6 Best Motion Activated Trail Cameras in 2021
Motion activated trail cameras are sometimes known by other names, like remote cameras, or game cameras.
All cameras in this category fit under the same principle: they can operate in a position, or at a time when the photographer isn’t there to be able to take the shot themselves. Because of this, pretty much all trail cameras are motion activated!
Whether they’re being used by photographers at a sporting event to capture a split-second moment from multiple angles, or in your backyard to record the wildlife that passes through at night, trail cameras need to be motion activated. But which is the best motion-activated trail camera?
In a hurry? Here’s the test winner after 13 hours of research:
And here’s an overview of the best motion activated trail cameras on the market today:
There are many advantages to using motion-activated trail cameras. Up until the invention of the trail camera, for example, hunters had to do pretty much all of their scouting on foot. They had to study the signs and guess the whereabouts of the game. Reading the signs is still something we would recommend to any outdoor enthusiast. It’s imperative that, especially in really remote areas, you know some of the basics about signs of wild animals, to give you the right survival skills.
But although you should really know the basics, now it’s no longer necessary for you to search for hours for game, or traverse a whole area mapping wildlife’s whereabouts with wild game innovations. Motion-activated cameras made the whole game a lot easier. These cameras make it easy: all you need to do now is (if you’re curious whether or not animals are using a certain area, or you want details about animals that you know to be using a certain area) hang up the camera and see what images it captures. Some trail cameras even have cellular connectivity, and can conveniently send images and videos directly to your smartphone or another device.
The trick to setting up motion-activated cameras for hunting, or taking pictures of wild animals in their natural habitat, is to post the camera in places where you suspect animals will pass within close range of the trigger and lens, such as heavily used game trails, water sources, and natural funnels formed by topographic features. You can even track specific animals by calculating what their likely movements are. For example, by positioning the camera near an old boar hog’s wallow, a whitetail buck scrape, or a carcass killed by a predator.
Hunting is not the be-all and end-all: there are many other usages for a motion-activated trail camera. One of the big ones is home security. If you go for a trail camera that has a really fast trigger speed, you can catch any interlopers on your land, almost in real-time! Or why not position a trail camera in your garden or on your favorite hike, to find out which animals pass by there, and how they act when no-one seems to be watching? The best motion-activated trail cameras are the ones that perfectly fit your unique needs. Read on to find which one is right for you.
Best Motion Activated Trail Camera – Overview
1. TOGUARD WiFi Trail Camera 20MP
This camera from Toguard is one of the best when it comes to motion-activated cameras. And by this, we mean that the trigger speed on this model is really fast, at only 0.3 seconds, for optimum motion detection. With 3 sensors, once the camera has detected a movement, it will be triggered instantly in 0.3 seconds without delay, so that you will never miss a shot. This is especially useful for home security purposes, or if you’re surveying a species which are fast movers, meaning the subject of your image can’t escape the shot before it’s been captured.
Other benefits to this model include that it’s IP66 waterproof, and made from really hardy and durable materials, meaning you can just put it up and not have to worry about it for months. This camera also has infrared flash, and 36pc 850nm infrared LEDs with an impressive range of 20 meters. This trail camera can capture 20MP crystal clear images and a whopping 1296P video with a super clear sound recording each time motion is detected.
- Fast trigger speed of 0.3 seconds
- IP66 waterproof
- 36pc 850nm infrared LEDs with an impressive range of 20 meters
- 20MP crystal clear images
- 1296P video with super clear sound recording
- Wifi connectivity and connected app unreliable
- Memory card is difficult to remove
2. Campark Trail Camera Waterproof Game Hunting Scouting Cam
With an impressive trigger distance of 20 meters and a super-fast trigger speed of 0.3 seconds, this trail cam will capture images of wildlife just as quickly, and from the same distance, as the last model. But it’s a bit cheaper. So where do you lose out? The main difference between these two cameras is in the resolution of the images produced. This model of camera records images using 14 megapixels, whereas some other models use 20. Unless you’re a wildlife photographer or your number one criteria is crystal clear images, you might think the cheaper price is worth this small sacrifice.
