Well, once you have decided the trail camera of which brand and functionalities you are going to buy according to your purpose, it’s time to know how to set it and get started. Don’t worry if you don’t know how to set it at all. In this article, we are going to tell you step by step how to program a trail camera that will be helpful for a beginner like you. Maybe you purchased it online and finally when it has arrived at your home unbox it consciously.
Check whether you have received all the extras included in the box that was mentioned for the item. Most trail cameras come nowadays with tree straps, mounting brackets while some expensive cameras come with an SD card and an SD card reader also attached with it. Make sure that the box has come with a manual and the warranty card as claimed by the company. You need to also check well whether the lens, infrared of the camera are in good condition despite any damage. If all these are alright, you don’t need to wait to get started!
1. How to choose the right objects
While batteries are the life of the trail camera you must know the performance of the different batteries before you pick one for your camera. Generally, three types of batteries come there for trail cameras with different performing efficiency. Those are-
- Lithium batteries
- Alkaline batteries
- Rechargeable batteries
Lithium batteries are more durable and long-lasting than alkaline batteries. Generally, lithium batteries are good one with high performance to capture photos and videos. As long as the battery life sustains the lithium batteries exhibit 100% performance with amazing picture and video quality.
When things arise for alkaline batteries, they are not that efficient like lithium batteries. They show less performance when the battery life is lower than 50% leading to poor picture quality. It is due to less emission of illumination for lower battery performance.
Rechargeable batteries are good to some extent, but they lack high voltage connectivity leading to decreased camera performance
This is all about batteries. You may choose according to your working aspect and budget as well.
SD card functionality
If you received an SD card with your trail camera you may go with this, or you may buy a good one if it is not included in the package. The SD card memory that you can insert depends on your trail camera’s capacity. Nowadays most cameras support SD cards up to 32 GB. It is useful to use an SD card of large memory so that you don’t need to swap it each time for getting full. The Class 10 32GB SD card is significant with better performance that can store a large amount of footage at a time.
2. Go for the initial settings
Once you have loaded batteries and SD cards properly, you are ready to access the menu settings of the trail camera. Now you can set the resolution power and visibility range. Nowadays most cameras come with these advanced range control and resolution setting features. You can see all these settings options in the LCD viewing screen that is useful to understand the movement of the pointer easily. The camera mode involves the burst photo, single photo, time-lapse, and video modes that are going to be discussed below.
Remember that if you want your SD card to store a large number of pictures and videos, then you need to set its resolution lower. There will be a high chance of your battery persisting for at least 6 months while you avoid bigger picture sizes. Therefore if you want multiple pictures to be stored in your SD card without swapping it frequently then go with a lower set resolution.
Not only the picture, but you also can set the lower resolution of the video using the video mode. Video mode allows video to be shot either in full HD quality or in lower resolution of 720P. By setting 720P you can easily extend the battery longevity.
As you can control the visibility range of your camera, set it smartly according to your purpose. If you already know the distance where animals come between the range, it can capture the animal’s activities then set it low it requires leading to high performance. If it is a vast area you need to keep watching then set the range fullest.
These settings also depend on your purpose. There are also various settings useful for different aspects. By trigger setting option you can set the number of clicks the trail camera will support. If you use your camera to capture for a single time you can set it. While people bait by keeping a food source in front of the camera and letting the animal come near it, setting a single click will be perfect to capture prominently. If you want it to capture multiple pictures of the same object you can set that as well using the burst mode. Sometimes you require multiple footages to observe the position of the animal’s behavior. Setting multiple triggers is absolutely beneficial for this purpose. It can capture up to 8 shots once at a time. Even if you use the camera as a security device, capturing multiple footage at a time will make it easy to identify a person.
This option can be beneficial to increase the duration of the battery. If you set a time gap between two triggers, it will longer battery life leading to hundreds of shots at the end of the day. Interval setting is also useful as it captures pictures of various moments within a time gap. If you set it to 5 minutes then it will be effective to capture images of the animals in their various poses and activities. These features can be availed using the smart time-lapse mode that comes with the trail camera nowadays.
