The 10 Best Hidden Cameras
This wiki has been updated 15 times since it was first published in October of 2017. Whether you're trying to keep an eye on a pet or just check that your kids aren't throwing any parties while you're out of town, one of the hidden cameras on our list can do the trick. We've evaluated them based on their image quality, ease of use, and inconspicuousness. But be sure to consult your state's laws before setting one up, as their use in some jurisdictions may be illegal. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best hidden camera on Amazon.
June 27, 2019:
While availability issues caused us to remove the Phylink PLC-128PW from this round of rankings, you could make the argument that it didn't actually fit the category to begin with, as it was a small camera that was designed for its user to find a place to hide it. The rest of the cameras on our list were already hidden, and merely require that you find a place for their camouflage housing to live. In that spirit, we replaced the Phylink with a capable offering from AMCSXH, which sneaks a Wi-Fi connected 1080p camera into the numeral 10 on the face of an old-school wall clock.
Our number one slot was taken over by SCS Enterprises' computer speakers, which are not only among the least conspicuous options on our list, they also situate the lens in something that is heavy enough to stay in place, and that should live at just the right level to capture the whole room. The fact that this option utilizes a 2MP sensor made by Sony and a lens with an impressive f/1.8 aperture ensures excellent performance even in low lighting. It's also important that the speakers actually function, so they're less likely to raise any eyebrows. The same could not be said about the FuVision outlet that dropped all the way to number ten this time around. It creates a fine picture, but the fact that it doesn't actually work as an outlet is a tad suspicious.
Reasons To Consider Using A Hidden Camera
You can use a hidden camera to see if they're sneaking booze out of the liquor cabinet, or letting that boyfriend you hate in through the window after curfew.
For many people — parents especially — installing surreptitious recording equipment can be a smart idea, and potentially even a life-saving one.
If you have small children that are often left with a nanny or babysitter, being able to check in on them from time to time can give you peace of mind — as well as letting you determine if there's anything untoward going on while you're gone. Babysitters only account for only 4.6 percent of all child abuse offenses, but it's up to you to decide how comfortable you are playing those odds.
Small business owners might want to use one to monitor their employees, as well, especially if they suspect them to be stealing. It's an effective, low-budget way to keep an eye on your assets, and it doesn't cost nearly as much as installing and monitoring a full-fledged security system.
Of course, you can simply use them to keep an eye on your kids, even if there's nothing else to worry about at the time. Many of them pipe footage to your cell phone, so you can check on the kiddos while you get some chores done, watch TV, or just sit in blessed silence for a few minutes.
If you're really committed to watching your children, you don't have to stop monitoring them once they get older. You can use a hidden camera to see if they're sneaking booze out of the liquor cabinet, or letting that boyfriend you hate in through the window after curfew. It can also be used to catch a cheating spouse in the act.
They even make some designed for pets, so if your pooches like to "redecorate" while you're at work, you can catch them in the act. A few models enable you talk to them, allowing you to persuade them to reconsider their decisions, and some even let you dispense treats to reward them when they stop eviscerating your pillows.
Regardless of why you're considering getting one, a hidden camera can give you full access to everything that happens in your home, pretty much round-the-clock. The only question is how you'll deal with what you find.
Choosing The Right Hidden Camera
If you grew up watching James Bond movies, you might have visions of sophisticated equipment dancing through your head — like cuff links that double as a camera, or glasses that record everything you see. That's purely spy-novel nonsense, and nothing like that exists in the real wo — what? They actually have glasses that record everything you see?
Anyway, most household hidden cameras are much more mundane than that — and that's the whole point. They come stashed inside picture frames, clocks, etc.
There are a variety of cameras out there, each with different functions that could potentially prove helpful to you.
Your first consideration, then, should be to pick something that fits in with your existing decor. It would look suspicious if your nursery had some sick computer speakers in the corner, and your teenagers might wonder why there's suddenly a picture of Grandma in the liquor cabinet.
It's also important to decide what you want the camera to do. Obviously, if this is for a commercial purpose, you'll likely want one that can record video, but part of the benefit of security cameras is their ability to deter crime, so you might want something more prominent in your shop.
Also, some let you listen to and interact with whoever's on the other side, which can be useful if you need to yell at your children, but will also betray the camera's existence. Still, they're a smart option for anyone who's using the camera as a tool to interact with the nanny or other family members, rather than spy on them.
There are a variety of cameras out there, each with different functions that could potentially prove helpful to you. All you need to do is decide what you're hoping to accomplish, and then buy accordingly.
Then again, no one ever said you could only have one...
The Ethics Of Spying On Your Own Home
Now that technology has enabled us to watch everything that happens in our own homes, the question becomes: should you do it?
One school of thought says that quibbles about privacy barely register when compared to the thought of letting your children suffer abuse at the hands of some nefarious nanny.
These people tend to think that the onus is on your family members to ensure that everything is on the up-and-up. After all, as long as they don't do anything they don't want you to see, everything should be fine, right?
That's both illegal and creepy, and there's no good reason to do it.
The problem with this is that it can breed resentment over time. Checking in on toddlers is fine — but once they become teens, your constant mistrust can wear on their nerves and your relationship.
The same goes for checking on nannies or home nurses. Many professionals will resent you constantly looking over their shoulder, and if you're really that convinced that they're up to no good, you're probably better off looking for new employees rather than trying to set up a sting operation.
It's imperative that, before you decide to set a hidden camera up in your home, you check and make sure it's legal where you live. The law varies from state to state as far as what you can capture without consent, especially in regards to sound. The last thing you want is to catch your nanny abusing your kids, only for you to end up being the one that goes to jail.
Also, hopefully this goes without saying, but recording anything that happens in the bathroom is strictly verboten. That's both illegal and creepy, and there's no good reason to do it.
Oh, and one more thing: the Supreme Court has made it explicitly clear that your dog can't get in trouble for anything you catch him doing on camera. I believe the verdict was reached in the landmark case of United States v. A Very Good Boy.
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