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This post is dedicated to my love of one model of camera trap: the Reconyx Hyperfire. Over the past five years, my research has revolved around camera traps. I’ve easily looked through tens of thousands, and likely hundreds of thousands of camera trap photos. I’ve set cameras in four continents and in a range of habitats: from tropical forests in Suriname to the top of Mount Kenya. This camera trap rarely disappoints.
As a wildlife biologist running a citizen science camera trap program, lots of people ask me what camera trap they should buy. The Reconyx Hyperfire is the one I always recommend. It is one of the most expensive among more basic camera traps (~$400), so a lot of people are turned off by the sticker price. But my goal is to convince you this is an amazing camera trap and an investment worth making. Here are my 7 reasons for why the Reconyx Hyperfire is my favorite camera trap out there.
1. High Quality Photos
Through our citizen science programs, I look through a lot of photos from other camera trap brands. We have a long list of acceptable camera trap brands that have a trigger time faster than half of a second for our research. Reconyx Hyperfire camera trap photos are consistently the best quality. I think their photos deliver the best in color, detail, and focus. The photos look crisper and brighter. You can see the differences for yourself. Below I compare Reconyx Hyperfire camera trap photos to other brands. I purposely tried to balance out types of camera trap photos between companies. In other words, I didn’t just choose photos where the animals were perfectly posed for Reconyx Hyperfire photos.
Photos from Reconyx Hyperfire camera traps:
Other Camera Trap Brands:
2. Fewer Overexposed Nighttime Photos
The camera traps that we use have infrared flashes for nighttime photos. This is important for our research because the animals cannot see the flash in the same way as traditional bright, white flashes. Bright, white flashes can scare wildlife. Animals may choose not to return to that site, which then alters the number of detections for that species. The night photos are in black and white, and when animals get close to the infrared flash, there can be overexposure (a whitening effect of the animal). From my experience, Reconyx Hyperfire camera traps seem to have the lowest amount of overexposure and retain the highest quality photographs. Given that most of your animal detections will happen at night, you will want the camera trap that performs the best then.
I actually had a teacher that I worked with first buy a different brand and then email me, “Why are the photos so bad?” She decided to gather school funds to be able to get a Reconyx Hyperfire for her classroom.
Reconyx Nighttime Photos:
Other Camera Trap Brands Nighttime Photos:
3. Low (or No) Number of False Triggers
One of the greatest frustrations for camera trappers is blank photos. Camera traps are triggered by both heat and motion, so they should not be taking a large number of false triggers to begin with from wind alone. In open areas with a lot of sun (like fields), vegetation can get hot, and when combined with wind, can create false triggers. The Reconyx cameras are not immune to this problem, and you can get false triggers, but I find this happens less frequently compared to other camera trap brands. Right now, I am going through data sets from two comparable areas: open areas in Kenya and India. The India data set has a very high number of false triggers, whereas the Kenya data set has few.
4. Fast Trigger Speed
The Reconyx Hyperfire has a trigger speed of 0.25 seconds. Believe it or not, we miss animals on camera trap all the time. We will only catch a glimpse of their tail (if we’re lucky) as they run past the camera trap. The very fast trigger time of the Reconyx Hyperfire camera trap makes it more likely that you will see what your camera trap is triggered by.
5. They Last For 10+ Years
This is one of the biggest reasons why I love Reconyx Hyperfire camera traps: they last a very long time. I understand that the Reconyx Hyperfire costs more than double some of the other camera traps out there, but I recommend paying the higher price because it’s the last camera trap you will have to buy for a very long time. I am still using Reconyx camera traps that my boss used over 10 years ago, and likely closer to 15 years. Instead of small AA batteries, they require large C batteries and do not have the small SD memory cards like today, but a large compact flash card. Reconyx camera traps come with a 5 year warranty and we have found them to be excellent for customer service. We send any damaged or malfunctioning camera traps back to them and they will fix them.
6. They are Easy to Use and Program
I personally find the circular menu that Reconyx Hyperfire camera traps have is the easiest to use and most intuitive. Another advantage of these camera traps is that if you accidentally leave it on the “Walk Test” setting, it will start taking photos for you after ~2 minutes. If you want to see what the interface looks like, check out our YouTube video below:
7. They are Made in the USA
Need I say more? I am a big believer of “voting with your dollars.” Camera traps made in the USA mean that workers are getting fair wages and ethical treatment. We are also investing in our country and making sure that Americans have jobs.
There you have it! Those are my reasons from years of professional experience on why Reconyx Hyperfire camera traps are worth the investment. If you are ready to start getting amazing animal photos, you can purchase one here.Now that you know what camera trap to buy, read “4 Essential Accessories for Your Reconyx Camera Trap” to determine what else you need to get your camera trap up and running.
If you cannot afford a Reconyx, then you may want to consider purchasing a 2017 Browning Dark Ops. I personally have not worked with this camera trap, however, people I work with have and said they seem better then other models in this range. You can purchase one here.
All photos come from the amazing eMammal project that I work on.
Stephanie Schuttler is a wildlife biologist with 17 years of experience in mammal ecology and conservation, education, and outreach. Read her inspirational story, “My Unexpected Journey Into Science” to find out how she went from the daughter of a jeweler to a Ph.D. in wildlife biology. Feel free to contact Stephanie here.