Do you love to go hunting, take pictures of wildlife or would you like to be more security-conscious of your property? If you answered ‘Yes’ to any of these, then you’ll need to add a trail camera to your shopping list. To help make this process easier for you, we’ve done our homework and compiled the 10 best trail cameras under $100 on the market for you to choose from.
Don’t let their budget-friendly prices fool you, these trail cameras have been picked out of the many on the market after thorough research and testing. The result? They proved to be quite impressed with their features and you’ll be impressed that you don’t need to spend a fortune before getting one.
Whatever it is you want any of them to do – be it to track potential prey, take good pictures of wild animals in the woods or monitor trespassers on your farmland – you’ll find your right fit in this article.
Let’s get into it…
- Best Trail Cameras Under $100: Editor’s Top Picks
- Top 10 Best Trail Cameras Under $100 Reviews:
- 1. Campark T80 Wi-Fi Trail Camera
- 2. TOGUARD H85 Wi-Fi Trail Camera
- 3. Bushnell Trophy Cam Essential E3 Trail Camera
- 4. APEMAN H70 Trail Camera
- 5. Alpha Cam Premium Hunting Trail Camera
- 6. Victure HC300 Trail Game Camera
- 7. WOSODA LY123 Trail Game Camera
- 8. Foxelli Trail Camera
- 9. Wildgame Innovations Mirage 16 Trail Camera
- 10. Campark T70 Trail Camera
- Things to Consider When Buying Trail Cameras Under $100
- FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions
Best Trail Cameras Under $100: Editor’s Top Picks
Top 10 Best Trail Cameras Under $100 Reviews:
1. Campark T80 Wi-Fi Trail Camera
This powerful but affordable unit is arguably the best trail cam under 100. It is ideal for power users who are looking to extract the most value from a game camera. This device comes with all the standard specs that you have come to expect from any respectable trail camera and then some more.
Just like in any type of camera, image is everything and more megapixels usually mean clearer pictures. With a 20 MP game camera (about the highest image resolution in the market), what you get are top-quality images in the day and above-average results at night. You can even go ahead and print out your photos in any size you desire without the fear of your pictures losing their sharpness.
Another impressive aspect of this device is its ability to record high-quality video and audio. The camera’s inbuilt microphone picks up sound pretty well, even when the target is a fair distance away. This is noteworthy since most of the T80 rivals’ audio capture features are usually not good enough.
- Excellent value for your money.
- 20MP camera takes really good pictures, especially in the daytime.
- Great 1296p video with outstanding sound recording.
- A solid-built body constructed out of high-quality rugged materials helps the equipment to withstand harsh conditions.
- IP66 waterproof and dustproof casing protects the camera from bad weather.
- Limited Wi-Fi connectivity range.
- A Small memory card socket makes it difficult to remove or insert an SD card.
2. TOGUARD H85 Wi-Fi Trail Camera
At first glance, it’s easy to conclude that the Toguard H85 is just another Campark T80 that goes by a different brand name. After all, the two trail cameras share common specifications such as a 20 MP ultra-high photo resolution, Wi-Fi and app control, 65-foot night vision range, IP66 waterproof and dustproof standard, Infrared (IR) LED flash, among others. However, at a closer look, the performances of some of the shared features are what differentiates the Toguard H85 game camera from the slightly superior T80.
When it comes to observing the night behavior of wild animals without disturbing their habitual way of life, the Toguard H85 trail camera stands out. Its 36 pcs 850nm low-glow IR night vision technology combined with a respectable 65 feet trigger distance does a very good job of detecting and exposing the movements of wildlife and intruders. It doesn’t matter how dark the surroundings are or how large the area is.
The presence of Infrared (also known as “invisible flash”), instead of the regular white flash, gives the Toguard H85 user a huge advantage. This is because the absence of glowing light ensures that your surveillance target is unaware of being watched. Add to all these a 1296-pixels HD output, the highest video resolution in its class, the T85 is a bargain hunter’s delight.
- All-round good performance at a bargain price.
- Best-in-class Super Night View video camera.
- Infrared flash captures target activities without being obvious.
- Weather, pressure, dust, and scratch-resistant as a result of its robust construction as well as waterproof and dustproof protection.
- Easy to set up.
- Does not come with an SD card.
- Average trigger speed
3. Bushnell Trophy Cam Essential E3 Trail Camera
Bushnell is a brand name with a lot of prestige and pedigree when it comes to the business of sports optics. The company is renowned for top-quality products that combine cutting-edge design with high-performance functionality. The Essential E3, Bushnell’s entry-level trail camera, is distinctive for its affordability, durability, and user-friendliness.
