The 10 Best Game Cameras

Updated February 04, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

10 Best Game Cameras
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 41 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. Perfect for researchers, animal welfare monitoring or wildlife photographers, these game cameras will let you covertly and remotely capture still and video images of your target on any trail. They are specially designed with silent, or near silent, triggers to reduce the possibility of spooking animals, and can be left outside for months at a time, come rain or shine. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best game camera on Amazon.

10. Amcrest ATC-1201

The Amcrest ATC-1201 is highly intuitive, and automatically switches to night mode in low light, and if you're shooting in harsh weather, the IP54 waterproof case will keep your camera safe. Plus, it has a nylon strap for securing it to trees or a fence post.
  • includes wireless remote
  • battery case is easy to open
  • some white noise on sound recordings
Brand Amcrest
Model ATC-1201
Weight 14.4 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

9. Cuddeback E2

The Cuddeback E2 may be slightly complicated to set up, but considering it has a 20MP resolution, less than 3/10 of a second trigger speed, upwards of a 100-foot flash range for nighttime captures, and comes in at a budget-friendly price, it is hard to pass up.
  • produces crisp images
  • captures are time and date stamped
  • removing the memory card is tricky
Brand Cuddeback
Model 1224
Weight 16 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

8. Apeman Upgraded

One of the better value options on the market, the Apeman Upgraded offers some impressive specifications in spite of the limitations its cost necessitates. Hunters can expect six months of battery life, and the manufacturer has repeatedly updated the product since release.
  • good audio recordings
  • triggers in less than half a second
  • night vision is somewhat weak
Weight 1.5 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

7. Spypoint Solar

Since the Spypoint Solar doesn't require you to change batteries, it minimizes the chance of you missing out on your next prize buck. It has a 2-inch viewing screen that makes it easier to position at just the right angle, and its motion detector is very sensitive.
  • can run practically nonstop
  • customizable detection range
  • poor nighttime capture quality
Brand Spypoint
Model 1007244
Weight 1.9 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

6. Reconyx HyperFire HC500

The impressive, yet expensive, Reconyx HyperFire HC500 can run nonstop for up to one year on just 12 AA batteries. It captures full 1080p HD images using its infrared camera lens that offers great detail whether day or night. It has great closeup focus, too.
  • works well in extreme temperatures
  • ir emitters produce minimal glow
  • unable to record video
Brand Reconyx
Model HC500
Weight 2.4 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

5. Moultrie Panoramic 180i

The Moultrie Panoramic 180i has three completely silent, non-moving lenses to cover a full 180-degree field of view. If you are unsure of where the game trail is or just want to cut down on the chance of missing an animal, it's a smart choice.
  • minimal motion blur
  • multiple capture settings
  • videos drain battery heavily
Brand Moultrie
Model MCG-12638
Weight 2.5 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

4. Day 6 Plotwatcher Pro

Unlike many other trail cameras, which are triggered by motion, the Day 6 Plotwatcher Pro captures images at set intervals. Between sunrise and sunset, it consistently records pictures and then converts them into a 10-minute time-lapse video for quick viewing.
  • sees game up to 300 feet away
  • integrated lcd viewing screen
  • customizable image capture intervals
Brand Day 6 Outdoors
Model TLC-200-C
Weight 1.4 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

3. Browning Dark Ops

The Browning Dark Ops boasts clear night vision using an invisible infrared flash so game doesn't detect the camera and get spooked. This also makes it a good choice for surveilling your property for nighttime trespassers. It works on six AA batteries.
  • fast trigger speed
  • 70-foot range for flash
  • comes with time-lapse software
Brand Browning Trail Cameras
Model BTC 6HD
Weight 1.1 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. Browning Strike Force HD Pro

The Browning Strike Force HD Pro is the best it gets before prices start getting stratospheric. It's capable of capturing daytime images that rival top smartphones in quality, and features trigger times under half a second for both pictures and video.
  • powerful 18 megapixel camera
  • internal viewer facilitates setup
  • accepts sd cards up to 512 gigabytes
Brand Browning Trail Cameras
Model BTC-5HDP
Weight 1.1 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

1. Reconyx SC950

Thrifty buyers turn back now. The Reconyx SC950 is widely known throughout the community as the best money can buy, even though it can't record video. The trigger time of 0.19 second is far and away the best in its class and it'll last over a year in the field at full use.
  • completely covert infrared leds
  • holds roughly 28000 images
  • incredibly clear nighttime pictures
Brand Reconyx
Model SC950
Weight 1.8 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

Where The Wild Things Are

While conventional cameras require a photographer to be present and relatively close to the objects he intends to document, these cameras are not practical for wildlife researchers or for documenting rare species that may not present themselves right out in the open. Elusive species are not likely to allow the photographer to stage a scene for that perfect snapshot. This type of photography requires a more specialized camera capable of being activated remotely to capture photographs of animals without human involvement. This is where the game camera becomes a necessity.

