Aug 192016
 

digital scouting camera photos When it comes to hunting success, scouting is essential. That arduous task has been improved dramatically by the digital scouting camera, which records images and video of game long after the hunter has left the field.
In this article we’ll cover important features of scouting cameras, and then review bestselling models from Primos, Bushnell, Moultrie, and Stealth Cam.

Choosing the Best Scouting Camera

Today’s sleek, high-tech devices have undoubtedly helped many hunters harvest more game. Here are the features to consider.

Photo, Video, and Sound Recording

By definition, all digital scouting cameras take photos. If you know anything about digital cameras, you’re aware that more megapixels are better. Yes, they take more memory, but with 2 GB or 4 GB memory cards, that’s not an issue. So whenever possible, you want 8 megapixels over 5 megapixels. Most scouting cameras let you specify different levels of resolution (e.g. 1.8, 5, or 8 megapixel). Personally, I prefer quality over quantity, so I’d choose the camera with the highest available resolution. You can also usually choose different shooting modes, which take anywhere from 1 to 9 images when triggered. The more options, the better.

For video, it’s all about resolution. I’d say that 640 x 480 is the standard; you can view that comfortably on a laptop. Some of the cameras I review below now include sound recording, and I think that’s awesome. Sound gives you more information about the game, what they’re doing, and how they’re communicating with one another. All critical information for when you go afield. Sound is also very useful feature for many of those who use scouting cameras for non-hunting purposes, such as security.

Infrared (IR) Night Vision or Flash

Primos Scouting Camera Photo

Taking pictures in low-light situations — when most of our quarry is on the move — is essential, and indeed most scouting cameras claim to have this capability. They achieve it in a few different ways. Some use a traditional flash, though that’s fallen out of favor because a bright flash tends to scare the game. They remember it and may learn to avoid the area. More commonly, scouting cameras take images at night using infrared (IR), which essentially measures slight differences in heat and gives you a pretty sharp black-and-white image.

One camera I review below, the Moultrie Game Spy, has something called Black Flash technology, which essentially sounds like marketing but claims to eliminate any visible LED light to aid concealment.

Concealment, Weatherproofing and Security Features

Stealth cam scouting camera cable

You want your camera to be well concealed from game, and a camouflage design helps with this. Many game cameras (including my own) are black, and since they’re small I don’t find this to be a big deal. I even added a few strips of camo tape to non-essential areas. Waterproofing and weatherproofing are also essential, since these cameras are fully exposed to the elements.

You also want your camera to still be there, and it’s obvious that theft can be a problem with these cameras. They’re small, valuable, and generally left behind when the hunter leaves the field. Do yourself a favor, and invest in a good locking security cable like the Stealth Cam Python. Use it religiously, and check on your camera on a regular basis.

Temperature, Moon Phase, Date, and Timestamp

Most cameras have the option of stamping images with time and date, some even with temperature and moon phase. Turn this option on, and make sure that you set the date and time correctly. Knowing exactly when and under what conditions a buck appeared in your hunting area is critical information.

Memory, SD cards, and Batteries

The memory in a scouting camera is an important consideration. You want as much as possible, and that generally means an SD card slot that can handle 2 GB, 4 GB, or up to 16 GB slot. If it comes with a high-memory SD card, that’s great, but you’ll probably want a second one so that you can swap them out and take one home for viewing whenever you check your camera.

Batteries and battery life are some of the most-commented-upon things in scouting camera reviews. Personally, I prefer AA batteries over C batteries, because AA’s are cheaper and easier to find in rechargeable form. Battery life is something you’ll have to evaluate by reading some reviews.

Digital Scouting Camera Reviews

I looked at the bestselling camera from each of four top manufacturers: Primos, Bushnell, Moultrie, and Stealth Cam. You’d probably be happy with any of these, as they’re favorably reviewed. But I hope to help you find the camera that best meets your needs.

Primos Truth Cam 35 Camera

digital scouting camera reviews
This may be the most popular game camera in the market today: the Truth Cam 35 (that’s the number of LED lights) scouting camera. It takes multi-shot bursts of 1, 3, 5, 7 or 9 images per triggering with a 40 foot range.

The image resolution (3 MB) is a bit low, but overall this is a solid camera with over 100 5-star reviews.

