How to Choose the Best Wildlife Camera – Home & Roost

How to Choose the Best Wildlife Camera

Melinda Connor |

Are you a wildlife enthusiast who wants to see what happens in your garden when you're not around? Perhaps, you like us, want to find out where shoes are mysteriously disappearing every night? Then you need to read this article. We're reviewing the best wildlife cameras currently available in the UK, with a buying guide as well as a few of the most frequently asked questions.

In recent weeks, we were waking up to shoes missing from outside our front door. A few family members were keen to put up ‘wanted’ posters for a one-footed thief, while others suggested the culprit could very well be a fox. To solve the mystery, we had two options. To sit up all night with our mobile phones and see the fiend with a footwear fetish in action or get a wildlife camera. We decided on the latter.

It only took a night or two for us to crack the case, which was great. But even better than that was all the other nocturnal activity we captured on camera. From foxes and owls to hedgehogs, badgers and even a few deer, we had discovered a whole new meaning to the term nightlife.

What is a Wildlife Camera?

Wildlife cameras, or trail cameras, are designed to capture images or videos of animals in their habitat. They can also be used as a security device around the home. Wildlife trail cameras work remotely with a built-in sensor that triggers when there's movement around. The best trail cameras are waterproof, durable and built to withstand outdoor conditions.

These handy little gadgets come with all sorts of amazing features, including infrared LEDs, thermal imaging, motion detectors, night vision, as well as timers. Depending on your needs, and your budget, a wildlife camera can cost as little as £30, all the way up to £300.

Our Top Picks for the Best Wildlife Garden Camera

1. Victure Mini Wildlife Camera 16MP 1080P

2. APEMAN Action Camera A77

3. Crenova 20MP 1080P HD Wildlife Hunting Trail Camera

4. Usogood Wildlife Camera

5. TOGUARD Upgraded Wildlife Camera

Reviews - The Best Wildlife Cameras

1. Victure Mini Wildlife Camera

Don't be fooled by the size of the Victure Mini Wildlife Camera. Yes, it's small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, but its features and high-resolution pictures and videos pack a punch. And it's affordable. 

For the tech-spec people out there, this trail cam has a photo resolution of 16 megapixels, 1080P HD video, 26 infrared LEDs, as well as PIR motion-detecting sensors with a trigger time of 0.4 seconds. For the rest of us, this simply means that the mini camera delivers clear, detailed images and videos, day or night.

Unlike some wildlife cameras, the Victure Mini is easy to set up, and the screen menu is user-friendly. Its small size means it is unimposing and can be placed on the ground, in bushes and shrubs, on trees and anywhere else there might be activity. It's also durable, waterproof and built to withstand our wet conditions.

We really like the time-lapse feature on the camera that allows you to record at intervals preset by you. Other functions include a timer, a timestamp and password protection. The only downside, although it's definitely not a dealbreaker is that the batteries and SD card will need to be purchased separately.

All in all, this is a great mini trail cam that will capture all sorts of animal activity in your garden, including hedgies.

What we like:

  • It's budget-friendly
  • lightweight, durable and waterproof
  • Perfect for capturing nocturnal activity
  • High photo and video resolution

What we don't like:

  • Batteries and SD card need to be bought separately

2. APEMAN Action Camera A77

Another affordable wildlife trail camera is the APEMAN A77 Action Camera. With a photo resolution of 20 megapixels and 1080P HD video, you're able to capture clear and detailed footage. A definite standout feature is the trigger sensor that detects motion up to 65ft away.

Setting up the camera is straightforward, and you have the option of mounting it on a tripod or attaching it with a strap. It's also waterproof and with 40 infrared LEDs, it can capture what's happening in your garden day and night.

Although the viewing angle is somewhat limited, we think that for the price and the picture and video quality, it's one of the best wildlife cameras around.

