Best trail cameras of 2017 - $100-225

Discussion in 'Gear and Equipment' started by Sligh1, May 1, 2017.

  1. Sligh1

    Sligh1 Administrator Staff Member

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    Hey guys.... I saw a post that's OLD on trail cameras. Like any technology, a lot gets better & "usually" gets cheaper over time. Lemme ask you guys this (and I realize there's actual trail cam reviewing websites, sometimes I agree with them, sometimes not). I've run a ton of all sorts of brands. What's your opinion based on this criteria (sorry- getting a little more specific):
    - mid-range pricing. $100-225

    -customer service, warranty, simple returns & maybe length of warranty. Basically- which cams don't break & when they do, a snap to resolve. For example: my Cuddebrokes of years past broke often & when they did - the return was so bad I simply tossed em. On flip side, covert has been good in years past, lower failure rate and great turn around time. Wanna hear you all's opinion for sure.

    -picture quality. For this, if anyone could say they find xyz brand to have "good quality" IR pics- I'd love to hear it. I personally won't run flash cams & ive seen some IR cams with good quality pics and others that if any movement they are blurry. To be clear: I don't need "perfect pics" - just enough to clearly identify a deer.

    -Battery life on AA only, etc, etc.

    **FYI- as many of you may or may not know- there's usually a couple main trail camera designers out there. "XYZ" company stamps their name on it but many companies may actually have the same technology with minor tweaks. To add to that- there's a few plants in China that make most of these. Any company can have bad "batches" depending on the LOT produced & have issues at XYZ plant- next batch may be much better. Some companies seem to have better results here or may not use some of these Chinese designs. I can't recall which ones, for example, I know Reconyx does NOT do this for example. I'm sure some others. Personally, Id like to find some that don't but also don't cost $500. Why on here I'm saying $100-225.

    Summary: Best camera that dies the least, decent to good pics, great warranty, etc, etc - in the recent year or 2. Thx!

    ****i have no bias in this btw. I run about 4 brands right now & do like several of them. Many are 2-6 years old. So- just FYI, no dog in fight or bias of anytype. Sure don't mind if someone posts that does. I'm just clarifying on my specific position. :)
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2017
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  3. isu22andy

    isu22andy Active Member

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    Best one I've run is Covert Mp8 . Had one go down sent it back with receipt and had a new cam in a week .
     
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  4. IowaBowHunter1983

    IowaBowHunter1983 Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Cudde E2. I have a dozen of them and have never had to return one (oldest is going on year 4). If registered online warranty is 2 years plus 5 years prorated from years 2 thru 5. If you didn't burn all the old junk cuddes, you can turn them in and get $50 off a new E2. So cost goes from $150 to $100. Plus you can buy up to 2 more at discount $112.50 with return of old one. So, for one old junk D cell cudde I've been getting 3 E2's for $330. Running about a dozen of them now with more on the way.

    Tried the brownings- Junk. Have had many other brands but not in last 2 years.
     
  5. Hardwood11

    Hardwood11 Well-Known Member

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    Overall--- Covert has been the best for me, I have yet to have one die on me, and I love the battery life, had one stolen last year which pisses me off. Steal the junky ones instead!
     
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  6. Daver

    Daver PMA Member

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    Good topic Skip...but here are a couple of thoughts that I think should be kept in mind while considering this topic. It is hard to say for sure which brand is the best...because it is common practice for companies(brands) to change the source factories of their products...sometimes every year. Also, major components may be sourced differently at almost any time as well. So, the components and quality control processes for many of the manufacturers changes often...making it hard to pinpoint one brand as better or worse over the long haul.

    I have had highly variable success with several brands, but Covert has been the best overall for me.
     
  7. meyeri

    meyeri PMA Member

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    I've had limited experience with cameras simply because I can only afford a handful of them. With that in mind I also researched like crazy before my last purchase. I now run all coverts and I've had zero issues in over 2 years. I picked up MP6's and for what I need they work great. They're not the most customizable, but they are rock solid on batteries and reliability for me.

    I don't get all caught up in getting a camera with greater Pixels, because the lower pixel cameras tell me the same story for much cheaper. It's not like I'm gonna frame my pictures on the wall, I just want to know what's running around. The greater pixel cameras only perform that way during the day anyway, at night they all perform at much lower pixel rates.
    I'm very interested in what other guys have to say on their experience and what works well for them.
     
