The 5 Best Body Cameras for 2020
If you still think a Body Camera as big, clunky things with lots of straps, think again. Gone are the days of trying to man your door dressed like Robocop. Today’s body cams are small, portable, weatherproof and rugged; perfect for door supervisors and security patrols worldwide.
Using a security camera acts as a deterrent, It will also offer an easy way to photograph people and identify potential troublemakers. Capturing incidents on camera can also provide inadmissible testimony in court.
For some, however, body camera technology is still a mixed bag – and it would be remiss of us not to touch upon that. Body cams have clear applications for good, not least of which is the potential they have to truly revolutionise police and security work worldwide. However, critics suggest that, even as they save lives, these little cameras are adding to an Orwellian culture of surveillance and control.
Of course, we take the view that Body Worn Cameras are a positive development overall. They can challenge, even completely overrule, the ‘my word against his’ nature of so many court cases and police investigations. They can provide undeniable evidence to corroborate (or challenge) a persons official account of events.
So by now we’ve hopefully established that we like body-cameras – and if you do too, read on…
What Use is a Body Camera?
Body Camera Technology has many Practical Applications, Body Cameras Can be used:
- To take ‘first person’ photos and videos of people, places or significant events.
- By Security Personnel and Door Supervisors to capture incidents or suspicious people.
- As a Deterrent to anyone looking to cause trouble.
- To time stamp and date events of a shift.
- By police to ensure an increased level of fairness and professionalism.
- As a portable, ‘ready to go’ camera with superior picture quality to many smartphones.
- As a funky, cutting edge gadget that’s sure to impress your mates at work.
Hints and Tips (How to Get the Most from your Body Camera)
- First, you should ask yourself if a body camera best suits your purposes.
- Most body cameras can be easily mounted, either to the body or to another surface. They should all fasten securely (most even come with a harness). So, if you’re worried about dropping your phone as you take THAT magic photo, you needn’t worry so much about your body camera.
- Always check the angle of your camera before filming – it’s no use setting out to film a first person perspective of of an incident, if you end up instead making a thought provoking art-house piece about your chin!
- Once properly achieved, it should be difficult to displace the correct pointing position.
- That said, it is important to ensure that loose clothing such as Hi Viz jackets, ties and other gear is not in a position to obscure the lens.
- Different lenses (such as ‘fish eye’ or ‘wide angle’) do not negate the need to first ensure a clear, unobstructed picture of the person, place or event you wish to photograph or film.
- Poor quality video capture should only arise from human error (these things are pretty well designed, after all).
- Read up on GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) regulations and familiarise yourself with the Data Protection Act (DPA). Legislation is of particular importance to fields such as law enforcement and private security, so it pays to know what you can and can’t do as well as what is and isn’t admissible in court.
Here are all of the Questions you should be asking before you look to purchase a body camera, and luckily we have answered them all…
Q: How easy will my body camera be to operate?
A: Pretty easy. Many body-cams record via a simple ‘double tap’ method, which stops the camera getting shut off accidentally and also makes it remarkably easy to use. In most cases, ‘point and shoot’ is the order of the day.
Q: What’s the battery life? Will it last a full shift?
A: This really depends on how much you use it (as well as how long your shifts are). Just like your phone, if the body camera is on continuously, you can expect the battery to expire that much sooner. Using only the internal battery, you could get a battery life (per charge) of anything between 2 and 12 hours, depending on the model you’re using. With the addition of an external battery, you could be looking at as much as another 12 hours, so 24 hours or more is certainly plausible.
Q: How much memory does it have?
A: 32GB internal memory is about average. This amounts to around 4 hours’ recording time (depending on the resolution selected). Some models come bundled with an SD card as an addition to their existing memory, while others only have internal memory. Some will use an SD card, and have no internal memory. For perspective, a ten-minute video will use up anywhere between 100 and 300MB. For HD, however, this could go as high as 1500MB, so check the quality settings.
