What are wildlife cameras?
Wildlife cameras, also known as trail cameras, digital scouting cameras and camera traps are rugged, weatherproof, battery operated digital cameras that can record video or photos, night or day onto removable memory cards.
They can be strapped to a tree or post or mounted on a tripod or spike on the ground and record every action around the clock often for many weeks at a time. They are becoming very popular with everyone from wildlife film-makers, researchers, security experts. This high quality, low priced technology developed for the hunting market is equally useful for people wanting to watch wildlife without disturbing it. They are also useful for the following applications:
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What do they cost?
What do they look like?Wildlife cameras consist of a small, camouflaged and waterproofed impact resistant plastic casing with a lens, movement sensors and Infra Red LEDs. They work in the same way as any other compact digital camera, but with added features like motion detection, night-vision, timer recording. The controls are hidden inside the waterproof box and securely closed with clips. They are powered by AA batteries but they can also be powered by DC power supplies, solar panels and Sealed Lead Acid batteries. The photos and videos captured are written to a removable SD memory card.
How do they work?
The main advantage of a Wildlife camera, trail camera or camera trap is that they can be placed in a remote location and set to record when there is motion. You can then come back and review what has recorded at a later date. All you do is open the camera, set the controls with the buttons inside (most cameras also have a built in screen to aid with set-up and to review images), close the casing and strap it to a tree. The cameras are really easy to set up and once done all you do is leave it and pop back when you want too. The cameras cwork night and day, constantly sensing any movement. During night-time the cameras use 'invisible to the eye' infra-red to see in the dark and not disturb the subject. Whenever there is movement, depending on the settings, the camera then records any action straight to the memory card. Some cameras have very fast reaction times.
The main controls are:
- Type of recording – Movies and/or still photos. Most trail cameras have the option to record high quality video or still photos. These all normally have sub settings for size and quality which can be configured to get the best results. Movies use a lot more memory than still photos.
- Length, size or quality of recording - Depending if you choose to record a movie or still photo, you will have further options:
- Movies – Size, quality and duration.
- Still photos – Size and quality
- Sensitivity - Built into most cameras is motion detection sensor. The sensitivity can be adjusted depending on what you are trying to film and the location. Sometimes, there is a lot of movement ie bushes swaying in the wind. You can set the sensitivity to ignore casual movement and only record when a large object passes by.
There are additional features on most cameras including:
- Time Lapse - Photos are taken at pre-determined intervals over a long period of time to give snapshot of activity. This is useful to watch a plant growing, the passing of the seasons or even a construction project.
- Sound capture
- GPS Coordinates
- Moon phase
Wildlife cameras on the TV
These cameras are predominately used to watch and track wildlife. They are perfect to place in a remote location and see what wildlife is around. It is surprising what you will see and how much wildlife is around us. In recent years, cameras traps have been used on money popular TV programmes like Springwatch/Autumnwatch, Countyryfile, Countrywise in the UK and also high end documentaries all over the world.