Whether using a trail camera to track game movement for hunting or not, the goal of the operator should be the same: to have as little impact on the animals’ habits as possible. It does little good to zero in on a game trail then force the animals using that trail to alter their routes. Deer move from bedding sites to feeding sites daily, and there are always multiple trails between them. The best no-glow infrared trail camera barely makes its presence known.
In daylight hours, most trail cameras get enough light to create detailed photos. In low-light conditions or darkness, a flash triggers to illuminate the field of view. Problems arise when animals see that flash. White-light flashes may be great for seeing full-color detail, but they spook the animals in the picture. Most will scatter, and some may not return to the area, especially after repeated flashes.
Some trail cameras use low-frequency red lights, which have a deep field of view but are still noticeable by many species. When the goal is to avoid startling the animal that sets off the camera trap, only a no-glow infrared trail camera will do. These cameras typically employ infrared LED flashes that emit light with wavelengths of more than 850 nanometers – far higher than most animals can see.
Top 9 No-Glow Infrared Trail Cameras
1. Top Pick - Best Features
Reconyx HyperFire 2
Roconyx makes some of the toughest, most durable trail cameras available. They are made in the U.S. and are backed by a five-year manufacturer’s warranty. The HyperFire 2 has a three-megapixel camera, but don’t let that seemingly low number fool you. Megapixel counts can be highly exaggerated. The photos it takes are actually among the finest in a trail camera.
In 1080p widescreen mode, this trail camera produces some of the best photos you will see, with impressive contrast and vivid colors. There is no washing of colors in full sun, and low-light photos are amazing. The HyperFire 2 does not switch to night mode until there is truly no light remaining. The clarity continues after dusk, with deep fields of view and unbeaten clarity.
The HyperFire 2 does not quite have the video quality to match its professional-looking photos. At 20 frames per second and just a 1024 x 720 resolution, they are serviceable but not outstanding. Night videos do not drop further in quality, however. Clear with just a touch of grain, they are every bit as good as most of the competition.
Trigger times clock in at .25 seconds, with a one-second refresh time. The advertised 150-detection range may be optimistic, but only slightly. Eighteen-month lithium battery lifespans are common for this model. The strap channel is stout, but using the front-mounted Python bracket pins the camera to the tree. Mentioning its few shortcomings seems like nitpicking when the day- and night-time photos are this beautiful.
- Top-notch photos with remarkable clarity and contrast
- Trigger times of a quarter second rank among the best
- Tough and durable in all weather conditions
- Intuitive programming and simple operation
- Can accept SD cards of up to 512 gigabytes
- No internal photo viewing
- Video quality is not on par with the excellent photo quality
2. Runner Up - Best Seller
The Stealth name has been synonymous with trail cameras since they were loaded with 35 mm film. The G42NG continues that tradition. Its 42 infrared LED lights induce image captures at the 100-foot range, with a 0.5-secod trigger time and sub-2-second recovery time. The compact case is 5.5 inches high, 4 inches wide and 2.5 inches deep. The lifetime of its eight AA batteries is quite good, as is storage when the maximum 32GB SD card is used.
Still images have a variable 10-megapixel resolution, with good clarity down to the 2MP option. Daytime images are clear and have excellent contrast. Photos can be programmed for single shots or up to nine-frame bursts. Each image displays the date, time, temperature and moon phase. There is also a time lapse function that is great for picking up travel patterns in daylight hours. The G42NG also has a USB out and a 12-volt external power jack.
The video quality is above average, with a 1920 x 1080 resolution and the ability to select from 5- to 180-second video lengths, all with sound. There are three selectable detection zones (wide, medium and narrow) that alter the width and depth of the coverage area. Setup and programming with the backlit LCD screen are simple and intuitive, and everything is password-protected. Mounting options include strap loops, a ¼-inch x 20 threaded insert and a python bracket.