The Bushnell Essential E3 is an excellent choice for those looking for a great game camera without breaking the bank. It sits right on the sweet spot between features and price. It is possibly the Bushnell gadget with the best value for money.
The E3 may be easy in your pocket but that doesn’t make it cheap. Its build quality and sturdy construction are typical of Bushnell hunting and scout cameras. The equipment is enclosed within a weather-proof, hard plastic case and protected with waterproof rubber seals to keep away moisture.
Bushnell cameras have a longstanding reputation for being among the easiest to use. Little wonder then that the Trophy Cam Essential E3 is relatively quick and easy to set up. You will get, with your purchase, an easy-to-understand instruction booklet that will guide you through the installation process and settings on your camera’s gray-scale LED screen.
- Entry-level budget camera.
- Video quality makes the E3 particularly popular among trail camera enthusiasts. Although 720p, it’s very well defined at night and captures good color during the day.
- 16 MP pictures are clear, colorful, and detailed.
- Strong, durable case design.
- Set-up programming is straightforward and menu buttons easy to navigate.
- Below-average battery life.
- Tendency to overexpose when taking night pictures of target animals at close range resulting in lots of whited-out or overly dark photos.
4. APEMAN H70 Trail Camera
Don’t we all love a company that makes it a guiding philosophy to consistently improve on its products with almost every new release? With the H70, the APEMAN brand outdid itself with possibly its best trail camera yet – surpassing their previous models by a notable margin.
The APEMAN H70 is one of the fastest cameras in its category – the sensors are able to activate in 0.3 seconds (compared to the 0.5s clocked in most units). Though fractions of a sec, this marginal improvement can mean the difference between making your shot or missing it.
The 30MP photo and 4K video resolutions – probably the highest combo in this industry – mean that whatever images those lightning-speed sensors pick up, they will be crystal clear. It even comes with a built-in 2.4-inches LCD screen for instant viewing of your pictures and footage.
- The trigger speed on this game cam is pretty impressive – right up there among the faster photo triggers featured on a game camera.
- Excellent photo and video taking with multiple shooting mode selections to do it in.
- Automatic switching between infrared and regular color pictures (depending on whether it is day or night) makes recording and capturing your game easier.
- Unique spray-water-protected casing design guards against rough weather conditions.
- Supports multipurpose uses like wildlife scouting, nature monitoring, and home security.
- You will need to buy 8 AA batteries and an SD card in order to run this trail camera. They are not included in the package itself.
- Doesn’t perform well at night.
5. Alpha Cam Premium Hunting Trail Camera
It seems to us that when the makers of the Alpha Cam Premium were creating this hunting game camera, the dominant thought in their minds was to break and make records! We can imagine the company’s designers and engineers looking at each spec of a typical trail camera and then figuring out how to take it further than competing alternatives. This one-of-a-kind gadget unveiled so many firsts in the scouting camera business.
Beginning with an incredible 30 MP – the highest image resolution in the market – you should expect brilliant full-color day pictures, while an ultra-fast 100ft IR flash ensures no blurry nighttime images. Add to that a trigger speed of 0.2 seconds – the fastest in the market – that will ensure that you do not miss out on any single event. With a motion sensor capable of detecting movement up to 90 feet away, there is little doubt that the Alpha Cam Premium is the best long-range trail camera available in the market.
To document and preserve this awesomeness, you’ll need equipment that is durable, long-lasting, and spacious. The Alpha Cam Premium is effectively protected by an ultra-strong IP67 waterproof, dustproof, and scratchproof case design – the toughest in the market. Then, it is powered by batteries that can last for a whopping 30 months – the longest in the market – and outfitted with a memory card capacity of up to 52 gigs – once again, the roomiest in the market.
- Specifications and features are hard to beat in the industry.
- 1-second ultra-fast recovery rate.
- Powerful night vision capability
- 30-month extended warranty.
- Outstanding after-sales support.
- SD card and batteries are not included in the package.
- On/Off switch difficult to operate.
6. Victure HC300 Trail Game Camera
The Victure HC300 is the budget cameras’ budget camera. Even though it is at the bottom half of this list for its affordability, its functionality puts it in the upper half. To keep prices low, it sticks to the basics: 20MP photos, 1080p videos, good sound recording, 0.3s triggering time, IR flash night vision, IP66 waterproofing, 8 AA batteries, 32GB SD card support, and easy setup; however, there are a few ways the HC300 differs from other trail cameras.
Trail cameras typically offer less than one-second trigger speeds. However, the HC300 takes this further by taking up to three pictures with a single trigger. This allows you to see more than you would with a traditional game camera.
