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How Spy Cameras Roll

I haven’t personally done investigative work or engaged in undercover espionage (not professionally anyway, and we won’t talk about my endeavors to live out personal spy fantasies). But from what I hear from friends in the detective and P.I. fields, the work can be quite rewarding, occasionally dangerous, and hence rather fun.

Certainly one of the tools on the critical equipment list for high-level investigators are spy cameras. But these instruments of observation aren’t just useful for the professionals; whether you’re a concerned citizen seeking to expose a shady auto mechanic or a vigilant parent looking to monitor your babysitter, you ought to learn how spy cameras work for a variety of important detection and surveillance purposes.

Here is a brief spy camera how to guide to determine the correct surveillance equipment for you:

Spy Cam How To 101: The Basics for Setup

To set up a surveillance operation, you’ll have to determine your particular needs. There are a lot of options available with spy cameras, so what exactly are you using it for? The following are some elements to consider.

Audio & Video?

Do you need to record both video and audio? Does capturing the culprit require sound, or simply movement and action? Make sure the camera has a solid mic if you need audio as well.

Video Quality

How important is quality in your video? In most cases, 15 frames per second (fps) at 640×480 resolution should suffice; but if you need high-quality footage, you may want to go no lower than 720×1280 at 30 fps. And make sure you get color footage as opposed to Black & White, as that may prove significant in deciphering the footage.


Is what you’re recording taking place during daylight or in a well-lit area? If not, you may need to utilize low light or night-vision spy cameras. If the lighting dynamic will potentially change during the recording, consider a camera that can handle high and low light scenarios.


Will your camera be stationary, or will it be moving? If it will be on the move, then you’ll of course need to find a battery operated spy camera rather than one that requires an outlet. If you need to wear the camera, you’ll want to check out those that are disguised as wearable items such as button spy cams and other body worn cameras.

Constant running or motion detection

Will you want constant footage of the scene, or should recording only initiate once something (or someone) moves? Since all cameras have only a finite amount of footage, and because sifting through hundreds of hours is no fun, you may want a motion activated spy camera when you only need to capture the action.

Length of recording

Will the operation last only a few minutes, or will it be a multi-hour recording? You’ll want to make sure the camera offers enough memory at the resolution you need to hold the entire recording. Remember to also check the battery life capacity if it is not plugged into an outlet—it does you no good to have 5 hours’ worth of memory when the battery only last 90 minutes.

Transfer applications

Once the recording is captured, how will you want to transfer the footage and to what sort of device? Often this will be determined by the speed at which it must be transferred and how you intend to present the evidence. If time is of the essence, for instance, you’ll want a camera or chip that plugs directly into a computer for download and viewing.


Finally, what is the specific situation in which the recording device will be used? This of course is the ultimate question to ask when determine which spy cam is right for you. Below are some of the more common uses for spy cameras by private citizens.

Monitoring Activities at Home

  • Babysitter or nanny activity
  • Cheating spouse
  • Kids’ behavior when alone

Evidence Gathering at the Workplace

  • A supervisor involved in harassment
  • A co-worker committing theft or cheating
  • An employee destroying property or stealing

Exposing Crooked Business Owners or Services

  • False advertising schemes (bait-and-switch operations)
  • Fraudulent auto-mechanics
  • Rental unit inspections

There are hundreds of different spy cameras available, including several that are applicable to the above common uses. So when you’re ready, take all of the elements into consideration to determine the best camera for your particular situation. Then check out The Home Security Super Stores’ exhaustive list of spy cameras to learn how spy cameras work and find the absolute best camera for your needs.

Good luck and stay vigilant!

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