Q: Will it work at night?
A: Yes. Most security models are capable of either night-vision or infrared. This is often an automatic process, so there’s usually no need to wasted time setting it up.
Q: What’s the difference between night vision and infrared?
A: Night vision works by amplifying any available light until the human eye can observe it adequately. Infrared picks up infrared waves (emitted by anything warm) and these are identified by the contrast between them and the colder objects all around.
Q: Does it record continually?
A: It doesn’t need to, but it can. Once the ‘record’ function is enabled, the camera will keep filming for as long as it can, until either the user stops the recording, the memory is full or the battery runs out. A ‘pre-record buffer’ (included on some models) also offers the user the option to record on a continuous 30-second loop.
Q: Is it waterproof?
A: Body cameras usually come with a minimum IP rating of IP54; this means that they are protected from water spray in any direction (we call it ‘the IP freely’ standard). Any of the cameras on this list can be used in heavy rainfall, but only one can survive being submerged.
Q: What is 160 Degree viewing angle?
A: 160 Degree FOV (Field of View) describes the extent to which the camera can see at any given moment. In this case, it will see 160 Degrees in any direction from the position in which it is set. 140 Degrees is a more common FOV though.
Q: Is there a status indicator?
A: On most, but not all models. Sadly, at least one model that made our list has no ‘low battery’ or ‘storage almost full’ warnings. This can be frustrating to say the least.
Q: Can the footage I take be used as evidence in court
A: Yes, in the event that you happen to record any criminal activity. It should also be noted that footage is often not nearly as conclusive in a court of law as one might expect or perhaps hope, but it will also be better than having to rely on eye witness accounts or CCTV footage.
Q: Does it have date/time stamping?
A: This is useful for submitting evidence in court and It usually appears on the playback, although on some models it appears throughout filming.
Q: Does it have GPS?
A: In most cases, yes (double check the individual product specs to be sure).
Q: Can an SIA-licensed person replay footage from a body cam?
Q: Can I use an SD card with it?
A: Some you can, some you can’t, But Individuals who view footage recorded by headcams/bodycams are likely to fall within the definition of public space surveillance (CCTV) activity.
Q: Is it really a deterrent?
A: Evidence from the 2016 the London metropolitan police body camera trial convicted several people that wouldn’t have been imprisoned otherwise, However, the Body Camera has been heavily criticised in some quarters, particularly in the US. The 18-month study of more than 2,000 police officers in Washington found that officers equipped with cameras used force and prompted civilian complaints at about the same rate as those who did not have them. Published results of trials by Hampshire police on the Isle of Wight, Essex police, and Scotland Yard suggest that the cameras are particularly effective for capturing evidence in domestic abuse cases.
Q: What’s the picture/recording quality like?
A: Generally very good. A body-cam’s minimum resolution is standard definition. A lot of cameras have the option to improve frame rates and resolution, but the negative effects of this are diminished battery life and the faster usage of memory space.
Q: What about sound quality?
A: In close proximity, you can expect decent, even good, sound quality. For example, if an unruly customer is getting in a Door Supervisors face and making threats, this will come through clearly enough that a person viewing the footage should be able to hear every word that was said. However, if the person is hurling verbal abuse from further away, this may not prove to be the case. Another negative is that an in-built microphone can (and does) pick up a loud ‘rustling’ noise if improperly attached to clothing, or interfered with during a scuffle. As a plus point, however, most devices offer an ‘audio only’ option as well as audio & video.
Q: Will I need to connect it to a computer?
A: Almost certainly, there may be some software included with the camera itself. In some cases (in order to comply with certain regulations), footage cannot be deleted from the camera, meaning that it can only be done so when connected to a computer (in order to avoid tampering).
Q: Can it take still images?
A: Yes, very useful when you need to take a quick image of an incident or person.
Transcend DrivePro 20 Clip-on Camera
The Transcend DrivePro Body 20 is a tough, durable customer, able to withstand a lot of punishment, while still capturing beautifully clear footage.