Another HC300 feature that you typically won’t find in other trail cameras is the low-battery alert, an indicator that lets you know when your batteries are dying out and need replacement. This is particularly important for people who opt for the internal power source instead of an external power adapter. The battery-alert function will ensure that the camera can continue to capture great videos and images throughout the day and night without reverting to standby mode.
- Overall, it has a lot of positives for a very reasonable price.
- It is housed within a robust “clamshell” case with IP66-rated rubber seals, meaning it’s ready for all weather conditions.
- Multiple shooting options and various recording modes provide user versatility.
- It has other handy features, such as password protection and timestamp function.
- The easy and intuitive interface when setting it up the first time.
- Lack of Wi-Fi and remote-control functionality.
- Requires a lot of batteries.
7. WOSODA LY123 Trail Game Camera
The Wosoda LY123 is a no-frills trail camera, period. From the moment you unbox this compact game camera, it will be obvious that it was made for the down-to-earth user who just wants to stick to the essentials. The LY123 may lack the shiny high-end features of saying an Alpha Cam Premium, but it gets the job done.
This camera has 16MP and 1080p resolutions that capture and record good quality images and footage respectively. These photos and videos include great features such as the multi-recording modes and versatile functions like the time switch and time stamps. These timing functions are ideal for the surveillance of reptiles or amphibians as they reduce the frequency of accidental shoots caused by the surrounding leaves or grass.
The LY123 activates its camera within a trigger speed range of 0.3 to 0.8 seconds. This ensures you don’t miss even the slightest or the fastest movements. The protective case is IP54 rated, not as good as IP66, but enough to protect the camera from rain and dust damage.
- Compact, portable, and lightweight.
- The black-and-white night images are very well defined that you can see every important detail.
- Clear night vision with 65ft invisible flash detection distance.
- It comes with a mounting strap with which you can easily install this trail camera wherever you want.
- Waterproof and dust-resistant.
- It doesn’t have an LCD screen. You have to manually take out the SD card and put it on your laptop or tablet to view your photos and videos.
- Does not allow remote control access via your smartphone.
8. Foxelli Trail Camera
Although it lacks some of the details found in trail cams with higher resolutions, Foxelli’s 20-megapixel camera is a good purchase for someone who doesn’t need the higher pixel count in photographs. Customer feedback from game camera reviews suggests no one is complaining about the quality of the images. On the contrary, the camera rewards users with sharp and vibrant photos, as well as 1080P FHD crystal clear audio-visuals up to 10 minutes long.
However, the key selling point for the Foxelli 20MP is its 120-degree wide-angle lens, which offers a considerable shooting scope. A wide-angled lens makes a big difference in the world of trail cameras because those extra degrees ensure that you don’t miss out on any action in the wild. With a 120° Field of View (FOV), your camera is able to spot everything with ease with just one wide lens.
Foxelli appears to take its equipment security very seriously. This seems to be why its 20MP flagship trail camera features a perfectly camouflaged case sealed with IP66 waterproofing. Likewise, it’s password-protected to keep stored photos and videos safe and mounted onto a tripod for maximum stability.
- Convincing natural tree bark exterior camouflage.
- 120° FOV detection range.
- The low battery consumption allows the batteries to survive up to 8 months in standby mode.
- Micro SD card included in the package.
- Very affordable.
- Slight design flaws that reduce the user-friendliness
- Removal of SD cards and replacement of batteries is a bit difficult.
9. Wildgame Innovations Mirage 16 Trail Camera
We have observed by paying attention to game scouting and wildlife monitoring media that Wildgame Innovations products are hugely popular. Users like to rave about the company’s signature features such as their high-imitation camouflage designs, advanced stealth functions, and “accessories-in-the-box”. The Mirage 16 is no exception.
It is hard to find a trail camera body that beats the creative Mossy Oak Bottomland Camouflage outfit that the designers at Wildgame Innovations made to conceal the Mirage 16. The patterns and shapes and colors on this equipment’s exterior mimic different tree barks so closely that it blends almost completely into the surroundings. Your targets won’t spot the camera, nor would they notice the silent shutter operations and invisible flash illumination.
The Mirage 16 also comes bearing “gifts”. The user’s package includes an 8 GB Sandisk SD card (with support for an additional 32 GB) and 8 AA Energizer batteries (with a combined battery life of at least six months). The game camera also comes with an easy-to-use adjustable strap and a security locking system.
In contrast with all its remarkable qualities, the Mirage 16 shows its more modest side through its other features. It captures 16MP pictures at about 0.5s trigger speed. In addition, it records a maximum of 30-second videos at 720 HD video resolution.
