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Advice Trail cameras and camera traps


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Trail cameras are the most amazing camera technology of recent times. Most cameras require a human to operate it or mains power to power it. However, trail cameras are rugged, waterproof, self powered, self operated and can record video or photos, night or day onto internal memory.

They can be strapped to a tree or post and record every action 24/7 often for many weeks at a time. They are becoming very popular of recent times with many applications.

Trail camera
Trail camera filming trail

Trail camera
Trail camera or camera trap
strapped to a tree

Trail cameras or camera traps?
Trail cameras, camera traps, remote cameras, digital scouting cameras as they are known, are being used by everyone from wildlife filmers, researchers, hunters to security experts. High quality, low priced technology has allowed us all to get a window into a secret worlds.

What do they look like?
Trail cameras usually consist of a small, camouflaged and waterproofed box with a lens. Works in a similar principle to a digital camera, but with added features like motion detection, night-vision, timed recording. All the controls are hidden inside the waterproof box and securely closed with large clips. Normally they run on an internal battery and the content is written to a removable memory card.

How do they work?
The main principle of a trail camera or camera trap is that it can be placed in a remote location and set to record when there is motion. You can then come back and review what has recorded at a later date. All you do is open the trail camera, set the controls with the buttons inside, close the box and strap it to a tree. Most trail cameras are really easy to set up. The main controls are:
  • Type of recording – Movies or stills
    Most trail cameras have the option to record high quality video or stills. These all normally have sub settings for size and quality which can be configured to get te best results. Movies often use a lot more memory than stills.
  • Length, size or quality of recording
    Depending if you choose to record a movie or stills, you will have further options: Movies – Size, quality and duration. Stills – Size and quality
  • Sensitivity
    Built into most cameras is motion detection sensor. The sensitivity can be adjusted depending on what you are trying to film and the location. Sometimes, there is a lot of movement ie bushes swaying in the wind. You can set the sensitivity to ignore casual movement and only record when a large object passes by.  

trail camera open

Inside trail cameras

When the trail camera is set up, all you do is leave it and pop back when you want too. Most trail cameras work night and day, constantly sensing any movement. During night-time, some camera uses a flash to illuminate the area. However, most use infra-red to see in the dark and not disturb the subject.  Whenever there is movement, depending on the settings, the camera then records any action straight to the memory card. Some cameras have very fast reaction times however some camera systems are based on time lapse video rather than movement.

Types of trail cameras
There are many types of trail cameras with various features. The big differences are digital and film where data is either collected on card digitally or on 35mm film. IR nightvision or flash nigh time picture. Silent or with audio for that extra dimension. From all the options, most opt for 2MP trail camera or above with  IR night vision.

A brief history
Ever since cameras were invented, pioneering photographers have looked at ways to photograph when they are not there. In 1906 the first recorded trip camera was used. This is where a camera was connected to a trip line. When an animal walked through the trip line a photo would be taken without a photographer being there. Since then, the principle has been the same but the technology and price has allowed camera traps to become smaller, more advanced and more accessible for all.

First photograph

National Geographic first recored picture

Camera traps started being used in major research

BBC Footage using different camera traps

Many uses for this handy gadget
Trail cameras are predominately used to watch and track wildlife. They are perfect to place in a remote location and see what wildlife is around. It is surprising what you will see and how much wildlife is around us. In recent years, cameras traps have been used to track rare breeds of animals in some of the remotest locations. Recently, Gordon Buchanan and researchers used camera traps to track rare tigers buried deep in the Bhutan mountains in ‘Lost Land of the Tiger’ This is a long line in ongoing research and conservation throughout the world.
Trail cameras are also used for security purposes too. A perfect device for looking after

  • Property surveillance – Building camera, garden camera, garage camera
  • Land surveillance – Fly tipping camera, trespass camera
  • Domestic surveillance – Neighbour camera, vandalism camera
  • Wildlife crime – Animal cameras, poaching cameras, animal abuse
  • Livestock surveillance – Theft and welfare
  • Industrial and machinery surveillance

Trail cameras are a perfect gift for all.
Imagine the delight of setting up your trail camera and popping back to see what you have recorded the next day. They are very easy to use and learn which make them a perfect gift for young and old. At handykam, we extensively test trail cameras, camera traps and remote cameras and offer a range of 2m trail cameras, 5m trail cameras, remote bird cams, plant cameras and time lapse cameras.
More info
Trail cameras – Wiki information
How to use a trail camera – Ehow information

More handykam products
2mb trail camera or camera trap
5mb trail camera or camera trap
Time lapse plant camera or development camera