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  8. Hawk32

    Hawk32 Active Member

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    A buddy and I have tried a handful of different brands and models over the last half dozen yrs or so. Off the top of my head here's my reviews.

    Moultrie: first camera I bought was an old moultrie that uses D batteries, not sure on model, but its the old bigger box type. That thing won't die. Decent pics both day and night. Probably 6-7 yrs old now. Last summer I bought a moultrie 880 on sale for 79. Only had it out for about 3 months but was very impressed with the pics. Night pics were much better than the bushnell and coverts. Longer and brighter flash range. Picked up 3 more for this yr. Will have to wait and see on longevity of the 880's. No idea on customer service.

    Primos Truth2. Picked it up same time as the moultrie 880. Had good reviews so I thought i would give it a try. Something wasn't right with it. It would take 1000's of pics a day of nothing. Tried multiple different settings and had the same results. Chalked it up to a piece of junk and returned it.

    Bushnell: Have had quite a few different models with mixed results. Had a higher end black flash that only last 2 yrs. Did take good pics though. Trophy model that lasted 2 yrs. Ok pics. Lots of night blur though. Another trophy model that has lasted longer but you get a bunch of black pics mixed in. 2 of the newer models I can't remember name of. The black flash one the night pics suck. The other one has been good. Going on yr 3. Pics are pretty good. Had a couple other trophy models that were replaced by bushnell within the warranty time for taking a crap. Replaced no questions. Overall Day pics have been ok. Night pics are so so. Get a far amount of blur on moving deer. Customer service seems to be good. They replaced models that were junk and still under warranty. I did send in the black flash and one other one that were just out of warranty and got offered a discount on other cameras.

    Cuddeback: A buddy bought 4 or 5 of the 200 dollar Attach IR about 4 or 5 yrs ago. Had real good luck with all but one. One was bad out of box. Don't know if he returned it or not. Pic quality was great. Night pics were real good. Probably the best of the ones I've seen as far and night images and least amount of blur. Last yr a couple of them finally died. They still take good day pics but the night pics are really grainy and you can't make out most objects. They lasted 4 or 5 yrs so I think they earned their keep. No idea on customer service.

    Covert: Like bushnell have had a few different models. the Mp6 and Mp 8 have been good cameras. Have a couple that are going on 2-4 yrs. Good pics. Some night pics are blurry. I do have one that the night pics aren't very good. Short flash range and pics are little blurrier than the others. Have had a couple of the original cell cameras. Used just as a camera they were pretty good. Took good quality day and night pics. Although 2 of the 3 took on water last summer and shelled out. No idea about customer service. Haven't had to return anything. Over all been one of the more consistent cameras with decent photo quality.

    Simons: This little 100 dollar camera won't die. Not sure on model without looking. Going on probably its 5th yr. Takes pretty decent pics. Just as good or pretty darn close to the bushnell and coverts. Only issue I have with it is it doesn't tell you the battery life. I usually just replace after a couple months out. Never had it run out.
     
  9. IowaBowHunter1983

    IowaBowHunter1983 Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Anybody ever use a Exodus Outdoor camera? They have a 5 year "No BS" warranty. The warranty is the intriguing part.
     
  10. Oct-Lull

    Oct-Lull Active Member

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    Cuddeback E2 for me, best pictures I have ever seen, downside I still don't trust the customer service. Bushnell Aggressor IR has been good to me and top notch customer service.
     
  11. 6x6

    6x6 PMA Member

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    I really like the Moultrees for that price range Skip. Very good IR pics and all of mine are on their 4th and 5th year. I also really like my Muddy cam's daytime video quality.
     
  12. Pavel Makarov

    Pavel Makarov New Member

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    I have tried all different cameras and currently have about a dozen in the woods. For the money and customer service, I have had the best luck with Moultree, they take very good pictures day or night and if I have any issues with them the local store gives me new ones.. I have also picked up a couple of the new Browning cameras with in last year and they seem to be doing very well also.
     
  13. DE2IA

    DE2IA Active Member

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  14. Sligh1

    Sligh1 Administrator Staff Member

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    Right now I'd say Ive got maybe 30 bushnells- few models. So so. Changed to one year warranty and that was it for me- done.
    I probably have 70-80 coverts: mp8, nighthawk, Blackhawk special ops Verizon, etc. I have some EXODUS and a few Usa cams.
    Exodus, I liked for warranty. I had picture issues on all 3 in low light & im emailing with exodus right now. Maybe running 100-120 cams now so I've been through the process. I ran the math on switching to $500 cams- that's right- over $50k. No thank u!!! :).

