In this post, we are looking at the best trail cameras for the money in 2023 for hunting, wildlife, and security. Buying trail cameras can be confusing because there are so many different companies making them and there are a lot of specs to understand.
To make matters more difficult many trail camera companies lie or exaggerate their specs for marketing purposes only to leave you disappointed when you start using the camera.
I make it easy to pick the best trail camera for the money by listing trustworthy trail camera companies and camera models with good reputations so that you know your money will be spent well.
This post contains Amazon and other affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you. Of course, you are not obligated to use my links, but it does help fund these posts in hopes of bringing more value to you!
Trail Camera Companies Lie For Marketing
Don’t Buy Into The Megapixel Hype
Don’t buy into the megapixel hype when it comes to buying trail cameras. Trail camera companies are using high megapixel numbers for marketing purposes to attract buyers. These numbers are not usually representative of image quality.
Companies are able to get away with this by using a process called interpolation. This digitally adds megapixels to photos without improving image quality. For this reason, megapixel counts should be taken with a grain of salt. Instead, looking at actual examples of photos is the best determining factor.
Are Cheap Trail Cameras Worth The Money?
Trail cameras in the under 100$ range are usually not worth the money. These cameras will often break in the first couple of years of use and even malfunction during the first year of use.
It is better to buy a more expensive camera that will get you many years of reliable use, rather than keeping your fingers crossed for those cheaper trail cameras to work.
This is especially important for hunters because there’s nothing worse than checking your trail camera at the end of the year only to find out that it stopped working 2-months from when you set it.
Trail Camera Comparison Spreadsheet
The Best Trail Cameras For The Money
Organize the spreadsheet below by the trail camera specs that are most important to you.
|Trail Camera Model||Price ($)||Tigger Speed (s)||Megapixels||Daytime Range (ft)||Nighttime Range (ft)||Flash Type||Recovery Time (s)||Battery Life (Months)||Video Res.|
|Bushnell Trophy Cam||132||0.3||16||80||80||Low-Glow IR||1||5||1280x720 @ 30 fps|
|Browning Strike Force HD Pro X||160||0.2||20||80||80||Infared Glow||0.7||17||1600x900 @ 30 fps|
|Spypoint Force Pro Cellular Trail Camera||160||0.2||30||100||100||No Glow IR||1.3||28||1920x1080 @ 30 fps|
|Browning Spec Ops Elite HP4||190||0.01||22||90||90||No Glow IR||0.6||36||1920x1080 @ 60 fps|
|Bushnell 30MP CORE Trail Camera||219||0.2||30||80||80||No Glow IR||0.6||12||1920x1080 @ 30 fps|
Best Cellular Trail Cameras For The Money
You can also sort the spreadsheet below by the cellular trail camera specs that are most important to you.
|Cellular Trail Camera Model||Price ($)||Tigger Speed (s)||Megapixels||Daytime Range (ft)||Nighttime Range (ft)||Flash Type||Recovery Time (s)||Battery Life (Months)||Video Res.|
|Spypoint Link Micro LTE||100||0.6||10||110||110||Infared Glow||66||2.5||n/a|
|Spypoint Link Micro S LTE||120||0.45||10||110||110||Infared Glow||73||2.5+||n/a|
|Browning Defender Wireless Pro Scout||190||0.3||18||90||90||Infared Glow||26.2||10.5||1600x900 @ 30 fps|
|Spypoint Link-S-Dark||299||0.07||12||90||90||No Glow IR||63||5+||1920x1080 @ 30 fps|
|Exodus Render 4G LTE||335||0.3||12||70||65||No Glow IR||25||6+||640x360 @ 15 fps|
|RidgeTec Lookout 4G LTE||300||0.5||12||100||100||No Glow IR||28||4||1920x1080 @ 30 fps|
|HCO Spartan Go-Live||500||0.6||8||70||70||No Glow IR||Varies||9||1920x1080 @ 30 fps|
Best Hunting & Wildlife Trail Cameras For The Money
Criteria That Make Trail Cameras The Best
- Trigger Speed
- Camera Resolution Quality
- Video Resolution
- Daytime Detection Range
- Nighttime Detection Range
- Flash Type
- Photo Recovery Time
- Battery Life
- Ease of Use
The Best Trail Camera For The Money Under 100$
As mentioned above, you should be careful when buying trail cameras under 100$ because they are, in my experience, notorious for malfunctioning very quickly. For this reason, if you’re looking to buy a trail camera under 100$ I would suggest buying something close to the 100$ mark. For example, you can get a pretty decent trail camera for 99$ but I would stay away from trail cameras that are cheaper than 90$.