When it comes to motion-activated cameras, another variable you need to consider is the angle of the lens. Although it’s really useful to have hands-off motion-activated triggers, what’s the use if the area under surveillance itself is too small? Some cameras even have a 360-degree lens, so no matter where the animal is moving around the camera, you’re almost guaranteed to get a shot. This camera, however, has a 120-degree lens, which is perfectly suitable for most usages, especially if you plan on attaching your trail camera to a tree.
- 14MP clear image
- 1080p HD Sharper Video Resolution
- 120-degree lens
- Super-fast trigger speed of 0.3 seconds, multi-shot
- Some other models produce images with higher resolution
- Night images don’t work as effectively past 20 feet
3. Foxelli Trail Camera
- HIGH RESOLUTION PHOTO & VIDEO: Provides excellent 14MP, sharp and vibrant photos, as well as 1080P Full HD clear videos with sound up to 10 minutes long. 120-degree wide angle lens offers huge...
Whether using the Foxelli as a hunting camera, for monitoring wildlife, home security or solving the mystery of what is digging up your yard, this camera won’t miss a thing! Similarly to the last model, this camera has a 120-degree wide-angle lens for an extensive field of view. It also boasts a 65-foot motion-activated detection range and superfast 0.5 second trigger time. Although this is still a fast trigger time, some other models have a 0.3 second trigger time, or lower. It might be that you’re looking for the best there is in terms of trigger time, and more power to you. But we think that a fraction of a second won’t make much of a difference to the performance of the camera, you’ll still be able to capture all the shots you need.
Another benefit of this model is the extra-long battery life which will last up to 8 months in standby mode. This is an especially useful feature in motion-activated cameras, as as we have mentioned, the best thing about them is that they’re remote! You don’t want to be going back to the camera regularly to change the batteries or check it’s performance. That’s why a reliable camera like this one is a good shout. This camera is also password protected to assure your images stay safe, a feature which makes it good for home security.
- 0.5 second trigger time
- 120-degree wide-angle lens
- 65-foot motion-activated detection range
- Extra-long battery life which will last up to 8 monthson AA batteries
- Some cameras struggle to playback on video mode
- Picture quality at night is variable
4. TOGUARD Trail Camera 20MP 1080P Game Cameras with Night Vision
One unique feature of the ToGuard camera is the time-lapse function. This means that the camera will automatically take pictures in every preset time intervals whether the glow IR sensor detects motion or not. Although we are reviewing motion-activated trail cameras, this can also be another useful feature on top of motion-activated sensors, especially for wildlife monitoring. It also boasts 3 passive infrared sensors (PIR sensors) and IR LEDs whose design can save more battery power, a stand out feature. These sensors also increase sensitivity, delivering an impressive trigger time of 0.3 seconds, up to a distance of about 20 meters.
This camera is top of the range when it comes to image quality. Unlike some other 14MP options, this 20MP camera will capture crystal clear images and 1080P resolution pictures. This model also boasts really excellent nighttime photography. With its super infrared night-time vision, and 42 low glow infrared LEDs, special moments and movements during the night will never be missed. Compared to the other models this camera also has a slightly higher sensor detecting and camera recording angle: 130 degrees.
- 3 passive infrared sensors (PIR) whose design can save more battery power
- 20 megapixel
- 130-degree recording and sensor detecting angle
- 42 low glow infrared LEDs
- Impressive trigger time of 0.3 seconds
- Can record images and videos simultaneously
- Images have a “fish-eye” appearance
- Photos are of a variable resolution
5. Usogood Trail Game Camera with 32GB Memory Card
- TRAIL CAMERA WITH FREE 32GB MEMORY CARD: We prepared a 32GB micro sd card for this game camera. Recordings can be replayed in the 2.4 inches LCD color screen.
Another similar model of motion-activated trail cameras is this one by Usogood. This trail camera captures 20-megapixel crystal clear images and full cam HD 1080P videos, providing more high-quality details than some other lower-spec models. This motion-activated trail camera also boasts advanced night vision with ultra-sensitive light sensors, producing black and white images and videos at night. This is an especially useful feature for wildlife monitoring, as often animals are most active at night, especially in areas which are trafficked during the day by humans.
Similarly to the other models, this camera has a 120° detecting range, providing you with an excellent broader view. One unique feature of this model is that it comes with a 32GB micro SD card, which is more than enough storage space to store multiple clear wildlife images. Another unique feature is the lighting quick trigger speed of this model. At only 0.2 seconds, this trigger speed is one of the best on the market, making this top of the range when it comes to fast motion-activated cameras.