Also referred to as a trail camera or camera trap, the game camera is a weatherproof, remotely or automatically-activated device that is capable of taking snapshots or videos of animals in their natural habitats when the photographer is not around. The device is built for extended, unmanned use outdoors and leverages a combination of infrared sensor and and motion sensor technology to act as an image trigger, which the camera uses to initiate the capture of either single or multiple snapshots or videos of wildlife. The trigger ensures that the target animal is captured by the camera's field of vision as soon as the animal crosses into its line of sight and is in full view.

The game camera uses a passive infrared sensor designed to detect temperature changes that occur when an animal is in motion. When this temperature fluctuation occurs, the camera begins taking snapshots automatically. PIR sensors have a long detection range and, depending on the surrounding environment, can be adjusted automatically by the camera itself or manually by the photographer. The motion capture on many game cameras can also be delayed at various time intervals so that the device doesn't take a snapshot every time its trigger fires.

These devices have several applications. Most common uses for game cameras include ecological and behavioral studies. For example, the camera can document activity patterns of a particular animal that include the times of day it travels to a certain location. It is also useful for recording animal migrations or quantifying the number of species inhabiting a specific area. The camera can also be used for determining the best hunting trails.

The major advantage to this camera is in its ability to record visual data and natural behavior over time without physically trapping the animal or influencing its environment. This allows for a much more accurate study of animal behavior when it hasn't been disturbed or alerted to the presence of a human being. It also makes possible the discovery and observation of more elusive and critically endangered species. For that reason, the game camera can also be leveraged as a tool for raising public awareness of the need for conservation efforts in areas where certain animals may be succumbing or decreasing in numbers due to deforestation or habitat destruction.

What Was Once Lost Can Now Be Found

Since a game camera will be spending extended time among the elements, it should be as durable and weatherproof as possible. For that reason, you'll also want to determine the best location for the device to remain undisturbed by the local wildlife. If the camera has a flash feature, it should be inconspicuous. Bright flashes will alarm the wildlife you wish to photograph, which is why many game cameras have built-in infrared flash units for delivering extra illumination while remaining virtually unnoticed by the target.

The image resolution of the camera's sensor should be an additional determining factor in one's choice. The greater number of megapixels a game camera has, the better the image quality will be. This means that a wildlife researcher can pick out the finest detail in their photographs more easily than they could from a camera with a lower resolution. The ability to adjust the resolution on the camera is also important in order to avoid running out of memory during extended use.

Consider the size and capacity of the camera's battery. If you don't mind spending a bit of extra time during the initial setup, then you can leverage a larger battery for extended periods of undisturbed camera operation. A larger battery also means that you won't have to return to the camera site as often to change or recharge it.

Many game cameras offer on-board black and white text monitors for controlling their setting menus. But if the ability to view your images on the device is equally important to you, then definitely try to find one with a larger LCD color screen that allows you to see your snapshots before and after they've been taken.

A Brief History Of Game Cameras

The first cameras dedicated to capturing images of wildlife without a human presence date as far back as the 1890s. Photographer George Shiras is credited as the pioneer for the game camera movement and the popularity of wildlife photography. Shiras originally used trip wires (suspended string or ropes) designed to trigger a flash and a remotely-controlled camera (equipped with a flash bulb) to take snapshots of animals on film in their natural habitats. His work was later published in National Geographic Magazine.

One of the first scientific uses for the game camera occurred in the 1920s by American ornithologist Frank M. Chapman who was studying the large species located on Barro Colorado Island in Panama. Chapman used a trip wire system similar to Shiras's design to complete his work.

Between the 1920s and 1990s, game cameras lost some of their popularity due to both the technological limitations associated with many of their batteries as well as unreliable trip mechanisms. However, with the development of infrared triggers in the 1990s, followed soon after by the digital camera, the popularity of both game cameras and wildlife photography exploded and they are still going strong today, particularly from an educational point of view.

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Last updated on February 04, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

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