Photography / Tips and Solutions

Identify Critters and Vandals with Wildlife Cameras

         

Homeowners are often frustrated by damage or vandalism that occurs on their property. Short of staying up all night to see who or what is causing the damage, what can one do? Wildlife cameras are digital cameras that can shoot still images and video. These weatherproof cameras are intended to be mounted in the wild, hidden from view if necessary, where they can be set to capture still images at specific intervals or capture still images and/or video when they detect motion. The cameras can be left in place for months with the hopes of capturing some unique images. Many rare creatures have been documented using wildlife cameras.

B&H carries a wide range of wildlife cameras. Many of them cost less than $100, so you don’t need a small fortune to buy one. And there are multiple applications for wildlife cameras, even if you’re not interested in wildlife. Maybe you want to find out what kind of varmint keeps digging up your tulip bulbs or whose dog keeps going on your lawn. Or perhaps you want to determine what kind of critter keeps getting into your garbage cans. Or you may want to identify some trespassers or vandals that keep destroying your mailbox. You might even be well aware of a problem, say with wild hogs destroying your property, but need a wildlife camera to determine roughly how many animals you’re dealing with.

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Like conventional digital cameras, wildlife cameras offer a certain resolution, or number of megapixels. Sometimes a wildlife camera will offer more than one resolution, with the higher resolution good for capturing the most detail and the lower resolution better for fitting as many images as possible onto a given memory card size. Trail cameras typically record on SD cards up to 16GB or 32GB in capacity, and they don’t usually come with one, so be sure to add a card to your order if you want to be able to use the camera right away.

Because trail cameras must be powered by batteries, and because one might leave a trail camera unattended for many months at a time, it’s a good idea to get one that will hold a lot of batteries. Most trail cameras require a certain minimum number of batteries, say four AA cells, and many of them will accept extra batteries to extend their run time, say, a maximum of 12 AA cells. If you are using a trail camera in an area that you can revisit often, such as your backyard, then it doesn’t matter how many batteries it holds. But if you will be setting up a trail camera in a remote, snowed-in forest to photograph bear cubs exiting their den in the spring after a winter of hibernation, then you’ll want to be sure your trail camera holds a lot of batteries.

Speaking of batteries, some trail cameras can be powered by rechargeable battery packs whose charge can be maintained using solar charging panels. The solar chargers are typically optional. The beauty of a solar charger is that, provided that enough sunlight reaches the solar panel, a charge can be maintained indefinitely.

Because trail cameras are often deployed for many months at a time with no available power source other than batteries, it’s important that trail cameras conserve battery power as much as possible. One way to conserve battery power is to take a series of time-lapse pictures at intervals set by the user, every minute, every hour and so on. Another way to conserve power is to use passive infrared, or PIR sensors to detect motion, while leaving as much circuitry as possible turned off. A PIR sensor detects the moving heat pattern given off by an animal (or person) against the cooler surroundings. When motion is detected, the sensor activates the camera circuitry, which takes a certain amount of time to become ready to take a picture; this time delay is known as the Trigger Time. The camera can then snap one or more pictures or capture video for a set period of time.

In the daytime, no flash is needed to take pictures. But at night a flash is needed. An standard flash tube lets you capture color images but it could also startle any animals within range, causing them to run away and you to miss the shot. That’s why trail cameras are available with infrared flashes (a cluster of infrared LEDs) that shower the scene in infrared light, which animals and people cannot see but nonetheless illuminates the scene. The tradeoff is that the images look as through they were captured using night-vision equipment. You will usually see a range for this flash listed in feet in the product specifications, and it’s basically the distance from the camera that the flash can illuminate.

All trail cameras have weatherproof cases, so you don’t have to worry about inclement weather. However, if you’re setting one up in an area where people you don’t know will come and go, you might want to invest in a security case. Made specifically for certain model cameras, or certain brands of cameras, metal security cases can be locked onto a tree or other sturdy object. The camera could still be damaged, but it won’t be easy to steal without some heavy-duty tools.

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When setting up by the road, can I set the camera to only activate when something comes close to the garbage pails and not to capture every car that passes?

Unfortunately, the detection zone cannot be changed on the trail cams. Your best option would be to select a camera with a smaller detection zone area.  You could contact us directly through email for suggestions.  Askbh@bhphoto.com

Can they be mounted inside a screened in patio? No trees in yard & HOA doesn't allow attachments outside.

You might be able to see past the screen during the day, but you wouldn’t see past the screen for shots taken at night as the IR flash would bounce off of the screen. 

I am confused????? How much is it? Does it record all the time? Does it need battries? Please respond back, I need these answers for a school project

This article is about trail cameras in general, not a specific trail camera.  If you click on the photo of ‘Trail and Wildlife Digital Cameras’ above in the ‘Items discussed in article’ section, it will take you to a link of the trail cameras B&H currently carries.  The respective prices of the cameras could also be found on that link, along with specifications such as battery power and record time.  If you have questions about a specific camera, or are looking for a camera with certain specifications, I would suggest sending us an email.  We would be happy to answer any questions you had about a camera, or recommend one that would best suit your needs.  askbh@bandh.com

Hi Ayriana -

The recording is activated by motion and the cameras operate on batteries.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions: askbh@bandh.com                                                                                                                  

I am looking for a good web cam for our osprey nest stand that is adjacent to our outdoor learning area serving three schools. I have no idea what to purchase. The stand is in a marsh so there is no power. I would need a solar battery. Any help is greatly appreicated. I have grant funds to pay for it.

