Nice detective work! I love these trail cams, and as you say, there are some inexpensive models available now that are within the budget of nearly everyone but are still capable of taking some great pictures and video. I’m been using some of the “apeman” brand cams available on Amazon with good success. It takes some time to tweak/adjust the settings to avoid “false positives” from wind, shadows, etc., but it’s a small price to pay for the fun/excitement of getting some photos of species that otherwise remain elusive, like these two bobcats I recently picked up on one of mine.
Another option is to use relatively inexpensive IP ‘security’ cameras connected to an ‘always on’ computer in your home, either wirelessly via your network, or hard-wired via ethernet cable. Then, using free or relatively inexpensive security cam software like Blue Iris, you control, monitor, etc. your cameras via the software. This is certainly more involved then standalone trail/game cams, but you also don’t have to worry about monitoring game cam batteries, swapping out their memory storage cards, etc. You can also set up ‘alerts’ to your phone, which is how I was alerted to these two moose that were picked up on my driveway ‘security’ cam. I was away at work, but a family was at home, so when I received the alert, I was able to give her a call and she was able to see and photograph these beautiful animals before they moved through.
I’ve even used an inexpensive USB ‘webcam’ with Blue Iris to monitor bird feeders close to my home (I’ve found that you can only run a USB cable about 25’ before you lost the signal), particularly during hummingbird season. You may end up sifting through 1000 pictures a day, but you never know which unusual species you mind end up catching.
So bottom-line, these cameras can really open up some great opportunities for learning about and documenting ‘nature’ in many respects…they are well worth the effort!