A trail in the woods

If you’re serious about hunting, then you need to add trail cameras to your bag of tools.

Planning is everything for a hunter, and trail cameras help by giving you essential footage of wildlife in the area. You then take this information to aid you in planning for your next hunt.

There are a wide variety of trail cameras, each coming in different sizes and sporting distinct features. You’ll inevitably find the perfect camera that fits your hunting style and budget.

And while trail cameras can be a considerable investment, the fact is that you shouldn’t break the bank when buying one. There are budget trail cameras out there that are every bit as functional as premium choices.

So today we’ll help run you through the best budget trail cameras in the UK (those that are priced below £100) that still get the job done.

How Trail Cameras Work

Trail cameras are essentially cameras that have a built-in motion sensor. Once you deploy them in the area that you want to scout, they go into standby mode. Every part of the camera is shut down while not in use to help conserve power except for the Passive Infrared (PIR) detector. This is the sensor responsible for looking for any movement in its field of view.

When something (hopefully an animal) moves in front of the PIR, it detects this. It then wakes the camera from its standby mode and initiates a quick series of operations. 

First, the light condition is assessed and, if it’s too dark, an infrared flash is deployed. Next, the lens is automatically adjusted to keep the subject in focus. Finally, the correct shutter speed is determined. 

Once all the parameters are set, the camera then captures a series of images or video footage, depending on the setting. This data is stored in the camera’s onboard storage system (commonly an SD card).

The camera then resets everything, so it’s ready to take another photo if needed. It then goes back to sleep mode, and the cycle repeats if another moving object is detected.

Trail cameras have a durable outer case which helps protect the more sensitive components – understandable since you’ll be placing them out in the wild, exposed to the elements and wildlife. You usually access the camera and the controls via a hinged door at the front.

How Trail Cameras Detect Animals

The most crucial aspect of trail cameras is how sensitive they are to animals moving in front of them. To understand this, it’s essential to realise that the PIR commonly used in trail cameras is different from conventional motion detection.

PIRs use temperature changes in their field of view to detect movement. It doesn’t matter where the source of this temperature change is (which is how thermal cameras work). Whenever something enters in its field of view that’s different from the temperature of the environment, it triggers the PIR.

The good thing about PIRs is that they can detect both warm and cold objects in front of them. Distance is also irrelevant since it doesn’t matter how near or far an object is, it will still register a temperature change. Also, the faster the object is moving, the greater the change in temperature, and a higher chance of the PIR triggering.

Should You Use A Trail Camera?

Trail cameras are mostly used by hunters to allow better insight to wildlife in an area. They can study their patterns to come up with more effective strategies. 

However, some regions and hunting organisations frown upon their use. They claim it’s ‘cheating’ and makes hunters lazy. Fortunately, there are more practical uses of trail cameras than just for hunting.

Home Security

The discreet operation of trail cameras makes them excellent home security cameras. Their PIR sensors can detect any movement at night, alerting you to any thieves about to break into your house. You’ll also have a video recording against them, to be used as evidence in court.

Trail cameras can also be used to protect yourself from intruders of a different kind: wild animals. If you suspect such invaders on your property, you can use trail cameras to check for foxes, rats, or other pests causing havoc. You can monitor them and devise a solution to deal with the problem.

Wildlife Observation

Trail cameras are fantastic tools for scientists or enthusiasts to observe wildlife in their most natural state. Because they’re discreet, they won’t alert the animals that you’re monitoring them.

You also get to keep your distance if you’re monitoring especially dangerous animals. Best of all, you get to watch wildlife over more extended periods, essential if you want to get a glimpse into their lifestyle.

Farm Monitoring Tool

Trail cameras are the ideal devices for checking on different areas of your farm. If you’re raising animals, you can use it to monitor your herd or spot any issues from a safe distance.

You can also use it to take regular snapshots of how your crops are growing. Whatever the reason, trail cameras give you crucial data that you can use to improve your yield for succeeding seasons.

What to Look for in a Budget Trail Camera

When choosing a budget trail camera, it’s unavoidable that certain features will be compromised or cut altogether. 

