Useful. Impactful. Controversial. These are just three adjectives that have been used to describe the proliferation of body camera technology within the security industry.

During our recent study of violence experienced by security personnel, quite a few of the security operatives we spoke to offered very positive feedback regarding the use of body cameras (BWCs) as a deterrent.

One respondent told us they:

“had a definite effect on decreasing the frequency of incidental violence, especially from members of the public [that have been] knocked back on the door”.

This sentiment was echoed multiple times in our survey.

As body camera technology becomes more affordable and accessible, proliferating alongside similar technology being operated by the general public, its usage will likely become more common within the security industry.

Escalating levels of violence against security workers could potentially facilitate this proliferation to the point that body worn cameras become standard equipment for all licensed door supervisors and security guards.

In this feature, we’ll take an in-depth look at BWCs; how they work, how best to use them, what to look for when buying one and what their implications may be, both for the security industry and the wider society as a whole.

What is a Body-Worn Camera

In simplest terms, a body worn camera (alternatively known as a ‘BWC’, ‘wearable cameras’, ‘body-worn video’, ‘BWV’, ‘body-cam’ or ‘body-mounted camera’) is any camera designed to be attached to a human body.

Some BWCs are worn as part of glasses, as a helmet camera or other headgear, or simply as ‘head-cameras’. BWCs may also be mounted on the shoulder or chest.

The camera itself typically features a forward-facing viewable area and will often come equipped with a ‘time-stamp’ feature, as well as features such as infrared ‘night-vision’ capabilities, GPS location data, microphones for capturing audio, various security options (such as password protection and data encryption) and the basic physical protections required for technology designed for use outdoors (i.e., an IP rating of 65 or higher)

It will also come with a method for attaching it to a person’s uniform or clothing (usually in the form of an adjustable harness or clip). 

BWCs are typically worn to record certain events, either on video or via still photographs. Civilian use of BWCs might include the capture of sporting or athletic achievements from a first-person viewpoint or gathering evidence in cases of domestic violence. they are also routinely used by police, as well as some emergency services.

In the area of security work, BWCs are used to not only gather evidence, but also to deter would-be assault and antisocial behaviour, as well as to disprove groundless claims of improper conduct made against security workers by disgruntled patrons.

How do Body Cameras Work?

A body worn camera is, essentially, the same as any other digital video camera. First, sensors translate light into images. These images are then converted into computer pixels and are stored, either on the camera itself, or else transferred for storage elsewhere.

BWC operators will not, in most cases, record their entire shift. Battery life varies from model-to-model, but even in the rare case that the claim ‘12 hours’ turns out to be true, the camera will probably not be able to store that much continuous footage.

Instead, a BWC is usually activated just before a security operative begins an interaction with a member of the public, or immediately after noticing that an incident is taking place. In most cases, a small light will appear to indicate that the patron is being filmed.

It will also be possible, at least with models that feature a front-facing viewing area, for the patron to see the footage as it is being captured.

Many BWCs will save footage taken for 30 seconds or so before the ‘record’ button is pressed. This helps to gain a clearer depiction of the events captured on film.

BWCs capture footage in short intervals, usually ranging from 30 seconds to around 5 minutes (although this can be as high as 30 minutes). Despite storing footage in short clips, playback is usually continuous.

Some store data internally, or via MicroSD cards, while others employ cloud storage. Some also allow for real-time streaming.

Who Uses Body Worn Cameras (& Why)?

UK police were among the first to adopt BWC technology, police body camera trials were held as far back as 2005. Today, body cameras are used by a great many professions, including healthcare providers, the armed forces, railway workers, the fire brigade, the secret service, undercover journalists and many more.

Occasionally even local politicians will use them to record their interactions with the general public.

In the case of police (or other emergency services), they are used for two main reasons. The first is to accurately record the officer’s interactions with the public and the second is to ensure that police officers are doing their jobs properly.

