Bushnell Essential E3 Review

Trailcampro Comprehensive Score:

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2018 Bushnell Essential E3 Review 2017 Bushnell Essential E3 review

The Essential E3 is a solid yet unspectacular wildlife trail camera. The E3 does everything well with the exception of below average battery life. Pictures are clear and colorful, programming is easy and the camera has plenty of speed. - TCP Staff

Model #11-9837C

Essential E3 FAQ's


  • Very nice picture quality
  • Fast trigger speed
  • Strong, durable case design
  • Easy to program


  • Below average battery life
  • Minor quirk in recovery times

Trailcampro Analysis

The Bushnell Trophy Cam Essential E3 is a red glow wildlife trail camera.

Picture Quality:

Photo resolution: 16 mpxl (interpolated)

Video resolution: 1280 x 720 w/ audio

Flash Type: Red Glow IR

Day pictures are really clear, colorful, and have great depth. They seem to do better than the Bushnell Aggressor models in changing light conditions. We are very happy with the day photos.

Last year, the 2016 Bushnell Essential had possibly the best night pictures we had ever seen. The 2017 Essential E3 still offers good night pictures, they aren't on the same level as last year. The E3 has plenty of flash range, but the tendency to overexpose on close animals gives it a lower rating from last year. Still, these are really good night pictures, just not the elite level they were last year.

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Day videos are as good as you can expect from a 1280x720 game camera. The E3 has super colorful, clear, and records motion fluidly.

Night videos are solid and have really good flash range. The flash adjusts to close animals, but not as quickly and as well as some other models we have seen this year.

Overall, this is very solid video quality.

Megapixel Ratings:

In the past, many people get confused with the megapixel rating trail camera manufacturers advertise. Companies inflate the mpxl rating to attract eyes to their products. They do this through interpolation, which digitally adds megapixels to a photo without actually improving the picture.

The best way to judge picture quality is to look at actual pictures. You will notice this the most when you zoom in on a full-size image that a camera has taken. The details of the photo will appear hazy or even digitized. This is normal, and to be expected.

Battery Life:

Picture & Video Resting Power (on): 0.74 mW

Picture Daytime/Nighttime Power Consumption: 9.76 Ws | 9.64 Ws

Video Daytime/Nighttime Power Consumption: 26.98Ws | 108.36 Ws

Battery consumption is not efficient.

Picture Mode

If this camera were to take 35-day and 35-night pictures every 24 hours, the Trophy Cam Low Glow would last 4.8 months in the field on a set of 8 AA Lithium Batteries. This is well below average

Video Mode

If this camera were to take 15-day and 15-night videos (10-second videos) every 24 hours, it would last 1.7 months in the field on a set of lithium batteries. This is below average.

The Essential E3 does not work with rechargeable batteries (the rechargeable batteries operate too close to the cutoff voltage).

Detection Circuit:

Picture Trigger & Recovery Speed: 0.17 s. / 1.08 s.

Video Trigger & Recovery Speed: 1.77 s. / 0.6 s.

Detection Range & Angle: 100 ft. (maximum) | 44° (34.8° F.O.V.)

Picture trigger is exceptionally fast but the video trigger is slower than we expected.

* Recovery time in picture mode is a bit quirky. When the camera is set to recover at its lowest setting, every tenth picture the recovery time is slower than the rest. The sequence looks like this:

  • 0.9 s.
  • 0.931 s.
  • 0.867 s.
  • 0.902 s.
  • 0.925 s.
  • 0.839 s.
  • 0.979 s.
  • 0.867 s.
  • 0.828 s.
  • 2.793 s.

Is this a big deal? Not really. We just want to point this out to make you aware of it. Even at 2.7 seconds, that is still relatively fast for recovery (and it is only on the tenth image). We have made Bushnell aware of this and at this time, they do not have plans on correcting this.

Video recovery is equally complicated. The first video recovers in around 3 seconds and then any video shot during the same sequence (movement) recovers nearly instantly.

Detection range is 100 ft., which is a big improvement from last year.

Overall, this is a solid detection circuit. Really fast picture detection, slower video trigger, but outstanding video recovery.

Quality of Design:

Dimensions: 5.5" x 4" x 3"

Battery Type: 8 AA Batteries

External Battery Jack: No external battery jack

Case Design

The E3 has an exceptional case desing. The latch if flawless, the camera feels super solid, and the batteries fit well. This is the same case as the Aggressor models except it does not have an external battery jack.

The camera has two threaded inserts for a slate river mounts and the back of the camera has brackets for python cable lock.

SD card is easily accessible and the menu buttons are positive to the touch.

Camera Setup

The Essential E3 programs quickly and easily. Programming is straightforward and easy to navigate.

This camera has Day/Night/24 hour mode, sensitivity adjustability, and allows for video length adjustment (unlike the Aggressor's). It does not have password protection or SD card overwrite.

SD Card Storage Examples

With an 8 Gig SD card and the camera taking 3 mpxl photos (called HD photos in the settings), the Essential E3 could store 2,893 pictures on the SD card.

With an 8 Gig SD card and the camera taking 1280x720 videos, the E3 could store 650 10-second videos.

From this data, you can extrapolate out storage capacities of different sized SD cards and different resolution settings. We give you an 8 Gig SD card with the purchase of this camera through us. If you need additional or larger SD cards, you can shop all SD card options here.


