Still Wonder What Kind of Thermal Sensor for Trail Camera?

Get the right thermal sensor to detect and capture objects better!

In case people ask me why their trail cameras are no longer taking pictures, I often suggest them to check the battery, the SD, the settings, and … the detection sensor.

When the camera fails to detect objects, it will capture nothing.

Modern trail cameras often record a trigger event on detecting heat as animals become smarter in concealing themselves, but they can hardly hide their heat signatures.

And, if your next question is what kind of thermal sensor for trail camera, my answer is the Infrared Sensor.

How The Infrared Thermal Sensor Works in Trail Camera Works?

Using a resistance temperature detector, the temperature sensor collects the thermal data. The data, then, are converted into an understandable form for the device to take further action, say, shooting an image or recording a video.

There are several thermal sensors such as thermocouples, thermistors, infrared sensors, semiconductors, etc. However, for the trail camera, the infrared sensors are the most commonly used.

For good reasons:

Be Sensitive to Temperature

An IR sensor is a small and sensitive electronic device to detect and measure the heat of an object, to be more specific, animals.

To do so, the IR sensor includes three components:

IR thermal sensor for trail camera
IR thermal sensor for trail camera
  • IR LED works as an emitter to convert electricity to light rays to reflect all the IR radiations;
  • The Photodiode detector is sensitive to IR lights having the same wavelength as what IR LED emit earlier. Once these radiations fall on the photodiode, the connected resistance decreases rapidly and triggers an action like capturing an image. If there is no fall of light, the photodiode detects nothing. It means the resistance remains infinite and the switch is open.
  • The operational amplifier (Op-Amp)

The trail camera’s images do not display the actual temperature of the objects but the approximate all values (emitted, transmitted, and reflected radiations) by using smart algorithms.

Improve the night-vision image of trail camera

Wildlife at night is way-fun to capture since many animals, such as coyotes or raccoons, are most active then. Thanks to the darkness, they can hide their presence from your trail cameras. However, with a thermal sensor, all warm-blooded animals reveal themselves on the screen, through the dark cover of the pitch-black night.

Your camera can detect and record the trigger event more accurately then.

Images by Passive Infrared Sensors Trail Camera
Images captured by Campark T45 3 Passive Infrared Sensors

Support fast trigger speed and wide detection range

The infrared sensor is sensitive to motions and the changes in the surrounding temperature. Plus, the radiation lights emitted by the IR LED can go over the distance as long as 50 yards. It means not only the wide detection ranges but also the super- fast trigger speed of 0.5 seconds or even quicker. As long as the battery life is good enough, you will hardly miss the wildlife footage.

What’s more, the infrared trail camera often offers more functions and modes than the standard camera. In standby modes, it can last up to 6 months.

Infrared Trail Camera: NIR or PIR Sensor?

Infrared thermal sensors are not all the same. In fact, there are several kinds to take into consideration. When it comes to trail camera, I shortlist the two most common: Near Infrared Resolution (NIR) and Passive Infrared Resolution (PIR).

NIR Trail Camera

I would recommend the NIR trail camera for those wanting to utilize the wavelength range to specify the spectral characteristics of the inspection objects. For example, you want to shoot the wildlife in limited-light conditions or record high-contrast videos for house monitoring or tutorials.

Cheap NIR camera
Cheap NIR camera

The LED of NIR cameras emits the near-infrared spectrum from 850 nanometers to 1.4 micrometers. Though these NIR rays are invisible to the eye of human and most animals, there is sometimes a glowing red light under the bottom of the threshold. It might scare some sensitive animals away.

The detection range is short (10 – 50m) and the resolution is low from 2MP to 10 MP. Yet, the price is exceptionally comfortable.

PIR Trail Camera

PIR sensor is much more common for trail camera and even becomes the cornerstone of the modern detection circuit.

The PIR sensor is placed behind optical filters and usually covered by a pyroelectric material sensitive the infrared radiation emitted or reflected. That way, the sensor can recognize the motion or thermal in the surrounding detection distance.

When the IR amount through each optical filter is balanced to one another, the trail camera stays inactive. Only until the sensor detects a change in the relative IR resulting from motion or heat do trigger events occur. To be more specific, the trail camera takes a shoot or video.

The PIR sensor often comes with an angle referring to how large the camera senses the movement. The wider the PIR Angle is, the more likely the device captures the subject.

For example, the Campark T45 comes with 3 PIR sensors and 120° Wide Angle Lens so you can get almost everything passing within the field of view no matter how quickly the animal moves.

Campark Trail Camera T45
Campark Trail Camera T45

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Last Verdict

So I call it for today! The winner for the question “What kind of thermal sensor for trail camera” is the Passive Infrared Sensor. Do you agree? Or, if you have a different opinion or any question related, feel free to leave it right below. We will continue the discussion from there on.

Now, it is time to pick a thermal trail camera to see how the sensor works in real. Pick here.

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