This is understandable, of course. The key is to know which features you actually need, and which you can live without. All of it will depend on how, when, and where you plan to use the trail camera.

Here are the key things you need to consider when buying a budget trail camera in the UK.

Motion sensitivity

Different trail cameras have varying PIR sensitivities, so this is something you need to consider. Too sensitive and it will trigger unnecessarily, draining your battery and clogging your storage space. On the other end, if it’s not sensitive enough, it won’t be able to capture subtle movements, and you miss out on shots.

Some trail cameras have multiple PIRs, usually on either side of the camera. They act as an “early warning” to help anticipate incoming animals moving off-screen. It expands the trail camera’s zone of detection so it can capture photos better. In our experience, though, single PIR models are more than enough for a budget camera.

You also need to consider the maximum distance that the PIR can detect movement. If you plan on using your trail camera just in your back garden to record animal intrusions, a range of 60 feet is adequate. For times when you’re deploying them out in the wild, a range of 80 feet will serve you better.

Trigger Speed

Sensing animal motion is an important aspect, but getting the camera to capture that moment is just as crucial. Some animals move swiftly, so a camera needs to be able to jump in immediately and take the shot.

The time from when the sensor is triggered until the camera captures the shot is called the trigger speed or time. A quick trigger speed spells the difference between taking the perfect photo or an empty photo! In our opinion, trigger speed is a good indication if a trail camera is of good quality or not.

Trigger speed is measured in seconds and can vary wildly from 0.1 seconds (higher-priced models) up to 1 second (slower, cheaper units). For budget trail cameras, a good compromise to aim for is 0.5 seconds. It’s good enough to be able to record fast-flying birds or deer.

Recovery Time

Recovery time is the period after taking a shot where the camera needs to prepare itself for the next one. It’s important if you want to be able to consistently take photos for animals moving in quick succession.

Recovery time works hand-in-hand with trigger speed. Imagine two animals entering your trail camera’s field of view, one right after the other. A fast trigger speed should be able to capture the first one. But if the camera spends more than a few seconds recovering, it will completely miss the second animal.

Battery Life and Power Supply Options

Because trail cameras are efficient at conserving power, battery life isn’t much of a concern when compared to consumer cameras. In our experience, a standard AA battery will last 2-3 months on average. For budget cameras, this is about the best that you can ask for. You can upgrade to rechargeable batteries for better value over the long run.

If you plan to deploy your trail camera for 6 months or more, or don’t want to be bothered with switching the battery every so often, consider other sources of power.

Some trail cameras have solar panels equipped. This is the most sustainable option, and you’ll never have to worry about power at the right conditions. The only downside is that solar panels rely on sunny conditions.

Flash

A majority of your shots will be done at night, so it’s important to consider the flash of your trail camera. There are three types you can choose from.

White light simply projects a burst of white light, similar to how the flash in consumer cameras work. This type of flash is becoming uncommon with trail cameras because it’s too intrusive – it will scare off animals. Also, using such a harsh light source leads to photos that are too bright.

Low glow Infrared uses infrared light and a soft red glow to illuminate the subject, resulting in a black and white photo. It’s a good compromise over the bright results of white light. For budget trail cameras, this is the flash type we recommend as it is less likely to disturb animals at night.

No glow infrared also uses infrared light but does so at a higher end of the spectrum (940nm compared to the 850nm of a low glow infrared). It produces no visible light at all and is completely invisible to both humans and animals. This helps hide your camera better, making it less prone to theft. A slight downside is that no glow infrareds produce a grainier image.

Image Resolution

Just like any other camera in the market, the image quality of a trail camera is measured with resolution.

The resolution, simply put, refers to how much detail is captured by the camera.

Resolution is measured differently for still photos and videos. The former uses megapixels, which is how many pixels the resulting image has. Pixels are the tiny squares that make up a digital photo, much like a mosaic. The more pixels there are, the smoother and detailed the image will appear. Lower pixel counts will produce blurry or jagged photos.