    I know all about those Chinese plants. Geesh- think America could make something and not have to make a guy sell a kidney to buy it!!!!

    I will be trying moultries and certain models of browning. Sure am open to others as well. I might look at this year as big trial phase and then pick my #1 cam and sell the rest that still did well but sell em so I can consolidate into one brand. Good stuff guys!

    On the cellular cams... Verizon coverts are ok. Battery life and few other things- not huge fan of but gonna buy solar panels. I'm looking into spartan verizon cams now and the reviews on those is excellent. Maybe few other great cell models as well I need to assess (yes, more $ but I put those in different category but still mentioning here ;). ). Good stuff!!!! Into hearing bout solid cameras with "few problems!"
     
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  15. Hawk32

    Hawk32 Active Member

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    Saw some pics from a spartan cam a buddy put out this spring and I was very impressed by the night pics. Very good flash range and pic quality.
     
  16. northcedar

    northcedar Member

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    I've only ever used Moultrie, Stealth, Bushnell, and as of last year 2 Browning Dark Ops. Based on performance and battery life (crazy good) I'll be adding more of those this year. I was ready to go in hard on Covert last year then all of a sudden I read lots of negative things about performance and customer service, which directed me toward trying Browning first. I'm like you in not needing award winning photos. I need it to work and stay sealed and the battery life was totally unexpected. Didn't change them from Aug thru March. Altho we can't put them on mineral, they were still on rubbing posts. So at least several thousand pics.
     
  17. Hardwood11

    Hardwood11 Well-Known Member

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    Has anyone tried Spypoint, or Spypoint solar?
     
  18. Sligh1

    Sligh1 Administrator Staff Member

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    Waiting on response too!!!
    So, SOLAR.... I spend almost $2 a battery on lithiums (maybe $1.50), some cams 6, others 8, few cams take I think 12???? Ok, so, say I average 8 per camera, $16 a pop. No way, no how on ANY camera of ANY brand with amount of deer walking past can I get by with less than 1 end of summer swap (maybe into early fall) and then when cold weather hits, FOR SURE I will have to swap out later. ANY CAM PERIOD. Yes, part of that is volume of pics, etc. BUT, BEST CASE, EVER, with my settings, $32/year per camera. EVERY YEAR. I'd say most or the average is THREE lithium swaps per year in reality. So really, $48 per camera per year, JUST ON BATTERIES. Cell cams (I understand why, it does make sense) go through them WAY FASTER. Like my Verizon coverts, every 3 weeks, especially when freezing cold - why I'm going solar on those FOR SURE.
    SO..... Average cams for a maniac user: $48 on batteries PER YEAR. X maybe, hmmmm, say, 120 cams.... $5,760 per year on STUPID BATTERIES!!!! Ok, as I'm figuring this out while typing..... I'm quitting hunting, chaning to: BOWLING, BINGO, SHUFFLEBOARD, whatever, this is silliness, absolutely insane. BUT..... Say I got a "$25 solar panel & some rechargeable batteries for $XYZ).... Probably a wash the 1st year (if you can do em for $25 for a panel & $23 for batteries in my made up example, no idea if it's right).... THEN, BIG SAVINGS AFTER YEAR 1! Hmmmmmm....... Anyone make a go of this? now I'm thinking!!! I think I may be cancelling the sale of my left Kidney to be surgically removed and sold on the black market in China, surgery was next week to pay for this year's trail camera expenses BUT - I may be cancelling this!!! :)
     
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  19. meyeri

    meyeri PMA Member

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    I had two spypoints and they worked pretty well. A lot of blurry night time pics, but pretty good overall. I've heard in the right setups that their solar cams can run all year and rarely use the backup batteries. A buddy swears by em.
     
  20. muleydoc

    muleydoc New Member

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    Another vote for Browning. Really like the Dark Ops so far and the battery life on 6 lithium batteries is a great plus.
     
  21. bigbuckhunter88

    bigbuckhunter88 PMA Member

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    We started buying the Brownings the last couple years. Good battery life and night time movement pics
     

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