Best Trail Cameras For The Money Under 150$
Once you start getting above 100$ trail cameras start becoming more reliable and have better specs. You can find some decent trail cameras in this price range. For example:
Bushnell Trophy Cam Essential E3 Trail Camera
This trail camera is one of the best trail cameras for the money because of how many features you get for the price. For example, this camera takes 16-megapixel photos at a fast trigger speed of 0.3 seconds. This camera takes about 1 second to recover after taking photos before it can take more photos.
It also has a respectable 80′ daytime and nighttime detection range. This camera uses low-glow IR sensors to capture nighttime photos. Depending on the settings, Bushnell claims this camera can last up to 1-year on one set of batteries but tests from Trail Cam Pro indicate that you’re realistically looking at 5 months. The Bushnell Trophy Cam is built well to withstand the elements for the entire duration of its use.
Best Trail Cameras For The Money Under 200$
Right around the 200$ price range is where you start seeing reliable trail cameras being made with great specs. These +/- 200$ cameras are likely where you will get the best trail cameras for the money. The reason for this is these cameras have the durability and the specs to get the job done reliably and with high quality for many years.
Browning Strike Force HD Pro X Trail Camera
The Browning Strike Force HD Pro X is one of the best trail cameras for the money. For just a little more money than the Bushnell Trophy Cam (above) you get a faster trigger speed, higher-quality images, faster photo recovery time, and an insane battery life of 17+ months with just 6 AA batteries.
Spypoint Force Pro Trail Camera
The Spypoint Force Pro is another great option at the same price point as the Browning Strike Force HD Pro X. The difference is this game camera has better specs, making it an even better value for the money. It has a fast 0.2 trigger speed, 30 MP resolution, 100 ft detection range, invisible glow infrared, 1080p HD video, and 28 months of battery life with 8 AA lithium batteries.
The recovery time of 1.3s is slightly slower than the Browning Strike Force Pro X’s 0.7s.
Browning Spec Ops Elite HP4 Trail Camera
The Browning Spec Ops Elite HP4 is a top-notch trail camera with some great specs. For example, it has a blazing fast 0.01 trigger speed, the 22 megapixels take high-quality photos, has a 90 ft detection range, uses invisible infrared flash, has a fast 0.6s recovery time, and can last an amazing 36 months on one set of lithium batteries.
The HP4 also takes 1080p Full HD video up to 60 fps. With the fast trigger speed and high frame rate of this camera, there should be virtually no blurring in photos with movement.
Best Trail Camera For The Money Under 250$
Bushnell Core Dual-Sensor (DS) No-Glow Trail Camera
The Bushnell Core Dual-Sensor No-Glow trail camera is one of the best trail cameras for the money if you’re looking for state-of-the-art trail camera resolution and an invisible nighttime flash. 30-megapixel photos generate very crisp and high-detailed photos. Additionally, the videos are full 1080P HD which is very crisp as well.
In addition to the resolution, this camera offers great specs including a 0.2s trigger speed, 80′ detection range during the day and night, 0.6s photo recovery time, and 12 months of battery life.
Best Cellular Trail Cameras For The Money
Best Entry-Level Cellular Trail Camera For The Money Under 100$
Spypoint Link Micro LTE Cellular Trail Camera
The Spypoint Link Micro LTE is a very affordable trail camera. It’s one of the lowest-priced cellular trail cameras that will still work well. For this reason, it is a great camera for getting started in the cellular camera game.
That said, like all trail cameras, you get what you pay for. For example, this trail camera lacks behind in battery life, picture quality, and internal programming. But if battery life isn’t super important to you and you don’t need the best specs for what you’re using the camera for, then this is the camera for you.
