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.


Hi B&H -

I am looking for a camera set up to watch for predators (coyotes/cougars) around the perimeter of my backyard which may be a threat to family pets.

Ideally, it would be able to have real time monitoring (if video) and send an alert to a mobile device or screen when an animal/intruder is spotted, day or night. 

thermal and/or nightvision would help.

nest cams do this very well for interior motion sensing (and can use night vision) but are not designed for outdoor use, which this camera would need.

Thank you for any help you can provide!

Hi Gary-

Monitor the outside of your home with this 2-pack of Nest Cam Outdoor Security Cameras from Nest (B&H # NENC2400ES). These IP65-rated cameras feature 3MP 1/3" sensors to capture 1080p video at up to 30 fps. Able to produce clear images at night thanks to eight IR LEDs, these cameras connect to your home network via Wi-Fi to transmit footage. Use the free Nest app for iOS and Android devices or log in from a computer to view live video. Receive alerts when activity or sound is detected, and talk and listen to visitors right from the app through the built-in speakers and microphones.

Each camera has a wide-angle 130° diagonal field of view that allows you to monitor large outdoor areas, while H.264 compression helps to ensure high-quality recording and playback. The included power adapters are designed to provide constant, 24/7 monitoring without having to worry about charging or replacing batteries. The included magnetic mounts ensure the cameras are ideally positioned to fit your surveillance needs.

Note: 30-day free trial of Nest Aware included. Service plan is required to save recorded video and is available separately through Nest.

3MP 1/3" sensor captures 1920 x 1080 resolution video at up to 30 fps
Eight IR LEDs allows the camera to produce clear images at night
130° diagonal field of view and 8x digital zoom for monitoring large outdoor areas
Connects via Wi-Fi for a cleaner setup
Easy installation with the adjustable magnetic mount
Free Nest app for mobile viewing and control from iOS and Android devices
IP65-rated for outdoor use

Hi Fern - 

To view recorded footage remotely, while you are away, your internet service cannot be turned off.

Monitor an outdoor area with the BC-141A 4MP Outdoor Network Bullet Camera with Night Vision from ezviz. This camera can capture 2688 x 1520 resolution video at up to 30 fps for smooth playback. Its 4mm lens has a wide-angle 97.6° diagonal field of view to monitor a large area during the day and at night thanks to IR LEDs with a night vision range of up to 65'. The camera is housed in an IP66-rated enclosure for protection against dust and water, making it suitable for outdoor use.

4MP resolution at up to 30 fps
Night vision range up to 65' in complete darkness
4mm fixed lens has a 97.6° field of view to monitor a large area
RJ45 Ethernet connection with PoE for a simple installation
3-axis angle adjustments for pan (0-360°), tilt (0-90°), and rotation (0-360°)
IP66-rated enclosure for outdoor use

I would like to find a basic camera to put on my back porch at night to see the different critters that come up to the food bowl.  It would be great to see the video on my phone or laptop.  Do you have any suggestions?  There are so many choices out there I'm overwhelmed.  

Hi Sabrina - 

The trail cameras cannot transmit to a phone or tablet.  You may want to consider using a wireless surveillance camera:

Monitor an outdoor area with the Mini Trooper Base Station with 720p Wire-Free Outdoor Camera from ezviz. Video and audio can be saved to the included 8GB microSD or using the ezviz Cloud service (available separately). The Base Station can support up to five additional Mini Trooper cameras (available separately) and connects to your network wirelessly via Wi-Fi, or through an Ethernet connection.

The included Mini Trooper camera can capture 1280 x 720 resolution video at up to 15 fps for smooth recording and playback. It has an IP65-rated enclosure for protection from dust and water, making it suitable for outdoor use. It has a built-in microphone to pick up nearby sound and features motion detection alerts. The camera has a wide-angle, 116° field of view to monitor a large outdoor area during the day and at night, and can be easily mounted to a variety of surfaces using its magnetic base. The camera operates completely wirelessly thanks to a Wi-Fi connection to the Base Station and replaceable batteries for up to 9 months of use.

Note: ezviz Cloud Service is not required for use, but is available separately through ezviz.

I need a camera that will allow me to take pictures of license plates coming down our long, remote driveway. We need to have a record in the event of theft or vandalism. I'm thinking a trail camera would be the best option. We could attach it to one of the trees. We would need a camera that would take a clear enough picture to read a license plate and not have a flash that would alert the driver that they are being photographed. What would you recommend?

Hi Diane -

The SM750 HyperFire License Plate Camera from RECONYX utilizes a covert IR illuminator for unobtrusive surveillance. Additional features include a loop recording mode and the ability to schedule by time of day and day of week (weekday and weekend operation can be different). No-Glow high output covert IR technology eliminates the red glow common to other IR cameras. 

The camera has a long battery life using 12 AA batteries, enabling it to run continuously up to one year. User-supplied SD or SDHC memory cards capture 720p images at speed of up to 3 fps. The Ultra HD IR camera lens provides sharp and clear images. The SM750 can capture images of license plate on vehicles traveling at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour. 

Camera captures images of moving vehicles up to 50 mph. Mono-chrome images day and night (night photos show License Plates only)

No glow high output covert IR night vision up to 50'

Loop recording overwrites oldest images for continuous operation

Dual scheduling powers the camera on/off by day of week and time

Extended battery life captures up to 40,000 images

Includes MapView security software for Windows

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:    

Hi,I have just purchased a wildlife camera for videog hedgehogs,can you please tell me what distance should the camera be from the feeding bowls to capture the hedgehogs,many thanks for a brilliant site.

