best body cameras for 2021

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…

body camera

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.
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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.
body camera faq

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?

A: A person with an SIA (Security Industry Authority) license may record footage, but in order to replay it, he or she would require a CCTV operator’s license.

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.

best body camera review

BOBLOV PD70 Wifi Body Camera

The BOBLOV PD70 is certainly a fine looking body-cam. Its polished, angular design appears smart and functional, but also somewhat futuristic, which makes for a cool overall effect.

Don’t underestimate the usefulness of a ‘cool’ design, either. A body cam that appears very advanced and modern can act as a greater deterrent to would-be attackers and criminals, who could assume it to feature all the latest advancements.

…But does it?

The BOBLOV PD70 has certainly got a lot going for it. For example, the camera comes with a Wi-Fi app that’s easy to operate and functions nicely enough (though you will have to download and view an instructional video before truly getting to grips with it).

 

Other useful features include an indicator light that can be turned on or off, allowing for covert recordings to be made without putting the camera operator at greater risk.

At 112g, the BOBLOV PD70 is slightly too heavy for long-term use. It is, however, very solid and hard wearing as a result of this extra bulk.

The camera itself features an ultra wide-angle lens (170°) and is capable of capturing crystal clear images that preserve almost every visible detail. It takes a while to charge, however, requiring around 3 hours’ charge time in order to operate continuously for 5 hours. Should this prove insufficient, the BOBLOV PD70 can be connected to an external power source.

The BOBLOV PD70 features high-intensity infrared LEDs that are capable of effortlessly capturing clear night time footage, allowing you to detect details such as facial features from as much as 9 metres away. It even features a laser pointer that can be used to ensure that the camera is pointing directly at whatever you want to film. The camera does not work in total darkness, however. For the night-vision to work well, at least one light source will be required.

The camera’s built-in memory can be either 32 or 64GB, depending on your preference. It will, as a matter of course, break video footage into short, easy-to-view clips (very useful when playing footage back). For example, one hour of continuous footage will appear on the device as 4 15-minute video clips.

The built-in LCD display on the camera itself is reasonably sized, at 2-inches long – and produces quality image feedback. Should you require a larger image, the camera can be easily plugged into any USB-ready TV, whereupon footage can be viewed in greater detail. You can even instantly transfer videos to your phone or tablet via Wi-Fi.

There are, however, a few problems with the BOBLOV PD70. These problems take the form of small annoyances rather than major issues. They are worth noting, however.

Pros

✅ Great picture and good sound, device is heavy/solid

✅ WiFi connects thru Phone – wifi interface to look at and manage functions – download videos to phone and control cam

✅ Laser pointer to help identify targets

Cons

❌ Clip doesn’t rotate 360 degrees – which limits where you can place it

❌ The IR does not come on automatically

For starters, the camera emits a very loud and abrasive tone whenever it is switched on or off. This is a very unwelcome feature, especially for those who wish to use the camera covertly. Other features seem to be designed with discretion firmly in mind, so why this design quirk was included remains a mystery.

The body mounting clips do not rotate 360 degrees, either. This sorely limits the positioning options available to the wearer. Elsewhere, the infrared must also be activated manually, which can be an inconvenience, especially if the user forgets to activate it before they film something at night or in the dark. The camera also suffers from a lack of proper stabilisation.

However, minor impediments aside, this is still a very good body cam. The image quality is sharp, the design job is cool and the device is, for the most part, very user-friendly indeed.

REXING P1 Body Worn Camera

Definitely one of the coolest looking body cams we’ve reviewed so far, the Rexing P1’s design combines flash and functionality in a way that’s impossibly appealing. But is it as cool to use as it is to look at?

The camera’s highest resolution setting is 1080p, which is good, but not quite as good as many others on the market. Having said that, the P1’s ultra wide-angle lens (170°) definitely helps to make up for it.

The camera’s night vision function, however, is excellent, with the P1 easily capturing clear images from up to 15 metres away, even in pitch-black surroundings.

A built-in memory of 64GB is very welcome indeed, although the P1’s insistence on encoding all files in the .AVI format is very annoying (if your computer can’t run AVI’s, then a file converter will be needed. This can represent an unnecessary tech-headache for many consumers).

Also worth noting is the fact that, once the camera’s memory reaches capacity, it will automatically record over the older footage. This function can be useful, but it can also present the user with an inconvenience. It would be better if this were an optional, rather than automatic function.

As a security measure, the P1 will only allow footage to be deleted by the user if said user first connects it to a device via USB. This is a fine security precaution, but it clashes somewhat with the camera’s automatic policy of deleting its own footage in order to save space.

The length of video clips is defaulted to 5 minutes, but can be manually changed to 30 minutes if this is preferred.

All footage filmed by the Rexing P1 can be viewed on the camera’s rear screen, which is beautiful. It’s a great size and offers superior picture quality. This adds hugely to the P1’s overall appeal.

The battery life is good, offering users up to 10 hours of continuous video recording and lasting for around 20 hours in standby mode. A weatherproof rating of IP67 is brilliant, as is the intensive shock proofing of the case itself (which makes use of the same materials as some firearms). All of this helps to make the Rexing P1 one of the toughest body cams out there right now.