In this manner, if a person should complain that an officer’s conduct was in some way unlawful or inappropriate, the body worn video footage could be reviewed by the officer’s superiors and a judgement could be made as to whether or not the officer exceeded the bounds of propriety at any point.

When used in a professional context (such as by security operatives), BWCs are used to provide a greater degree of transparency and accountability, as well as being a superior form of evidence gathering, capturing trespassers and searching patrons.

In cases of criminal prosecution, such as assaults perpetrated against security workers, BWC’s can provide clear and direct evidence of the crime, bypassing entirely the usual defences of ‘your word against theirs’ and ‘mistaken identity’.

If a security worker is assaulted while their BWC is in operation, the high likelihood is that the perpetrator will be captured on camera and subsequently identified. This could lead directly to the prosecution of violent individuals.

Other key benefits can include BWCs working as a deterrent against would-be attackers and other criminals. Wearable camera usage may also increase the civility displayed by both the operative and the patron (the theory being that if both parties are aware that they are on camera, neither is likely to be rude or abusive).

BWCs also allow complaints to be explored in a much more efficient and expedient manner. In cases where an expensive (and extensive) investigation may have been required, now the relevant parties may simply review the footage and see if the operative in question acted correctly or not.

There is also a great opportunity to use BWCs for training, not only among newly licensed operatives, but also for others undergoing training to view footage from certain incidents and see how the seasoned operatives handle difficult situations.

Guidance for Use

In order to maximise the benefits (as well as justify the expense), a proper procedure must be followed at all times.

This procedure should be decided upon by the company or venue before being written down and disseminated among all staff. BWC procedures must also be created in full compliance with UK law (see the guidance below) and with the input of experienced security professionals.

All workers that are to be issued with BWCs should also receive at least some training regarding their use.

It would certainly be undesirable if a security operative were to become involved in a violent incident and fail to capture it on film due to a lack of ability with the camera. This would be especially problematic in cases whereby the operative was accused of professional misconduct, as an explanation like “I couldn’t work the camera” would simply make them appear to be guilty.

In cases where the camera is not voice-activated, the ‘record’ button should be pressed as soon as an incident begins. Incidents often escalate quickly. The operative should be instructed not to try to conserve the battery or memory space during these instances, but to leave the camera running right through until the culmination of the event. This allows for clear, uninterrupted evidence to be presented to police. Interrupted footage can lead to accusations of dishonesty on the part of the operative. This should be emphasised both by training and procedural guidelines.

Any footage taken should always be time-stamped and, where possible, easy to link to the person who shot it (many body worn cameras will also have this as a feature).

Again, it would be a problem if footage of an incident were taken, but that the identity of the person who shot the footage was contested for some reason. These are the types of ambiguities that often scupper criminal convictions.

Footage should be encrypted, protected, stored appropriately and accessed whenever needed. Where possible, it should be transferred to the police in an efficient and timely manner.

For security personnel, the best location for wearable cameras is the chest. The shoulder may offer a good perspective, but shoulder-mounted cameras are too easily blocked by an operative raising their arms. They are also easier to damage or block in instances of violence or use of force.

A BWC should easily blend in with the security operative’s uniform, both in terms of easy harness attachment as well as style. The appearance of a security operative is important, especially with regard to door supervisors. They must look smart and capable and the camera should be seen as simply ‘part of the uniform’, rather than an overly obtuse and visible gadget.

Remember also that uniform requirements often change with the seasons, this should be taken on board when considering the deployment of BWCs.

Proper signage should also be deployed along with the body cameras

What to Look for When Buying

When buying a BWC, the first thing for the consumer to consider is what they are going to be using it for. For example, a camera designed for security use isn’t going to be particularly appropriate for a skateboarder – and vice versa.

 What follows is a list of features that are desirable in a BWC being used for security purposes.

‘Quick Record’ Button – Highly useful in instances of emergency, a ‘quick record’ button allows the camera to be activated in an instant, with minimal fuss or difficulty.