Hi Noel - 

Hedgehogs are relatively small animals, so try for a tight camera placement - say less than 6-8 feet if possible.  Let us know which camera brand/model you own: 


I have a wildlife camera, but I cant seem to be able to choose video or video/photo mode options.  I've taken of the time stamp as that only applies to photos thinking that was perhaps stopping it from going into video mode, but this hasn't worked.  Do you have any idea what I'm doing wrong?

Hi -

Please send us an e-mail identifying the brand and model camera to:    

Will the cameras work inside a car to try and capture someone who is keying my vehicle

Hi MC - 

These cameras,or any with IR LED's, cannot be installed to shoot through windows.  Their IR illuminators will reflect off the glass and obscure any images the camera is attempting to record.

I want to keep an eye on my property . Will a person know if they are being photographed in the day or night? I want to be as stealth as possible. Thanks.      Mark P. In PA

Hi Mark - 

Select a trail camera with the invisible IR feature to avoid detectionwhile recording:

Question, on the (B&H # WITR5I1) are they wide angle lenses? I'm trying to see where deer/rabbits are coming in from around my yard — BEFORE I start this years vegetable garden. Many thanks. 

Hi mddc - 

Yes this camera is equipped with a fixed wide-angle lens for wide coverage of your yard and those offending critters.

Will these cameras detect a 7 pound house cat?  One of ours is peeing where it shouldn't and I need to know which one.

I am still looking for an article that tells me how you view what your critter cam has captured.  How does it work please?

This would depend on the Wildlife Cam you were looking at.  Some have LCD screens, which would be located behind small doors.  Also, most options use some sort of memory card (such as SD or microSD cards).  You would simply load the photos to the computer from the memory card using a card reader.  If you have questions about a specific trail cam, I would suggest sending us an email.

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.

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. 

The HOA would have to spot it first, then they would have to send you a letter, before taking your property, they are small and hard to spot, unless you put it looking some place you shouldn't, they are hard to spot and easy to hide.

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.

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:                                                                                                                  

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.


That is incorrect.  Since you posted your reply to Cheryl Lewis' question there has been advancements in the trail camera/ game camera technology.  Your company doesnt offer state of the art technology; however, there are many cameras out there manufactured by many many, and i mean, MANY, other manufacturers that send live feeds via 3G and 4G technology.                        

Stealth Cam, Bushnell, and many other companies offer cameras that detect daytime and nightime IR pictures that are sent to email or via text message.  They are accompanied with solar panels and larger external battery supplies ensuring you wont have to go to your camera for over a year.  Your batteries are recharged by the sun, if there is a longtime without sunlight to recharge your batteries then the camera using the external battery supply once the internal batteries die.

The main concept of these 3G and 4G cameras is that the wildlife you are monitoring do not smell or hear your human scent nor your human sound disturbing the area you have your game camera set up.  You see, having to go to your camera every week or month will startle the animals your trying to monitor, thus using less battery power since your camera wont need to take as many pictures.  You running to your trail camera to replace batteries is a moot point, as you need to get the pictures off the SD card before the batteries will die (if using solar power, rehcargeable batteries, or external battery supply- or prererably using all three in conjunction with one another). Whats the point in spending all this $$ on power supply options if you dont have pictures of anything since your scent is scaring away the animals your trying to catch on camera, while getting your pictures off the camera???  Go with a 3G or 4G camera that sends up to date live photos to your email and text message (with power supply options) there is no need to run to your trail camera to get pictures or replace batteries).  Just make sure you have sprint, AT&T, verizon, etc cell phone signal wherever you intend to deploy your camera.

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:

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


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:

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:

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:

You will not capture pictures of a rare elusive animals on any cameras this company has to offer.  If you have $ your best bang for your buck is to purchase 1) game camera that sends files and pictures to you cell phone and/ or email in real time (minus the time taken to send the photo). This cuts down on leaving your human scent all over the area to change batteries and check out images on your SD card. 2) recharable batterys 3) emergency external battery supply to be used when or if there is no sunlight and the batteries internally have low power 4) solar panels to recharge internal batterys.  5) ensure you have cell phone coverage of verizon, ATT, sprint, etc. of the location your camera is going to be, so your camera can send you live videos and pictures and alert you in real time to what is out at your property.  Then you can call the police or set traps based on the patterns you were able to establish using your state of the art live feeds.  You see, setting cameras up is a science and you need to know where and when to employ them, also when to check on them without scaring off whatever it is your trying to scout.  This takes years of experience and experise.  I spent years in the military and went to police academies, and worked lethal and non lethal targeting cells in the military.  I also combined that experience with my hunting experience, and I am able to track, survey, monitor, scout, counter survey, etc. any and everything.  No doubt this company has good products, but if your talking about trying to track an elusive creature at night, this companys technology is lacking the tools needed to find whatever it is your looking for.  They offer prehistoric technology that isnt capable of catching a blind wombat let alone something capable of smelling 2 week old human scent, or a thief capable of working counter surveillance on an area able to detect cameras that will be stolen or the cards taken out of them before pictures ont he SD card can be retrieved.  Real time cameras that dont have to be checked for months in order to get images are the only way to track down elusive creatures.

Swensen Wedding Services of Michigan has a few questions for you Garth,  please find me on Facebook or search swensen wedding services .com, and send me a message, I'm actually not trying to hide the cameras, and want them to be seen, and I have power close by, the flash would let them know we are taking the photo,  so my questions might be easy. But we are want crystal clear photos, we are in a high end island, and can't close the road, but we can take photos of every car coming onto our island, and let them know that we took them to make it clear that we know who comes and goes. funny part is our water is partolled, but we can't get the road patrolled. Right by Selfridge Air national gaurd in MI

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.

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.



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.