Trail cameras are a staple of nearly every hunter’s arsenal these days. There are dozens of game camera manufacturers and literally hundreds of models from which to choose. Many hunters opt to buy cheap trail cameras. Is this a good idea or is it necessary to spend hundreds of dollars per camera to see results?
Below, we’ll discuss which hunters might be able to benefit from cheap trail cameras. We’ll also review 12 of the best cheap trail cameras and give you some insight on which one(s) might be right for you.
Will a Cheap Trail Camera be Enough?
The word “cheap” is often associated with the word “bad” but the truth is that there are many good cheap trail cameras. Cheap trail cameras under $100 are plentiful, and they often have many of the same features as the more expensive models.
If you’re planning to deploy trail cameras in areas where extreme weather conditions are common then you’ll want to make sure the device is rated to withstand such circumstances. You’ll also want to ensure the photo, video and flash quality are sufficient to meet your needs, and you’ll need to determine if the battery life and SD memory card capabilities are enough for you.
Review the specifications of specific cameras before making a purchase to see if what’s included will work for you, or if you need something more. Things like detection range, field of vision, and trigger speed vary greatly from camera to camera.
Lastly, find out if the manufacturer offers any sort of warranty or reduced-cost replacement program in case something happens to your trail camera. If you follow all of these steps and feel confident about a specific camera then there is no need to worry about the cost because the cheap trail camera in question satisfies all of your needs.
Top 7 Cheap Trail Camera Reviews 2016
- Read More: Top 4 Cellular & Wireless Trail Cameras 2016
|Crenova Game and Trail Camera||12MP||1s||65 ft||Infrared||60s||4.8|
|Stealth Cam P18||7MP||< 1s||60 ft||Infrared||15s||4.7|
|Moultrie Game Spy M-880 Gen 2||8MP||< 1s||100 ft||Infrared||Yes||4.8|
|Moultrie Game Spy A-5||5MP||< 1.5s||50 ft||Infrared||Yes||4.6|
|Moultrie A-20 Mini Game Camera||12MP||< 1s||50 ft||Infrared||Yes||4.7|
|Stealth Cam STC-P12||6MP||1.5s||50 ft||Infrared||15s||4.6|
|Xikezan 8MP Low-Glow||8MP||0.8 - 1.2s||50 ft||Infrared||Yes||4.5|
Crenova Game and Trail Hunting Camera
Equipped with a 12MP camera and full 1080p recording capability, this trail camera is ready to keep up with any demands out of the box. I like that the device is powered by AA batteries and features a handful of great camera settings to maximize quality and efficiency. Built in 42 LED IR bank can capture night footage up to 20m away, that’s up to 65 feet.
I recommend setting up the camera in a situation where you’re shooting night photos at about half the recommended distance for maximum results. Night range is always optimistic and if anything, this camera may need a little assistance with those night shots.
Batteries can be changed without disassembling the entire unit which is convenient but may allow others to tamper with your cam. Fortunately, the camera its self can be password locked so you’ll be able to keep those big game photos to yourself. Factory settings on the unit are easy to change but the setup is pretty solid so there’s little reason to change the settings anyways.
This is a good unit which will deliver top-feature quality and utility to the performance oriented hunter at an agreeable price.
Stealth Cam P18
In today’s crowded market it takes a feature-rich and refined product to stand out. With low-end features and specs, this camera might have a hard time finding a niche.
Cameras today have improved rapidly and this small trail camera features 7MP front facing camera with video recording. It’s hard to say exactly what resolution the camera records video at, but we can assume it’s 480p.
18 LED IR bank may be less power hungry but falls short of other competitors. 60-foot flash range is probably massively overstated so be sure to set this camera up where it will be capturing video and photo from 30 feet or less.
One great feature is that the camera comes ready to use with a 4GB SD card and a full set of batteries. This is a nice feature to set the camera apart from the crowd, however the 4GB SD card won’t last long as the storage space is much too small for extended use. Be sure to upgrade your storage capacity if you’re going to leave the camera for more than a week or two at a time.
Moultrie Game Spy M-880
Possibly one of the simplest user interfaces of trail camera offerings today, the Moultrie line is extensive and well developed. Featuring a quick start menu setup and several easy features to get started, it’s simple to plug and play. Moultrie also offers several other cameras of varying quality and features so be sure to find the one which best suits your specific needs.
8MP camera resolution is lower than I’d like to see but acceptable for mid quality photos. Low trigger speeds under 1 second are standard in today’s cameras and the M-880 doesn’t disappoint. With a 36 LED IR bank the 100-ft. flash range seems overstated and, again, I’d use the camera at 50 feet or less for ideal photo quality.
Most users will be happy with the reliability and function of this trail camera with no-frills features. Make sure to password protect your camera to prevent vandals from resetting or repurposing your camera. One setting to alter right off the bat is the sensitivity; be sure to turn it down from the factory preset of “high” or you’ll end up with tons of photos of trees.
