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The best trail camera in 2022: for wildlife photography and nature watching

Best trail camera - camera trap at the Land of the Leopard national park in the Russia.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The best trail camera, sometimes known as a camera trap, is invaluable for anyone looking to photograph wildlife or simply peek at the local animals visiting their patch. Using motion or heat detectors, this special type of camera can be placed in a natural environment and left to be triggered the moment an animal crosses nearby.

Trail cameras are the perfect way to capture and watch animals that are naturally cautious or skittish, making it difficult to get near enough even to use the best telephoto lenses (opens in new tab). Unlike the best cameras for wildlife (opens in new tab), they're designed to be left in a location and regularly monitored for signs of life. The best trail camera also lets you to capture images of nocturnal animals, or see how animals behave when there are no humans about, thanks to their infrared imaging capabilities that kick in during low light conditions.

The best trail cameras tend to be hardy and weatherproof, with a rugged build that can handle water, snowfall, and extreme temperatures. They're also camouflaged to fit in with their surroundings, and even if you don't want to shoot wildlife, they can also make good outdoor security cameras (opens in new tab).

A good trail camera can lie in wait for days or weeks until something comes by to get its attention. And because they don't have to be active all the time, the batteries usually last a long time. Some use rechargeable batteries, while others rely on trusty AAs. Others are even solar-powered (opens in new tab).

In this guide, we've picked the best trail cameras right now, including both budget buys and high-end models with the latest features, including some of the best cellular trail cameras (opens in new tab). If you're not sure what to look for, though, skip ahead to our section on how to choose the best trail camera (opens in new tab).

The best trail camera in 2022

(Image credit: Gavin Stoker/Digital Camera World)
The best trail camera overall

Specifications

Stills resolution (megapixels): 32MP
Video resolution: 4k at 30fps
Video length: up to 60 seconds
Data storage: Via SD or SDHC card, up to 32GB
Night vision: : Yes (up to 110ft)
Audio recording: Yes (with video)
LCD: : Yes
Power: 6x AA batteries

Reasons to buy

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Day and night sensors
+
No glow infrared lighting
+
4K video

Reasons to avoid

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No wireless capability 

We'll start with the best trail camera overall for most people. The clever touch here is the fact that it includes dual sensors, one for day and one for night. The day sensor prioritizes sharpness and vivid color, while the night sensor focuses on high-contrast clarity, promises clear images at distances of up to 110ft in the dark. 

This trail camera is built to survive inclement weather, and its 'No Glow' LED lights are just that, meaning that wildlife won't be put off by them. It can capture 4K video (or Full HD video at up to 60p), with audio too, and having 32MP at your disposal with a trigger time of 0.2 seconds pretty much seals the deal. In short, this is everything you need a trail camera to be. 

Read our full Bushnell Core DS-4K No Glow review (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: George Cairns)
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Record 4K clips and 30MP stills of wildlife both at night and in the day

Specifications

Stills resolution (megapixels): 30 MP
Video resolution: 4K with sound
Data storage: SD card
Night vision: Yes
Audio recording: Yes
LCD: : Yes
Power: 8x AA batteries

Reasons to buy

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Easy to set up and deploy
+
4K color and mono footage
+
30 MP stills
+
Records audio

Reasons to avoid

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Slow to trigger recording at night
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Expensive

The Spypoint Force-Pro is relatively expensive but it does enable you to capture great-looking footage at a whopping 4K resolution (or 30 MP stills). Its basic LCD menu is easy to use and you can set it up in minutes to record animal action all day and night. It lacks the solar panel of the similarly priced Solar Dark but the quality of its clips is superior to that trail camera.

As reflected in its price, the Spypoint Force-Pro is the most powerful Spypoint trail camera. This power is present in good quality 4K footage and 30 MP stills. On the downside, the monochrome LCD is fairly simplistic and you can’t view the SD card’s footage on the screen (like you can with the similarly priced Spypoint Solar-Dark’s color display). 

You also have to buy batteries for the Force-Pro (while the Solar-Dark can coast along on its built-in rechargeable battery which is topped up by a solar panel). However, the Force-Pro produces much better-looking footage than the Solar Dark (opens in new tab) so it gets an extra star and a much stronger recommendation.

Read our full Spypoint Force-Pro trail camera review (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: George Cairns / Digital Camera World)
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The best trail camera for a mid-range price

Specifications

Stills resolution (megapixels): 20MP
Video resolution: 1280x720 pixels
Video length: not given
Data storage: Via SD or SDHC card, up to 32GB
Night vision: Yes (up to 8oft)
Audio recording: Yes
LCD: : Yes
Power: 8x AA batteries

Reasons to buy

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Inexpensive all rounder
+
Suitable for beginners and beyond

Reasons to avoid

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Video not Full HD 
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20MP shots generated from 3MP sensor

Looking for a mid-priced trail camera? Here's our top recommendation. For a quite affordable price, you get a built-in 20-megapixel camera and the ability to illuminate night-time subjects without unduly distracting them – thanks to what are described as 48 ‘super low glow’ LEDs. 