Built to survive extreme weather and brutal conditions, this camera is IPX4 rated, which means it can get wet without batting a lens. It is also supremely shock resistant, even going as far as to meet the US military’s much-vaunted ‘drop test’ standards.
Included with purchase is a 360-degree rotating clip, specially designed with uniforms in mind. It also comes with a Velcro holder, which easily attaches to police vests and similar apparel.
However, the DrivePro isn’t just tough, it’s smart too. Via a built-in WiFi function, this camera actually enables a live streaming preview to both IOS and Android devices (it is fully compatible with both). Purchase allows access to the official DrivePro Body app, which effortlessly synchs the camera to your smartphone.
The camera itself offers video recording in full HD (1080p), this is improved still further by a 160-degree field of view and 2.8 aperture lens designed to capture detailed footage of events or incidents as and when they occur. The camera also boasts an excellent ‘night vision’ mode.
The DrivePro Body app offers users the option of adding an individual user-ID and/or timestamp to any or all footage gathered, so you can clearly see who is doing the filming. This prevents evidence tampering.
- Maximum video resolution: 1920 x 1080 pixels.
- Video resolution: 1920 x 1080 pixels. Field of view (FOV): 160°.
- Fixed aperture: 2.8 mm. Storage media: internal memory.
- Internal memory: 32000 MB. Battery technology: lithium polymer (LiPo).
- Battery capacity: 1530 mAh.
- Battery life: 3.5 hours. Weight: 88 g.
The camera itself also features a ‘snapshot’ button, which can be used to take photos while recording video simultaneously. The ‘snapshot’ button is discreet and doesn’t call attention to itself, which allows for clear photographs to be taken during any incident that may occur.
Footage and snapshots can be instantly accessed and viewed via the app, which means that evidence can be gathered – and used – in real time.
All in all, this is an excellent camera. Rugged, durable and high performance, the DrivePro Body 20 is the missing member of your security team.
ONETHINGCAM Friendly Body Camera
Design-wise, OTC’s ‘Friendly’ body camera definitely looks the part. It seems almost like a piece of futuristic security equipment, with hard, angular edges and lots of flashy design features. Overall, we like the design quite a bit.
Generally speaking, this one is slightly better than the DrivePro 10, but perhaps because of this, it actually loses out to it in a couple of areas. For starters, like every other camera on this list, it only features 140Degrees’ FOV. Also, the ‘record’ button must be pressed (and held) for 3 seconds before recording actually starts, which increases the risk of footage not actually being taken.
Once the recording is set, there is simply no way to ‘lock’ the button in place (a feature that most other models on this list have as-standard), this means that this camera could easily be knocked into the ‘off’ position, or even deliberately switched off.
The OTC does have a lot of positives, however, and in most other areas easily trumps the DrivePro 10. For starters, the OTC comes with a chest and shoulder harness. Secondly, in addition to taking anywhere from 32GB to 128GB MicroSD cards, this body cam also has 32GB of internal memory (although the SD card option does recreate the same problems that the DrivePro has vis-à-vis GDPR regulations).
On the plus side, this camera’s 3 strong LED lights can be used, if needs-be, as a torch. It also has an infrared function for use at night.
- Use Friendly Body Camera Police Camera Full HD 1296P 30fps
- 32G Memory Have 140 Degree Wide Angle Lens Special Night Vision
- Included Chest&Shoulder Harness For Police Guards
- GPS location support e-map
- used protect software password protect all data
With an IP rating of IP65, this camera is also more water-resistant than some of the other models featured here, as it can withstand strong jets of water in any direction.
The battery is also quite long lasting, with an estimated 10 hours’ recording time at the camera’s lowest resolution (480p). Even at top resolution (1296p), the user can expect around 4 hours use time. Faces captured at top resolution are recognisable from up to 15 metres away.