Moultrie Game Spy A-5 Gen 2 Low-Glow
On the slightly lower end, you’ll find downgraded features and a compact trail camera that can be a great match for a light user’s needs. This camera is really designed to be a “best bang for your buck” type offering.
5MP resolution camera can shoot up to 50 ft. but I’d keep it under 25 feet for decent results. 12 LED IR bank definitely won’t reach very far with any clarity so be certain that you’re positioning the camera right next to the trail or bait pile for best scouting results.
One of the biggest drawbacks of this budget minded trail camera is a 1.5 second trigger time. For animals rapidly on the move this may be enough time for the animal to get out of view. Shorter delay settings on the current generation are an improvement over older models with 10 second to 5-minute delay options.
It’s pretty easy to see why this camera would make a solid choice for the budget minded or entry level field scout. This trail camera is the perfect gift idea for the outdoorsman in your life and the Moultrie name is reputable enough to quell any worries about product reliability.
Moultrie A-20 Mini Game Camera
What sets this camera apart is top-notch features and compact form factor. It’s pretty hard to argue with great features when they’re delivered in a package anybody can love.
12MP camera is definitely top of the line and works in conjunction with heaps of other great trail camera specs. Trigger speed less than one second is pretty standard but it’s still nice to see a trail camera keeping up with the joneses. Flash range of a possible 50ft with a 12 LED IR bank is, again, probably optimistic. Keep this trail camera at 25 feet or less for the most ideal results.
One of the biggest drawbacks of this camera is a 480px resolution video capacity. On one hand, it means your video won’t consume quite as much space on your SD card. On the other hand, it means you’ll have a lower resolution video than might be ideal.
This camera is most ideal for the user looking for maximum features in a minimalist design. If you’re looking for a tried and true name, then you’ll enjoy the feature rich A-20 camera for any trail camera needs.
Stealth Cam Megapixel Digital Scouting Camera P12 & P14
This trail cam comes in two different flavors – P12 and P14.
P12: 6MP front facing camera and 15 second burst video recording keep things simple with this moderately featured trail camera. 12 LED IR bank should probably be used at ranges of up to 25ft despite stated specifications of 50ft.
Use one of the quick setup pre-programmed modes or customize your own settings with an adjustable custom setting. Burst mode, time, date, and moon phase settings allow for tons of flexibility.
P14: A few upgrades bring the P14 up in scale and meet 7MP photo and video recording criteria.
14 LED IR bank with 40ft range might actually make this one of the only cameras on the market with a reasonable specification. Burst mode and programmable delays allow tons of control for the experienced users. Quick setup mode is great if you prefer not to fiddle with settings as you can just set it and forget it.
3D cast plastic housing brings a little different flair to the camera than most competitors on the market.
Of the two cameras, there’s very little difference and most users will be happy choosing whichever camera best meets their budget preferences.
Xikezan 8MP Low-Glow Trail Camera
Another great programmable trail camera option in the mid-range spectrum, the Low-Glow feature is a solid addition.
8MP camera isn’t anything mind blowing but the .8 – 1.2 second trigger speed is on point with competitors in the range. 50-foot detection and flash range should most likely be taken with a grain of salt and, as always, divide in half for the most reliably results.
One feature which sets this camera apart is the 4 – 12 battery function option. Use the camera with as few as 4 or as many as 12 batteries depending on how long you want to run it. The more batteries you plug in, the longer you’ll be able to leave the camera in the woods to do its work. Manufacturer claims up to 12,000 images on 12 batteries – that’s not bad!
720P video at 8MP isn’t cutting edge, but it’ll certainly do the job and it stands out as one of the best offerings among similarly comparable competitors. Not a bad addition to the already robust trail camera.
Comparison – Which Unit is for You?
Among the most affordable trail cameras on our list are the Stealth Cam P12, Moultrie A-5, Moultrie A-20, and the Crenova. For the gadget geek, most will prefer the Crenova with the highest overall specifications (12MP camera) and one of the best IR LEDs for night photos.
If you’re looking to get some serious features, then I know you’ll have a hard time beating the Moultrie A-20 and the Xikezan Low Glow trail cameras. Both of these cameras sport mid to high range features.
For overall reliability and brand name you’ll probably want to stick to Moultrie if this is a major consideration. For those willing to explore and experiment then the Xikezan or Crenova are probably the biggest contenders.
Which trail cam would I choose to take into the wood with me for the best value? Without a doubt, I’d deploy the Crenova trail camera with high resolution and great IR LEDs for the best possible results which will improve my hunting, scouting, and information gathering.
For the absolute best value, you’ll probably want to heavily consider the Moultrie A-5 with upgraded features yet still comparing nicely against mid-range competitors. This redesigned trail camera has been tested and proven so you’re getting a great value!
Cheap trail cameras can be affordable and useful. As you can see there are a variety of reliable game cameras under $100 currently available on the market. Any one of these models can provide you with a variety of features that will benefit you in your scouting, tracking and hunting endeavors. We hope you’ve found this list of the best cheap trail camera reviews helpful, and we’d love to hear how these devices have improved your life. Happy hunting!