What we like:

  • Excellent trigger speed
  • The sensor detects movement up to 65ft away
  • Affordable
  • Can be mounted on a tripod or with a strap

What we don't like:

  • Limited viewing angle of 90 degrees
  • Some users have mentioned poor battery life

3. Crenova 20MP 1080P HD Wildlife Hunting Trail Camera

Priced a little higher, the Crenova 20MP 1080P HD Wildlife Hunting Trail Camera has a picture resolution of 20 megapixels and 1080P HD video resolution. This means you get excellent quality pictures and videos around the clock. We especially like the night mode on this particular camera. With 36pcs 940nm infrared LEDs and an automatic infrared filter, the picture quality is extraordinary.

Other features include 0.2 seconds trigger speed, three sensors, 120° area detection angle as well as a 65ft motion-detection range. There's very little that will go unnoticed with the Crenova trail camera. 

The camera comes with a USB cable, a wall mount, a strap, three screws and a user-friendly manual. However, if we have to find something wrong with this product, the fact that it needs eight AA batteries to run would be it.

What we like:

  • Superior quality images and videos
  • Excellent trigger time
  • Very effective for night time

What we don't like:

  • SD card needs to be purchased separately
  • Requires 8 AA batteries to run

4. Usogood Wildlife Camera

The Usogood Wildlife Garden Camera offers night-time users no-glow infrared technology with 44 940nm infrared LEDs. Like the Crenova, it has a 120° wide detection angle and a range of 65 feet. It also has a trigger speed of 0.2 seconds.

We like the colour LCD screen that allows you to view images or videos there and then, and if necessary you can take and check footage while you're busy setting the camera up. A unique feature of the Usogood wildlife trail camera is the zoom function which lets you see what you've recorded in even more detail.

It's well-built with a 60mm thick waterproof casing and it features durable sturdy buttons. The camera comes with a tripod and strap, depending on how you want to set it up. Although it needs eight AA batteries, it has a battery life of around six months, which we think is really good.

If you're looking for an affordable, entry-level camera to check night-time visitors to the garden, then this is it.

What we like:

  • Good photo and video resolution
  • Well-built, durable and waterproof
  • Has a 120° wide-angle detection and range of 65 feet
  • Zoom feature
  • Can be mounted on a stand or with a strap
  • Very affordable

What we don't like:

  • SD card and batteries are not included

5. TOGUARD Upgraded Wi-Fi Bluetooth Wildlife Camera

If budget isn't too much of a concern, then you might want to consider the TOGUARD Wi-Fi Bluetooth Wildlife Camera. It has built-in Wi-Fi with an easy to use app that allows you to download videos and photos directly from the camera to your phone. Bluetooth connectivity also means you don't need to use a remote control to set it up or change settings.

On the technical side of things, the TOGUARD has 20 megapixels resolution, 1296P HD video resolution as well as clear sound recording quality. It also has a fast trigger response of 0.3 seconds and a 65ft detection range. 

Using 850nm low glow infrared technology, the black and white night-time images are clear, so you don't miss a thing.  As you would expect from a camera of this quality, it's durable with a dust and waterproof cover and can withstand extreme weather conditions.

Like the other cameras reviewed here, this one also works with eight AA batteries. The batteries and SD card are not included, so you will have to buy these separately.

What we like:

  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity allows you to download images and videos from your camera to your smartphone
  • It is dust and waterproof
  • Picture and video quality is very good
  • Trigger speed is good at 0.3 seconds
  • Includes an app

What we don't like:

  • The app needs to be updated and more user-friendly
  • WiFi and Bluetooth connection isn't great and can be affected by various factors, including battery levels

Buying Guide - Choosing the Best Wildlife Camera for Your Garden

Our reviews feature five of the best wildlife cameras currently available in the UK. But trust us, there's a heck of a lot more to choose from. So how do you know what to look for when choosing one that's best for your needs and your budget?

Our buying guide tells you which features are important so that you get the best use out of your camera.

Picture and Video Quality

There's very little point to setting up a camera if you can't see what you're capturing. This is why image and video quality is one of the most important features to keep in mind.  Picture resolution is measured in megapixels and trail cameras have between 12MP and 20MP. The higher the megapixels, the better the resolution. 

