trail camera comparisons

2018 Trail Camera Shootout

In the Detection Shootout, a test subject walks parallel to the test cameras from each direction at 10-foot intervals.  This continues out to 120 feet.  

Each camera was awarded a point for each full picture (greater than 60% of the body) of the test subject captured on each pass.  We also recorded empty and partial pictures to compute an efficiency rating for each camera.  

Overall Score: The total number of pictures the camera took with the person completely inside the field of view.

Efficiency Rating: The efficiency rating is simply the percentage of pictures which captured a valid image (60% or greater) of the test subject relative to the total number of images taken (valid + partial + empty).

This rating has no bearing on how we ranked the cameras, this is just for your convenience.

Detection Range: The furthest distance the camera detected during the Detection Shootout. 

Trailcampro Commentary & Notes

We get a lot of questions about the Shootout and how to interpret the results for certain cameras. So in this section, we will try to explain some of the nuances of the tests and add commentary for things that aren't readily apparent.

General Notes

  • The #1 thing you need to take into account is the Detection Shootout is the ultimate test of a camera's ability to detect and record activity. However, this is not the only consideration you should make when buying a camera. This test does not account for picture quality, battery life, video detection, case design, programming, etc. For an overall ranking of cameras that accounts for everything, we urge you to visit our Trail Camera Reviews. This page has all the cameras ranked from the highest overall score to the lowest.
  • Across the board, cameras detected extremely well this year. In fact, the top scoring camera had nearly 2 times the overall score the top camera had last year. This is evidence of the R&D companies committed to over the last 12 months. 
  • The Shootout has many variables, the most obvious is the ambient temperature on the day of testing. This is why it is imperative we test the cameras on the same day, at the same time. This gives us an apples to apples comparison.
  • We tested 100 (ish) cameras this year. We tried to have doubles of every camera. If we didn't have a double of a particular model, then we had a camera that would have had the same detection circuit.
  • This year we had multiple trail camera manufacturers present for testing (Bushnell, Moultrie, Primos, Spypoint, Hawk, and Browning). They were able to observe and go over the settings of their cameras to ensure proper setup for maximum detection. We enjoyed having them and welcome any and all trailcam manufacturers to these tests in the future.
  • Every year we have folks ask us why certain cameras didn't make it into the Shootout. At the end of the day, we want to have as comprehensive a list as possible. If a certain camera didn't make it into testing, it either wasn't available at the time, didn't work on day of testing (only 1 camera malfunctioned this year), was inadvertently left out (we are human and forget things), was a duplicate of another model being tested, or the company didn't show interest in being in our tests. If you are reading this and are a trailcam manufacturer that wants your cameras in our testing for next year, just email us ( or call us (1-800-791-0660) and we will include any models in the test you like.

Quick Hits on the Brands We Tested

Boly - Boly contacted us and wanted their cameras in the Shootout this year. This is a Chinese manufacturing company that makes cameras under several lesser known brand names.

Bushnell - Bushnell got knocked off the top perch, but they still detect extremely well.

Browning - Browning did exactly as we expected. Really good detection circuits, with good efficiency ratings.

Covert - Covert scored as they have in past tests. Very typical results. They would benefit greatly from faster recovery times so they could get more pictures (points) per pass.

Cuddeback - They have asked that they no longer be included in any of our tests, reviews or analysis. In fact, due to their request, we are no longer allowed to even mention their name on our site (this includes telephone calls as well). We include them in these basic tests each year because there is consumer demand to know how they stack up to other cameras. At this time, we choose to not offer commentary of how their cameras performed.

Hawk - Quite simply, they impressed us for their first year on the market. These little guys have a ton of potential.

HCO - Most of the HCO cameras performed how we expected. The disappointing result is from the new detection circuit in the Spartan US Cellular. Very poor detection range. However, their ATT and Verizon models do ok.

Moultrie - The Moultrie M-50's do really well. Overall, all the Moultrie's performed well.

Primos - All the Primos cameras scored respectively and consistently. Nothing flashy in their results.

Reconyx - The new Hyperfire 2 scored 25th and did really well out to 80 ft. No improvements or downgrades in the rest of their models. They would benefit from a longer detection range.

Spypoint - Spypoint raised the bar. They are utilizing a new technology that eliminates "dead zones" in the detection zone. At first, the cameras were so fast we thought they were in multi-shot mode. Turns out, they weren't and just legitimately detect a crazy number of photos per trigger. In the real world, it is annoying how fast they are! However, their detection capabilities are the best we have ever tested.

Stealth Cam - The Stealth cams do ok but their recovery times keep them from scoring higher.

Weather Conditions on Morning of Testing

We started at 0715 on the morning of the tests. The temperature was in the 60's (Fahrenheit), it was windy, and the skies were clear.



Trail Cameras purchased from us come with:

Free Shipping to the Lower 48  |  2-Year Warranty  |  90-Day Returns