The P1 even comes complete with built-in lights and sirens that can scare away would-be attackers and criminals.

Pros

✅ Has an External memory card (comes with a 64G Memory Card) that can be extended

✅ Comes with two clips, including one with shirt button hook to further secure the cam to your body

Cons

❌ Video files come in AVI format only, makes it difficult to read on a computer.

This camera has a lot of great features, including a 64GB external memory card (which can be extended if necessary), external flashing lights and sirens, a cool-looking outer case that feels exceptionally tough and a rear-screen that is simply beautiful to look at.

On the downside, this camera uses AVI format, whether you want it to or not and deletes its own footage, whether you want it to or not. It also comes with a manual that fails to explain all its features and the camera itself cannot be attached vertically to the user. Additionally, the white light (designed to work alongside the camera and aid its function) is so dim as to be almost useless.

Probably the toughest camera around, with easily the coolest case, the P1 is all about appearances. However, when it comes to cameras, like people, it’s what’s inside that counts – and by that yardstick, the Rexing P1 body worn camera has got a little bit of catching up to do.

Guardian G1 Body Camera

The Guardian G1 body camera offers superb 1296p HD recording. This high quality footage is captured by a 32-megapixel camera and runs at a super-smooth 30fps. These exquisite specs ensure that the G1’s video playback is never less than great.

Although it only features a 140° lens, this is still considered ‘ultra wide angle’ and is still wide enough to see every lane on the road if the G1 is used as a dashcam. The lens could be better, but that definitely doesn’t make it bad.

Additionally, the camera’s night vision mode can pick out clear details from up to 10 metres away, even in pitch-black darkness – and that’s before the infrared function is activated.

The Guardian G1 body cam comes in a tough looking case that definitely seems able to take a few knocks. The casing is also emblazoned with a written warning that audio and video are being recorded. Legally speaking, this can be very useful indeed, although it does mean that the Guardian G1 isn’t the most covert of cameras.

The G1 is also quite cumbersome, being both larger than many of its contemporaries, as well as weighing it at an unwieldy 175g.

This camera boasts a generally good battery life, being able to last for up to 10 hours on the second-lowest resolution setting (720p), but only lasting 6-and-a-half hours in 1290p mode. It’s also worth noting that the camera will survive for around 240 hours in standby mode. It takes 4 hours to fully charge the battery, which feels reasonable when offset against the run-time.

The camera’s menu system and basic functions are smartly laid out and easy to understand. Footage can be rewound and fast-forwarded at speeds that vary between 2x and 64x.

The Guardian G1 also features 32GB of built-in memory. This is definitely OK, but could also be better. Additionally, the lack of options to increase the camera’s memory capacity represents another minor disappointment.

Pros

✅ Rewind/forward at x2-x64 speeds and the menu function is easy to navigate around.

✅ Optional ClickFast attachment available

✅ Comes with charging dock which takes 4hrs to charge for upto 10hrs record and play

Cons

❌ A bit larger than expected

There is quite a lot to recommend about the Guardian G1, all told. For starters, it is quite tough and durable. It also features an integrated GPS system (although this only works outdoors) that functions very well. The G1 is also mostly weatherproof (with a rating of IP65).

Elsewhere, the picture quality is brilliant, the battery life is good and it also has a ‘password lock’ function, as well as an ID stamp that appears on the screen at all times (so you can easily see who shot the footage). It even comes bundled with its own charging dock.

On the downside, the outer casing, although solid and hard-wearing, is also cumbersome and a little too heavy. The lack of a headphone jack is also a minor annoyance, as this makes quiet, discreet playback somewhat difficult. The G1 is also only compatible with Windows (excluding Vista) and will not work with any Apple technology whatsoever.

On the whole, this is a very good, reliable model. It may fall short of being ‘top of the range’, but the Guardian G1 is more than worth checking out. 

D5 MINI BODY CAMERA

The D5 Mini body camera has the look of a device that’s uniquely designed for use by security professionals. Not only does the casing itself emphasise functionality over form, it also comes emblazoned with the words ‘WARNING VIDEO/AUDIO RECORDING’ in bright yellow letters.

Clearly, the D5 Mini was not designed for covert use. Instead, this body cam is designed to actively ward off those who might present a challenge to the wearer. It is, in effect, a wearable CCTV camera – and it’s designed like one too, as we’ll see.

So, if the D5 Mini has indeed sacrificed some versatility in pursuit of a specialised application, was it worth it?

The D5 Mini’s 30 MP camera is capable of capturing excellent full HD (1440p at the highest setting, with options for 1296p, 1080p, 720p and 480p) footage with a smooth frame rate of 30fps. The image resolution of this footage is, quite frankly, stunning.

Also, due to its ultra wide-angle 160° lens, the D5 Mini can reliably capture a vast cross-section of its immediate environment – all in gloriously full HD.

