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Best and worst cheap trail cams.

meyeri

PMA Member
I'm curious what you guys have experienced with cheaper trail cams?
What brands are good, what brands sucked?
I know you get what you pay for; I have expensive trail cams, but since I hunt a lot of public I don't like to risk a $200 camera getting stolen. I don't have cell service in 85 percent of the areas I hunt, so that isn't an option either.

Worst for me over the years:

Anything stealth cam.
So I threw the dice a couple years back and picked up a 2 pack of stealth cam cameras on sale for like $85 total. Worst purchase ever. The trigger speed is awful, the menu doesn't always show up and my last card pull I had 30 pictures after a month of soaking. Basically the camera is only good for scrapes where the animal is 5 yds from the camera, even then the sensor is very finicky. I've had 4 different models over the years and I've not been impressed with any of them.

Best for me over the years:
Covert.
I picked up 4 coverts for around $50 a piece on sale from Optics Planet and they are still running 5+ years later. They run into troubles with cheap or 1/3 drained batteries, have a sluggish trigger speed, but they have performed well for the price tag.

So let's hear it, what's your worst and best cheap camera?
 

bigbuckhunter88

PMA Member
If you can find them on sale Browning Strike Force are my favorite cheaper cam. Can find them for 60 or 70. Have had some for 5 years working flawlessly. Matter of fact that's all I run aside from some super cheap Wildgame cams I bought off a buddy for 20 a piece. Those only take 1 pic every 30 seconds and no adjusting it but do work in a pinch.
 

IowaBowHunter1983

Super Moderator
Staff member
Cuddeback E2. Best non cell cam I've ever had by Far. Newest ones are 6 years old now. Oldest are close to 10 years old. 25 of them still out ans working great.
 

Rous14

Active Member
Have a bunch of Browning’s in that $140-$180 range that seem to be the best value. I’ve had my share of issues with them but I will say that the customer service has been pretty solid. They usually send me a new one when I send one in with a problem.

Have one Bushnell aggressor and so far after a few years it’s actually been really good.

Have one Reconyx non cell that’s been bulletproof and two reconyx cell cams that have been good but only been a couple months so time will tell. Hard to beat built in the USA and when you call them you can actually get a live person to talk to on the phone.....for me that’s invaluable.

Have tried and am giving up on anything spypoint. Had one good solar cam from them but the other 4 or 5 I’ve tried have been junk. Customer support is poor.
 

203ntyp

PMA Member
Bushnell trophy cam did pretty well for me. Still using 2013 & 2014 models to this day

I agree, have two Bushnell Trophy Cams that I bought in the mid 2000's and they still are working.

Just tried a Stealth cam for the 1st time....SUCKS!

I've tried so many brands over the years I can't keep track, most were junk. Trying a Covert right now, so far it's okay.

I've been eyeing up the Brownings and will probably try one of them next.
 

deerhunter93

Well-Known Member
Muddy and Primos have been terrible for us (I think Muddy Pro Cam 20 and Primos Workhorse - both cheap cameras)

I had one Covert a while ago that did well until it got ants inside somehow. Bushnell have done really well for me. I still have a Bushnell Trophy Cam that is probably close to 10 years old now (I had two but one got stolen) and then a Bushnell Aggressor that takes great photos.

Cell cams - I have two Stealth Cam Fusions out right now and two Tactacam Reveals and I'll go with Tactacam hands down.
 

JNRBRONC

Moderator
When you find a camera you like, they switch factories in China and the quality might go south.....

I had some ScoutGuard 550's I think it was, awesome cameras, kind of a pain to use a remote to program them, but had great battery life and took decent pics. Bought two more a year or two later and they were junk.

I had good luck with some Bushnell Trophy Cams. Same story, next set wasn't as good.

Moultrie, I'll never buy another one. Last two I bought didn't last 18 months, might have been the 990i model, not sure. They functioned better as ant houses. :( Now, all the images I have from them don't open properly with the latest Microsoft software. Not sure who to blame there, because all my other trail cam pics open fine with the Microsoft software. Must be something in the way Moultrie writes their data to the file. I've got other software I can open them with, just another mark against Moultrie in my book.