How you plan on using the camera will determine what kind of picture quality you need, but for around your garden, even those with a lower resolution will capture good images.

For video recordings, it's best to go with a camera that offers high definition (HD) resolution. Our top picks all feature 1080P HD quality (or more), which look great on big-screen TVs

Trigger Speed and Sensor Range

Another key feature is the camera's trigger speed and sensor range. Trigger speed refers to how quickly the camera captures the photo or video after the sensor has been triggered. The faster the trigger speed, the better. 

The sensor range, on the other hand, refers to the distance and angle the camera will pick on movement. For bigger gardens, it's best to have a trail cam with a bigger viewing range.

Reset time

Depending on what you're capturing, the reset time refers to how quickly the camera can take a new photo. In our experience nocturnal animals all move pretty quickly. So if you don't want to miss out on the action, the quicker the reset time, the better the footage.

Night Vision Capability

If you're planning on using the camera to capture hedgehogs, bats, beavers, owls and foxes, you will need to make sure it has night vision capability. All the products we've reviewed offer this function.

Mounting Options

Although it's not a dealbreaker, having a camera with different mounting options will allow you to set it up in different places around your garden. Look for models that have a tripod or stand, a strap as well as brackets for wall mounting. Of course, if the one you like includes all the key features but doesn't have two or three mounting options, you can always find creative ways to set it up yourself. We have found though, that the easier it is to put up, the more often it's used.

Memory or SD Card

You want to make sure that whatever you capture on your camera can be stored safely on a memory or SD card. A lot of the wildlife cameras don't come with an SD card, but it's definitely worth getting one. And make sure it has enough storage space to save all the pictures and videos you record.

Batteries and Battery Life

For the most part, garden wildlife cameras run on batteries. These are not usually included and will need to be bought separately. However, if you need to record footage for a few days at a time, it's worth getting a camera that has an external power source.

On the subject of batteries, before buying be sure to check the battery life of the camera. Most require between four and eight AA batteries, which if they need replacing every other week, can become costly.

Additional Features

More expensive options have additional features including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, time stamps, solar power, GPS coordinates and more. While these are nice to have, they do push the price up.

Tips on How To Use Your Trail Camera

Keen on being the next David Attenborough? Take a look at our tips on how best to use your trail camera in your garden.

But first check out this video of hedgehogs captured at night:

1. Create the right habitat

If you want to entice nocturnal animals, like hedgehogs, into your garden, it's worth creating the right kind of habitat. Feeding stations are a good idea, otherwise, just some fresh water and food will do. Ponds will attract a wide range of nocturnal animals too.

2. Be patient

Don't be disappointed if you don't capture anything straight away. Persistence is key and it'll definitely pay off in the long run. If you're not picking up any activity, it's worth moving the camera around, changing the angle of the camera or trying a completely different spot.

3. Don't forget to look down

To capture everything going on in your garden, you might want to occasionally set the camera closer to the ground, and in bushes. This way you'll have a better chance of capturing frogs, snakes (eep!) and other small carnivores.

4. Location is key

A really useful tip to capture great footage is to place the camera at a curve, slightly off a trail. At this angle you will be able to see animals walking toward the camera, and get images of them looking directly at the camera.

5. Film during the day

Although we've focused on night-time activity, don't forget to set your camera up during the day. We suggest placing it near a bird feeder to capture the visitors of the feathery kind, as well as squirrels.

6. Make sure the camera is on

Last but not least, don't forget to check that the camera is on and the batteries are fully charged. After going to all the trouble of finding the perfect spot and setting the camera up, it would be devastating to find out it wasn't turned on or the batteries have died.

We really hope you found the reviews and buying guide in this article helpful. If you've already managed to capture some wildlife activity in your garden, we would love to see it. Just pop us a message in the comments below. Who knows, we might even feature them on our Home and Roost Facebook page.