and for the first two years, it didn’t go any further than the garden.

If you don’t use your camera then it’s not worth you getting one.

A lot of people will damage and take something, just because it’s there. You have to make it hard for them.

I couldn’t get a lock through my first camera, so I made something.

The newer ones had cases bought for them.

You can try and hide the camera, or move it about. If it is in a remote area, then they won’t be prepared to cut chains etc. They may go back, but that involves effort. If you move it regularly then it might not be as easy for them.

This post is by someone I know and follow. Despite all the protection, their camera was still taken

It was written while it was still raw.


All as I can say is use your instincts on placing it, and don’t make it easy for them.

Despite the worry, what you get back is far more.

SD cards

I haven’t had many issues with cards. I mainly use Sandisc SDHC, but have Kingston and Transend too.

So far, I have had one card failure, it took a few weeks to work it out though.

I learned early on to format the cards on the PC after downloading them. The only one I do differently is the Ltl Acorn, it seems to be more reliable when it is formatted in the camera.

I check them weekly or fortnightly, and have a mixture of 8 and 16gb cards. If they were to be left longer, then 32gb could be looked at. I have two cards for each camera, that way, I just switch them.

What would my ideal camera look like?

If money was no object, then I would buy a Reconyx XS8, 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.

Different people have different requirements and budgets. This would be mine.

My ideal camera would have the things I like about the Spypoint brand..build, quality, security features, fast trigger speed, recovery, simplicity and the good energy consumption, alonv with the panel of the Solar model.

It would have the excellent video capability of the Browning Spec Ops Extreme

The brilliant detection circuit of the Bushnell brand (along with the good price of the Bushnell E2 Essential).

It would have the reliability and back up of the Reconyx brand. Along with the brilliant dynamic video option.

Spypoint solar

This would be some camera!

What other features would be good on a camera?

There are lots. The camera could be Wifi compatible, and have features controlled from a mobile app, like many home security cameras.

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.

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 could have a motion detect alarm. If it is set, and someone takes it, then an alarm sounds.

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.

Some useful links

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 German site (I'm not sure the translation gets all the words right). I like how it looks at the makers of the cameras, and the sales tricks. https://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?depth=1&hl=en&nv=1&rurl=translate.google.com&sl=auto&sp=nmt4&tl=en&u=http://www.wildkamera-test.com/test-wild-vision-full-hd-5-0-wildkamera/967&usg=ALkJrhiaDBL35J37dGjJItwLIhTKokWPhA

Nhbs Ltd

Where we purchased most of our Bushnells from.

They have one of the biggest ranges of cameras I have seen. They sell or have sold most of the ones I have used, also the ones I would like to use.



Another good sales site. Very helpful and quick to reply. http://www.handykam.com/Trail-camera-and-camera-traps/View-all-products.html


The main UK importers and distributors Ltl Acorn camera’s. They have good reviews, and in my experience very helpful and quick to offer advice. A much better option than online auctions.


‪@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 ‬

Exodus outdoor gear

This is a site aimed st the US hunting market, but I like the blogs about the cameras. This one is regarding batteries, one of the main costs you will incur, and often the difference between getting good or bad clips.


My other pages

Two other pages I have done for the monitoring project, I am involved with. https://spark.adobe.com/page/Iac0Rv3FPR01B/


The YouTube channel of the monitoring project I am involved with (where I took the footage from). http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCW2TS9l7js6rQ1nCM148gdw

Wildlife Kate

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

I'd love to get footage like this!

* 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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