I got a GardePro camera off Amazon as a gift, actually have two from different years. Man, talk about great range for sensing, decent trigger speed, long battery life (using alkaline) and decent image quality. Only downfall is they routinely lose track of time/date. I found a link for software upgrades, need to figure out what models I have and download to see if it fixes them. Might have to buy a few more, even though they are "Amazon".

I got what I think is a Campark T20 Mini as a gift, pretty much junk. Takes pics but the images have some blurred areas, think the lens is flawed. 4 battery and not the greatest life. I also got what I think is a T45A as a gift. Looks alot like the GardePro and does and ok job, but runs a microSD card that is kind of a pain. This might be the one that jumbles the time/date stamp, rather than the GardePro. Looks like they came out of the same factory, just different names on them.

I picked up some Simmons cameras for $25 each. They can take a 32GB SD card. Decent battery life, images are decent during the day most of the time, night time is grainy. One out of the 5 cameras was junk to start with, so that raised the price. Not a bad camera to place somewhere for somebody to steal.

I've got I think 3 Browning of different vintages. One is quite old and still works, but it was never the best at triggering. Newer ones are ok during the day, night pics grainy.

Primos Workhorse has lasted a long time, but other than longevity, doesn't have a lot going for it.

So far, knock on wood, Covert seems to be the most consistent for me. I try to buy last year's model when they get under $100.

Haven't bought Reconyx or Spypoint.

I've been keeping my dead cameras, placing a note inside that says: "This camera is a decoy, did you see the live camera?" Plan to use them where I think there is a higher chance of theft. ;)
 

Bassattackr

Active Member
Have one Reconyx non cell that’s been bulletproof and two reconyx cell cams that have been good but only been a couple months so time will tell. Hard to beat built in the USA and when you call them you can actually get a live person to talk to on the phone.....for me that’s invaluable.

Agree 1000%! Went Reconyx and never looked back. The price over the long haul has been a great value for me, not to mention the reliability is awesome.

The only working camera I still have from another company is a Bushnell, maybe 7 years old now. Oddly enough I bought several more and none of the others didn't last through the second year.

Had several Moultrie cameras and they were all junk as well. One lasted one season, another lasted one month.
 

Rous14

Active Member
Agree 1000%! Went Reconyx and never looked back. The price over the long haul has been a great value for me, not to mention the reliability is awesome.

The only working camera I still have from another company is a Bushnell, maybe 7 years old now. Oddly enough I bought several more and none of the others didn't last through the second year.

Had several Moultrie cameras and they were all junk as well. One lasted one season, another lasted one month.
Yep, I made the decision this summer after years and years of using and trying different cameras that I’m done buying anything but Reconyx. Yes they are expensive up front but I think you are exactly right, over the long haul there’s probably very little difference. And frankly, if I can buy from local or at least American made businesses vs the alternative I’ll spend a little more without hesitation every time.
 

Rous14

Active Member
When you find a camera you like, they switch factories in China and the quality might go south.....

I had some ScoutGuard 550's I think it was, awesome cameras, kind of a pain to use a remote to program them, but had great battery life and took decent pics. Bought two more a year or two later and they were junk.

I had good luck with some Bushnell Trophy Cams. Same story, next set wasn't as good.

Moultrie, I'll never buy another one. Last two I bought didn't last 18 months, might have been the 990i model, not sure. They functioned better as ant houses. :( Now, all the images I have from them don't open properly with the latest Microsoft software. Not sure who to blame there, because all my other trail cam pics open fine with the Microsoft software. Must be something in the way Moultrie writes their data to the file. I've got other software I can open them with, just another mark against Moultrie in my book.

I got a GardePro camera off Amazon as a gift, actually have two from different years. Man, talk about great range for sensing, decent trigger speed, long battery life (using alkaline) and decent image quality. Only downfall is they routinely lose track of time/date. I found a link for software upgrades, need to figure out what models I have and download to see if it fixes them. Might have to buy a few more, even though they are "Amazon".