Megapixels is simply a million pixels. Therefore, 7 megapixels (which is what you’ll commonly see with trail cameras) produces images with 7 million tiny coloured squares.

It’s good to have a good resolution, but note that higher megapixels will usually ramp up the price of your trail camera. Plus, higher resolutions lead to bigger file sizes that take up a lot of storage space. Our experience with trail cameras is that you don’t need to have professional quality levels. After all, you’re not here to capture stunning photos, but rather want to see what’s going on.

A good compromise to aim for is 7 megapixels. This gives you enough quality to get a crisp image without overwhelming your storage space or wallet.

One last thing to note about resolution is that isn’t always as advertised. 

Remember what we said that image quality is measured in resolution? This isn’t always the case. It tells you nothing about how the image was taken – which is what truly determines photo quality.

If a poor photo was taken at high resolutions, it would serve to just blow up the inferiority of that photo.

And what determines how a photo is taken? The camera sensor. Sometimes, cheaper cameras will try to recreate a 5 MP sensor into a 12 MP image. The result isn’t just up to par with a true 12 MP camera.

Photos vs Videos

In general, we recommend prioritising still image over video when picking your trail camera. The best models (those with fantastic trigger and recovery times) are all focused on taking still photos.

Why is this so? That’s because still photos are much more efficient in terms of both battery and storage use. Video uses much more space and will need the flash to turn on continuously, burning through your battery power.

If you need to use video, consider burst photos as an alternative. This feature enables your trail camera to take still photos in quick succession, mimicking the results of video. But the difference is that can do so with zero recovery time and minimal power consumption.

Lens

The majority of trail cameras have a fixed focal length lens installed, and this is suitable for most situations. 

However, if you want to monitor a wider area without using multiple cameras, consider a wider angle lens. This increases the range the camera can capture. The downside is that the subjects will appear smaller in the photo.

Durability

Trail cameras are meant to be left outdoors for extended periods, so they need to be tough enough to stand up to the elements. The outer casing needs to be able to protect the camera from a reasonable amount of heat and cold.

Waterproofing is another important feature of trail cameras. Aim for an IP66 or P65 waterproof level so it can survive both rain and snow out in the wild.

The rigid shell of the trail camera also needs to be durable enough to withstand animals bumping or even stepping onto them. Luckily, most models in the market can fulfil this requirement without any problem.

Security Features

Trail cameras are vulnerable to a lot of things when deployed in the open, but the biggest amongst them is theft. If you’re deploying your unit in an area that’s physically distant from you, having a few security features won’t hurt.

Some trail cameras have a hole where you can attach a cable to secure your unit against a tree. This prevents thieves from carrying your camera away.

You can also use an animal cage with pre-cut holes for the lens and sensors. Aside from discouraging theft, it also protects your unit from being knocked down by wildlife.

Scheduling Features

Having the ability to automatically shutdown your trail camera is a great way to further conserve battery and storage space. For example, you might be interested in only taking photos of nocturnal animals. In this case, have the unit shut itself off automatically during the day.

Best Budget Trail Camera 2020

Toguard H20 Mini

Specs

  • Trigger Time: 0.3 – 0.8 seconds
  • Image Resolution: up to 12 megapixels
  • Video Resolution: 1080p and 720p HD resolution
  • Flash: 32-piece low glow infrared LED
  • Detection Zone: 65 feet
  • Power Supply: 4 x 1.5V AA battery, optional support for DC 6V 1.5A power supply

The Toguard H20 is one of the best mini trail cameras in the UK. This is a model that’s significantly smaller than most trail cameras in the market – at just 3” x 4.5”. It can easily fit in the palm of your hand.

The H20 has several advantages over bigger cameras, and chief among them is that it’s much more discreet. You can easily mount the unit on a tree, or hide it behind bushes. It’s this reason that a lot of people also use the H20 as an effective home security camera. So long as you hide it well, it’s theft-resistant.

Performance-wise, the H20 is surprisingly up to par. It has a trigger time of 0.3 – 0.8 seconds, so it’s reasonably fast and responsive. The 65 feet detection range is standard for cameras in this budget range, although it might not do well in wide outdoor areas.

