discussion / Camera Traps  / 2 October 2022

Camera Issues

Hello! I am having some inconsistent issues with some of my trail cameras. We have cameras that have SD cards, and are set but take no images for weeks. Most recently we had a camera take about 30 photos the first day it was set up and then nothing for the whole rest of the time- which was two Weeks.

Does anyone have any idea why this might be happening? I am sure it's user error, I just don't know how to correct it.

It's hard to say without more details, ie: camera make, model, settings, etc. One thing that gets often overlooked is that if you deploy in an area where the ambient temperature is nearly the same as human body temperature (most PIR sensors are attuned to this), you get strange behavior from the motion trigger. 

Another thing is that many camera traps have a test mode where you can set them up, put them in a test mode, and then check to make sure they trigger at your required distances. If you still get inconsistent results like you're describing, it's likely a settings issue and you may need to consult the user manual and double check the settings you are using. 

FInally it's possible you have a defective camera. If you only saw the troubling behavior on one camera, it may be defective and you can check with the shop for a replacement. 

Thank you for the feed back! I will double check the settings and compare everything to the manual. I don't remember if it's always the same camera, I don't think it is, but I will make sure to keep track of what one(s) are doing it.

I think it would be helpful to post your model of camera. When I have camera that is not doing well I bring it back to my place, and start over.

Make Sure you have Shutoff the camera

 Remove the SD Card,  ( Make sure the SD card can be used in your camera. Older cameras, three years ago, had a limit of 32 GB, If you put in a larger card, say 64 GB, the card will not work. Modern cameras can now take 125 Gigs or larger. But know the limit I write it on the inside of the camera with a waterproof marker. Also make sure it is the speed recommended by the manufacturer.

It should read in your manual something like this, SDHC/SDXC memory card (max
capacity 256GB, Class 10) Even if your camera can handle a 256GB card most people will be happy with and save a lot of money with 64 GB cards. I have never filled one all the way up, even after many months and hundreds of 15 second videos. 

Remove the batteries ( hopefully you are using Lithium batteries) alkaline batteries can produce very poor results even in warm weather. You might be tempted to use Alkaline to save money but they are not worth it, you may get a good run but they do not last has long and do very poorly in cold weather. Removing batteries should act has a hard re-set to the camera. You should also get a cheap battery test meter. You can get one at any big box hardware store for between 15 to 20 bucks. I test every battery in the camera so that all are reading the same level before they go in the camera. Bad batteries do happen. I test the batteries again at the end of a run at one spot or when it has been out for longer than two months. ( Note, every time you remove the batteries, you should re-set all settings after you put in new batteries or have tested the old ones) You may find one of the batteries has gone bad during the run and that will not show on the camera battery life meter. 

I would test the SD card. Bad SD cards do happen.  Put in the SD card, THEN, turn on the camera. Format the SD card in the Camera, there is always a setting for this. Turn off the camera, remove the SD card, and put it in a SD card reader that is plugged into your computer. Your computer should recognized the SD Card. If it does not, that might mean a bad card. If It does show the card has active, I would download and image. Pick a picture on the internet, Right click, Select SAVE IMAGE AS, This will produce a box with many places to save your image, select the SD card and save it to the card. Click on the card and see if the image is on the card. Click on the image and see if it comes up from it's location on the card.

If all that works. The card did format correctly, The card recorded the image, and you could see the image when you clicked on it. 

So the card is good. 

So the batteries are good, the SD card is the correct size and works correctly,

With the manual, Turn on the camera and carefully go through the settings to make sure you have it set for what you want. Videos, Date and time, Night flash, etc, I would make sure the setting for Field SCAN, or some type of scan is OFF. Make sure the camera is set for 24 hour operation so it can be tested for daylight and night operations. 

Now that we think the camera is set up correctly,

Set it up in a back yard, if you do not have a back yard, ask somebody if you can use their back yard. There is no point in putting the camera in the field if you are not sure it is working. Set up the camera on a tree and point it at the lawn of the yard. You can throw out bait like peanuts. Turn ON the camera.

Everybody at some point will forget to turn ON the camera. 

 Peanuts should bring in something, squirrels, raccoon, possums, rabbit, bluejays. Something should arrive to trigger the camera. If nothing records on the camera and the peanuts are gone.

You have and answer, It is the camera. 

If the camera is working I would still leave it out for several days and nights to make sure. If you have two or more cameras, I would mount all of them in the same back yard pointing at the same peanuts, so you can if they are all triggering on the same animals, or it might be that one of the cameras is not recording has well has another. NOTE, I done this test many times, I have never gotten the same number of images when using two different cameras if they are of different manufacturers. There is always a variable on the settings for what will trigger. 

You should get the same animals. If one camera has a rabbit eating peanuts and the other does not, check the settings on the one that did not record the rabbit. It might mean that you need to adjust the sensitivity of the trigger. Each camera manufacturer has their own idea of what LOW, MEDIUM, and HIGH mean. Your camera may only do well when set to HIGH, or MED, but on another camera from a different manufacturer, HIGH may produce too many blanks from waving grass or whatever, and a LOW setting might work better or the LOW does not record something like a rabbit eating peanuts. 

Make sure all the cameras are about the same distance from the peanuts. If there is only one tree put all the cameras on that tree. If the camera is doing a good job recording still images, make sure to test it a few night using Video settings, so you make sure that works. Some cameras have burst mode, test that has well, then test image then a video, which is common setting on cameras. 

ONE more idea to try. If you camera has a factory RESET setting. You could try that to see if that helps. You will need it powered up and a SD card in the camera. 

Hope this helps, I always make sure the camera is working correctly before a deployment, it is way easier to test it in the back yard than in the field and will save you a lot of frustrations. 

Thank you so much for the responses! 


The camera I use is pretty inexpensive. It's a Campark T80 trail camera. I was using alkaline batteries! I will switch over ASAP. I am also applying for a grant for some new camera equipment. If I get it I want better quality cameras. Any input or thoughts on good cameras?