Best Cellular Trail Camera For The Money Under 200$
Spypoint Link Micro S LTE Cellular Trail Camera
The Spypoint Link Micro LTE and Spypoint Link Micro S LTE are basically the same cameras with one big and obvious difference, a solar panel. This solar panel helps increase the poor battery life on these cameras (only lasting 2.5 months). This should allow the camera to take photos for a very long time as long as the solar panels do not get covered with debris and it has access to sunlight.
Because this camera addresses the biggest issue of the regular Spypoint Link Micro LTE, it earns a spot on this list. Just keep in mind that this camera is only 10mp and the photos are not very crisp but if that’s not a deal-breaker this is one of the best cellular trail cameras for the money.
Browning Defender Wireless Pro Scout Trail Camera
As far as cellular cameras go, this is one of the best trail cameras for the money. It takes quality images, has a 90 ft detection range, has a fast recovery time for a cellular camera (26s), and an impressive 10.5 months of battery life (for a cellular trail camera).
If you’re looking for the next step up from the Spypoint cellular cameras, the Browning Defender Wireless Pro is an excellent option. The trade-off with the camera is the price when compared to the Spypoint cameras listed above, this camera is about 2x the price. That said, for a lot of people, these extra qualities of this camera are well worth it.
Best Cellular Trail Camera For The Money Under 300$
Spypoint Link-S-Dark Cellular Trail Camera
The Spypoint Link S Dark is one of the best cellular cameras for the money because of the additional features you get compared to the cheaper Spypoint cameras listed above. For example, you get a very fast trigger speed of 0.07s, 12-megapixels, 90 ft detection range, and 1080p HD video at 30 fps.
You also get 5 months of battery life with just the internal batteries but with the solar panel that comes with it, you can make your camera last much longer.
Best Cellular Trail Camera For The Money Under 400$
Exodus Render 4G LTE Verizon Cellular Trail Camera
On paper, the Exodus Render cellular trail camera might look like it is lacking in specs for the price. However, unlike other trail camera companies, Exodus is conservative with their camera specs so they ensure you are getting what you pay for in specs. Because of Exodus’ honesty about their specs and their generous 5-year warranty you know you are getting exactly what you pay for or better. For these reasons, it is one of the best trail cameras for the money.
The Exodus Render has a 0.3s trigger speed, 12 megapixels, 70 ft detection range, invisible no-glow infrared flash, fast 25 second recovery time, and will take between 500-5000 photos before the internal batteries die depending on camera settings. You also have the option to add a solar panel to this camera to increase the battery life greatly.
Trail Cameras Can Be Used As Security Cameras
Best Cellular Trail Cameras For Security/Surveillance For The Money
RidgeTec Lookout 4G LTE Cellular Trail Camera
The RidgeTec Lookout is an excellent security cellular trail camera for the money. It has a 0.5s trigger speed, 12-megapixel camera, 100 ft detection range, invisible no-glow infrared flash that takes great night photos, a very fast 28s recovery time, and takes 1080P HD videos at 30 fps. Another great feature of this camera is that you can buy different sim cards for it depending on which carrier has better service in the area you want to put the camera (vs buying a whole new camera).
One downside is that it has a fairly limited battery life of four months, but as a security camera this might not be a problem for you.
HCO Spartan Go-Live Live Streaming Cellular Trail Camera
The HCO Spartan Go-Live has the ability to live-stream which is an awesome feature for a cellular trail cam. This also makes it a great feature for security because you can tap into your camera’s feed at any time.
The Go-Live has a trigger speed is 0.6s, an 8-megapixel camera, a 70 ft detection range, invisible no-glow IR, a variable recovery time, 1080p HD video, and up to 9 months of battery life.
Even though the megapixels are less than the RidgeTec, the daytime photos are better on this camera.
How Far Can A Trail Camera Take A Picture?
Trail camera detection ranges commonly fall between 70-100 feet. That said, each trail camera is different. The detection range of an individual trail camera should be listed in the product description of the trail camera.
Best Batteries For Trail Cameras
Lithium batteries make a world of difference and are often overlooked. They are much more efficient and work better especially in cold weather, making them superior in trail cameras. The only downside to these batteries is that they’re more expensive than regular batteries but they pay for themselves with the increased trail camera performance.
If you liked this review of the best trail cameras for the money, you might also like my post: How To Place Trail Cameras For Mature Bucks.
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