The image quality is decent and gives you a clear enough picture to get a sense of what’s happening. You can go up to 12MP with this camera, but experience tells us this isn’t true 12MP. The actual resolution is nearer 8MP, so we stuck with that and got crisp results.

Battery life is also exceptional. It has a standby time of up to 6 months and a recording time of roughly 3 hours (less during the night time with IR active). The H20 also has a scheduling feature so you can turn it on only at certain times.

The storage space is also generous at 32GB max. Be wary when leaving it for longer periods, though. It doesn’t have an override feature, so it will simply stop recording once it runs out of space. Monitor your SD card regularly.

The H20 also has a nifty timelapse feature which, beyond being cool, we didn’t really use that much.

Overall, the Toguard H20 is a nice little trail camera that’s as versatile as it’s affordable. 

Pros

  • The small size makes it very discreet
  • Long battery life
  • Good image quality
  • Quick response time

Cons

  • Stops recording when storage is full
  • Doesn’t record at true 12MP

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0

Blusmart Trail Camera

Specs

  • Trigger Time: 0.2 seconds
  • Image Resolution: 20 megapixels
  • Video Resolution: 4K HD resolution
  • Flash: low glow infrared LED
  • Detection Zone: 65 ft
  • Storage: up to 256 GB (32 GB TF card included)
  • Power Supply: 8 x AA batteries, optional support for adapter power

The Blusmart Trail Camera is our most recommended, “premium budget” model in the UK. 

For a small price increase from other budget offerings, you’ll get a significant jump in photo and video quality. And this is the main area where the Blusmart camera shines. The 20MP (true, not interpolated) and 4K resolution create some of the crispest footage that can rival a mid-range SLR. Side by side comparison with footage from a £50-£60 model tells the whole story.

All that resolution demands a lot of storage space, so luckily Blusmart can support up to 256 GB of storage space. It even comes with a 32 GB card (which other cameras don’t do) to get you started.

The Blusmart has a responsive trigger speed of 0.2 seconds, one of the fastest a camera can achieve. In our experience, however, it’s not a noticeable difference from the usual 0.3-second speed from other budget trail cameras.

We also love the look of the Blusmart, and the case is exceptionally hardy. Made of commercial grade materials, it completely seals the unit in, save for the lens. It has a weatherproof level of IP66, giving it water and dust resistance. Standby time lasts up to a remarkable year.

Finally, you also get a 12-month warranty and a lifetime service support, so this is a unit that will last you a long time. That’s why we love the Blusmart Trail Camera. If you have a few pounds to spare, it’s a worthy upgrade.

Pros

  • High-resolution photo and video with fantastic quality
  • Water and dustproof with IP66 level protection
  • Support for 256 GB
  • 0.2-second trigger speed

Cons

  • As far as budget trail cameras go, this is one the upper end of the price range

Rating: 4.9 / 5.0

Crenova Trail Camera

Specs

  • Trigger Time: 0.2 seconds
  • Image Resolution: 20 megapixels
  • Video Resolution: 1080p HD
  • Flash: 36-piece 940 nm no glow infrared LED
  • Detection Zone: 65 ft
  • Storage: up to 32 GB
  • Power Supply: 8 x AA batteries with support for 6V external power adaptor

The Crenova Trail Camera wins us over with its high-resolution image quality and fast trigger time.

It has a camera resolution of 20 megapixels, which produce crisp and clear image quality. Our experience tells us this is true 20MP photos that haven’t been interpolated from a lower quality sensor. The video resolution is lower at just 1080p HD, so this is a trail camera that’s best used to take still photos.

One area where the Crenova shines is during night time shooting. It’s equipped with a no glow infrared LED flash, so it’s completely discreet. The lens is equipped with an IR filter, so you avoid the washed-out image quality of cameras without it.

The trigger time is slightly faster than most, at 0.2 seconds. If you’ve used a 0.5-second camera before, the response time is noticeable. But if you’re upgrading from the more common 0.3-second models, it’s not that big of a deal.

