How Does Trail Camera Work?

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Perhaps you have the plan of going on a vacation or an excursion in the wild in the next recreational season, I have good news for you!

You can make your next vacation or excursion more remarkable, fun, and memorable by going with a cellular trail camera.

Cellular trail cameras can help you to capture images of a grazing deer, a silverback gorilla marking its territory, as well as a hunting tiger pouncing on its prey–sounds interesting, right?

Most cellular trail cameras are suitable for use by wildlife enthusiasts and nature photographers to capture shots of wildlife in their natural habitat.

Are you eager to know more about trail cameras? Do you want to learn how cellular game cameras work? Keep reading this blog post as I take you through a brief guide on how a cellular trail camera works.

What Is a Trail Camera?


A trail camera, also known as a wildlife camera or a game camera is a waterproof and robust camera that is made to be kept outdoors to take still pictures and video clips of wildlife.

Cellular trail cameras are high-quality devices, which can be used for tracking wildlife creatures in their natural habitat without disturbing the animals.

Many trail cameras are powered by Lithium batteries with long battery life. Nevertheless, a trail camera can also make use of external power sources such as a solar charging device.

Most trail cameras are designed to work properly both during the day and at the night.

Trail cameras are sensitive to motion, so they only capture pictures or record video clips when something moves in front of the camera's motion sensor.

The fact that a cellular trail camera has a selective shooting feature means you won't have to go through the hassle of fast-forwarding the video clip or pictures to locate sample photos of interest.

In addition, this feature also allows valuable space to be saved on the sd card of your cellular trail camera.

Related post: 5 Best Trail Camera Under $100 (Top Picks Reviewed)

How Do Trail Cameras Work?


Cellular trail cameras are designed with a motion sensor and a PIR sensor (passive infrared sensor) that enable them to capture images or record a video clip both during the day and at night.

Different cameras have different detection range for animal detection due to differences in the detection circuit that comes with the trail camera.

However, a Verizon certified product has a motion sensor with a wide detection zone.

The camera has a Verizon coverage of up to 120° field of detection, which allows the PIR sensor to capture images of animals as soon as they arrive at the edge of the viewing screen.

Most trail cameras can spot animals within a detection range of 64 feet, but placing the trail camera close to animals' natural habitat such as near a hole or beside the hedgehog feeding station can enhance the picture quality of images captured by the cell cams.

But, how do trail cameras capture pictures at night?

Cellular trail cameras work at night by using infrared emitters, which give out infrared light that illuminates the environment by producing an infrared flash to capture shots.

The infrared flash creates a distinctive picture of nocturnal animals, causing their eyes to glow.

Cellular trail cameras are usually placed at a spot where they can camouflage and blend in with their environment. Nevertheless, curious animals always walk toward the cameras to check them out–thus, naturally increasing the picture quality themselves.

The Pros and Cons of Trail Cameras



Some advantages of using a trail camera include:

  1. Trail cameras render minimal disturbances to wildlife when capturing their pictures.
  2. A trail camera comes with special accessories including a security box for security purposes.
  3. Cellular trail cameras offer remote access and easy control to wildlife enthusiasts.
  4. Most cameras make use of external power sources such as Lithium batteries and 12V lead-acid batteries with long battery life. The battery life may vary from a few months to years.
  5. Trail cameras collect data with the motion sensor and PIR sensor, transmitting and processing the data at high speed. Their speed of capturing pictures is faster than the human eye.


  1. A few disadvantages associated with the use of a cellular trail camera include:
  2. A trail camera requires data plans to function.
  3. Many cellular game cameras are expensive compared to the traditional camera of a cell phone.Nevertheless, the benefits of trail cameras make them worthwhile.

What Can a Trail Camera Capture?


Unlike the camera of a cell phone that captures anything, (both static and mobile) a cellular trail camera can capture only things in motion located within the detection range of the camera.

When the motion sensor of a trail camera detects a moving creature, it sends a signal to the detection circuit provided that the moving creature passes through the detection zone of the camera.

Read: How to Hide Trail Camera from Humans?

Trail cameras will most likely capture images of moving animals and people. You may place a trail camera outside your home for home security. It will capture images of stray animals or burglars that try to invade your home.

When placed at an appropriate height, a game camera can also capture images of pests that are destroying crops in your garden.

When you go on an excursion to see wildlife creatures, cellular trail cameras can help you in creating sample photos for a biological documentary of wildlife behavior, adaptation, competition, and territorialism.

How To Choose The Best Trail Camera?


When choosing a game camera, ensure you select a game camera that renders the best service. Such trail cameras have the following six features.

1. Trigger time

The trigger time of a game camera is the time between the detection of motion and a shutter click being made.

The trigger speed of a trail camera determines the trigger time, which in turn determines whether or not a moving animal will appear in the picture captured by the trail camera.