- Fast, sub-second trigger speed
- Good battery life (up to six months on lithium batteries)
- Tough case with Real Tree-type camo pattern
- Silent operation
- Excellent daytime imaging
- Nighttime photos and video can be white washed
- Can trigger farther than it can see clearly at night
3. Best Budget Option
Hunters on a budget should not be limited to outdated features or lackluster photos. Blaze Video is answering the call to provide more bang for the hunter’s buck. With a modern and durable camouflage case and many modern amenities, this is a trail camera anyone should consider – regardless of budget.
The Blaze Video trail camera offers photo quality a notch above what you might expect. Picture size is variable from 16 to just 1 megapixels, with the accompanying drop in storage capacity as is normal. Daytime pictures are crisp in medium to low light, but can appear washed in full sun. Night pictures are surprisingly vivid, with good illumination out to the 65-foot detection distance. The 38 no-glow infrared LEDs light up game and terrain quite well.
Video quality is also selectable. At 25 frames per second, the camera can achieve 1080p quality, but the resulting video will be a bit choppy. Thirty frames per second allows variable quality from 720p to 240p, again with the accompanying change in storage you would expect. Users can also adjust video length from 3 to 30 seconds.
The internal 2.4-inch LCD screen is an unexpected addition, offering on-the-fly viewing of photos and video. The six-button control pad is intuitive and easy to use, though it does require ungloved hands. Also surprising is the fast .6-second trigger time and variable (5- to 60-second) recovery time. Power comes via four AA batteries (expandable to eight), and lifetime can extend from three to six months when using lithium batteries.
- Excellent night videos with audio capability
- Good trigger time for the cost
- Durable case with woodland camouflage
- Up to 30 seconds for each video
- Trigger time of .6 seconds
- Requires some fiddling with settings to get quality images
- Battery life is not as long as some others
4. Bushnell Trophy Cam
Bushnell Trophy Cam 20MP Aggressor No Glow
This version of Bushnell’s Aggressor No Glow has a 20-megapixel camera offering 1080p video resolution (it is also available in 14-megapixel). It has a tan body (no camo) and ARD anti-reflective cover on its 48-LED panel. The display is basic and functional, with five-way toggling and a black-and-white LCD display. Mounting possibilities include a Python bracket and threaded inserts, one each on the back and bottom of the tough, durable case. A single latch, which is beefed up over previous models, is easy to operate with gloved hands.
The camera takes great low-light pictures, but the aperture seems too wide at stock settings for sharp shots in bright conditions. Results improve with some fine tuning of the shutter speed settings, but expect to experiment. Night photos are clear and sharp, and action shots show no blurring whether day or night. Depth of field from the infrared flash is not quite up to the 100-foot detection range, but that’s to be expected on a black-flash unit.
Video quality is impressive, though it shows the same sensitivity to light conditions with videos as it does with photo. The Aggressor takes HD video that is smooth and vivid, with detail apparent even in audio. Night videos are clear and well-lit, though limited to 15 seconds apiece.
Programming is simple, with presets for Feeder, Food Plot and Trail available to the technologically challenged. Battery life ranges from six months to a year on eight AA lithium batteries when set on photo mode. But make no mistake, this unit is all about its blindingly fast detection circuitry. Less than a quarter of a second to trigger and sub-second recovery makes this a snappy snapshot taker. Blank pictures and videos are rare for Aggressors. If it moves near this trail cam, it gets got.
- Super-fast trigger speed, tops in class
- Recovery speed is among the best
- 100-foot detection range
- Excellent low-light photos (great in woodland)
- One of the best cases around
- Camera reacts unpredictably depending on lighting
- Requires fiddling with settings to get superior photos and video
5. Browning Dark Ops
Browning Dark Ops Pro XD
The Browning name evokes quality in the minds of hunters and outdoorsmen, and the Dark Ops Pro XD is a prime example for why that is. It is functional and durable, loaded with the features you would expect in a modern trail camera. Its tough, sharp-looking camo case is simple to open. The pivoting mount (with strap loops) is the type of smart designing that makes Browning so popular, and the dual lenses on this camera show the company’s innovative side.