Other notable ‘plus’ points include a GPS set-up that automatically records the latitude and longitude of the camera (very useful if the footage is being used to corroborate any eyewitness testimony), an integrated watermark, a 5CM LCD screen for video playback and the option to create an ‘admin password’ to prevent video tampering.
In our estimation, this is a fine bit of kit, with only a couple of nagging flaws preventing it from being rated higher on our list. The OTC is a good, reliable camera with bags of memory, a strong battery and tonnes of extra features.
Guardian G1 Body Camera
Another cool looking device, this one comes with a similar outer shell as the ONETHINGCAM, but with the notable addition of a written warning which says ‘WARNING. VIDEO/AUDIO RECORDING’ on the front. If you’re hoping to use body cams as a deterrent, this is a useful design feature.
In fact, the Guardian G1 has a large amount of useful features. Buyers can expect GPS, 32GB internal memory (with no option for an SD card), a 5CM LCD playback screen for reviewing footage, 140Degree FOV, a chest and shoulder harness and even a charge cradle.
On a lesser model, these would all be prime features, but on the Guardian G1, they merely serve to whet the appetite for the enormously diverse array of features and functions that this camera actually has.
Let’s see, where do we start? In addition to a body camera, the G1 also functions as a dashcam (it even comes with a specialised dashboard mount) and can shoot time-lapse footage. It can also act as a motion sensor if need be.
A red laser can be used to show exactly what the camera is pointing at, needless to say, this is an incredibly useful feature. This camera also switches automatically from light to dark (the ‘night mode’ will pick up clear images of faces from as much as 10 metres away, even in pitch dark).
- [FULL HD 1296p @30FPS] – Stunning high definition recordings at a smooth 30fps frame rate.
- [BUILT IN GPS] – The GPS mode which will track where you are so if you need evidence of your location then this has you covered.
- [ULTRA WIDE 140 DEGREE ANGLE LENS] – With a lens as wide as this one you will be able to capture everything that’s in front of you
- [CLEAR NIGHT VISION] – The night vision can clearly see faces up to 10 meters away even if its pitch black outside.
- [LONG BATTERY LIFE] – The G1 has a built in 2900mah lithium battery that lasts up to 10 hours on one charge.It takes 4 hours to fully charge and has a standby time of 240 hours.
The 1296p, full HD camera is capable of capturing details such as faces and license plates from a considerable distance. It even has a headphone socket so audio can be reviewed with video playback.
Like the ONETHINGCAM, battery life is around 4 hours at full resolution and around 10 at the lowest resolution (480p).
This camera also benefits from particularly meticulous security settings. Not only can video not be deleted from the device once it has been shot, but the entire device is password protected, effectively disbarring anybody but the user from doing anything besides recording (even reviewing video). There is also an ID stamp on the screen at all times, which can be customised for individual members of staff.
Negative points include the fact that the camera cannot rotate when attached to the clip (a curious oversight, considering how otherwise well-designed this camera is) and the fact that it is not quite as water resistant as we might have hoped.
BOBLOV Ambarella A7L50
Bundled with two batteries as well as a charging base (which is VERY useful indeed), the BOBLOV A7L50 will arrive in your life fully prepared for, well, anything. Compatible with car chargers, SD cards and yes, even radios; it sometimes feels as if BOBLOV has been designed with a zombie apocalypse in mind.
Outwardly, the design is a little clunky, but despite this, BOBLOV’s features are many and numerous. This camera features infrared which, like the Guardian G1, is capable of showing a person’s facial features in detail from up to 10 metres away, even in pitch darkness.
- Personal Body Worn Camera: The compact video/audio recorder is portable and lightweight,
- Strong Night Vision HD Wide Angle: The portable camera features 1296P video and 3300pixels photo, built-in high-intensity infrared LEDs,
- One Key to Operate: The wearable camera supports one key to Take a photo, Record Video/Audio
- Long Battery Life: The Body Worn Camera is equipped with 2 pieces rechargeable 1950mAh batteries that will provide you with 9 hours of recording time
- Built-in Memory: The Mini camera features a built-in 32GB memory, there is plenty of space to store all videos captured.
