Are Ring Cameras Best for Recording Wildlife (In Your Yard Or Elsewhere)?

You’ve probably seen at least one viral video from a Ring camera that captures the quirky and fun world of wildlife. Because these cameras are motion activated, they’re always getting interesting and exciting footage of our local wildlife.

There are Ring camera users who are looking to use their Ring tech for wildlife photography and video first and foremost. We’ll go over a few tips and tricks to consider when it comes to making the most out of using Ring cameras for capturing wildlife.

Ring’s cameras are a great choice for capturing local birds and animals in your yard. However, they do have some serious limitations to consider. There are smart alternatives and some other exciting photography and video equipment you can use to start your wildlife photography and video adventure.

As this article explores, one of the big downsides is the poor image quality you will see – especially at night or from a distance. Examples of this is from a video I published showing a month’s worth of cats, captured in my Ring Doorbell Pro:

Using a Ring Camera to Capture Wildlife

Ring’s suite of cameras are great choices for capturing wildlife. They even have a whole section of their website dedicated to some of the most interesting wildlife clips that ring users have captured.

Whether you saw a viral clip on social media or you want to get a better idea of the friendly woodland creatures that gather in your yard when you’re not home, you can use your Ring cameras to get a more intimate look at your local natural environment.

A cat captured during daytime on my Ring Doorbell Pro
A cat captured during daytime on my Ring Doorbell Pro

Here’s the breakdown of the pros and the cons of using Ring’s brand of cameras to check out your backyard wildlife.

The Pros — What Wildlife Situations the Ring Cameras are Great at Capturing

There are a few reasons why you would want to use your ring cameras to check out the local Wildlife. Most of these come down to convenience and using the equipment you already have.

In the photography scene, it’s often said that the best gear is the gear that you already own. You can use your Ring cameras to capture a wide range of wildlife situations. Whether you’re checking in on a stray cat, or you’re trying to identify those pesky nocturnal creatures that keep knocking over your trash cans, a combination of Ring lights and cameras can get the job done.

Ring cameras are also great for pointing at flower patches or other scenic natural areas in your garden. Some of the best situations for Ring wildlife cameras involve homeowners who live in more rural communities that are visited by deer, foxes, and even bears. The /r/ring subreddit often shows videos of bears and other wildlife.

To make the most out of your ring cameras when it comes to capturing wildlife, make sure to use the maximum detection settings available – such as the highest motion sensitivity setting possible. This includes turning off People Only mode even though many users have mentioned that the People Only also seems to capture plenty of local pets and wildlife.

While Ring’s cameras are a great option for casually picking up the wildlife that rolls through your neck of the woods, there are some limitations.

The Cons — What’s Holding Ring Back From Being the Go-To Wildlife Cam?

There are four main reasons why Ring’s cameras haven’t become the go-to wildlife camera.

The first of these has to do with resolution. While 1080p is still a very respectable resolution, the low bit-rate of these cameras means that capturing the fine beauty of nature will be inherently limited, especially when compared to options we’ll discuss later.

A related issue is the lack of proper night vision. Some of the most interesting members of the wildlife community only come out after the sun sets. Ring cameras often have night vision of some sort built-in, but it has got some issues plus the results are not great:

Cat captured during nighttime on my Ring Doorbell Pro
Cat captured during nighttime on my Ring Doorbell Pro

While you can use motion sensors and smart lights to act as a sort of flash, there’s a good chance that this will scare away whatever you’re trying to take a picture of.

Thirdly, because Ring cameras don’t have super-high resolution or bit-rate, they aren’t going to capture much detail from 10+ metres or yards away – you will end up with vague blobs in the background instead:

Two cats further away during nighttime almost impossible to see any detail
Two cats further away during nighttime almost impossible to see any detail

The last thing holding back ring cameras for wildlife is that they weren’t really meant for this. Ring cameras require Wi-Fi connections, have short battery life when compared with other options, and were purpose-built for smart home environments rather than a more natural setting.

They don’t even allow you to insert an SD card – they have no local storage capability (without also owning the Ring Alarm Pro and paying a $20/month subscription). So unless you bring your Alarm Pro, and have an active Wi-Fi connection nearby – or pay for a potentially-expensive mobile hotspot – you’re out of options.

So what types of cameras should you use if you’re looking to capture the great outdoors?

Get In Touch With Your Wild Side Using Alternative Camera Choices

There are other camera options that can yield much better results when it comes to capturing the wildlife in your area. Here are some options ranging from other smart tech devices all the way up to your first steps into wildlife photography.

Other Smart Tech Options

Render of the Reolink Go Plus outdoor 4G LTE camera
Render of the Reolink Go Plus outdoor 4G LTE camera

You’ve got a few options if you want to keep the smart tech features, but also want to capture the local wildlife with a little more clarity.

Rather than relying on Ring’s all-purpose cameras, you can add a dedicated high-resolution security camera to your smart home setup – such as the ANNKE C800, a beast of a smart camera. These cameras are a little bit more expensive than what Ring has to offer, but they can also handle up to 4K resolution. With this kind of quality, you’ll be able to see everything going on in your yard.

