A trail camera is also called a remote camera or a camera trap. They are designed to take videos or photos of wildlife. You can mount these cameras in different locations, and they will capture photos and videos without a person staying there to operate it. How you program the trail camera will depend on the environment where you are setting it up.
Important Camera Settings for Trail Cameras
Trail cameras only have a few settings, but there are different features. You need to choose the best settings for the environment so that you get higher quality photos and video. The settings are important because the trail camera operates automatically based on these settings.
You can set it and leave it to take photos on its own. The primary settings to focus on are the camera mode, burst number, interval, and sensitivity.
1. Camera Mode
You can use the camera mode to choose how you want to set the trail camera to take pictures. Some of the modes you might choose include video, single-photo, burst photos, and time-lapse. You should decide what you want to accomplish and choose the right mode.
Burst mode is a series of photos in a short period of time. This works well if you aren’t using any bait. You can use single-photo if you are using bait, and video will give you video of the wildlife. Time-lapse will cover a period of time.
2. Burst Number
Another setting is the burst number, which tells the trail camera how many photos to take in burst mode. If you expect the location to have a lot of activity, you might want more photos in the burst to increase your chances of getting a great photo. Factor in how much memory you have available because a higher burst number will use more memory.
The interval setting tells the trail camera how much time you want between photographs. If you want to have a lot of photos of each animal, you will set a small interval, while you can preserve your battery by having a larger interval.
Finally, the sensitivity setting determines how reactive your trail camera will be to motion or heat detection. Infrared cameras use heat detection to get photos after dark. If you set the camera to be more sensitive, it will take photos when there is a small amount of motion.
Setting up Your Trail Camera
Once you choose the settings for your trail camera, you need to set it up. You need to consider where you mount it, its height, its focus range, and how much sunlight it gets.
1. Mounting Your Trail Camera
First of all, you need to make sure that you mount your trail camera securely. Make sure that it can’t be knocked down. People commonly mount trail cameras to a tree. When you choose a location, take a few test photos. Make sure that the camera is level and that you have it facing the direction you want it to face.
2. The Height
You should know what kinds of animals you want to photograph or video, and then set the height accordingly. You will want the camera at the eye level of the animals you want to capture to get the face and most of the body in the camera’s view. The camera will be higher up for taller animals, and it will be lower for smaller animals.
3. Focus Range
Most of the time, trail cameras have a fixed focus and aperture. If you plan to change it, you will need to do so when you are setting it up. Make sure that you test the camera and focus where you want to capture wildlife.
You should try to set up the camera out of direct sunlight in a more shaded place. If you have it facing the sunlight directly, you might get a glare on your photos. You should also avoid having the sunlight directly behind the camera because it could trigger taking photos when the shadows move.
How to Avoid Common Mistakes
There are certain common mistakes that you should avoid when you are setting up and programming your trail camera. Making these mistakes will have an impact on the quality of your images and how well your camera is able to capture them.
These mistakes include using too small a memory card, hiding your camera too well, not considering the weather, and not considering the impact of snells on wildlife.
1. Using Too Small a Memory Card
You need to make sure that your memory card is large enough to hold the photos you program the trail camera to take. If you plan to take photo bursts over several hours, make sure you have room to record them. Once your memory card is full, you won’t capture any more pictures or video. Look at your camera, and try to buy the largest size memory card that it can handle.
2. Hiding Your Trail Camera Too Well
You do want to make sure that your camera is hidden well so that it doesn’t get stolen. You also want to make sure that it is hidden from the animals you want to shoot. However, if there is too much foliage, it may get in the way of some of your shots. You may also have difficulty finding your camera unless you have it GPS tracked.
3. The Weather
Although trail cameras are durable and waterproof, they are still susceptible to some weather conditions. In extremely cold weather, your battery will drain more quickly. If you install your camera low to the ground, a snow drift or a rising river bank can cause a problem with your image quality. Consider these factors when you set your camera up.
Animals have a strong sense of smell and they can smell human scent left behind on a camera. They may avoid the area if they know that a person has been nearby. Make sure that you handle your camera with gloves that don’t hold a scent, and then clean the camera by wiping it down before you leave it.
When you are setting up your trail camera, make sure that you choose your settings and place it in the best location to take photos and video of the animals you want to capture on film.