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Best wildlife camera 2024: Top trail cameras for the outdoors

Capture photos and videos of wild visitors to your garden or on nature trails with the best wildlife camera for you

The best wildlife camera can bring the nature in your garden – or further afield – to life, by letting you get up close and personal with all the animals you share your space with.

Wildlife cameras, or trail cameras, are small devices designed to allow you to observe what goes on in your garden when you’re not around. They detect motion and, once triggered, automatically begin filming or photographing. Most even feature infrared lamps, allowing them to work at night, too.

Whether capturing birds, hedgehogs, foxes or badgers – and deer if you’re lucky – wildlife cameras are a must-have for nature enthusiasts. They can even be used for a little added home security, or simply for seeing what your pet gets up to when your back is turned.

If you’re new to trail cameras, you will find our handy buying guide below. It demystifies some of the specifications and highlights key features to look out for, and is followed by our pick of the best wildlife cameras on the market.

Best wildlife cameras: At a glance

How to choose the best wildlife camera for you

What is a wildlife camera?

While they come in a variety of styles and offer a range of different features, at their most basic level wildlife cameras, or trail cameras, are devices designed to be set up outside to film or photograph animals. They’re fitted with motion detectors, allowing them to start filming or photographing as soon as an animal passes by, and will usually feature some form of infrared flash, allowing them to ‘see’ in the dark. The images are saved to a memory card that you can pop into your computer, and some models allow you to download the files wirelessly over Wi-Fi.

What can I photograph with a wildlife camera?

The animals you can observe will depend on your local area and where you install the camera, but birds, foxes, hedgehogs, badgers, deer and the neighbour’s cat are all common subjects.

How do I install a wildlife camera?

The vast majority of wildlife cameras come with a nylon strap, with which you can quickly and easily secure them to tree trunks and branches, fence posts, drain pipes or just about anything you can fit the strap around. Many also have 1/4in threads built into the base for attaching to standard-sized tripods, mounts and brackets.

What features should I look out for?

Detection range: The detection range tells you the maximum distance at which the camera’s motion detector can be triggered. The right detection range for your needs will depend on where you plan to position the camera and the size of animals you’re hoping to observe. For nighttime photography, it’s also worth taking into account the camera’s flash range, as this can sometimes be different, and indicates how far the camera can see in the dark. 

Flash type: If you want to see animals that come out after the sun goes down, a flash is a must. Rather than producing the bright shock of light typical of a conventional camera flash, most wildlife cameras employ an infrared lamp. This allows it to capture black-and-white videos and images without disturbing any animals. There are two types of infrared flash: low glow and no glow.

Low glow flashes emit 850nm wavelength light, which although almost invisible to the naked eye can cause the lamp to glow a dim red, potentially disturbing highly sensitive animals. No glow flashes emit 940nm wavelength light which is completely invisible, running no risk of scaring wildlife. While no glow flashes are more discreet they’re often not as bright, resulting in a shorter effective flash range, and they’re almost always more expensive than the low glow equivalent.

Trigger response time: A camera’s trigger response time refers to the delay between an animal appearing and the camera responding. Generally speaking, the shorter the response time, the better. Too slow, and the animal may have already left before the picture has been taken – but anything below 0.5 seconds should fare just fine.

Recovery time: Also important is a camera’s recovery time. This is how long the camera takes to process an image before it’s ready to take another shot. A shorter recovery time allows the camera to fire off more shots over a shorter period, increasing the likelihood of capturing a keeper.

Additional features: Depending on how you plan to use your wildlife camera, you may want to check what power options are available. Most wildlife cameras take standard AA or AAA batteries, but some also support mains or solar power for reduced maintenance. The inclusion of a digital viewfinder is also nice to have as it allows you to be more precise while framing your shot. And, if you want to capture audio alongside your video clips, you will need to check that the camera you’re considering includes a microphone.

Do I need a 4K or high-megapixel wildlife camera?