It is another useful setting that allows the trail camera to be triggered depending upon the intensity of the motion. If you use it as a security device outside your house and set a high sensitivity then it would be triggered even if a dog or cat is detected. If you set it medium in the woods you might miss the opportunity to capture a small animal’s slow activities due to its lower motion detection. Therefore set it according to your needs using these sensitivity settings.
3. Go for testing
Once you are ready with its settings, it’s time to check whether the trail camera is functioning properly or not. As you need confirmation if it goes well, before depending on it for your vital project or security issue. For that, you need to keep it on a table or place it up in a stand and walk several times in front of its motion detector. Repeat it for both day and nighttime to check whether its IR illuminator is absolutely able to emit light to capture clear pictures. To check whether the PIR sensor is alright, walk at a distance of at least 20 meters and check whether it is detecting the motion efficiently. Now check the quality of the photos and footage captured by the camera on your computer. If it needs a change of any settings, do it now.
4. Tasks before going to mounting
Once the trail camera is tested and ready to mount in the forest, you need to take some precautions for better results and the success of your purpose.
Unfavorable weather can impact your trail camera negatively. Though your camera is waterproof and dustproof, it can’t cope with over rainfall and snowfall. There is a high chance of risk during adverse weather. The extreme cold drains the battery faster, affecting good wildlife photographs. Therefore try to avoid unfavorable weather for better results.
Remove the smell
Animals are very much prone to external threats and they can easily detect human intervention by detecting the smell. Therefore make sure that after mounting the trail camera you have cleaned it well. Otherwise, the animals won’t come around it and it won’t capture footage of their movements. That’s why handling the camera wearing scent-proof gloves. After setting it in the tree, wipe it properly so that the animals can’t become alert.
Attach a GPS Tracker
While you are going to set your trail camera in the woods you must be concerned about how to find it and get it back. Therefore a GPS tracker can be a good option to find it in the woods. Make sure that the tracker is small enough to be hidden inside the camera and well-connected to your smartphone keeping you updated about its location.
5. Tasks for mounting it
Once the trail camera is set up manually, it will automatically start to capture photographs while placing. But before placing it you need to keep in mind several factors that are mentioned below:
Choose an appropriate location for mounting your trail camera. The place must be safe and without birds, beers, and any other arboreal animal intervention. Most of the time it is mounted on a tree and covered by foliage to hide it from the animal’s attention. Though you find a place that is suitable to camouflage well with the trees, check the angle if the position of the camera is alright to capture photos or not. While mounting on a branch of the tree make sure that it is sturdy enough to hold the camera’s weight and there is no risk of falling down of it.
Place the trail camera on the level of the animal’s eyesight so that they can’t notice it and don’t run away after being scared. Also, make sure that it is placed not too upward to capture the footage of the animal’s face and head. It depends on the height of the individual animal too. Therefore set it at a height after measuring the animal’s height. After mounting it properly, capture some test shots to ensure the maximum view of the ground and the maximum range of visibility.
Exposure of Light
You need to set the camera in a shadowy place where sunlight can not pass through within the leaves of the trees. If sunlight gets caught by the IR illuminator, it makes the pictures and footage blurry. Therefore the picture quality will be affected after being glary. Not only that, the camera will react and trigger falsely by detecting the moving light due to the sun’s movement throughout the day. Therefore it will store some unnecessary photos and footage leading to early power off and storage load. So, it is recommended to place the camera in either north or south direction to avoid the sunlight.
Hide the camera
Make sure that you have hidden the camera properly after placing it on the branches of trees. Some cheap cameras emit red light when they capture photos and videos. It alerts the animals. Make sure that the maximum part of the camera is covered and blended with the objects of the trees. Also, cover the exposed strap wrapped around the trunk. So that the animals can’t detect it and avoid coming around it. Now let it be there capturing plenty of wildlife shots.
6. Unload the SD Card
All right! Wish you have got so many photographs and footage loaded in the SD card after a week. Now it’s time to get it back and swap out the SD card. Check the photos and videos on your PC whether you collected the ample amount of footage you require. If you want to edit those photos, upload them on your computer and select the ‘Correct Timestamps’ option. Now set the desired date, time, and filter.
These are the essential factors and steps from unboxing the camera to collect good wildlife photographs. Hope now you know how to operate your trail camera and exploit its benefits in your work successfully.