I got what I think is a Campark T20 Mini as a gift, pretty much junk. Takes pics but the images have some blurred areas, think the lens is flawed. 4 battery and not the greatest life. I also got what I think is a T45A as a gift. Looks alot like the GardePro and does and ok job, but runs a microSD card that is kind of a pain. This might be the one that jumbles the time/date stamp, rather than the GardePro. Looks like they came out of the same factory, just different names on them.

I picked up some Simmons cameras for $25 each. They can take a 32GB SD card. Decent battery life, images are decent during the day most of the time, night time is grainy. One out of the 5 cameras was junk to start with, so that raised the price. Not a bad camera to place somewhere for somebody to steal.

I've got I think 3 Browning of different vintages. One is quite old and still works, but it was never the best at triggering. Newer ones are ok during the day, night pics grainy.

Primos Workhorse has lasted a long time, but other than longevity, doesn't have a lot going for it.

So far, knock on wood, Covert seems to be the most consistent for me. I try to buy last year's model when they get under $100.

Haven't bought Reconyx or Spypoint.

I've been keeping my dead cameras, placing a note inside that says: "This camera is a decoy, did you see the live camera?" Plan to use them where I think there is a higher chance of theft. ;)
Ha! Your last sentence....I’ve done the exact same with my dead ones. Make great decoys

Although, knock on wood, I’ve had zero issues with theft or catching trespassers on my cameras. One more reason I feel comfortable with buying Reconyx. Would be much harder to justify if I thought there was a chance they’d get stolen
 

Daver

PMA Member
When you find a camera you like, they switch factories in China and the quality might go south.....
Exactly this. ^^ Although I am now several years removed from working in the hunting industry, it was commonplace, and I assume that it still is, for the actual source factory to be switched frequently for the same brands. So...you really can't be sure year to year what level of quality is going to be found within a given brand. Again, things may have changed, but that was commonly the case 15'ish years ago...so that could make any recommendations that anyone may provide useless.

I have used a variety of brands over the years and tend to stick with the lesser expensive ones, as my, also dated, experiences with more expensive cams in the past didn't lead to any better quality/durability. Probably my better results have been with Coverts and Bushnell's.
 
68020.jpeg

This is off a cheapo from Amazon from last year. My brother ran 2 of them an had no complaints great battery life and good trigger speed. Actually seen this buck at the taxidermist and wowza pictures didnt do him justice
 

Wi transplant

PMA Member
Gave up long ago on ANY camera under 100 bucks!! I do research on anything i buy and im down to either browning in the 120 to 150 range and reconyx. I picked up 2 new browning dark opps this yr and both seem to be working good! But if both dont work perfectly all season than im going strickly reconyx! Zero issues ever on those!!

Sent from my SM-G973U using Tapatalk
 

JNRBRONC

Moderator
Gave up long ago on ANY camera under 100 bucks!! I do research on anything i buy and im down to either browning in the 120 to 150 range and reconyx. I picked up 2 new browning dark opps this yr and both seem to be working good! But if both dont work perfectly all season than im going strickly reconyx! Zero issues ever on those!!

Sent from my SM-G973U using Tapatalk

I’d rather have 4 decent cams than 1 bulletproof, seems to be the Reconyx trade off. Just my view.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

hillrunner

PMA Member
I've owned a lot of junk cameras . After a lot of frustrating card pulls over the years, at this point, I'd rather pay once cry once. My reconyx cameras have been great and I plan to own more as other cameras die. I've also started trying out some exodus cameras and so far I have nothing bad to say about them.
The names of junk cameras I've owned would cover all the popular China cams.
 

2.5YR8

Active Member
I had a Stealth Cam I liked and used for 5 years. I bought 4 more and they all quit within a year, all with different issues. My dependable 1 is junk now too it keeps getting moisture in the lens.

We switched to Moultries last year and didn't really have any issues. Now we have the same issue as poster above. When you download the cards they are correct in the thumbnail view, but when you open the pic it gets cropped and you have to rotate it 360 degrees to see the whole image. Even pics we downloaded and saved last year that were correct are now cropped when we open them.

I think we have a couple Wildviews we are using now that we got off clearance for like $30 so far they're working. It's been frustrating the last couple of years.
 
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