There’s also a 30-second pre-recording loop (which automatically records over itself if the memory becomes full), as well as 32GB internal memory and an un-mistakable ‘beep alert’ when the battery is low.
Speaking of battery life, this model has an average recording time of 8 hours, with a stand-by battery life of 24 hours, which makes it a good choice for mobile security patrols as well as the door supervisors of the world.
…Basically, BOBLOV likes the nightlife. BOBLOV likes to boogie.
In compliance with GDPR regulations, it also features full password protection and a small display screen.
In addition to all that good stuff, the BOBLOV is the most waterproof camera on this list, being able to withstand total immersion in up to a metre of water.
The only real drawback to BOBLOV as far as we can see lies with the fact that some users have complained about things like the charge cradle not working properly, which could be interpreted as a sign of corner-cutting during production.
BRIFIELD BR1 BODY CAMERA
The BR1 is a high definition, high performance body camera that is great for gathering evidence as well as deterring violence.
Rugged and almost completely weatherproof, it is an excellent choice for security personnel, bailiffs, debt collectors, event staff and more.
In addition to boasting the highest HD resolution on the market right now, the BR1 also features a built-in battery capable of providing 14 hours of continuous use.
It also has infrared ‘night vision’ (capable of capturing a person’s face from up to 10 metres away) and a 160degree lens (ultra wide screen).
For security reasons, the footage gathered can only be deleted from a computer, not from the device itself, meaning that it the BR1 is immune to tampering of any kind. The BR1 also comes with GPS, so that you know where your staff are as they are filming. You can even add a personal ID stamp to the footage, so you can always tell who filmed what. Such specific evidence gathering is very useful indeed.
This camera can use both H.264 and H.265 video coding. H.264 is standard, but H.265, which is also known as High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) offers higher quality video recording, whilst also taking up less memory.
Included in the box is everything you could possibly need to get started, such as clips, a chest harness, a shoulder harness and the KlickFast stud and dock.
- (HIGH DEFINITON 1440p) – Super clear HD 1440p recordings
- (GPS) – Tracks your location and stamps the live coordinates onto the video.
- (NIGHT VISION) – Clear white night vision.
- (14 HOURS BATTERY LIFE) – 3100mAh built in rechargeable battery.
- (H.265 VIDEO CODING) – H.265 is the new upgrade from H.264.
The BR1 comes with a 12-month warranty, as well as an excellent standard of customer service, which guarantees a reply within 12 hours of sending them a query or complaint.
All things considered, the BR1 is the perfect camera for outdoor security staff, even those working through inclement weather or late at night.
The BR1 is especially useful in instances where the personnel are working as a team and is everything you could hope for and more as a form of evidence gathering and/or deterrent.
We’ve cast our expert eyes over 5 of the best body cams on the market right now. We’ve praised their strengths, even as we’ve ruthlessly picked apart their weaknesses. Now, before we announce the name of the camera that we feel is best, here’s a quick overview of everything we’ve seen so far.
The Transcend DrivePro 20 is a nice little camera, with lots of nice features. However it is reliant on an external source for memory and your choices for that source are limited to the smaller SD cards.
The ONETHINGCAM Friendly Body Camera is exceptionally well designed, with options for latitude and longitude readings and GPS – and a veritable ton of other useful features. Whilst this is all extremely impressive (especially for the asking price), the OTC is hampered by a ‘record’ setting that can easily be switched off by accident and takes a full three seconds to actually begin.
The Guardian G1, for its part, is super-versatile, as well as really well designed. As if possessing laser lights wasn’t enough, this camera is absolutely loaded with usability and potential. It is, however, not heavy weather proof.
Our Winner is the Brifield BR1, the plus points far outweigh any minuses, making the X1 the best choice for the security-minded buyer.