The trigger speed of trail cameras can be as fast as 0.1 seconds or as slow as 2 seconds. This determines if a moving animal will be photographed or missed.

However, the trigger speed of a game camera can be slower when recording a video clip because it takes a longer time for game cameras to "wake up" for a video recording compared to capturing still pictures.

Trail camera manufacturers usually quote the trigger time of wireless game cameras on their websites. Ensure you choose a trail camera with a fast trigger speed.

2. Flash

To choose the right camera, you should ensure the game camera comes with a flash or illuminator.

A cellular trail camera with infrared flash captures clear images of animals with a faint red glow at night. Thus, it can be used to obtain images of high megapixel count both during the day and at the night.

3. Recovery time


Recovery time is the time taken for a trail camera to be ready to capture the next image or to record the next video clip after the previous one.

The best game camera is the one with no recovery time at all, such a camera can capture multiple pictures of moving animals in a row.

However, the recovery time of many trail cameras is just a few microseconds. To obtain the best results, ensure you choose a game camera with a quick recovery time.

4. Power supply

Most game cameras come with AA batteries with long battery life. However, some models of trail cameras have provisions for external power sources such as solar charging devices or rechargeable batteries.

Choosing a game camera with an external power source may save battery life especially if you're using the trail camera for heavy duties such as recording a series of videos.

5. Image resolution


An important factor to consider when choosing a game camera is the resolution of images and the quality of videos recorded.

The resolution of images is usually stated in megapixels (MP). It follows that the higher the megapixels, the better the quality of the image captured. Thus, you should choose a trail camera with an image sensor of a high megapixel count.

Are you looking for Top Notch Trail Camera Tips & Tricks for Better Pictures? Check our helpful tips here!

6. Animal Detection

Most cellular trail cameras make use of a PIR sensor to detect the movement of animals in their detection range.

Animal detection by using passive infrared sensors works by detecting the average changes in temperature of the landscape in front of the camera and not the specific heat of the moving object itself.

Thus, when a moving creature passes through the detection zone of a trail camera, the PIR sensor notices a change in temperature because the temperature of the moving animal is different from that of the background.

The PIR sensor can detect cold creatures moving in front of a warm background as well as warm creatures moving in front of a cold background.

It is equally sensitive to both big animals moving far from the game camera and small animals moving close to the trail camera.

However, if a big animal stands close to the trail camera without moving, the PIR sensor cannot detect its presence.

We recommend that you choose a game camera with a sensitive PIR sensor that can easily detect moving creatures in the environment.

Frequently Asked Questions - How Does Trail Camera Work?


What Are Trail Cameras Used for?

A cellular trail camera can be used for different purposes including:

1. To watch your garden

Setting up a game camera at an appropriate height in your garden can help you to see the types of pests that are infesting your garden.

Checking the pictures captured by these devices can help you to determine how the animals in your environment are interacting with your crops.

Thus, a cellular trail camera can help you determine the appropriate kind of pest repellants you need to keep pests away from your garden.

2. For home security

A cellular game camera can help in securing your home and also give you a cleaner environment. Trail cameras have features that make them suitable for security purposes.

For example, most trail cameras have a PIR sensor and a heat sensor, which detect moving creatures (including burglars intruding on your home) and temperature changes, respectively.

3. For hunting

You can use trail cameras in hunting seasons to track the path of wildlife–provided that hunting is legal in your country.

If you're a hunter interested in hunting big games, game cameras can help you track the natural habitat of animals by recording short video clips of animals in motion.

Do Trail Cameras Require Subscription?

You may be interested in getting a trail camera, but skeptical about the fact that trail cameras require data plans. Thus, you may ask, "Do trail cameras require a subscription?"

The answer to that question is YES, trail cameras require a subscription because you need a subscription data plan to enable your trail camera to transmit data.

A cellular trail camera data plan can cost between $5 to $15 for every 1000 pictures captured by the camera. Nevertheless, choosing affordable networks such as Verizon networks can help you reduce the cost of subscriptions.

However, traditional trail cameras do not require any subscription plan because they are standard SD card cameras that come with a micro SD card slot in which you can place a micro SD card to store images and video clips locally.

Nevertheless, the drawback with these types of devices is that you need to get the sd card out and insert it into a cell phone before you can check the captured images.

Although cellular trail cameras require a subscription, they are worthwhile. These wireless game cameras can easily transmit images and video clips to your phone, saving much energy and time.

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Conclusion - How Does Trail Camera Work?

A trail camera has multipurpose uses ranging from home security to hunting big games.

Most cellular game cameras come with a motion sensor or a PIR sensor to detect the movement of animals or other things both during the day and at night.

The detection of motion triggers the trail camera to capture images or record video clips of moving animals, thus, providing high-quality pictures and videos that can be compiled as a documentary and used to track the path of animals.

Ryan Mills
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