Last updated: August 9, 2021

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Wildlife cameras are a special type of photo/video camera and offer a wide range of applications. A wildlife camera is basically used to film or record animals in the forest or similar. Compared to normal cameras, the animal camera must therefore offer special features.

Thanks to the information we have summarised in our 2021 animal camera test, we want to help you find the perfect animal camera for you. We have taken a close look at various wildlife cameras and compiled the most important facts for you. Enjoy reading.




Summary

  • Wildlife cameras record animals at night and during the day without disturbing them. Nowadays they are also used for your own protection by monitoring your house and yard. Uninvited guests no longer stand a chance.
  • Due to the fact that the wildlife cameras are only activated when a living creature is in the detection range of the photo trap, they can operate for several weeks or months with only one set of batteries.
  • Usually, a wildlife camera has a night recording function so that recordings can be made even in the dark. Infrared LEDs that are barely visible or even invisible to living creatures provide illumination for the images.

The Best Wildlife Camera: Our Choices

Buying and evaluation criteria for wildlife cameras

Wildlife cameras are becoming more and more attractive, not only to hunters, but especially to private individuals. They are ideal for observing objects, gardens, storage rooms and garages, but wildlife cameras can also be used indoors.

The most important criteria when choosing a wildlife camera are:

Below we have described the most important criteria in more detail.

Image and video resolution

Since wildlife cameras are also in their places in the evening and at night when it is dark, you should pay particular attention to the image resolution when buying one. As a rule, 3 megapixels (MP) are sufficient to get good image quality. Most wildlife cameras have this resolution, but there are also models with a higher image quality.

Some wildlife cameras have a resolution of 5, 8, 12 and even 16 MP. To choose the right image resolution, you should be clear about what you want to do with the camera. For example, to observe animals, a camera with 3 MP is perfectly adequate.

Beware of the sales slogan "the more megapixels, the higher the image quality", a camera with 12 MP, for example, is recommended. But it is no proof of extra sharp pictures.

The reason is that wildlife cameras often take pictures with a resolution of 3 or 5 MP and through "interpolation" the picture is then extrapolated to 12 MP. This means that additional sub-pixels are calculated from the already existing pixels and added to the image.

Therefore, when buying a wildlife camera, you should pay attention and question whether the resolution is a value after interpolation or whether the images are actually taken with 3 or 5 MP.

Shutter speed

In addition to the resolution of the images, you should also find out exactly how fast the shutter releases when buying your wildlife camera. The shutter speed is the time it takes for a camera to detect motion and start taking pictures.

In contrast to the image resolution, the shutter speed cannot be set on the camera, but is predefined by the manufacturer. It is usually very low: on some models it is just under 1, on other wildlife cameras it is just over 1 second, which is a very good value.

If you are about to buy a wildlife camera, you will also notice that there are cameras with a value below 1 second. The reason for this is that these wildlife cameras have been tested under "ideal conditions" and, depending on the weather, there may of course be limitations to the shutter speed.

The more you work with your wildlife camera, the more you will see that there is a certain temperature range for wildlife cameras. Usually this temperature range is between -20 to +50 degrees Celsius.

If this temperature is exceeded or not reached, it can have an impact not only on the image resolution, but also on the shutter speed.

Range

The range, i.e. the distance at which the animal camera records, depends on the daylight and the quality of the components installed. In daylight or sunshine, the range is naturally very high. At night, the range becomes much shorter.

The range of wildlife cameras varies according to manufacturer: while some wildlife cameras fail at over 10 metres, others manage to take pictures up to over 50 metres. As a rule, a range of 15 metres is a satisfactory value.

The range figure given by the manufacturers is a maximum value: 50 metres is not unrealistic, but the conditions for this must be ideal: daylight, lots of sun and the best possible positioning of the camera.

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a wildlife camera

Before you buy a wildlife camera, you should consider certain issues that can help you make your choice. In the following, we have compiled some helpful information for you.

What is a wildlife camera?

A wildlife camera is a camera designed to automatically take pictures of living creatures that appear in the camera's field of view. In most cases, it is robust, weatherproof and battery-operated.

As soon as something (e.g. a living creature) moves into the detection range of the animal camera or stays there, the camera's motion detector starts the recording function.

Tierkamera

Alone in the forest, but always very diligent: as soon as the motion detector detects game or birds or any movement, the photo is taken with the wildlife camera. (Image source: HarryStueber / Pixabay)

The wildlife camera then takes one or more pictures (and/or videos) that are stored on a memory card.

Due to the fact that wildlife cameras are only activated when a living creature is within the detection range of the photo trap, they can run for several weeks or months on just one set of batteries.

For this reason, wildlife cameras are also installed in remote or hard-to-reach places without an external power supply.

How does a wildlife camera work?

Most of the time the wildlife camera is in standby mode. The batteries keep the motion sensor permanently in monitoring mode, so that the recording unit of the wildlife camera is activated as soon as the motion sensor detects activity.

Only then does the recording take place: the images are stored on the built-in memory card. As soon as the motion sensor does not register any movement for a certain time, the recording is stopped and the camera is switched back to standby mode.

This is the only way a wildlife camera can last for several weeks or even months on a single set of batteries, because extremely little energy is needed thanks to modern infrared sensors.

What is special about a wildlife camera and what advantages does it offer?

The main task of a wildlife camera is basically to record animals in the forest or similar. To fulfil this purpose - compared to normal cameras - the wildlife camera must offer special features.