- Chameleon-like exterior design that almost perfectly disguises appearance.
- Top-of-the-range stealth performance.
- 80-foot infrared night vision detection range.
- Essential accessories, like SD cards and batteries, are included with the purchase.
- Good battery life
- Features that fall below the brand’s own high standards.
- Plastic lens.
10. Campark T70 Trail Camera
The T70 is most suitable for users who pay more attention to trigger distances and IR technology than anything else. Its infrared flash illumination tech has a detection range of 65 feet (or 20 meters). It also has an automatic IR filter that enables you to observe the natural behaviors of target animals.
This camera features a 44pcs LED that allows you to secretly snap photos and record footage of the animals without scaring them away. The T70’s compact size and design also help to disguise the gadget in the wild. Furthermore, this device has low power consumption – on standby mode, it can last as long as 6 months.
The Campark T70 was engineered to function optimally even in the midst of tough weather and harsh conditions. This was done by enclosing it in a bulky waterproof plastic case to protect it from rainfall and dust. As a result, you will have no problem deploying your equipment for use in the jungle or desert.
Enclosed within the user’s package is a threaded strap and a mounting strap. It is very easy to set up as it takes just a few moments for you to install the camera. There are also additional functions that can aid your usage of the camera like time stamp, date, and temperature.
- Good camouflage in the forest.
- Above-average photo and video quality.
- IR night vision filter.
- IP66 waterproof rating.
- Users’ manual is difficult to understand.
- Water leaking defects.
Things to Consider When Buying Trail Cameras Under $100
Now that we have gone through an unbiased and thoroughly researched list of the best trail cameras under $100, there are certain guidelines that you need to follow before you buy any of the above equipment. These recommendations are important for you to note, especially if you are a prospective first-time buyer.
A game camera worth your money must meet certain minimum standards. The good news is that we factored in these considerations in selecting each of the recommended trail cameras.
It’s easy to fall for the popular wisdom that more megapixels mean better pictures. Of course, theoretically speaking, a higher megapixel count is roughly equivalent to a sharper photo resolution but watch out for marketing tricks that companies play.
Some companies compromise their cameras by using a low-quality lens which may counter whatever gains the high MPs give the resultant images. Even the pixel counts themselves are artificially boosted using a technique known as interpolation. They don’t do this out of malicious intent, of course – it’s all part of a corporate game to show you shiny features in their ads while using sub-standard materials in a bid to cut cost.
So how are you to evaluate picture quality? The smartest way is to check out photo samples from trail camera reviews posted by users of the particular device you are interested in. Check out for color, clarity, and contrast before making your buying decision.
Other features to expect from your photo cameras are the burst mode (how fast your camera can take several pictures) and time-lapse mode (interval setting that enables your camera to automatically take pictures irrespective of whether the sensor is triggered or not). Also, check to see that your camera puts time and date stamps on each photo so you’ll have more accurate surveillance information about your target’s daily behavior.
If you want to go beyond just staring at stills of target animals, you may want to check out how your camera will record their movements and activities. Important considerations include resolution (the higher the resolution, the better the video), duration (the length of your recorded video clip), and time-lapse (time intervals for an automatic shooting of videos). Another thing you should seriously consider in your buying decision is audio capture. Most cameras that feature video also enable audio simultaneously. If the sound is important to you, ensure that you get a camera with a sensitive microphone.
Artificial light is needed to make night photography work. Trail cameras offer three kinds of flash: “white” (which is gradually becoming obsolete); “red” or “low-glow” infrared; and “black” or “no-glow” infrared. The infrared flash options are by far the most popular because they can take pictures of the target animals without disturbing them.
Low-glow flashes operate just above the visible spectrum (at a wavelength somewhere around 732nm) so they do give out some light at the point of activation. The advantage of this is that it pops out clearer pictures while the disadvantage is that it will scare the target.
Operating well above the visible spectrum at wavelengths around 864nm, a No-glow flash is completely disguised; the animal goes about its activity unaware that it is being photographed. White flash is fading away in usage because there is nothing more obvious than a sudden bright light. However, the camera makers that still keep this flash type do so because it takes color pictures at night, while the most that infrared flash can manage is black-and-white photo production.
Power Options/ Battery Life
When it comes to the power source you are not presented with a lot of options. Some cameras provide support for a solar panel that will keep the camera working for a long period without the need to replace batteries. However, this option is totally dependent on the availability of sunlight, thus limiting the diversity of environments in which it can be deployed.
The much more popular option is the standard AA batteries. They are reliable and are used in most trail cameras. The disadvantage of this power source is the frequency and cost of replacing the batteries. Some camera makers try to solve this problem by enabling the use of rechargeable batteries in their cameras.