Each of those dual lenses is dedicated to certain light conditions, one for daylight and one for infrared night photos. The daytime lens takes some of the crispest photos in a trail camera – many of them postcard worthy. Contrast, depth and color are all excellent. The night time lens may be a game changer. It produces photos similar in quality to many companies’ red-light cameras. The depth of the flash matches or exceeds the 80-foot detection range, which isn’t just marketing speak. Trigger times of .15 seconds and a .5-second recovery time aren’t either.
Video quality from the 24-megapixel camera is not quite as good as the photo quality. Browning updated the Dark Ops Pro XD to 1080p resolution, and the improvement shows, but it still has that grainy quality of a trail camera video. Clarity is never an issue though, and both day and night videos are definitely above average for their class.
Ease of operation and convenience are also top notch. Storage options range from 16 to 512 megabytes, and six lithium AAs can power it for a year. There is also an external batter jack for longer service. The Dark Ops Pro has controls and navigation that are simple and intuitive, with useful options (time lapse, 8-shot burst, smart video, etc.) that work equally well day or night.
- You might also be interested in Browning Dark Ops' another model.
- Innovative dual-lens camera (one for day, one for night)
- One of the fastest detection circuits on the market
- Brilliant images in daytime, impressive and clear at night
- Solid, sturdy and attractive case
- Can accommodate up to 512-GB SD cards
- Improved video still is not crystal clear
- A faint glow is barely perceptible from the infrared LEDs
6. Bushnell Trophy Cam
Bushnell Trophy Cam
Bushnell is known for rangefinders, but it is also a force in trail camera design. This Trophy Cam model has a 24-megapixel camera. Its trigger time of .2 seconds and recovery times of .5 seconds are some of the fastest available. The stout ARD case and LED cover are anti-reflective to keep glare from spooking game. The case also features a large latch – improved over previous generations – that is easy to operate with gloved or frigid fingers. Mounting is achieved via a cable lock channel, Python bracket or ¼ x 20 threaded insert.
Picture quality is excellent in good lighting, though low-light conditions may result in some blurring of moving animals. Photos are tagged with date, time, temperature, moon phase and GPS coordinates. Flash and shutter-speed are both adjustable, though, so some fine tuning will help. Those settings are made through an internal color viewing screen with a five-way toggle. The screen also offers photo and video viewing.
The Trophy Cam offers 1920x1080 video picture resolution. Performance in daylight is on par with any of the top trail camera makers and night videos are better than most. The depth of field is impressive, as is the width of area that the flash illuminates. There is slightly more red glow emitted than on some competitors, which is minimal and goes unnoticed by most game animals.
But it is the detection circuit that is the star of the show here. Movement can trigger the photos out past 100 feet, less in zero-light conditions. With some of the best night vision around and plenty of SD storage, the Trophy Cam Aggressor offers hassle-free and intuitive operation. Battery life exceeds much of the competition, with one-year lifetimes possible when using lithium AA batteries (8). To know more about The Trophy Collection here on the guide.
- The 100-foot detection range cannot be beaten
- Tough case with anti-reflective lens and LEDs
- Ultra-fast trigger speed and recovery time
- Daytime photos are among the best available
- Night vision is superior, offering wide and deep fields of view
- Not the most invisible of no-glow LEDs
- Night videos max out at 15 seconds, with no adjustment is possible
7. Wireless + No Glow Infrared
Covert Trail Camera Code Black
Covert makes some of the most popular cellular cameras on the market. The reasons are simple: the quality of the device and the photography are both excellent. This camera requires an AT&T subscription, but it will work with your phone regardless of who your provider is. The case is small but solid, with an effective camo pattern from Mossy Oak. Dual threaded inserts and strap loops compliment a Python bracket.
Daytime photographs from the 12-megapixel camera are clear and have a deep focus. Contrast and color are impressive. The deep dark areas that provide that contrast can look underexposed in low light though. Night photos lack the clarity of those in daylight, but they do the job just fine.