The D5 Mini also works just as well at night. Even without the use of infrared, this camera can clearly capture details such as human faces from a distance of up to 10 metres away. When the 4 infrared lights are activated, the picture quality improves still further, allowing the camera to pick out details as far as 40 metres away. The camera even features a bright LED light that you can use as a torch.

The infrared mode is automatic, but can be manually switched off if necessary. The only downside to the automatic mode is that, in automatic mode, the infrared can be switched off by any light source that is shone directly at the camera (for example, a handheld torch).

Of course, all of this makes the D5 Mini a great choice for those wishing to gather evidence with it.

On this note, it is definitely worth praising the audio quality, which, in close quarters, is crisp, clear and generally excellent. However, this is only in close quarters. The microphones are not especially sensitive to sounds that are further away, with recordings becoming effectively inaudible after a distance of around 10 metres.

The battery life is great also, giving the camera up to 14 hours of continuous usage on a single charge (that’s with 480p resolution. On the highest resolution, the battery will still last over 9 hours – 6 in ‘night vision’ mode). Even better is the fact that this immense battery takes less than 4 hours to fully charge, even when it has been totally depleted.

This camera also has a built-in GPS system and is fully compatible with both Windows and IOS operating systems (excluding VISTA). It has a weatherproof rating of IP66, which will protect it from all but the most inclement weather conditions and it can be mounted on either the shoulder or the chest. The built-in memory card can store up to 64GB of data, which is useful as the user is given the option to encode all footage in the H.265 format.

The D5 Mini lives up to its name by being significantly smaller and more compact than many of its competitors. However, it is quite heavy for a body cam, weighing in at a hefty 147g.

PROS

✅ Well built and should take the knocks & drops associated with its intended use

✅ IR mode is very impressive at around 40m

Cons

❌ Picking up speech. anything over about 10m is practically inaudible

Keeping in mind that this camera is obviously designed specifically for security work, it also features password protection, as well as an ID stamp that appears on the screen at all times, allowing viewers to see who is using the camera at any given time.

Yes, the D5 Mini is emblazoned with a massive warning sign, but this tough little cam can actually be switched to run in total silence and, because it’s quite small, it can be hidden fairly easily. In effect, this means that the first, most obvious criticism we offered is not even particularly valid. It can be small and discreet or loud and proud – and the choice is totally yours.

The D5 Mini is a genuinely superb security camera. One of the best we’ve seen. It’s the kind of camera a professional deserves.

BRIFIELD BR3 Body Camera

The basic, perfunctory outer design of the Brifield BR3 body camera may prove misleading to some. What looks like a run-of-the-mill body cam is actually a high-spec, high performance model, full of cutting-edge innovations and clever design choices. It may not be overly showy, but the BR3 is definitely worth a second look.

The Brifield BR3 body cam is capable of capturing clear HD images at the impressive frame rate of 30fps (conventional film is 24fps). Video may be recorded in 1296p, 1080p, 720p or 480p, all at the discretion of the user.

The automatic night vision also functions very well indeed. It is capable of capturing details such as facial features from distances of up to 10 metres. Automatic night vision can also be changed to manual in another example of the BR3 being highly customizable.

Predictably, the image quality (whether night or day) is excellent, as is the sound captured by the camera’s in-built microphone (which can be muted or used independently of the camera). The camera can also capture still images and features a bright light that can be used like an LED torch.

The camera lens represents a slight let down, however, as the Brifield BR3 only sports a 140° lens. Wider, perhaps better, lenses are readily available for cameras of this type. This is not to say that the BR3’s 140° lens is bad, only that it could be better.

Elsewhere, we find a veritable ton of other welcome features, including a water ingress rating of IP65 (making it suitable for use in most weather conditions), a built-in battery that can run for 8-hours without needing to recharge and a 32-GB memory card.

The camera even comes with both a chest harness and a shoulder harness, which lays yet more options at the feet of the user.

The Brifield BR3 is also surprisingly easy to use. In fact, it works more-or-less as soon as you take it out of the box. Setup is easy, with no drivers or discs required. There’s basically nothing to run except a very straightforward and easy start-up process.

The camera’s small, lightweight stature means that it can be worn comfortably for extended periods of time, while the overall design feels tough and durable.

Once taken, footage can only be deleted from a computer, not the device itself. This is intended as an anti-tampering measure, although a foreseeable downside could emerge from filling the memory card to capacity by mistake and not having access to a computer in order to free up memory. Footage can also be password protected – another feature that is designed to prevent tampering.

PROS

✅ Made of good durable compound and comes complete with a chest harness & shoulder harness

✅ Picture and sound quality are great

CONS

❌ Not able to increase the size of the memory

A minor knock comes as a result of the user’s inability to improve the camera’s memory. The built-in memory card offers only 32GBs of memory. It cannot be removed or replaced by a bigger card. This seems a puzzling choice for a camera that is otherwise so very versatile and offers the user so many options.

One or two minor quibbles notwithstanding, the Brifield BR3 is an exceptional body cam, as customizable and high performance as almost anything else out there, with a slew of other great features and a user friendliness that makes it hard not to like.

In conclusion: don’t let the slightly boring ‘no frills’ look of this device fool you; this is a sports car engine in the body of a rental.