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Whether you're a photographer shooting wildlife or a researcher protecting wildlife, you spend a lot of time studying hunting cameras. In familiarizing yourself with trail cameras, common camera terms include "trigger speed," "megapixels," "shutter speed," "color night vision," and so on. "The most confusing terms are "trigger speed" and "shutter speed". This blog will focus on these two terms to explain in detail what they mean, how they work, and their impact so that readers can clearly understand the difference between the two.

Trigger Speeds and Shutter Speeds for Trail Cameras

What is Trigger Speed?

The trigger speed of a hunting camera is usually defined as the delay between the first time the camera detects movement and the time the camera captures a picture of why the movement was created. As an example, when a wild elk walks into the detection area of a Campark TC25 trail camera, the camera is immediately activated and ready to take a picture, which the camera stores in a local location or on cloud storage. The amount of time between when the elk walks into the detection zone and when the photo is taken is the TC25's trigger speed during this event.

How Trail Camera Trigger Speed Works

When the camera's built-in PIR sensor detects an animal within the monitored area, the light meter relays available light to the exposure meter, the exposure meter receives the available light signal, changes are made to the camera settings (when there is low light, the hunting camera fires the flash and places an infrared filter in front of the lens), the shutter opens and closes, and an image is acquired through the image sensor.

What is Shutter Speed

The shutter speed of a hunting camera is the amount of time that the camera's digital sensor is exposed to light to capture an image. As an example, a Campark TC22 trail camera captures a wild brown bear entering the monitoring range during the daytime, and the camera begins to capture an image that needs to capture enough light into the camera to produce a very sharp color image. Then this amount of time used to capture enough light inside the camera is the shutter speed, referred to as the length of time the camera shutter remains open.

How Trail Camera Shutter Speeds Work

When a hunting camera begins to take a picture, the software associated with the camera opens the sensor and then closes it again, creating the same effect as a physical shutter, allowing light to enter the sensor.

The Difference Between Trigger Speed and Shutter Speed

The Difference Between Trigger Speed and Shutter Speed

Impact on image quality

Shutter speed will directly affect the brightness, exposure, and motion blur of an image. Trigger speed does not, but indirectly affects the sharpness and clarity of the image by affecting the shutter timing.

Effect on capturing moving objects

Faster shutter speeds freeze object motion, while slower shutter speeds create blur. Faster trigger speeds reduce the number of exciting images produced by missing moving objects.

Units of measurement

Shutter speeds are measured in fractions of a second, while trigger speeds are measured in seconds or milliseconds.

How Shutter Speed and Trigger Speed Affect Image Quality

How Shutter Speed and Trigger Speed Affect Image Quality

The trigger speed of a hunting camera varies depending on the camera model, and hunting cameras with slower trigger speeds may produce more blank images. The shutter speed of a hunting camera varies mainly due to the lighting conditions of the environment in which it is used; in general, the brighter the lighting conditions, the faster the shutter speed. Nighttime photographs lack adequate lighting conditions so it is more difficult to produce color images with brilliant effects.

As you can see from the picture, the deer is moving at a more even speed, but the slower shutter speed still produces a blurring effect.

As you can see from the image, a proper shutter speed can produce a very sharp image.

These three photos are from from Campark TC21 Trail camera

From the graph, we can see that slower trigger speeds take more blank images.

From the graph, we can see that faster trigger speeds produce sharper images of animals.

These three photos are from from Campark TC21 Trail camera

How to Reduce the Number of Blank Images

  • Placing the hunting camera at a certain shooting angle allows the camera's lens to have a longer angle of detection.
  • In fast-moving wildlife areas, use a hunting camera with a faster trigger speed.
  • Hunting cameras with slower trigger speeds can be used in fixed areas.

How to Effectively Minimize Image Blur

  • In areas where moving targets are more frequent, place hunting cameras with multiple flashes to get clearer images at night.
  • Try using the camera's "Trail Mode", which automatically adjusts the shutter speed based on detected movement.