Video quality isn’t at the level of some of the better trail cameras out there, but it is typical of a cellular camera. The 60 no-glow infrared LEDs are indeed invisible during operation, but they light up a relatively small area. Daytime video is much better, especially when viewed from the SD storage (64 GB max).
Life of the AA batteries is as expected at about four months. The advertised detection distance of 100 feet is wishful, but the typical trigger distance of 80 feet is quite good. Also impressive is the .65-second trigger speed. The 40-second recovery time is similar to other cell trail cameras. The main attraction though is the ability to have game photos and videos sent to your phone. Notifications are almost instant, with a photo being sent with the option of a video (at a charge) to follow. This is one of the better cameras in a rapidly improving segment of the market.
- Instantly receive notifications of camera triggers
- Fast trigger time even for non-cell cameras
- Good daytime photos and videos
- Battery life near the top of the field
- Infrared LEDs produce no discernible glow at all
- Requires an ongoing subscription to phone service provider
- Functionality depends on cell service in area
8. Browning Dark Ops Elite
Browning Dark Ops Elite HD
Browning’s trail cameras have earned the company an impressive reputation to rival its well-loved firearms. To see why, look no further than the Dark Ops Elite HD, which is a sub-micro model measuring 4.75 x 4 x 3 inches and weighing 1 pound. Its detection and flash ranges are both 80 feet, and each picture displays the temperature, barometric pressure, moon phase, date and time it was taken. It can be mounted via a python bracket or an included nylon strap.
Daytime pictures are excellent, bordering on DSLR-quality. Chalk that up to a quality lens. The quality of still photos is adjustable from 2 to 10 megapixels, with a reduction in picture storage from 8600 to 1800 (on an 8GB SD card) as picture quality is improved. Battery life is also impressive. Users regularly report battery life of more than six months when using lithium AA batteries, of which the Dark Ops Elite requires six.
With a 0.4-second trigger speed, it is capable of capturing movements nearly instantly after the action begins, and its 0.8-second recovery time is fast enough for it to be ready for the next shot quickly. Video quality (with audio) is a hallmark of this model. Its 1280 x 720 resolution results in high-definition daytime video that can be compressed to save memory space. Daytime options also include time-lapse mode and a dynamic video mode that records as long as motion is detected. Night video is on par with the best no-glow infrared trail cameras.
- Excellent daytime photos and video
- Invisible and silent (to humans) nighttime operation
- Multiple photo and video mode options
- Superior battery life
- Fast trigger speed and recovery time
- Strap not long enough for very large trees
- Latch wears out over time, but is replaceable
9. Cuddeback Long Range C2
Cuddeback Long Range C2
The Cuddeback name is synonymous with value and fast operation. The Long Range IR offers up to 100 feet of illumination from its 24 low-glow infrared LEDs, with detection out to 60 feet. The internal navigation is simple and user-friendly, with available burst and time-lapse modes. Mounting options are limited to a one-piece, back-mounted strap loop and threaded insert. Still, the case is solid, inconspicuous and waterproof.
Picture quality is variable from 20 to 5 megapixels. Zone Control function gives you control over aspect ratio. The widescreen option is for open fields, while centered shots illuminate trails. Daytime pictures are clear, though they lack the contrast and vivid coloration of some higher-priced models. Night photos are deep and clear, better in comparison to the competition than the day photos are. Pictures are stamped with date, time, moon phase and light conditions.
Video quality mimics that of pictures. Night videos are clear and impressive, with only occasional white washing. Day videos are a bit grainy, but by no means bad. The user can choose from video lengths of 10, 20 or 30 seconds. Videos include audio as well.
Battery life on eight lithium AAs is about six months, with the ability to store more than 10,000 images on a single 32GB SD card (maximum size). The main attraction though is the .25-second trigger speed and 1-second recovery time, both of which far exceed most competitors in the same price range. The value of the Long Range IR is in getting more shots of game and less of empty space, and all out to a range that equals or betters most other trail cameras. Here's the listing of best Cuddeback trail cameras.
