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Our Newsletter

Trail Camera Help



Read the following information to help you with your trail camera setup and problems.


Today I would like to take some time and talk about few common trail camera problems. There are many problems that can be resolved with the following information.



The very 1st thing that I do with a trail camera that is not functioning correctly is test the batteries. Batteries cannot be tested with a volt meter. A volt meter tests volts, not amps. You can have 1.5 volts on an alkaline battery, but if there is no amperage behind it, its junk. You need a pulse load tester to test them correctly. This tester tests a batteries ability to deliver current and maintain voltage under load. If you cannot test them, replace them. Batteries make a big difference in camera performance.

All batteries in your camera must be the same brand and type. Do not mismatch batteries as acid leaking may result. Batteries must be installed correctly. Pay special attention to this. Do not assume that each row of batteries follows a sequence. Some rows of batteries are flip flopped. Some Bushnell cameras are good example of this.

There are 3 main types of batteries. Alkaline, Lithium, and Rechargeable. Make sure that you are using quality name brand batteries, and the type that is recommended for your camera. Some cameras will allow you to select the type of batteries that you are using in the camera setup area. This must be done if the selection exists. Most, but not all cameras will run well on alkaline batteries. Alkaline batteries are the most common choice unless the manufacturer recommends something else. Don't go to your local hardware store and buy the 50 pack of off brand batteries for 5 bucks. They may or may not work well in your camera.

Next, lets talk about lithium. I prefer Energizer Ultimate Lithium batteries. These work excellent in trail cams. They last longer and get many more pictures over alkaline. This is a great choice if your trail camera will not be checked for an extended period of time. The only downfall is that when they start to go dead, they go fast. You can be at 60 percent charged one day, and dead the next.

The last type is rechargeable. Before you even get started make sure that rechargeable batteries are compatible with your camera. Most cameras do not run well on rechargeable batteries unless it was built to do so. I prefer Tenergy Nickel Metal Hydride batteries with at least a 2500 milliamp hour rating. Batteries with a lower rating may not be sufficient. These batteries must be charged with a smart charger to get the best results. A smart charger charges each battery individually until they are charged and also will also tell you if you have a bad battery. A cheap charger only charges for a set amount of time, then stops regardless of battery condition. Tenergy makes a great 12 bay  battery charger for charging trail camera batteries. Rechargeable batteries work great in cold weather. It is not uncommon to get 10,000 or more pictures per charge on a set of rechargeable batteries if your camera was made to use them. A Reconyx camera is a good example of a cam that works well on rechargeable batteries.


If batteries don’t seem to be the problem check camera settings.



The first thing to do is put all camera settings back to default. You can do this with most cams in the camera settings area. Then set the camera to take pictures at a rapid rate. Make sure the camera is in motion detect mode if there is one. Sometimes users have their camera turned off in a time lapse option and don’t realize it.



Most, if not all trail cameras are slightly overrated. Make sure you read the and identify the difference between flash range and detection range. You may have a 100 ft flash range but your detection range is 50 ft. Don’t get these confused. Test your camera in the backyard so you know exactly what to expect in the woods. Your most common camera height setup is waist high and pointed straight out. Be careful not to let it point up in the air or at the ground. This setup allows a camera to get max range.  Walk 8 steps from the camera. At this point, all trail cameras on the market should do a very good job at catching you. This is a good starting point. Once you get to know your camera you can set it up to match its performance.

Here are a few things to consider...

INFRARED GLOW--  This is the glow your camera uses at night when it takes a picture. The more objects that there are for the light to bounce off of, the greater the range. If you put your camera inside of a building the camera will illuminate farther because of the infrared light bouncing off the walls. Range in brushy areas are not bad either. When you try to take pictures out into an open yard or food plot the range does not seem to be as good. If the animals in the night pictures are too bright, back it up more.

SENSITIVITY-- Your camera operates off of heat and motion combined to trigger. If its a cold day it will sense farther because the temperature differential between the object and the surrounding air is greater. On a cold day it will pick up smaller animals farther away. On hot days its range will be shorter. When setting up on a trail it is a good idea to take a few steps off the trail and face camera down it. It will not work through glass because it cannot sense an objects heat .

FALSE TRIGGERS-- All cameras will take pictures at times of nothing. Here are some things that can cause this.

When the sun shines on front of camera and its windy.

If your camera is mounted on a small tree that sways back and forth in the wind.

If you have brush or ferns that are close moving back and forth in front of it.

Birds, squirrels, flying squirrels, animals that move very quickly past the very front of the camera.

Waves from a pond, flagpoles, vehicles in the distance. It's not uncommon for a car to trigger your camera 150 feet away causing it to take photos.

On many cameras the sensor angle is wider that the picture angle. That means that an animal can trip the sensor and not get in the picture. If you have your cameras set in burst mode of 6 pictures per trigger and something triggers it. You will get 6 pictures no matter if something is there or not. Some cameras will allow you to turn the sensitivity down. If you believe your camera it taking pictures of nothing put it in a closet for 3 hours and see if it stops. If it does not, it is defective.

BAD PHOTOS-- There are a number of things that can cause bad photos.

Weak or frozen batteries during cold temperatures. This will cause black pictures, odd colored pictures, or no pictures at all. Usually when it warms up a few degrees this goes away.

Snow, rain, frost, or dew on the camera lens can cause black or blurry pictures. If this happens let it melt or dry off on its own. If you need to wipe it off be very careful as you can do more harm than good. Its very easy to scratch sensors or acrylic parts.  

A little dirt on the front of your camera usually has very little effect on the photo quality especially if it is in the led or flash area.

Spiders also like to hide out inside the security box then crawl up on the front camera. If you have problems with bugs, put a teaspoon of garden insect powder in your box.

Make sure small sensors are not filled with dirt.

If your camera takes too many infrared night pictures it is probably shadowed too much. A heavy tree canopy can cause this. Move your cam to a brighter area. If you are getting a lot of dark pictures, move your camera to a darker area. This will cause the infrared to kick on earlier.

Sometimes, the sun causes bad pictures. If this is the case, point the camera in a different direction so the sun hits it at a different angle.



There are many SD cards on the market, do not buy your cheapest option. I prefer Delkin for all my cams. Delkin makes great SD cards that are widely compatible with most trails cams. Buy the plain, ordinary class 10 cards. You do not need high speed, ultra, extreme, or anything like that.

You want to make sure that you don't mix your cards between your trail cams. Make sure the same cards go in the same brand of cameras. What I like to do is put a M on my Moultrie cards, a B on my Bushnell cards, and a W on my Wildgame cards. This is to ensure that the same SD cards go back into the same camera that they were taken out of.

The best way to view your SD cards  is on a computer, TV,  or a brand specific viewing device. For instance if you are trying to view Bushnell cards in a Moultrie viewer, it may or may not work, or not work fully.  You can delete your cards with a computer, the trail cam it was taken out of, or a brand specific viewer. Do not erase cards with things that are not brand specific. Reformatting cards in a computer usually resolves SD card issues, but not all of the time.

The last thing to do is check that the SD card is not in the lock position. Many SD cards have a small switch on the side. Make sure that it is not in the lock position. If it is, pictures will not be able to be added or removed from the card.