The unit is also durable. It has IP66 waterproof design with a tough outer case. Drops, bumps, and the occasional animal shouldn’t be a problem with the Crenova.

The camera is easy to set up and use with the small LCD screen. It offers lots of image and video settings which you can use to tweak to your exact specifications. 

So far, not many complaints with this unit, except that the battery life is shorter than most other units. But nevertheless, the Crenova Trail Camera is a solid performer.

Pros

  • Fast response time
  • 20-megapixel resolution
  • No glow infrared LED

Cons

  • The higher end of the price range

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0

Campark T45

Specs

  • Trigger Time:  0.3 seconds
  • Image Resolution: 14 megapixels max
  • Video Resolution: 1080p and 720p HD
  • Flash: 42 piece infrared LED
  • Detection Zone: 65 feet
  • Storage: up to 32 GB (SD card not included)
  • Power Supply: 1.5V AA battery, with optional support for DC 6V power supply

The Campark T45 is one of our go-to trail cameras that combine great performance with excellent value for money. It has features and specs that can compare with other cameras double its price.

We love Campark cameras in general, and the T45 inherited what makes the brand so great. It’s sufficiently responsive with trigger times of 0.3 seconds. The T45 is equipped with three PIR sensors, giving it a 120-degree detection zone. It is good at anticipating incoming animals. In practice, we found it always kept the main subject in the centre of the frame.

The outer case of the T45 looks rigid and feels well constructed. It’s also weatherproof, so it can withstand the occasionally harsh British climate. We’ve tried it in freezing temperatures, and it worked like a champ. However, there is a considerable time delay when booting it up if left out in the cold for a considerable amount of time.

The natural green “camo” look of the T45 also allows it to blend perfectly well in the outdoors. The included stash is sturdy enough to allow it to be strapped to a tree, discreetly out of place, no problem.

The photo and video quality is decent, to say the least. The daytime photos are crisp and clear but don’t expect pro quality. The night photos look a little washed out, but that’s because it lacks an IR filter. Personally, this isn’t much of an issue.

But put together, the Campark T45 is a fantastic package. The value for money you get here is one of the best you’ll get in this price class.

Pros

  • Durable and weatherproof
  • Fast response time
  • Decent photo quality
  • Affordable

Cons

  • UV red light is visible at night

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0

Agitato Trail Camera

Specs

  • Trigger Time: 0.1 seconds
  • Image Resolution: 20 megapixels
  • Video Resolution: 1080p HD resolution
  • Flash: 36 pcs no glow 940 nm infrared LED
  • Detection Zone: 100 ft with 82 ft trigger distance
  • Storage: up to 128 GB
  • Power Supply: 8 x lithium batteries

The Agitato Trail Camera is a relatively unknown newcomer in the trail camera game. Still, they’re entering it with a solid first offering. This model has above average specs that’s surprising for its mid-range budget price.

First, it can achieve the fastest response time possible at 0.1 seconds. While it’s responsive on its own and can successfully anticipate movement, there’s a minute difference between that and the myriad 0.3-second models in the market. Of course, that doesn’t take away from the fast trigger time you get with the Agitato.

The image quality is superb at 20 megapixels, sharp all throughout with vivid detail. Nighttime shooting is exceptional as well, thanks to the equipped Sony Starvis low light image sensors. Black and white photos came out crisper with minimal grain.

The trail camera is easy to set up and use. It has a 2.4″ LCD colour screen where you can adjust settings and review the footage taken by the camera.

Agitato uses standard lithium batteries to power itself. It’s energy-efficient with a standby time of up to 8 months, so great for leaving it out for long periods. And don’t worry about the weather. This trail camera is hardy, featuring IP66 waterproof protection. We managed to leave it in the harsh British winter, and it still did its job.

Overall, Agitato creates a good impression with this tail camera entry. If you’re not to keen on brand names and want a good performer, this is a solid option to get.