It must have a night vision function, be made of weather-resistant material, look inconspicuous, have a wide field of view and a long battery life.

Tierkamera

As soon as the sensor senses the slightest movement, the photo is taken. (Image source: Jonah De Oliveira / unsplash)

What are the advantages of a wildlife camera? What actually speaks in favour of it?

Wildlife cameras are versatile, are very robust and take interesting pictures. The typical colours camouflage them well and they are as good as invisible. From a conservation point of view, they do not directly interfere with the natural environment of wild animals.

What types of wildlife cameras are there?

In the following, we would like to show you different types of wildlife cameras, as well as their advantages and disadvantages.

Wildlife camera with WLAN

WLAN wildlife cameras are also called IP cameras or network cameras. They use wireless networks. The choice ranges from outdoor camera, pan-tilt camera or mini camera. WLAN wildlife cameras are also partly suitable for 24-hour recording.

Advantages
  • Transmission via wireless networks
  • Do not require a SIM card
  • Large selection of cameras
Disadvantages
  • Lack of data security

Data security seems to be problematic, as well as restrictions on usability: the data from a WLAN camera can be snatched during transmission and interruptions are quite possible due to jamming.

Wildlife camera with SIM card

A wildlife camera with SIM card has features that are a real boon for all wildlife camera users. These wildlife cameras work together with a SIM card and this allows the pictures or videos to be transferred directly to the mobile phone or computer. In case of burglary attempts, for example, the users of such a wildlife camera can benefit because they can react quickly.

Advantages
  • Transmission directly to the smartphone
  • Higher security
  • Control from a distance
Disadvantages
  • Higher configuration effort

You can also place a wildlife camera with SIM card at remote locations and send it commands via SMS.

Who is the wildlife camera suitable for?

The range of photo cameras is now huge. You can find cameras that suit your individual needs in all photo shops and of course online.

A special type of camera is the wildlife camera, which is mainly used by hunters, but not only. Foresters, scientists, nature enthusiasts and photographers also use wildlife cameras.

Today, private households also belong to the large group of buyers. In times when burglaries have continued to rise, the use of the wildlife camera is very popular with this target group, as many householders want to know what is happening in front of and around their house.

How much does a wildlife camera cost?

Like regular cameras, wildlife cameras come in different price ranges. "Entry-level" wildlife cameras are available from as little as £40 but you can't expect many extra features. This price range is quite sufficient for simple control and protection of your own house, garden or forest cabin.

Depending on the price range, you can expect different functions.

In the upper price range, amounts in the three-digit range are demanded. The middle class of wildlife cameras is between 80 £ and 250 £.

Here the range goes from functional all-rounders to specialised cameras. You can't go wrong with a wildlife camera in this price range.

From 250 £ we find the "professional wildlife cameras", which differ from the cheaper wildlife cameras mainly in features and large image capture angle. With products from this price segment you get very sharp images, whether by day or night. No wishes are left unfulfilled.

What alternatives are there to a wildlife camera?

We have looked for alternatives to the wildlife camera and have summarised some important points in the following table:

Alternative Features
Digital camera Can already take good photos but you can't place them in the forest and leave them outside in wind and weather.
Actioncam These devices are waterproof but cannot take high-quality pictures.
Night vision devices Used by the police and army but cannot take pictures.

Based on this information, we can say that there is no real alternative to the wildlife camera.

How weatherproof are the wildlife cameras?

The wildlife cameras are mainly built for outdoor use and therefore it is very important that the housing is robust and weatherproof. Under no circumstances should water or dirt get into the housing: For this, the wildlife camera needs a robust and weatherproof housing.

All wildlife cameras are actually built to be wind- and weatherproof. The animal camera with this robust construction is therefore well equipped against various weather influences. As is always the case with technical devices, there are differences in quality both among the individual models and among the manufacturers.

For this reason, it is very important to read the manufacturer's specifications carefully. In addition, before you buy your wildlife camera, we advise you to consider the customer reviews about the product on the internet.

How do I clean and care for my wildlife camera?

Cleaning a wildlife camera is usually not very complicated. The first thing to do is to disconnect the camera from the power supply. If the wildlife camera has been in use for a long time, it is recommended to let the device cool down completely before you start cleaning it.

To remove dirt from the housing of the wildlife camera, it is best to use a slightly damp cloth. Most wildlife cameras are weatherproof but you should be very careful that no water gets inside: this could cause a short circuit and permanently damage your wildlife camera.

For this reason, we recommend that you never put your wildlife camera under water - not even under running water.

You should make sure that dirt is removed, especially from the lens of your wildlife camera, so that the quality of the photos remains unchanged.

We do not recommend using aggressive cleaning agents, metal or nylon brushes, or sharp objects (knives or spatulas), because the housing of your wildlife camera could be scratched and, in the worst case, the life of the device could be significantly shortened.

Conclusion

Wildlife cameras are an affordable way to monitor animals and/or places where there is no electricity or Wi-Fi available. If monitoring is the most important function of your wildlife camera, then it should have a mobile phone module to be able to notify the user in case of an alarm.

The operation of a wildlife camera is generally uncomplicated. However, you should take enough time to choose the settings and position of the camera. If the settings are not chosen correctly, the motion-controlled recording mode could result in thousands of wrong shots.

Picture source: 123rf / 82271917

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