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What are wildlife cameras?

Wildlife cameras are used to observe wild animals undisturbed in their habitat/territory. The data obtained is usually used to collect statistics and help researchers to better assess populations. Foresters and photographers can also observe wildlife movements and determine whether they are likely to encounter wild animals.

Their advantage lies particularly in camouflage, as well as in taking pictures at night and in other adverse light conditions. Wildlife observation is the one area for which wildlife cameras are generally used, but they can also be used for surveillance to document burglars or other events on a property. This means that these modern photo traps are no longer just used as cameras, but also as hidden video cameras for hunting grounds and property protection.

How does a wildlife camera work?

Wildlife cameras were developed in the 1920s and were triggered using a tripwire. In the 1990s, this technology was replaced by pressure-sensitive ground mats and a few years later by the first infrared heat sensors. At the turn of the millennium, PIR sensor technology (Passive infrarot sensor) was introduced to wildlife cameras, which reacts to movement via infrared radiation in combination with heat. This means that an image is only created when there is movement in front of the sensor, which significantly reduces power consumption and increases the hit rate.

The wildlife cameras built today are still based on this technology. The development of modern wildlife cameras consists primarily of improving the sensitivity of the sensors as well as their reliability, and developers are also trying to improve battery life & performance through their self-sufficient use.

Functions of wildlife cameras for game observation & object protection


Two different methods are usually used to illuminate video and images. Either with a flash or with an infrared flash. The infrared flash has the advantage that it cannot be detected by the human eye. Infrared LED technology is also divided into low glow LEDs and no glow LEDs (black LEDs). Low glow wildlife cameras are more suitable for use in forests to observe animals, as they emit a slight red light and can be detected by humans, they are not perfect for object protection. This characteristic is put into perspective by the No Glow LEDs, which are more inconspicuous and emit less light, which is why their range for recording is rather short. If you buy a photo trap with a No Glow LED, it is good to pay attention to how many LEDs are installed. If there are more LEDs installed, they primarily compensate for the disadvantage in range.

Power supply

The power supply for wildlife cameras can be provided by AA batteries / rechargeable batteries or by a solar cell installed on the photo trap. If you want to save energy, you can also make sure that the photo trap's timer is switched on so that it only actively takes pictures during this time, thus saving energy. (Provided, of course, that this function is supported in the wildlife camera)

Motion detection

As previously explained, modern cameras are equipped with so-called PIR sensors. This technology is based on a semiconductor crystal, which changes its voltage depending on the heat radiation.

Response time / trigger delay

By calibrating the response time & shutter release delay, the probability of false triggering is also regulated. This means that either a photo or a video is taken, depending on the setting made on the wildlife camera. It therefore makes sense to invest some time in calibration, as otherwise the camera may trigger every time a branch moves.

Weather resistance

Wildlife cameras or photo traps usually have one of the following three IP protection classes:

  • IP56 - Protected against dust & protection against water jets
  • IP65 - Dust-tight and protection against splashing water from all sides
  • IP66 - Dustproof and protection against strong water jets

Smart connection

There are models of photo traps with WiFi, 4G / LTE antenna and app connection, which transmit the images directly to the networked system. It all depends on what you need. If systems are equipped with a mobile phone antenna, then these systems offer the option of inserting a SIM card and transmitting the information / images directly over long distances to a device of choice. This has the disadvantage that radio signals are generated which can be measured by special measuring devices, which can be a disadvantage for property protection.

Advantages of wildlife cameras

  • Several months of battery life
  • increased hunting success
  • Inexpensive & robust memory cards can be used(SD cards / microSD cards)
  • increased crime detection potential
  • Available in camouflage colors
  • Weatherproof
  • Partially detailed image information (temperature, moon phase, recording date & time, etc.)

Game cameras in professional use

Wildlife cameras used in hunting or research photo traps require at least 12 megapixels. If, on the other hand, only a game population is to be checked or observed, then devices with fewer megapixels are sufficient.

The sensor size also plays an important role, a large sensor leads to more pixels & image information. This also has a positive effect on imaging performance in low light situations and helps to improve performance.

Tips for the photo trap

When installing the photo trap, make sure that it is not set up in a backlight situation, as this reduces the image quality. If you do want to point it in this direction, you should make sure that the shooting angle is set so that as little light as possible enters the wildlife camera. A canopy can also help here, but may only make the camera more conspicuous.

Avoid false triggering

Another thing you should pay attention to when installing a wildlife camera is to improve the camera's view by ensuring that there are no branches or grasses in front of the camera that could lead to false triggering.

False triggers are not always direct false triggers, because even animals that are well camouflaged for us are a reason for the photo trap to trigger, the PiR sensor even recognizes people or animals at 30m. It is therefore very important to align the camera so that it is positioned appropriately to the area to be photographed, so that not too much is captured, which automatically reduces false triggering.

It is also important that the camera is not positioned too close to the ground, otherwise it may trigger at any time when darker foliage heats up in the midday sun. Another mistake that can lead to false triggering is if the wildlife camera is mounted on a wobbly surface. If the trunk or pole is a possible source of movement, the camera may perceive the surroundings as movement and therefore lead to false triggering.


If you want to camouflage your wildlife camera, you should look for the perfect spot to mount it. This could be a fence surrounded by a hedge, for example. Make sure that the hedge is cut back regularly so that there are no branches in front of the camera. Another method of camouflaging the photo trap would be to place it between stones so that the camera is less visible and blends in with the overall appearance.

When attaching the trap to trees, make sure that the bands resemble the colors of the tree. This will ensure that the camouflage is not immediately noticeable. Another hiding place for the camera could also be a bird house, as this offers many advantages, shading of the lens as well as some protection from the weather!