Rather than setting them up like a security camera and aiming them at the front door, you can set them up pointed at wherever you suspect the local wildlife is hanging out in your home. One great option is to set up a bird feeder in your backyard and aim a 4K security camera right at it. You’ll get great footage of local birds available to you whenever you log onto the camera’s app.

Alternatively, you can check out the range of 4G LTE smart camera options from companies such as Reolink, Arlo and Eufy. These allow you to get all the benefits of a smart camera, without requiring a nearby Wi-Fi network.

If you’re looking for something dedicated to wildlife that doesn’t rely on that smart connectivity, you can always try a trail cam.

Trail Cameras

Trail cameras are one of the best devices for capturing wildlife photography and video. These are used by everyone from researchers studying animal migration all the way to world-famous photographers.

Trail cameras don’t typically come with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity. These are designed to be left in nature for extended periods of time and then gathered later. They store all of their images on a dedicated hard drive or SD card housed inside the camera.

They’re also powered either by batteries or a rechargeable power pack that can keep them going for weeks to over one year in the field. Now that’s a battery life that every smart tech fan is going to be jealous of!

Trail cameras also typically offer infrared technology. This allows them to capture nightlife without disturbing the animals that they’re taking pictures of. If you’re willing to part with the apps and the Wi-Fi connections, a trail cam can give you some of the best Images of the wildlife in your own backyard and beyond.

Nature Photography 101

Now we’re really talking when it comes to taking images and video of the wildlife in your yard!

In today’s world of social media, we’re all nature photographers to some extent or another. You can hone those skills you didn’t even know you’ve been practicing and capture some of the best images of your local wildlife using nothing more than the smartphone you already own.

Smartphone Nature Photography

Smartphones have some of the best cameras on the market today. There are even smartphones that go all the way up to 4K resolution for their video. Others offer burst mode photography, have multiple lenses, and have incredible software backing up their images. You can use your smartphone in creative ways to capture the wildlife in your yard.

One option is to get a Bluetooth remote trigger for your phone:

A bluetooth camera remote to take photos from a distance
A bluetooth camera remote to take photos from a distance

These allow you to click the shutter without having to physically touch your phone. This can be a great option if you want to mount your phone on a tripod and set it outside by your butterfly garden.

A tripod which can mount a smartphone or DSLR mirrorless camera
A tripod which can mount a smartphone or DSLR mirrorless camera

This is a great way to use a camera you already own in new and exciting ways. Your smartphone can be your entry into nature photography and make the most of capturing the wildlife in your yard.

However, if you’re looking to upgrade things a little you can get a DSLR camera and seriously start doing some nature photography and video.

DSLR and Mirrorless Cameras

DSLR and mirrorless cameras range from entry-level models all the way up to pro level tech. With one of these cameras and a telephoto lens, you’ll be able to capture wildlife photography and video in your yard that will make National Geographic jealous:

My Sony A6600 mirrorless camera with two lenses a wide angle and telephoto lens
My Sony A6600 mirrorless camera with two lenses a wide angle and telephoto lens

The best part about this is that modern DSLR and mirrorless cameras often come prepackaged with smart technology. These cameras typically offer Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and even GPS connectivity. You can use all of these features to connect with your camera using your smartphone. This lets you position your camera out in your yard and then take pictures at your leisure. Best of all, using your smartphone and your camera’s app lets birds and animals relax in your yard without having to worry about a person snapping pictures nearby.

There are great options for home wildlife photography and video whether you’re looking to upgrade to the latest DSLR camera and a telephoto lens, or you want to make the most out of your ring smart camera system.

About Tristan Perry

Tristan Perry is a software developer who is passionate about tech gadgets, DIY and housing. He has therefore loved seeing smart homes hit the mainstream. Tristan also has an academic background (in Math & Computer Science), and so he enjoys digging into the technical ways that smart home devices work.

Tristan owns close to a dozen Amazon Echo devices, way too many Philips Hue bulbs and lightstrips, a boat-load of Ring Cameras and Doorbells... and a bunch of other smart home devices too (from Reolink, Google Nest, GLEDOPTO and others).

If you have any questions, feedback or suggestions about this article, please leave a comment below. Please note that all comments go into a moderation queue (to prevent blog spam). Your comment will be manually reviewed and approved by Tristan in less than a week. Thanks!

4 thoughts on “Are Ring Cameras Best for Recording Wildlife (In Your Yard Or Elsewhere)?”

  1. If a Ring Stick Up Camera is placed in a hedgehog feeding station, does the light disturb the animal? There appears to be bright light reflecting on the clear plastic box feeding station?

    • Hi Angela, good question. Can you see the light yourself (in person)? I ask because if you’re looking at a recording on your phone, the light you see might be infrared light reflections. This shouldn’t disturb the hedgehog, because they either can’t see IR light, or usually aren’t bothered by it (there seems to be a bit of a debate about whether hedgehogs can see IR light online, but it doesn’t seem like it distrubs them).


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