  • Day/night photo and video capability
  • Thin, low-profile casing with a Matrix camo finish.
  • Large LED screen with backlight and instructions inside door
  • Molded security cable hole and password protection
  • Requires four D batteries; up to 8 GB SD card capacity


Buy this scouting camera now

Primos Scouting Camera

 

Bushnell 14MP Trophy Cam Night Vision Trail Camera

bushnell digital scouting camera reviews
Another favorite camera is from Bushnell, the makers of my hunting binoculars among many other things. Their Trophy Cam is 14 megapixels, with a higher (32 GB) memory capacity. Full video with audio, up to 60 seconds long. It also features this Field Scan technology to give you regular shots of your hunting grounds that don’t need to be triggered by motion.

  • 45-foot PIR motion sensor and 32-LED flash
  • Full-color images in daytime, black & white at night
  • HD Videos with audio up to 60 seconds each
  • Field Scan time-lapse technology
  • 8 AA batteries with external power port
  • Up to 1 year battery life and 32 GB memory


Buy this scouting camera now

Bushnell Scouting Camera

 

Moultrie Game Spy M80-BLX Infrared Flash Camera

digital scouting camera reviews
The higher-end camera in my review is from Moultrie, specifically their “Black Flash” M80-BLX scouting camera. This little gem has three shooting modes: IR-triggered game camera, time-lapse plot monitoring, and time lapse with infrared at night.

  • Fast fire continuous shooting: up to 3 pictures per second
  • 16:9 wide images offer a wider angle than most other cameras
  • Temperature, moon phase, time, date and camera ID stamp
  • Records color videos with sound
  • Runs on 4-8 AA batteries
  • Comes with a USB cable and the “Plot Stalker” software CD


Buy this scouting camera now

Moultrie Game Spy Camera

 

Stealth Cam Digital Video Scouting Camera

stealth digital scouting camera reviews
Last but not least is the Stealth Cam that I got for myself. This is a compact, sturdy camera design easily held with one hand. It comes with an alligator mounting bracket that you can use to strap it securely to a tree or fence post.

It comes with three presets (two photo, one video) as well as a manual setting for either option where you can set trigger time, number of images or video length, resolution, etc. I recommend this because the defaults are low-res images. I’ll post some pics from this once I retrieve its first batch from my hunting site.

  • Day and night photos (8 megapixels) and digital videos
  • 10 to 180 second videos at 640×480 resolution
  • Burst mode takes 1 to 9 photos per trigger, at resolutions of either 1.3, 3, or 8 megapixels.
  • Power with 8 AA batteries or external power source
  • Images stamped with date, time, and moon phase
  • 2X or 4X digital zoom


Buy this scouting camera now

Stealth Scouting Camera

Update: First Video from My Scouting Camera

I retrieved my first recordings from the field this morning. I’d set up my camera in dense timber along the river, facing west, where deep water to the north and east likely created a travel route. Turns out I was right.

The Midnight Buck

Here’s the first recording my camera made in the field, triggered just after 1 a.m. the night I installed it.

Doe with Fawn

The frequent stars of my first set of videos were a whitetail doe and fawn that kept to the game trail moving left to right or vice-versa. Altogether they were in 2 videos together; the doe was in another couple of videos at night.

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Written by Dan Koboldt

  7 Responses to “Digital Scouting Camera Reviews”

  1. Great info! I’m going to post the link to Maine BOW. I lead a mini-workshop on trail cams at Intro Skills Weekend in September. Your info will add a lot to the basics we covered. A lot of the participants are/will be using their cams in their backyards. It’s nice to see them being used so much now.

  2. […] to hunt as well as your own backyard. Scout before, during, and after the season. Use topo maps, digital scouting cameras, and Google Earth to know the land through and […]

  3. […] to hunt as well as your own backyard. Scout before, during, and after the season. Use topo maps, digital scouting cameras, and Google Earth to know the land through and […]

  4. […] out exactly what they want. If you want to give a big gift, like a scouting camera or a pair of good hunting binoculars, it never hurts to ask. Or have a friend or spouse find out […]

  5. […] can also use a digital scouting camera to monitor bucks and learn (with some precision) when they’ve lost their antlers. […]

  6. […] a fun way to get warmed up for bowhunting season: use your digital trail cameras to take a wildlife survey. I’ve done this once already to investigate a wooded area beside […]

  7. […] tool, because they let you pattern the game in a certain area without having to be around. See my digital scouting camera reviews for some good, inexpensive […]

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