- HD 1080P videos
- 120° detecting range
- Captures 20-megapixel quality images
- 0.2-second trigger
- 32GB micro SD card included
- Nighttime videos are occasionally disappointing
- Difficult to set up
6. Campark T70 Trail Game Camera
If you liked the spec of the last model, but you’re looking for more accurate night time videos and images, then this model by Campark could be for you. With a fully automatic IR filter and 44pcs, infrared LED flash lights, and a long flash range, Campark T70 wildlife camera can easily record the natural behaviors of animals at night, with no beautiful or interesting moments missed. The 940nm no glow infrared technology brings a clear view of passing animals in total darkness, without letting them realize they’re being recorded. This is also a fantastic feature for a home security camera, as interlopers on your grounds won’t see the light reflecting from the camera.
With 14 megapixels, 1080 HD video, and a 20 meter and 0.5-second trigger, this camera is a reliable trail cam, without all the bells and whistles. It has a long battery life and is made from durable, waterproof and weatherproof materials, meaning you can keep it out in position for a long time, and it will wear any weather conditions that nature throws at it.
- Superior nighttime filming
- Automatic IR filter and 44pcs infrared flash LED lights
- 1080 HD video
- 20-meter motion trigger
- 14 megapixels
- 0.5-second trigger
7. Bushnell Trophy Cam Trail Camera
If you’re willing to splash a little more cash, and you’re looking for a top of the range trail camera from a trusted brand, then this camera from Bushnell could be right up your alley. In terms of motion-activated cams, this is one of the fastest there is. It has a lightning-fast motion sensor with a 0.2 trigger speed, and a 0.5-second recovery rate, meaning you can survey an area basically in real-time. One thing that could put you off this camera potentially, is its appearance. It boasts up to 40MB/s write speeds for faster shot-to-shot performance and up to 90 MB/s read speeds for faster transfer. It also has a high-performance SD card with both video speed Class (V30) and UHS speed Class 3 (U3) ratings for capturing 4K UHD and full HD video, included in the price.
Where most of the other cameras we have reviewed have been in a camo print or bark appearance to perfectly merge with the natural environment, this camera is a metallic grey-brown. This could potentially fit your needs well if you’re planning on using a trail camera for home surveillance purposes, for example. We would also recommend this option for wildlife photographers or enthusiasts, especially with the burst mode and time-lapse mode. It’s ideal for DSLR and interchangeable-lens cameras and high-performance camcorders, meaning it could make a great addition to your photography tech.
- 40MB/s write speeds for faster shot-to-shot performance
- Lightning-fast 0.2 trigger speed
- Includes high-performance SD card
- Ideal for wildlife photographers
- LCD screen
- High definition photos and video quality
- Metallic brown color, potentially not good for camouflage in a natural environment
- Sometimes date and time stamp feature defaults
Our winner for the best motion-activated trail camera is the Bushnell Trophy Cam. But when it comes to the best motion-activated trail camera on Amazon, the competition is tight. Many models boast a 0.5 second trigger speed, or even lower, which is at the height of motion-activated photography technology. The camera from Bushnell is the best trail camera in our opinion, because of the quality and longevity of the technology.
For example, with 40MB/s write speeds for faster shot-to-shot performance, and up to 90 MB/s read speeds for faster transfer, this camera will withstand heavy usage, and will be fully up to any task you need it for: whether it be home security, wildlife monitoring or hunting. Because the technology of this camera is so advanced and fast, it’s likely to be reliable enough to last you for years. And this, as we mentioned previously, is the real joy of a motion-activated camera. You can leave it set up in a location, and as long as you’ve invested in a quality product like this one, you can leave it for months or even years, and let the images roll in.
So there we have it, our top picks of trail camera reviews. Most trail cameras really are motion-activated, but some of them are better at it than others, as we have seen! Some trail cameras are motion activated in about 0.7 seconds, and some in as little as 0.2 seconds! The difference of 0.5 seconds might sound insignificant, but depending on your purpose it could be vital. If you’re observing a rare species of wild animal, for example, you don’t want to miss even a millisecond in capturing their movements. So make sure you never miss out on the action, with these reviews of the best motion-activated trail cameras!
Bonus tip: Watch this video for some useful tips on operating a trail camera!