Video is a high definition 1280x720 pixels rather than Full HD, while the motion activated sensor can register subjects up to 80ft away. And a certain amount of flexibility is offered via the addition of a time-lapse recording mode.

(Image credit: Stealth Cam)
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4. Stealth Cam G42NG

The best trail camera for beginners

Specifications

Stills resolution (megapixels): 10MP
Video resolution: 1280x720 pixels
Video length: Up to 180 seconds (up to 30 secs with night vision)
Data storage: Via SD or SDHC card, up to 32GB
Night vision: Yes, via infrared
Audio recording: Yes
LCD: : Yes
Power: 8x AA batteries

Reasons to buy

+
External power jack 
+
External LCD status display

Reasons to avoid

-
Slower response time 
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‘Just’ HD quality video

If you're getting started with trail cameras, you'll love this affordable entry-level model from US brand Stealth Cam. It offers a 10 megapixel stills option – you can also opt for 8MP, 4MP or 2MP shots from the unit – plus HD quality video with between and five and 180 seconds of audio. 

With a respectable trigger response time of 0.5 seconds, there is a backlit LCD for making selections from the camera’s menu, plus a 16:9 image ratio. As with competitors, ‘no glo’ (hence the ‘NG’ suffix) infrared flash can illuminate subjects up to 100ft away, while this camera purports to offer advanced blur reduction. 

Usefully, there is an external power jack for operation via a 12v battery; otherwise power comes courtesy of 8x AAs. Durable weather proofed housing is a must, and thankfully included here.

Spypoint LINK-MICRO-LTE, one of the trail cameras

(Image credit: Spypoint)
Simple trail camera that sends stills to your phone

Specifications

Stills resolution (megapixels): 10MP
Video resolution: None
Video length: n/a
Data storage: microSD, up to 32GB
Night vision: : No
Audio recording: No
LCD: : No
Power: 8x AA batteries

Reasons to buy

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Very affordable
+
Fast 0.5sec trigger speed

Reasons to avoid

-
No video recording
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No night vision

The little Spypoint LINK-MICRO-LTE is a much simpler proposition than many of the other trail cameras on this list. It doesn't shoot video for example, just 10MP stills, though it can do so with an impressive trigger time of 0.5 seconds. You can also set the camera to trigger multiple photos once its infrared system detects motion, allowing you to get a series of images in quick succession. 

In an unusual touch, the Spypoint LINK-MICRO-LTE also comes packaged with a preactivated SIM card that can transfer photos straight from the camera to your phone. A little odd perhaps, but a nice addition. It's fully controllable via the Spypoint apps too, letting you properly incorporate your smartphone into your workflow. 

(Image credit: Spypoint)
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The best cellular trail camera

Specifications

Stills resolution (megapixels): 12MP
Video resolution: 1280x720 pixels
Video length: 0-90 seconds
Data storage: Via SD or SDHC card, up to 32GB
Night vision: Yes, via low-glow LEDs
Audio recording: Yes
LCD: : 2-inch color LCD
Power: Solar, rechargeable lithium ion or 8x AA batteries

Reasons to buy

+
Sends images over 4G
+
Solar powered 
+
SD card storage

Reasons to avoid

-
Cellular service costs monthly
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Harder to find in UK

Standard trail cameras are great if you can monitor things in your back garden – or can check the recorded footage at regular intervals. But what if you want to put a camera somewhere more remote – where Wi-Fi coverage is not sufficient? 

The answer is a trail camera with cellular capability, which will beam footage to you, and give you notifications to your camera phone (opens in new tab), tablet (opens in new tab) or laptop (opens in new tab) wherever you are. The Skypoint Link-S has solar-powered independence, and is usually supplied with a pre-activated SIM card to get you going with your remote wildlife watching – but do check the running costs. 

In the States, you can find different versions for use with Verizon or AT&T, so check which gives the best cellular coverage at your location. Outside of the USA it's getting a little harder to find, but keep an eye on second-hand sites in case you can snap up a bargain. 

(Image credit: George Cairns / Digital Camera World)
Capture clips and stills of wildlife day and night without needing to buy batteries

Specifications

Dimensions: 18 x 9.6 x 8 cm
Screen: 2” LCD
External memory: SD card
Photo Resolution: 12 MP
Max video resolution: HD 1080p
Motion sensor: Infrared
Detection range: 34 m
Trigger speed: 0.07 sec
Illumination range: 24 m

Reasons to buy

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Solar power charges internal battery
+
Shoots both HD video and 12MP stills
+
View footage via built-in color LCD

Reasons to avoid

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Close subjects can be over-exposed
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Motion blur on low-light photos
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Exposure can fluctuate during clip

The biggest strength of the Spypoint Solar Dark trail camera biggest is the fact that it has an internal battery that can be topped up by a solar panel. This saves the expense and time of buying and charging batteries, and gives you a low maintenance camera that will shoot for nights on end – something that's helped by the 42 LEDS on either side of the lens that illuminate your subject during night shoots.