Unfortunately there are no options available that would offer any kind of wireless transfer of files or a  wireless live stream of video. Trail/Wildlife cameras are generally designed to remotely capture stills and in some cases video that can be collected later directly from the device.

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Am looking to catch vandals and my question is can I put cameras inside home windows, facing out and expect to get decent photos through double pane windows which would enable law enforcement to id and prosecute suspect(s)? Being inside would 1; obviously reduce camera theft and, 2; significantly lengthen battery life - particularly here in Alaska where temps often reach -30 (F) or lower.

No, using any of these or essentially any security type cameras behind a double-paned glass will give you unusable results.  The glass will cause reflections from the IR focus beams in the cameras, as well from flashes if such mode was enabled, and also any lights that exist indoors or outdoors can cause glare/light refractions which will not be helpful in identifying culprits.  You'd be best advised to find a mounting solution or placement outdoors that would be difficult for vandals to get to.  Many of the trail cameras available today have temperature ratings good down to -30 degrees and many have AC power options.  See the link below for a recommended model which offers an AC power option (sold seperately) and has will withstand harsh Alaskan temperatures:

http://bhpho.to/1NOnfFL

Is there a critter camera that can be viewed and/or controlled from a cell phone? 

 I HAVE AN H.O.A, CAN'T ATTACH ANYTHING TO THE HOUSE. SOMETHING ATTACHED TO PINE TREE FRONT YARD, ON A BRANCH LOOKING DOWN WOULD BE GREAT. SHE WALKS' HER DOG, SHE LETS' IT POTTY MY FRONT YARD. CAN YOU HELP. WILLIAM. 

Hi William -

Check out the link below, which will take you to our trail camera options on our website.  On the left hand side are search criteria filters you may select to help narrow the selection down to only those which have all the features you want.  Most of them will be able to help you capture images of elusive offenders and have long battery life.  See this link:  http://bhpho.to/1zXW0kL

This is one of our most popular trail cameras:

The camo Strike Force Trail Camera from Browning has a CMOS image sensor and captures 10MP still images and 2-min HD 1280 x 720 video clips with sound. Its infrared LED flash features a range of over 100' at night. Time-lapse shooting mode captures images at pre-set intervals from 5 sec to 5 min, enabling you to see change over time. The camera also offers motion-detect mode via the PIR (passive infrared) motion sensor, which has a detection range of 40-45' and a fast trigger speed of 0.7 sec. Enjoy the ability to capture up to 8 images in Multi-Shot mode or 6 in Rapid Fire mode--ensuring that you don't miss the action. A small text LCD screen displays information such as mode, number of pictures or videos taken, and remaining battery life.

The Strike Force runs on 6 AA alkaline or lithium batteries, which are available separately, and is configured with a 12V external power jack. It accepts SD/SDHC memory cards up to 32GB. It is equipped with a TV Out connector for viewing images on a television screen and a USB port for file transfer to a computer. The included Buck Watch Timelapse Viewer Software CD-ROM allows you to play back your time-lapse video files on a computer running the Windows XP, Vista or 7 operating system.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

intrested in the trail and wildlife camera for study of some strange elusive shy super rear unheard off creature need a good battery for long time and a motion sensor to capture videos n picture 

Check out the link below, which will take you to our trail camera options on our website.  On the left hand side are search criteria filters you may select to help narrow the selection down to only those which have all the features you want.  Most of them will be able to help you capture images of elusive creatures and have long battery life.  See this link:  http://bhpho.to/1zXW0kL

I would like to buy one. .please tell me how

Below is a link to all of these cameras on our website for you to browse over.  When you see one you wish to purchase, click on the "Add to cart" button. 

http://bhpho.to/1zXW0kL

Do these cameras make any noise? I am thinking of using one to monitor my front gate but I am thinking if they make noise, it might draw attention to it.

thanks

dave

In general no they do not, not anything that is audible enough to spook an animal or alert a burglar per se.  These are desinged to be hidden and capture images without disturbing the environment.

Price in india

B&H does ship internationally, and can ship to India. All transactions will be in USD.  You can find the current pricing of an item on its page on our site.  If you click on the image of trail camera above, it will take you to the list of trail camera’s we have available.  Shipping costs would depend on the shipping method that you chose.  If you add the item to your cart, on the right hand side of the page there is a shipping calculator.  Once you chose the country of destination from the drop down menu, the various shipping options, along with their respective costs and shipping times, will be revealed.

This was such a well-written summary of critter cameras.  Not skewed to get me to buy a more expensive camera than what I need.  I'm impressed.  Wish more retail stores took your approach to sales--build trust with the buyer.  Based on this article, I would trust you to help me buy a critter camera.  I'll be in touch.

Thanks for this article. It has been very informative.  It 's made me aware of what equipment I 'll need for my project.

I've looked at your site several times but haven't ordered anything yet due to confusion about my needs and how things might be set up.  This was very helpful & brings me much closer to purchase.  I will also post your link to my DIY Meetup site.

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