Body Worn Hidden Cameras: A Complete Guide


11 minute read

Body-worn hidden cameras have long been utilized by law enforcement, but they’re no longer limited only to the police. Anyone, whether a student or a professional, can use these nifty gadgets. Of course, there are some rules in regard to recording video via hidden cameras, but more on that later. 

Due to their rising popularity, we decided to provide you with a complete guide on body-worn hidden cameras. If you’re wondering what makes these devices so widely used, or how to use them properly, you’ll find the answers here. And in case you’re in the market for a body-worn hidden camera, we’ve got a list of recommendations for you as well.

Things to Consider When Choosing Body Worn Hidden Cameras

Although seemingly simple, body-worn hidden cameras vary in their quality to a great extent. The right ones are simple to use, we won’t deny that, but there are some factors to consider when buying such a device. 

There’s plenty of different video resolutions that these cameras record in; there’s also the issue of how they’re concealed, i.e. in what kind of a device they’re hidden. In addition to the video recording feature, some of them take photos while others record sound.

At a glance, it might seem like a mountain of information when looking through the specifics, but that’s why we’ll sort out the most important factors and give you the most relevant information that you’ll need to keep in mind when choosing your ideal body-worn hidden camera.

The Device Itself

Before getting lost in the nitty-gritty, when using a hidden camera, it’s important to not forget to take into account the device in which it’s hidden. The manner in which the camera is concealed can be the deciding factor whether you’ll stay hidden while recording or not.

For example, if you want to tape a meeting without the attendees noticing, you should opt for a device that has a practical everyday use, such as a USB flash drive or a hands-free bluetooth headset. On the other hand, there are other, less ‘camouflaged’ options to choose from. We’ll get into more detail on this topic in our recommendations section.

Field of View

Field of view refers to how wide the camera can see. Most hidden cameras have about a 75 degree angle of capture, which is more than enough to guarantee you won’t be missing anything in the frame. Though, this is mostly contingent on the position of the camera and how far you are from the recorded “object”. It’s also very important that the lens is unobstructed by clothing so you would get a clear shot of the scene.

Video Quality

Another important factor is the quality of the footage you’d be getting. This is usually measured in resolution (px, short for pixels) and can range anywhere from 640x480 or 720x480, and all the way up to 1920x1080 px. Anything below 640x480 px would be very sub-par, while if you’re looking for HD video, you should go for 720p (1280x720 px) or 1080p (1920x1080 px).

Though, it’s important to note that even the lower resolutions will provide you with decent footage, but if you need attention to detail - the higher, the better.

Battery Life

Battery life is an additional facet that contributes to the overall quality of a body-worn hidden camera. The batteries can either be replaceable or rechargeable. The better option here is obvious - the rechargeable ones add to the general practicality of the device and are much more reliable.

Customer Support

If you’re unsure about the phrasing in an instruction manual or how to use certain features, it’s of the utmost importance to have the necessary customer support to figure it all out. After all, these devices can come off as being complex and we know that technology can be confusing. 

Many outlets out there are all talk and no action, but at SpyGuy, we make a point out of being available at all times to resolve any issues you might have. We also offer brief FAQ’s and/or expert advice on all of the product pages and general information regarding orders and shipping before you even decide on a purchase.

Features

When it comes to body-worn hidden cameras, a multitude of features is not generally what you should be looking at. Although some of the cameras out there have wi-fi connectivity or night-vision, that's rarely where their true value lies. 

The body-worn hidden cameras are meant to be practical, compact, and functional on-demand, with as few buttons as possible, so as to add to their discretion. Though, this is more of a general advice, rather than a rule; and it all depends on your wants and needs.

How to Best Make Use of a Body Worn Hidden Camera

You might be familiar with body-worn cameras as their use is widespread by law enforcement officers, but just about everybody else can use them too. Their purpose is extensive and they can be utilized in day-to-day activities, as well as one-off situations.

Catch Illegal Behavior on Tape

Let’s say you’re a witness to certain illegal behaviour; as long as you don’t break any state or federal laws (more on that later) yourself, you can catch it on tape and provide very useful insight while avoiding the he-said-she-said situation that would have otherwise followed.

Record Lectures

We’ve also had a lot of student customers! According to them, there’s nothing more useful than having a video lecture on-demand that’s been discreetly taped beforehand. Video footage of those complex trigonometry formulas certainly beats having to write them down, am I right?

Immortalize Your Latest Trip

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”, they said; so why not hit the trail once in a while and have your memories immortalized without even having to stop for a photograph? You can easily do so by attaching a body-worn camera and you won’t have to take your eyes off the landscape even for a moment. You can look through the lens later.

Tape Meetings

Perhaps you do want to stay busy but remain as efficient as possible; a body-worn camera can certainly help with that as well. After the third or fourth meeting in a day things can start getting hazy, so having discreetly procured footage that you’d be able to revisit whenever you want to will surely help you keep track of all the important details.