Night Vision – Most body cameras (especially those used for security) feature an infrared (IR) ‘night vision’ mode. It works by flooding the immediate area with infrared light, which is invisible to the naked eye, but can be picked up by the camera. The result is that footage taken at night looks as bright as the day. Be sure to get a good range if purchasing one to use at night.

IP Rating – An ‘Ingress Protection’ or ‘IP’ rating essentially describes how much dirt, dust, grit, sand or liquid the device can be exposed to without being compromised and/or damaged. A camera with a rating of IP 11, for example, would resist objects of more than 50mm in diameter, but would be at risk from smaller objects and would be basically useless in the rain. An IP rating of 68 would be totally dust-proof and fully immersible in water. As stated above, the average BWC will have an IP rating of 65, which will resist all-but the heaviest downpours. Essentially, when it comes to technology designed for use outdoors, the higher the IP rating, the better.

Audio – Not all body worn cameras record audio. For security purposes, audio recording is highly recommended. Ideally, clear audio recording should be possible from distances of around 1 metre (3 feet) or more.

Password Protection– This feature is of paramount importance to security work. If the camera is lost or stolen, it means that the footage cannot be accessed or tampered with in any way.

Time Stamp/User ID – These are also useful security features, as they tell the viewer exactly when the footage was filmed and by whom.

Card Storage – Card storage is useful as it gives you direct control over how much footage your camera can record. Body cameras with a built-in memory (and no options for card or online storage) are severely limited and must be cleared regularly, or else old footage will simply be recorded over, often with no warning. An SD card with incriminating footage on it may be removed and kept as evidence, ensuring that no harm comes to it. We also recommend signing up to a data plan, although this must be with a very security-conscious provider as it involves an unknown third party. 

Good Battery Life – Ideally, you’ll want a battery that will last for an entire shift (10 -12 hours). However, most batteries will not last this long (a list that includes most of those that claim to). It is, therefore, a good idea to buy a camera with a removable battery, that way one battery can be charging up, while the other is in use. In any instance, the longer the battery lasts, the better.

Wide-Angle Lens – Generally speaking, a wide-angle lens (that is, a lens with a smaller-than-average focal length and therefore a wider field of view than the human eye) is better suited for security work than any other. This is because it can capture a wider view (and therefore a more complete image) than the average camera lens can. Wide angle lenses typically have a focal length of 40 – 58mm on a full frame camera.

1080p or Better – Image quality is important, especially with regards to footage that shows people’s faces. The better the HD video resolution and image resolution, the higher your chances of obtaining a conviction should you ever need to.

If you are buying online, we strongly recommend reading some of the customer reviews for the product you wish to purchase. Not only will this give you a better idea of how well the device functions in specific circumstances, it can also provide a more realistic perspective than that of the manufacturer. It is also advisable to Google the Body cameras you are wishing to buy and read several independent (and therefore more objective) reviews of them.

Collecting & Storing Evidence

Many BWCs, especially those designed for use by security or law enforcement, have built-in internal memory that cannot be removed, overwritten or even deleted until it has been uploaded and stored somewhere. In terms of evidence gathering, this is definitely preferable to a removable SD card that could theoretically be stolen, overwritten or simply destroyed.

Whatever journey the footage takes to get from point A to point B, it should always be stored on a secure system that can only be accessed by specific personnel. UK police have gotten into trouble in the past for simply storing footage on an insecure cloud provided by their camera’s manufacturer.

It’s also worth noting that, with regard to CCTV footage, UK law states that only a nominated data controller should be allowed access to CCTV. Although not a legal requirement for body cameras, this law should still govern the working practices of any security firm or venue using BWCs, as it respects privacy and demonstrates clear and transparent working practices.