- Trigger times of ¼ second, recovery times of 1 to 2 seconds
- Impressive night time photos and video (with audio)
- Up to 100 feet of infrared illumination
- Multiple photo aspect ratios
- Two-year manufacturer warranty
- Slight red glow to the infrared LEDs
- Daytime photos not as clear as some (more expensive) competitors
No-Glow Infrared Trail Camera Comparison Chart
|Browning T||1.5-second||70-foot||1.1 pounds||8|
|Stealth Cam G42NG||.5 seconds||100 foot||11.4 ounces||7|
|Bushnell 119877||0.2 seconds||100 foot||10.1 ounces||6|
|Reconyx HyperFire 2 HF2X||.25 seconds||150 foot||1.45 pounds||9|
|Cuddeback 20MP||.25 seconds||100 foot||1 pounds||8|
|BLAZEVIDEO Game Camera||N/A||65-foot||1.1 pounds||8|
|Covert Scouting Camera||0.7 seconds||100 foot||1.48 pounds||7|
|Browning Dark OPS||.15 Second||80 foot||1.7 pounds||9|
|Bushnell Trophy||0.25 seconds||100 foot||10.1 ounces||7|
A Guide to No-Glow Infrared Trail Cameras
The promise of a non-intrusive, practically invisible trail camera is a sirens’ song to many people. Hunters pine over them out of a desire to not alert game to the camera’s presence, as do homeowners seeking to record trespassers. White-flash cameras are unmistakable. They give away their position and invite theft or sabotage from humans. Some cameras have red lights (red-glow cameras) that won’t alert deer and some other game species, but which other animals and humans see clearly. The solution is the no-glow infrared camera.
Let’s look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of these cameras, but first, a caveat. The light from these cameras are invisible to some, but not all animals. Knowing your quarry will go a long way in helping you decide if the drawbacks are worth it.
Likewise, silent operation is not necessarily silent at all wavelengths. Studies have confirmed that trail cameras emit infrasound and ultrasound that may be audible to some species.
As mentioned, deer can’t see the light emitted from red-glow cameras, but some animals can. Of those animals, the biggest threat to your camera is humans. We cannot see in the near-infrared range of the lights of these trail cameras, nor can humans hear the frequencies of the sounds they make. To the trespasser on your property, these cameras are silent and invisible – meaning trespassers will not know they’re being recorded or alter their behavior.
Red-light cameras are less intrusive, but no-glow cameras produce light at such a long wavelength that few species of animal will perceive it at all. Game will go about their same routines.
Can’t shoot in color
Scientists rely on white-light flashes for their camera traps because they enable positive identification of individuals. Hunters and homeowners have different needs, though. Most no-glow cameras shoot in color when enough natural light exists, but their infrared imaging is in black and white.
Limited depth of field
More of a problem for no-glow cameras is the short distances that their long-wavelength light travels without dissipating. Red-light and white-light cameras can typically see clearly much farther than no-glow trail cameras can.
Ultrasound and infra-sound
While many no-glow cameras offer the promise of imperceptible operation, the truth is not so simple.
These cameras all produce minute clicks when set off that occur outside of the range of human hearing. So-called ultrasound and infrasound noises may not be audible to humans, but some animals notice them. They also tend to look in the direction of the sound, making even a miniscule glow from an infrared light noticeable.
To choose the right no-glow trail camera, you have to make sure that your priorities match your needs. What is the purpose of your trail camera? Is it there to take gorgeous shots of wildlife in its natural habitat? Do you simply need to track the movements of game animals on a hunting lease or record possible trespassers without alerting your targets?
Align your budget with your requirements and address only your own needs. Don’t waste time and money on features that you’ll never use on megapixels that either don’t do anything for you or don’t actually exist. The trail camera that is perfect for everyone does not exist, but there is one out there that can perfectly do the work you need from it. If it’s a no-glow camera you’re looking for, that perfect trail cam is likely on this list.