7 Best Camera Pens | March 2017
- 8gb sd card included
- plug and play operation
- 45-day money-back guarantee
- one-button operation
- two refills included
- up to 60 minutes of recording
- tracks high-quality audio
- 220mah lithium battery
- motion detection mode
- full 1080p resolution
- captures stills and audio
- eight megapixel sensor
Spies Among Us
Make no mistake; espionage is an art form. It requires incredible cunning, persistence, and slight of hand. Dangers lurk around every corner, threatening to capture you and disappear you once and for all. It's vital in a climate like this to operate with as much discretion as humanly possible, and technology has always played an enormous part in this part of the process.
Watch the first third of any James Bond film and there is guaranteed to be, by the rules of such films' construction, a sequence in which James acquires some newfangled high-tech weaponry that will play a vital role later in his journey. Some of these have been explosively violent, while others have served as a touch of self-reflexive comic relief.
In one such film, James picks up a pen and clicks it, an action that causes his resident scientist, Q, to panic. Apparently the pen is also a bomb. Just as it seems like everything in the room bears a live, hidden weapon, James picks up a long, Italian hoagie and asks, "And what does this do?" Q panics again, and we think the sub's about to blow up as he says, "Don't touch that! It's my lunch."
While they don't pose any significant danger to your person, the camera pens on this list would be at home in any corner of Q's laboratory. They boast abilities that Ian Fleming (the writer of the Bond books) and the series' filmmakers could scarcely have predicted before the advent of digital photography.
Inside each pen is a wide angle lens that captures a great deal of a given room at qualities ranging all the way up to 1080p at 60 frames per second. That means you can record high definition video and slow it down to half-speed without losing a frame, which is great for pulling stills of sensitive material or identifying persons who barely cross your path.
Some of the pens record to an internal hard drive, after which you can transfer the footage to your computer via USB, while others have interchangeable micro SD card slots so you can upgrade the amount of video you can record.
Be Careful Who You Capture
As you move up and down our list of the top six camera pens, you'll likely notice that the more you spend on each pen, the finer the video quality and storage options become. It's a pretty direct scale, in fact, so you can ask yourself what minimum video quality you need for your purposes and what you're willing to spend, and that ought to narrow your options down to one or two of the pens.
Of course, it would help if the pen in question made sense as part of your ensemble. Ask the stuck-up guys at the Mont Blanc store, where they sell pens that start at $400, and they'll tell you how important a pen can be to your overall attire. Since most of these pens are a little nicer, it would behoove you to work on pairing them with a good suit you may already own–just to keep up appearances.
Whichever pen you end up choosing, make sure you investigate your state's wiretap laws. The clandestine tracking of video and audio both fall under the letter of wiretap statutes, and if the laws are strict enough, you could get into serious trouble.
Imagine, for instance, that there is a person in your life who likes to threaten you, harass you, etc., and you buy a camera pen to track evidence of the crime for the acquisition of a restraining order or to press charges. You might bring the video to a judge only to find that not only is the video inadmissible, but the fact that you recorded the individual in question without his or her consent opens you up to criminal prosecution.
Tiny Little Film
Before digital photography made unbelievably small cameras relatively common, some no bigger than a grain of salt, any attempt to create a concealable spy camera still relied on actual film.
35mm film was out of the question. It was simply too big to carry on one's person. It did work in situations where one might cut a hole in a bag through which a camera lens could see, and carry that bag around with a shutter release running along its strap. As long as the bag was pointed in the right direction and the field of view was set as widely and deeply as possible, one could capture a few decent images.
In the 1920s, a Baltic German by the name of Walter Zapp began development on a tiny film camera that he called the Minox subminiature camera. The camera slid open and closed, the movement of which action would also advance the 9.2mm film. The popularity of Minox's subminiature camera set off a string of competitive developments, but Minox remained at the top of an admittedly niche market until digital photography set it back against a wave of new technologies.
Since that revolution, camera specs have gotten smaller and smaller, and the resolutions, recording times, and image qualities of the spy cameras available to consumers continues to rise.