Bushnell trail cameras remain one of our more durable brands. As always, we will update this review if any defect becomes a trend.

Review Conclusion:

The Bushnell Essential E3 took a small but significant step back from 2016. Don't get us wrong, this is still a solid, consistent red glow trailcam that would work well for most wildlife setups. However, the battery life is below average and the night pictures aren't as sharp as last year. Normally, this wouldn't be a problem, but in 2018 the competition is fierce and other trail cameras offer better value.

We would still recommend this camera, but we believe there are better values and higher rated red glow trail cameras on the market in the same price range.

Enjoy our reviews? Please consider purchasing your next trail camera from us.

FAQ's: Bushnell Essential E3 Low Glow

Q: How do I view the pictures?

A: There are a number of ways to do this. Pictures/videos are stored on the SD card you place in the camera.

      • View pictures on your computer. Plug the SD card in a desktop computer or laptop via the built-in SD card reader or use a USB reader if your computer doesn't have one. This method works for most tablets as well. With this method, we recommend having two SD cards per camera so you can swap them in the field.
      • View pictures on your smartphone. Choose between the iOS Reader for iPhones and the Android Reader. Phone readers require an app to access the photos, you can read more about these via the previous links.
      • Trail Camera Viewers. While more expensive, handheld viewers are useful if you don't have a smartphone or run multiple trail cameras.

Q: Will this trail camera trigger on small animals (birds, rodents, etc.)?

A: Trail cameras detect on a combination of heat and movement, so, yes, small mammals will trigger the camera. However, if you are going after smaller warm-blooded mammals, we recommend getting the camera closer to your target. For best performance, place the camera in an area that would enable picture detection from 3 - 20 ft.

Q: Can animals see the infrared flash on this camera?

A: Yes. This is a red glow trail camera, meaning it has a faint red glow when taking pictures or videos at night. Humans and animals can see this if looking at the camera. This does not "light up" the woods, though. Bushnell refers to this as "Low Glow."

Q: Where can I purchase this camera?

A: From us! We hope to woo you with our incredible charm, two-year warranty, 90-day returns, free continental U.S. shipping, and technical expertise. If that isn't enough, we give you an 16 Gig SD card with this camera and you can call and talk our ear off anytime.

Seriously, though, we know you have plenty of options of where to spend your hard-earned money. The internet can be the wild, wild, west of too-good-to-be-true deals. If you choose to do business with us, we will go out of our way to make sure you are happy with the camera you select and the service we provide you.

We are passionate about testing and reviewing trail cameras, but most importantly, we are passionate about treating our customers the right way. We do things differently from what you have come to expect from other internet retailers and we hope you give us the opportunity to prove that to you.

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Manufacturer Specifications

  • 34.8° Field of view
  • No external battery jack
  • 16 interpolated mpxl photos
  • 1280x720 videos w/ audio
  • 2X time lapse w/ live trigger
  • Day/Night/24 Hour mode
  • Date, time, and temperature stamp on all images
  • 8 AA batteries required
  • Accepts up to 32 gig sd card
  • Optional accessories: Bushnell Security Case & Masterlock Python Cable Lock

trail camera warranty

Buy your next trail camera or accessory from us and we will protect your purchase with our 90-day return policy and our exclusive 2-year warranty.

Most manufacturer warranties are only one year. In our opinion, that isn't good enough. Our customers get a two year warranty, directly from us.

Trailcampro's 2-Year Warranty

If the trail camera you purchase from us goes defective within two years of your purchase, we will quickly replace it.

We strive to make the warranty process as quick and easy as possible. Simply fill out our warranty form.

Trailcampro's 90-Day Return Policy

We believe you have the right to return any game camera that does not meet your expectations within 90 days.

Our return policy lets you field test products, at no risk to you!

  • Buyer's remorse? Return the camera to us for a full refund (minus shipping).
  • Purchased the wrong camera? We will ship you the right camera.
  • Something wrong with the camera you received? We will replace it at no cost to you.

Want to talk to a trail camera expert? Contact our friendly staff.

Read our Customer Testimonials to find out what our customers have been saying about us!

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    Suite 108
    Springfield, MO 65807

    Essential E3 Accessories

    Here are a few of the accessories we like to use in the 2017 Essential E3.

    Energizer Ultimate Lithiums | 8 Pack


    - There is no downside to using lithium batteries. Long battery life, extreme durability and better night pictures. You will be happy you did.

    Bushnell Security Case


    - Use this to protect your new camera from bears and thieves. It provides much needed peace of mind when leaving your camera out in nature.

    6 Foot Python Cable Lock


    - Use this with the security case, or just the camera itself. The E3 has brackets on the back specifically for this lock.

    Extra SD Cards

    Start at $9.95

    - SD cards store your pictures and videos for easy removal. We give you a free SD card with the E3, but most people use 2 SD cards. If you have two cards, you can swap them out when you retrieve the pictures.

    Verified Customer Reviews

    We ensure that every customer review comes from one of our real customers and not someone who works for the competing trail camera manufacturer. These are verified customer trail camera reviews that you can trust.

    We would love your feedback if you purchased this trail camera from us. We want your honest feedback, these reviews are a vital part in helping consumers choose the right game camera.