Pros

  • 0.1 trigger speed
  • 20-megapixel resolution
  • Easy to operate with a 2.4″ LCD screen
  • Exceptional nighttime performance

Cons

  • More on the higher end of the budget price range
  • Brand reputation yet to be tested

Rating: 4.4 / 5.0

Victure Trail Camera

Specs

  • Trigger Time: 0.35 seconds
  • Image Resolution: 20 megapixels
  • Video Resolution: 1080p HD (15 fps)
  • Flash: 38 pcs 940 nm no glow infrared LED
  • Detection Zone: 
  • Storage: 
  • Power Supply:

The Victure Trail Camera is another solid offering from Victure. We’ve used a few of its HC200 trail cameras before and we’ve had pleasant experiences thus far.

This version is a pleasant upgrade to those models. Everything has been redesigned for easier use, from the on/off switch to the memory card slot. Even how you put in the battery is effortless. We like using a bright colour LCD screen, and the keyboard is easy to press even in the dark.

The Victure’s PIR sensor is also extremely sensitive. In our tests, it managed to capture a photo of a rat about 5-6 feet away. Heck, we didn’t even know it was there until we zoomed in on the picture. If it’s too much, fortunately, you can easily set the PIR sensitivity in the settings menu.

The 20-megapixel resolution of this Victure Trail Camera produces crisp, stunning photos that we can’t get enough of. You can clearly see the animal details down to the blemishes on the fur if they’re at a close enough distance.

Night shooting isn’t too shabby as well. The no-glow IR LEDs discreetly captures photos in the dark, perfect for monitoring nocturnal animals.

The rigid case and clamshell design do a fantastic job of protecting the internal components of this trail camera from damage. Rubber gaskets and bottom-opening battery slot ensure complete resistance from rain and snow.

You can also utilize the extra features in this camera. The one we use the most is Capture Series for shooting up to 3 photos in quick succession. The Password Protection feature also protects your camera from would-be illegal tampering. However, nothing prevents them from getting the SD card or accessing your control panel because of the lack of a lock mechanism.

In conclusion, we’re big fans of Victure and continue to be with this trail camera. If you’ve owned their cameras before, we recommend this one. It’s a good upgrade.

Pros

  • Exceptional image and video quality
  • Easy to use colour LCD screen
  • Durable and weatherproof
  • Superb nighttime shooting

Cons

  • No support for external charging
  • No locking mechanism

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0

APEMAN H70 Wildlife Camera

Specs

  • Trigger Time: 0.2 seconds
  • Image Resolution: 30 megapixels
  • Video Resolution: 4K HD resolution
  • Flash: 40 pcs low light infrared LED
  • Storage: up to 32 GB
  • Power Supply: 8 x AA batteries

The APEMAN H70 is another entry into the brand’s H-series of wildlife cameras. This model stands out with its ultra-high-resolution photo and video camera, and overall better performance.

The H70 has a single PIR compared to the three PIR setup of its previous incarnations. This requires much more careful targeting with the H70 to capture the best results. However, it captures much better photos at higher resolutions, so that’s the trade-off there.

Yes, the H70 can take pictures up to 30 megapixels and 4K HD resolution. You really can’t notice this when you’re viewing photos in this model’s colour LCD screen. You’ll appreciate it much more when you import them into your computer and zoom in.

The H70 has exceptional night time shooting performance, thanks to the 40 850nm IR LEDs installed. A side effect of this is that it emits a low glow that seems to be visible to cats (a few came in to investigate when we tried it out), but they didn’t seem to be bothered by it.

The control panel of the H70 is also easy to use and features a beautiful LCD screen. The keypads light up in the dark, so it will be easy to make night time adjustments in a pinch.

The casing is composed of thick 60mm material. It’s completely waterproof and weatherproof, able to survive in temperatures as cold as -20C and as hot as 40C.

Overall, we like how APEMAN have improved on its previous models in the H70. It’s an excellent, versatile, and durable trail camera you can use for more extended periods.

Pros

  • 30 megapixel and 4K HD resolution
  • Fast response time
  • Durable and can survive extreme weather

Cons

  • A bug prevents stamp information to be used with higher video resolution

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0