Do a little shopping around and you will quickly come across wildlife cameras that advertise high-resolution 4K video and high 20+ megapixel still images. While these certainly seem like nice specs to have, in reality you will find that most devices capture their video and still images at a much lower resolution and then upscale the files digitally for playback. The results will generally play a little better while played back on your computer but don’t expect true 4K or for the quality to rival a similarly specced smartphone camera.

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The best wildlife cameras you can buy in 2024

1. GardePro A3S Wildlife Camera: Best wildlife camera for under £100

Price when reviewed: £80 | Check price at Amazon Solidly built, easy to use and capable of producing excellent results, the GardePro A3S is the best all-around wildlife camera for less than £100.

The A3S stands out from the competition thanks to its low-light optimised Sony Starvis sensor. Usually found in security systems and high-end webcams, this sensor, paired with a bright f/1.6 aperture lens, enables the A3S to capture quality images day and night. Still images are captured at up to 32 megapixels and videos can be recorded at up to 1296p resolution. There’s a microphone onboard for audio capture, too.

Set up is straightforward thanks to its internal display and intuitive menu system. Impressively for the price, the A3S packs a 940nm no glow flash. Completely invisible to the naked eye, this flash allows the camera to capture photos and videos in pitch darkness without disturbing any nearby wildlife.

The A3S can be powered by eight AA batteries or via a 12v input and records straight to standard-sized SD cards.

Key specs – Max video resolution: 1296p; Max stills resolution: 32 megapixels; Detection range: 30m; Response time: 0.1s; Recovery time: 0.5s; Flash: 940nm no glow; Flash range: 30m

2. BlazeVideo Wireless Trail Camera: Best wireless wildlife camera

Price when reviewed: £73 | Check price at Amazon If the idea of having to venture outside to check on your camera doesn’t appeal, BlazeVideo’s Wireless Trail Camera may be ideal. The camera offers high-resolution video recording, packs an invisible no-glow flash and can produce photographs at up to 24 megapixels. Quality-wise, the BlazeVideo camera is up there with some of the best we’ve tested but what truly sets it apart is its wireless connection capabilities.

Using the TrailCam app you can connect to the camera over Wi-Fi, allowing you to playback your photos and videos or adjust the device’s settings from your phone. You can even watch through the camera live.

Its wireless range is limited, so you won’t be able to connect to it from a great distance. It is, however, still a handy feature to have as it saves you from having to bring the memory card or whole camera indoors when you want to download your photos and videos.

Key specs – Max video resolution: 1296p; Max stills resolution: 24 megapixels; Detection range: 23m; Response time: 0.5s; Flash: 940nm low glow; Flash range: 20m

3. Netvue Birdfy Smart Bird Feeder: Best wildlife camera for bird watchers

Price when reviewed: £200 | Check price at Amazon

The Birdfy Smart Bird Feeder is perfect for backyard birdwatchers. With a built-in high-definition camera, the Birdy Smart Feeder enables you to conveniently observe the birds at the feeder straight from your smartphone.

It operates much like a smart video doorbell: When birds approach, the in-built motion detector triggers and the camera starts recording. The recordings are accessible via Netvue’s smartphone app and you can even have the app notify you, allowing you to watch birds through the camera live.

The Netvue app offers up to 30 days of cloud storage for your recorded videos, allowing you to scroll back through your previous month’s visitors. You also have the option of saving the recordings to an internal microSD card.

The camera connects to your home Wi-Fi network and features a rechargeable battery that should offer around one month of use between charges. Alternatively, Netvue also offers a solar-powered version for minimal maintenance.

Key specs – Max video resolution: 1920 x 1080; Bird food capacity: 1.5L; Waterproof rating: IP65

4. TCNEWCL Trail Camera: Best budget wildlife camera

Price when reviewed: £33 | Check price at Amazon While its name may not exactly roll off the tongue, the TCNEWCL Trail Camera offers the complete wildlife camera package at a budget-friendly price.

