5 Most Common Trail Camera Myths
Myth #1: More Megapixels = Better Pictures.
Simply put, no. This is by far the most common trail camera buying mistake. "Camera X has 18 megapixels! Wow, it must take great pictures!!!"
Absolutely not. In fact, most megapixels ratings on trail cameras are interpolated. What is interpolation? Interpolation occurs when the native resolution of an imaging device is enhanced via software to a higher resolution. Think of megapixels as tiny dots on an image. The more dots on the image, the more you can theoretically zoom into the image and see detail. Also, the more dots on the image the sharper and clearer the image becomes. As of this writing, most trail cameras have a native resolution of 4-5 megapixels.
Interpolated images are created when the camera digitally adds extra pixels for every real pixel the camera creates. Worst case - each additional pixel added is identical to the first. So a green pixel is just split into 4, 8 or 16 additional green pixels. This neither increases the quality of the picture or allows you to zoom in to view additional details. Best Case - additional pixels are added using computer algorithms to guess the color of the added pixels. In either case, the interpolated file size is exponentially larger creating longer recovery times and consuming vast amounts of additional storage space.
Why do companies do this? Because it is an advertising gimmick that has fooled many game camera buyers over the years.
So how do you know whether a game camera takes good pictures or not? You must look at sample pictures from each trail camera. Here at Trailcampro, we provide sample photos for every trail camera we review and sell. Just select a camera and read the review. There is a section on every game camera review on Picture Quality. These photos and videos are unedited and come directly from the camera (we do resize the pictures so they won't take so long to load).
Of the two trailcam photos below, can you tell which one came from the 3 mpxl camera vs. the 14 mpxl camera?
Neither can we. The first picture is from a Reconyx trail camera (3.1 mpxl) while the second picture is from a Bushnell trail camera (14 mpxl). Two great photos, but interpolation didn't play a part in the image quality.
Helpful Link: Trail Camera Reviews
Myth #2: All Infrared Trail Cameras Are Created the Same
There are 3 main categories of IR Trail Cameras:
No Glow game cameras do not produce visible light to the human eye when taking a photo or video at night.
Benefits of No Glow Trail Cameras
- Invisible to the human eye
- Great for security surveillance
- Can work as both wildlife & security cameras
Benefits of Low Glow Trail Cameras
- Hardly visible to the human eye
- Work for surveillance
- Offers slightly brighter photos than a true no glow
Red glow game cameras produce a faint red glow from the IR emitters when taking pictures or videos at night.
Benefits of Red Glow Trail Cameras
- Brighter, clearer night photos (because more light is being emitted)
- Excellent as wildlife cameras as they allow for better species identification
- Less expensive (on average) than no glow cameras
Deciding which infrared camera to buy depends on how you will use the camera. The guide below will tell you which camera you need in 2 minutes.
Helpful Link: Trail Camera Selection Guide
Myth #3: Alkaline Batteries Work Great in Trailcams
While alkaline batteries are inexpensive & certainly do work in some situations, they are not ideal.
The voltage level and overall capacity of an alkaline battery drop with each subsequent photo. When used in many infrared trail cameras, alkaline batteries produce a gradual decline in flash illumination with each new photo being darker than the last. This is particularly noticeable during the Fall & Winter months when the chemical properties of alkaline batteries are drastically reduced by cold temperatures.
We give our customers a 2-year warranty on game cameras (shameless plug), so we see all types of defects and trail camera problems. A huge amount of the cameras we test with perceived defects were simply receiving insufficient power from alkaline batteries.
For the most consistent performance and picture quality use lithium batteries.
Helpful Link: Trail Camera Batteries
Myth # 4: You Must Be a Tech Genius To Operate a Game Camera
Each camera manufacturer uses a slightly different setup menu, but most are relatively simple and easy to use. If there are any issues with setup, we make sure to note them in the "Quality of Design" section of our trail camera reviews.
Below is one of the easiest game cameras to setup - a Primos trail camera.
Programming is as simple as flipping a few toggle switches.
Helpful Link: Trailcampro's Favorite Trail Cameras
Myth #5: You Can View Your Trail Camera Pictures using a Digital Handheld Camera
Unfortunately, this rarely works. Handheld digital cameras like the ones you use to snap family photos do not cooperate well with trail camera photos. Every once in a while you may get one to work without any complications. However, more often than not the digital camera will "lock" the SD card from the trail camera.
In short, please don't try this! We don't want you to lose weeks of hard work and scouting effort. Trail cameras save their photos to the SD card. The easiest way to view photos is to insert your SD card into a computer or laptop. Other options include adapters which allow you to view photos on your smartphone, trail cameras with an internal viewer or a portable trail camera viewer.
Helpful Link: Trail Cameras With Internal Viewers
Still left with questions? Send us an email and talk directly to a trail camera expert.
Want to buy a trail camera from us? Shop our Trail Cameras and take advantage of our 2-year warranty and 90-day return policy.