It is a relatively expensive trail camera because of the solar element, and the cost of the camera doesn’t necessarily reflect the quality of the footage that it produces. If power isn't so important to you, you might find the cheaper Spypoint Force-20 to be a more sensible option. 

(Image credit: Bushnell)
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8. Bushnell Trophy Camera Essential E3

Another great mid-range option

Specifications

Stills resolution (megapixels): 16MP
Video resolution: 1280x720 pixels
Video length: up to 60 seconds
Data storage: Via SD or SDHC card, up to 32GB
Night vision: : Yes, including Night Vision flash (12 to 30m range)
Audio recording: Yes
LCD: : Yes, with B&W text display
Power: 8x AA batteries

Reasons to buy

+
30m (100ft) detection distance, 
+
Operates in -20°C to 60°C

Reasons to avoid

-
No wireless capability 
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No geo-tagging of images 

If you’re dipping a toe into the world of trail cameras here is an affordable and reasonably featured entry point that takes up to three still images when triggered, with intervals adjustable between one second and 60 minutes, or alternatively between five seconds or a minute of HD quality video. 

Powered by eight regular AAs, rather than rechargeable lithium battery or solar power, its manufacturer nevertheless claims these could last up to 12 months, so you won’t have to keep popping back to change them. 

Another bonus is that its motion-activated sensor can spot subjects up to 100 feet away, its operation can be set to 24 hours or day or night only, it has an infrared flash, the 16-megapixel resolution CMOS sensor provided is good enough to do the job and it comes with a one year warranty.

(Image credit: Bushnell)
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9. Bushnell CelluCORE 20

The best value cellular trail camera

Specifications

Stills resolution (megapixels): 20MP
Video resolution: 1080p, 1920 x 1080 pixels
Video length: 30 secs
Data storage: Via SD or SDHC card, up to 32GB
Night vision: Yes, via infrared
Audio recording: Yes
LCD: No, mono settings display only
Power: 12 x AA
Cellular technology: LTE 4G (e.g. US, UK)
Cellular plans: AT&T, Verizon, no-SIM
Size: 112 x 176 x 98 mm

Reasons to buy

+
Relatively high resolution 
+
Shoots HD video clips
+
20MP sensor

Reasons to avoid

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Unsubtle design

The Cellucore 20 is a popular product from hunting supply firm Bushnell and it’s priced with accessibility in mind. Despite that, the firm seem to have snuck in a number of good features, including a 20MP sensor and a well-sealed battery tray. The 25m / 80’ night range from low-glow LEDs is as good as most for the money. We also like that it’s compatible with the firm’s trail camera solar panel (though it costs the same again), and we did appreciate that the first 30 days were cost-free for data; a nice touch.

How to choose the best trail camera

Just like regular cameras, trail cameras with higher megapixel counts will produce images of greater quality and detail. But other specs you want to look out for include the focal length of the lens, as this dictates the field of view. The wider the angle, the more of a scene you'll capture, but this will mean an animal will have to get closer to make for a useable picture. 

Another important factor is the trigger time; how fast after detecting something will a trail camera capture an image? With how quickly wildlife moves, every millisecond really does count. It definitely needs to be less than a second, otherwise all you'll end up with are images of animals' back feet disappearing from the image.

Some trail cameras also have infrared flash, which illuminate scenes on a wavelength that wildlife won't notice. If you're after nocturnal subjects, this is definitely worth getting.

Many trail cam models can be bought in multi-packs – allowing you to buy two, four, or more trail cameras together at a discount – so that you can monitor several locations simultaneously.

If you're interested in watching wildlife, you might also like the best portable hides for wildlife photography (opens in new tab), plus the best binoculars (opens in new tab) for spotting faraway subjects. If you need to see at night, check out the best night vision goggles (opens in new tab).

Gavin has over 30 year experience of writing about photography and television. He is currently the editor of British Photographic Industry News, and previously served as editor of Which Digital Camera and deputy editor of Total Digital Photography


He has also written for a wide range of publications including T3, BBC Focus, Empire, NME, Radio Times, MacWorld, Computer Active, What Digital Camera and Rough Guide books.


With his wealth of knowledge he is well placed to recognise great camera deals and recommend the best products in Digital Camera World’s buying guides. He also writes on a number of specialist subjects including binoculars and monoculars, spotting scopes, microscopes, trail cameras, action cameras, body cameras, filters, cameras straps and more. 

With contributions from