A trail camera’s battery life will determine how long you can allow the device out there in the wild. Take care to check your target camera’s battery life so that you are not met with unexpected expenses down the road. Also, manufacturers that provide complementary batteries in the user’s package do the buyers of their trail cameras a lot of good services. This is because it removes the guesswork from the potential user in determining what particular battery to use for the camera you just bought. If in doubt, however, just use lithium batteries – they give the longest battery life and are the most reliable.
FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions
Q1: What are the different types of trail cameras?
Trail cameras are marketed and sold in two broad categories: standard and wireless. Standard trail cameras are those ones in which after setting up the equipment you have to pay frequent visits into the wild to manually check up on your camera and manually retrieve your captured images and recorded footage. On the other hand, wireless trail cameras are the ones in which you access your camera and its digital content with a remote control or a smartphone app.
Wireless cameras can be further sub-divided into Wi-Fi and cellular trail cameras. Wi-Fi trail cameras only allow access to your camera when it is placed nearby, thus more popularly used for home security and farmland surveillance. Conversely, cellular trail cameras allow you to control your camera as well as download your photos and videos even if placed in a remote forest, provided there is network coverage in that area. The cellular variants are the go-to device for game hunting and wildlife monitoring.
Q2: Is a game camera only used by hunters?
If you are not part of the hunting community, you may be wondering whether a game camera is the one a photographer can make use of in sporting events. But the “game” in the name isn’t referring to sports activity but instead is an alternative name for animals that serve as hunting or scouting targets.
If you are part of the hunting community, you may be unaware that your game camera has versatile uses. Apart from tracking and hunting prey, farm or ranch owners use it for home security and property surveillance. Likewise, nature photographers and wildlife enthusiasts have been using them for years to observe and collect data on animals in their habitats, without undue invasion of their targets’ privacy.
And, in case you don’t already know, a game camera is another name for trail camera
Q3: Is trail cameras good for home security?
Yes, they can serve that purpose, if you need them to. For trail cameras that are accompanied by flash when a picture is being taken, that can scare away intruders. If your camera is the no-flash type, it can secretly record the break-in activities of a burglar and even take pictures. The photos and videos, some with the date and time stamps, can be used as admissible evidence for law enforcement officials. Even better for surveillance purposes are the trail cameras with remote access and app control features so that you can view in real-time every move being made by a potential thief.
Q4: How can I keep my trail camera safe?
The smartest way to safeguard your precious camera is to hide it in plain sight. You can do this mostly by conveniently purchasing cameras concealed with ingenious camouflage designs. If that is not your style, you can opt to protect it with a security box. A security box allows your camera to be mounted on a pole or fastened to a tree, reducing the chance of it being knocked down by a curious animal or stolen by a sneaky thief. Security boxes come with locks that ensure maximum protection and stability. Locks can come in the form of padlock and combination lock or digital password protection.
Q5: What is PIR setting?
PIR stands for Passive Infra-Red. It helps you to finetune how motion will be detected. There are four PIR settings. The default is an automatic setting that enables the camera to adjust to the surrounding temperature. Then, there is a normal setting, which provides more control and is supposed to be for moderate climate conditions. The low setting works best during the cold weather. With a lower sensitivity, the camera will not trigger no matter the temperature changes in the surroundings. Finally, there is a high setting, which increases PIR sensitivity and works best in warm or hot conditions, such that it can still detect the body heat of the target animal.
Q6: What is a detection circuit?
This is the part of a trail camera that actually detects the target animal. It is the combination of heat and motion that triggers a trail camera. There are three aspects to a detection circuit: trigger speed, recovery time, and detection zone.
Trigger speed is the time it takes from when a camera first detects motion to the point where the cause of the motion is captured. Recovery time is how quickly a camera can save the first take and prepare for a second picture. The detection zone is the region within which a camera can detect motion and trigger a photo. Detection width and detection range are the two factors that determine the detection zone.
Having a budget of a hundred dollars or less doesn’t mean that you should limit yourself to cheap trail cameras. While we cannot deny the wisdom in the saying that “you get what you pay for”, higher prices do not always represent the best value.
With our top recommendations, you won’t only be spoilt for choice but you’ll also be able to identify and choose the perfect trail camera for your budget and needs. There’s something for everyone whether you’re working with a tight budget or looking for an impressive value for your money.
Whether you’re an amateur enthusiast looking to explore the beauty of nature, or a country dweller anxious to keep unwanted “guests” off your premises or a professional hunter planning your next kill, you can’t go wrong buying one or more of our best trail cameras under $100.
It’s a wrap, folks!