The 7 Best Hidden Camera Detectors
This wiki has been updated 21 times since it was first published in November of 2017. Recent advancements in technology have made spying easier to do and harder to nose out. If you believe your privacy is being compromised by a concealed device, you may want to check out these hidden camera detectors. Our picks can quickly scan and locate secret surveillance equipment in hotels, offices or apartments, and have been ranked by their sensitivity, ease of use and durability. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
November 06, 2020:
In this update we removed the SUCC Spy Scanner, the Eilimy G-319+, the Pannovo Anti-Spy GSM, and the Spytec iProtect 1203 all because of availability concerns. We found the Hohoprov CC-308 to be a great replacement for the Pannovo Anti-Spy GSM, since both feature a compass for detecting irregularities in nearby magnetic fields and a headphone mode for silent use. The Allrier JCB-1 and Korkuan KN-003 are two strong options based on the most popular industry architecture, with informative digital readouts and wide detection ranges.
Finally, we also added the Mic-Lock HCD-1 for those who want a simple and sturdy choice minus the bells and whistles other models tend to have. It uses nothing but a set of LEDs and a binocular viewfinder to help you spot camera lenses, which makes it one of the few choices that doesn't really need instructions (though instructions are included).
One difficulty with using hidden camera detectors is that these devices also pick up on some electronics which aren't cameras. Often it will be clear to the user when their device has misclassified an innocuous gadget as a camera, but sometimes it's not so easy- after all, hidden cameras are meant to look like other things. To get an idea of what you might be looking for, you should take a look at the most popular spy cameras and nanny cams on the market right now.
July 11, 2019:
We've completely overhauled this list since it was last updated. One of the things we looked at closely, and figured into our ranking, is the signal range these devices are able to detect. The KJB DD1206 has an impressively wide range, from 50 MHz and 12 GHz. The SUCC Spy Scanner is close on its heels, boasting a range of 1 MHz to 6.5 GHz.
Though the most common types of radio transmissions, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and cellular signals lie between 300 and 3,000 MHz, some remote cameras use the 5.4 GHz frequency. Anything above that and you start moving into microwave transmission territory, which your average spy likely won't be using anyway.
We also looked at the bevy of alert modes a device provided. Especially critical was whether a product had a silent or vibrate mode. Finally, we considered the durability and ease of use of each model, with a special shout out to the heartily constructed Spytec iProtect 1203.
What If Your Paranoia Was Justified?
If you put a camera in front of most people, you can instantly see the ways in which their behavior changes.
Have you ever had the feeling that you were being watched? Maybe you couldn’t really explain it, but there was something inside you that felt the energy of another’s gaze, someone unseen seeing you. Human beings are incredibly adept at sensing gaze direction, and some scientists hypothesize that this aptitude extends beyond our natural field of vision; we can feel eyes on us.
But what about cameras? We’re not talking about Norman Bates at the peephole, here; we’re talking about Nikon and Canon. Can we feel the presence of a lens, even if there’s nobody looking at the image it’s capturing? If you put a camera in front of most people, you can instantly see the ways in which their behavior changes. Of course, that’s when they know the camera is there, so it can be explained psychologically. What about when you don’t know the camera’s there?
As human beings, we value our privacy, whether or not we feel we have anything to hide. The problem here is that you never really know who might be interested in a little peeping Tom footage. A hotel maid with a fetish and a power drill could set up a nearly invisible spy cam with a direct feed to the break room. A suspicious spouse could set up a hidden nanny cam to make sure their significant other does their chores properly or pays enough attention to their little one. And that old couple who runs the bed and breakfast might just turn out to be blackmail artists.
With a hidden camera detector, you can even out the odds a bit. It can also help you with the placement of a camera of your own. There are plenty of legitimate reasons to set up such a device, and knowing how well some of the detectors on the market work, using a top-tier detection model can help you make sure that anyone similarly equipped will have a hard time locating your camera.
How Hidden Camera Detectors Work
Hidden camera detectors work in one or two ways depending on which model you select. Most will functionally be able to detect the presence of radio frequency transmissions, which a lot of spy cams use to relay their images to a recording or viewing device. Some models will simply beep if their antenna picks up an RF signal, while others can lead you more precisely in the direction of that signal with the use of an LED light gauge that relays the strength of a signal in its proximity.
They also suffer from some interference caused by the proliferation of devices with RF capabilities, including Bluetooth devices.
The downside to RF detection is that cameras are not the only things to give off such signals, and you might spend all that time zeroing in on an otherwise benign piece of equipment. They also suffer from some interference caused by the proliferation of devices with RF capabilities, including Bluetooth devices.
The other means by which a hidden camera detector can spot a camera is by reflecting light off of its lens. Most camera lenses are made of a translucent material — often glass, though sometimes plastic — that naturally reflects some amount of the light that hits it. A detector with an infrared viewing window will flash infrared LED lights, and occasionally lasers out the back end of the device, while you look through the window for any glints or glimmers that can give away the position of a lens.
Infrared detection tends to be slow-going, however, as you have to get the light to bounce off the surface of the lens at the right angle for it to reflect back at your viewing window. For that reason, it’s best to try to combine the technologies, letting the RF detection method point you in a general direction, after which you can sweep that sector of a room with the IR window.
Of course, if whoever placed the camera used a cheaper model and did a shoddy job installing it, you might be able to simply find a strange wire that seems to head from nowhere to nowhere, and follow it to the source.
What To Do If You Discover A Hidden Camera
So, you’ve checked into a nice Bed & Breakfast, and the couple that runs the place seems nice enough, but you get the distinct impression that one or both of them is a little too nice. Once you’re in your room, you whip out your trusty hidden camera detector, take it for a spin, and find a camera among a collection of nondescript books staring right at the bed. What do you do now?
Then, fire up the RF detection mode on your device and get it close to the camera.
For starters, it’s important to keep in mind that whoever’s on the other end of that feed might be watching you discovering their camera. Try to play it cool. Do not attempt to confront your spy. If it’s a stranger, you might want to dial 9-1-1 and have your finder on the call button just in case. Then, fire up the RF detection mode on your device and get it close to the camera. If nothing registers, there’s a good chance that the unit is temporarily turned off, or at least not transmitting. You can probably relax for a moment.
Also, evaluate the setting in which you find any hidden camera to consider who might have placed it there. In our B&B example, it might have been the nice couple, but it could just as easily have been the guy in the neighboring room who went in there between the last occupant’s check out time and your arrival. Again, do not confront anyone. If you’re alone, simply and casually leave. If you’re with someone, communicate as best you can in whispers, perhaps with music on or the water running, just in case there’s an audio feed, as well.
If you’re at home and you discover a camera, then a confrontation is pretty unavoidable, and it’s liable to put a pretty significant strain on the relationship you have with whoever put it there. You’re going to be feeling betrayed to a certain extent, but try to keep your head and really listen to them when they explain their actions, as a move like that most likely arises out of miscommunication somewhere else in the relationship.