We already mentioned that the body worn camera might prove useful for law enforcement officers, but they can come in handy for professionals in the following lines of work as well:

  • Private investigators
  • Journalists
  • Trading standard authorities
  • Mystery shoppers
  • Council authorities

As long as you’re not breaking the law, the potential of these devices is simply endless. These were just examples from customer experience, so don’t let that restrict your imagination. We’re sure you can get creative with your own personal body-worn hidden camera.

If you’re in the market for a body-worn hidden camera, or if you think that you’ll come up with an even better use for it, feel free to check our recommendations below.

Recommendations for the Best Body Worn Hidden Camera

As we already pointed out, body-worn hidden cameras truly come in all shapes and sizes, but we’ve singled out these four bestsellers that will surely fit your needs, whatever they may be.

HD Spy Pen Plus

The essential James Bond spy pen” as we call it, is one of the devices we’re most proud of. We featured it as the Best Spy Pen Camera as well. No other hidden camera is nearly as cool as this one and we’ve had people buy it just to show it off, but that doesn’t mean it won’t do its job flawlessly.

Specs and features:

  • 1260 x 960 px video resolution (@30 FPS)
  • Audio recording
  • 1 hour of battery life 
  • Can take 2-megapixel pictures
  • One-button do-it-all
  • USB interface used for recharging and transferring footage
  • Built-in memory of 8GB, no SD card necessary
  • The best deal (price to performance)

HD Keychain Camera

The Keychain Camera is our go-to suggestion for recording up close due to its night-vision, full HD video quality for all the details, and date & time stamp for all your filing purposes.

Specs and features:

  • 1920x1080 px video resolution (full HD; 1080p)
  • Audio recording
  • 90 minutes of battery life
  • Takes 12-megapixel pictures
  • Night vision
  • USB interface used for recharging and transferring footage
  • Very resilient due to its metal casing
  • Water-resistant
  • Date & time stamp on all files
  • Works with up to 64 GB SD cards

Spy Watch Covert Camera

If the pen seems too flamboyant or you’re not big on driving, the Spy Watch will surely suit you, as it provides pretty good video quality and audio recording at a rather decent price.

Specs and features:

  • 1280x960 px video resolution (@30 FPS)
  • Audio recording
  • 2 hours of battery life
  • Stylish and durable
  • Water-resistant
  • USB interface used for recharging and transferring footage
  • Date & time stamp on all files
  • Built-in memory of 8 GB, no SD card necessary
  • Really easy to use

Micro Pocket Camera

Should you find yourself looking for a plain, straightforward hidden camera and have no need of modern “camouflage”, the Micro Pocket Camera is a great choice. Even though it’s not concealed in an everyday object, it’s rather inconspicuous and serves as a great budget option.

Specs and features:

  • 640x480 px video resolution
  • Audio recording
  • Sound activated
  • One of the smallest options out there (as small as a paperclip)
  • 2 hours of battery life
  • Works great in low-light surroundings
  • USB interface used for recharging and transferring footage
  • Robust, metal design, tested for durability
  • Can be built into a device you might have lying around already

iPhone Case Hidden Camera

Last but not least, the iPhone Case Hidden Camera is one of our more modern options out there, in case you found the previous suggestions too vintage.

Specs and features:

  • 1920x1080 px video resolution (full HD; 1080p)
  • Motion-activated
  • 3 hours of battery life
  • USB interface and adapter used for recharging and transferring footage
  • Date & time stamp on all files
  • Works with up to 32 GB SD cards
  • Hidden camera as part of a phone accessory

Legal Issues You Should Be Aware Of

When using body-worn hidden cameras, it’s important to note that it’s generally legal to record in all areas except where a reasonable expectation of privacy is presumed.

It's also generally legal to record within public areas such as places of business like restaurants, diners, malls, and retail stores, as well as outdoor areas like parks, streets, public squares, quays, etc.

It's illegal to use any body-worn hidden cameras to record videos in hotel rooms, restrooms, changing rooms, locker rooms, and other areas that have a REP status outside of your home (as stated above).

If you find yourself using a hidden camera within your home, for the purpose of keeping your home safe and sound, it is perfectly legal to do so without asking for consent. But as we mentioned above, you can’t record in areas where your guests have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

If the purpose of recording via hidden cameras is malicious intent, it is illegal to do so.

The federal and state governments have no clear laws in regards to recording via hidden cameras at a workplace, but employers generally are expected to ask for consent before recording employees therein.

If you have more questions regarding the detailed legal nuances about recording via body-worn hidden cameras, head over to our legal guide.

Before You Leave

We did our best to leave no stone unturned when it comes to body-worn hidden cameras, but if you still have questions regarding these nifty gadgets, don’t hesitate to contact us directly; we typically answer all emails within a couple of hours or within one business day at the latest. 

If we piqued your curiosity about spy gear in general, you would do well to check out our guide on How to Use a Spy Voice Recorder or How to Use a Personal GPS Tracker. Or if body-worn hidden cameras are strictly what you’re after and you didn’t find the recommendations fitting, take a look at our whole collection.

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