Wildlife Camera Infrared Types Explained

by | Pakatak kit in the field...

Which infrared style should I choose for my wildlife camera?

Wildlife cameras have become essential tools for researchers, conservationists, and nature enthusiasts to observe and study wildlife in their natural habitats. One of the key features of these trail cameras is their ability to capture images and HD video in low light or complete darkness.  This is thanks to infrared technology. In this post I will do my best to explain the different types of infrared available for wildlife cameras.  These night vision variations include 940nm no glow IR (infrared), 850nm low glow IR, and white light for color night time video and images.  Whichever type of wildlife camera you opt for, it’s important to remember that the camera changing over from day time mode to night time mode is automatic and taken care of by a built in light sensor.

3 current night vision options…

There are currently 3 options you’ll find when browsing the internet for a camera trap, so it’s important to think about which will be the best for your own planned application.

  1. 940nm No Glow – for covert surveillance

As it’s name suggests, this type of infrared is invisible to the human eye and the leds give off no glow whatsoever.  This makes this style of wildlife trail camera the best option in situations whereby theft could be an issue.  In fact, the 940nm frequency is also often known as “invisible” or “black” IR.  Any camera with night vision being placed in a more public location would probably benefit from using 940nm IR as it’s more discreet, making the camera less likely to be spotted.  Local councils using trail cameras as fly tipping cameras will always choose a model with no glow 940nm IR.

  1. 850nm Low Glow – for optimum brightness at night

There are a couple of main differences between 850nm and 940nm IR.  The first being that 850nm leds do give off a feint red glow when in operation.  Somebody looking directly at the camera in dark conditions could spot the light and investigate further, so in a public location a wildlife trail camera using low glow IR might be more susceptible to theft.  A benefit of 850nm over 940nm is that it’s more powerful and so makes your night time video and images brighter.  For use in your own garden, where theft is unlikely to be an issue, then 850nm may be the better option over 940nm.

  1. White Light – for colour night time video and images

White light wildlife cameras are a relatively recent technology, probably hitting the market around 2021-2022.  It’s not really an infrared version at all as it uses standard lighting.  It works a but like a motion activated security light in that sense.  When the camera is triggered, by an animal, human or vehicle, the light will come on and illuminate the area.  This light allows the camera to record in colour.  This can bring some fabulous night time footage of wildlife and does not seem to bother them too much, especially in urban areas where night lighting is everywhere.  Obviously white light is not a covert option at all and will alert anyone nearby that there is a light coming from somewhere!

infrared wildlife camera

The Ltl Acorn 6630MC wildlife camera trap is a fantastic example of trail cameras now being available in all 3 different night vision styles.

Which style night vision wildlife camera should I choose?

The choice of night vision technology for your wildlife camera depends on your specific needs and priorities. If stealth is paramount, 940nm no glow infrared is an excellent option. For improved brightness without sacrificing too much stealth, 850nm low glow infrared is a good choice. If capturing color images and videos at night is your goal, cameras equipped with white light are the ideal solution. Ultimately, the right choice will help you capture stunning wildlife moments while minimizing disruption to the animals you are observing and reducing the risk of theft or loss of your camera.

Your other wildlife camera questions answered!  

I have written posts about other common wildlife camera questions such as camera placement tips and well as a guide to choosing the correct wildlife camera for your needs.  Please feel free to have a read of these posts and I hope they help you!  If you have any other questions or wildlife camera related topics you’d like to me to write about please feel free to get in touch.



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