It’s well built, IP66 weather-resistant and, thanks to its internal display, straightforward to use. Stills are saved at up to 20 megapixels, and videos are recorded at 1080p. While there’s certainly some digital upscaling going on, the files deliver clear levels of detail, day and night.

Low-light illumination comes courtesy of an 850nm low-glow LED flash. Although not completely invisible to the naked eye, the flash causes disturbance to most wildlife and, with an illumination range of up to 25 metres, it’s ideal for larger gardens.

Photos and videos are recorded to a microSD card and you can plug the camera into your computer directly via USB. The camera can be powered by a set of eight AA batteries or via an external power input.

Key specs – Max video resolution: 1080p; Max stills resolution: 20 megapixels; Detection range: 25m; Response time: 0.3s; Flash: 850nm low glow; Flash range: 25m

5. Bushnell Core DS-4K No Glow: Best premium wildlife camera

Price when reviewed: £269 | Check price at Park Cameras It’s pricey but if you want to capture high-quality images day and night, Bushnell’s Core DS-4K is one of the best options around.

Unlike the vast majority of wildlife cameras, the Core DS-4K features a dual-sensor configuration. This means that, rather than relying on a single lens for both colour daylight and monochrome nighttime shots, the Core DS uses two independent sensors. With cameras optimised to different lighting conditions, it’s able to capture richer images both day and night.

As the name suggests, the Core DS-4K can record video footage in 4K at 30fps or full HD video at a smooth 60fps. Still images are captured at up to 32 megapixels and it can snap up to six images in a single burst, helping ensure you get that perfect shot. The DS-4K’s powerful 940nm no glow flash allows it to record subjects up to 33m away in pitch darkness.

The camera can run for up to 12 months off of a single set of AA batteries and is also compatible with Bushnell’s solar panel system.

Key specs – Max video resolution: 4K; Max stills resolution: 32 megapixels; Detection range: 33m; Response time: 0.2s; Recovery time: 0.6s; Flash: 940nm no glow; Flash range: 33m

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6. Nexcam Wildlife Camera: Best mini wildlife camera

Price when reviewed: £38 | Check price at Amazon Affordable, easy to set up and little larger than the palm of your hand, Nexcam’s compact Wildlife Camera is ideal for more discreet placements. It features a standard 1/4in tripod thread, giving you a wide range of mounting options and ships with a belt for wrapping it around tree branches and fence posts.

Videos can be recorded at up to 1080p resolution and still images can be saved at up 20 megapixels. While its daylight colour clips aren’t the cleanest, its black-and-white nighttime shots are impressively clear for the price and, thanks to its infrared lamp, nicely illuminated. The 850nm LED lamp, although not truly invisible to the naked eye, offers limited disturbance to most garden visitors.

The Nexcam Wildlife Camera records directly to readily available SD cards and is powered by four AA batteries.

Key specs – Max video resolution: 1080p; Max stills resolution: 20 megapixels; Detection range: 22m; Response time: 0.5s; Flash: 850nm low glow; Flash range: 20m

7. Green Feathers Wildlife Kit 700TVL: Best wildlife camera for bird boxes

Price when reviewed: £97 | Check price at Amazon If you prefer to think a little more inside the box, the Green Feathers Wildlife Kit lets you get truly close and personal with local birdlife. Rather than being a standalone camera, the Green 700TVL is built inside a bird box.

It features a small no-glow lamp, allowing you to peek inside the box day and night, and connects directly to your television via a 20-metre cable. It uses a standard RCA cable; an HDMI adapter is included to upscale the footage but raw image quality is limited to standard definition.

There’s a little DIY involved in getting the box and cabling installed, but the camera itself is essentially plug-and-play and, once you’re hooked up, you will have access to your own live bird box video feed.

If you need something a little higher-resolution, a 1080p bird box kit is also available.

Key specs – Max video resolution: 628 x 582; Cable length: 20m; Flash: 940nm no glow

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