Access to BWC footage should be handled and treated the same as CCTV footage is – i.e., restricted to a nominated data controller, or the subject of the footage once legal permission has been gained (as dictated by the terms of the Data Protection Act 2018). This not only does a lot to mitigate the possibility of evidence tampering, it could potentially also increase the likelihood of conviction, should the footage be used in court.

Additionally, any footage that is not incriminating should be deleted within 30 days or less. While there are no specific laws governing how long security footage may be kept, the ’30-Day Rule’ (if indeed it can be called that), is standard practice for companies that operate CCTV (this includes the police).

This ‘rule’ harkens back to the days of VHS security tapes, when such policies were necessary due to the limitations of the technology. Nevertheless, there is functionally no reason to keep footage that is not of any use for longer than a period of one month. Not only is it expensive to store, it also could be construed as an invasion of privacy. From a legal standpoint, keeping footage for no purpose, or for a purpose other than that for which it was initially taken, can land a company in hot water.

Of course, privacy is a key issue here. People have a right to privacy – and several British laws acknowledge and enshrine this. BWCs are more invasive than standard CCTV cameras for a few reasons. In addition to being less strictly governed than CCTV presently is, body cams also take footage at a much closer proximity than most other forms of surveillance, capturing facial features in considerable detail. They also record audio, which means that what a person says is recorded as well as what a person does.

Privacy is important – and not only because individual privacy is protected by law. Privacy laws (sometimes referred to as ‘data protection’ laws) benefit everyone and protect our personal information from being violated, taken without permission or otherwise misused.

Personal information is defined as any information that can be used to identify the person in question, this can include a person’s name and address, bank details, login codes, browser history, phone data (including call and text message history), social media activities, employment history, qualifications and much more besides.

Theoretically, if any of the above information could be taken by an unscrupulous person, the victim of that theft would potentially find themselves at risk from numerous types of harm, including physical.

Privacy laws, therefore, govern what specific pieces of information may be stored by any party (for example, an online business) regarding an individual, as well as how that data may be stored and what it may or may not be used for. Therefore, privacy laws, like security workers, exist to keep people safe.

Body-Worn Cameras & The Law

There are no specific laws governing the use of body-camera technology, although use of any camera in a public space does fall under the purview of a number of privacy laws (specifically the Data Protection Act 2018).

A code of practice specific to body cameras was created by the Surveillance Camera Commissioner and the Information Commissioner. It is somewhat similar to the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice, published by the government in 2013 and both should be consulted before any use of BWCs in the context of professional security.

For general reference, remember that it is legal for anyone to take photographs or record video in public places. The only time this becomes illegal is when said photographs or footage are being used for illegal purposes (e.g., taking pictures of a building in order to plan a robbery or commit a terrorist act).

Privacy laws are breached when a person’s photograph isshould reasonably be able to expect privacy (for example, on their own property).

To cite another example, if a private citizen films their local town centre on market day, this would not be considered to be violating the privacy of the vendors or people walking past the camera, as they are not the subject of the footage. This is a completely legal activity.

If, however, the person was to film or photograph an individual (or individuals) specifically and without consent, that person would be in violation of the individual in question’s privacy – and the individual in the footage has every legal right to request that the images be destroyed or deleted.

In the case of people who film and photograph others without consent for the purposes of sexual harassment, intimidation or gratification, this can carry a sentence of up to 2 years, as well as the possibility of the perpetrator being registered as a sex offender.

Police cannot seize a camera unless the person using that camera is suspected of committing a crime with it (such as the examples listed above) and, unless a venue or event has specific rules about the use of body worn cameras and recording equipment. The same holds true for security operatives.

Police have no legal power to stop private citizens from filming them at work, or to prevent members of the public from filming potential crimes as they occur.

Security operatives, being essentially private citizens, could potentially ask that footage specifically detailing them be deleted. The only grounds for refusing this request would be if the patron doing the filming had caught the security worker in an illegal act (such as using excessive force), in which case, the footage would probably be considered as evidence of a crime and forcing its deletion would also be a crime, as no person has the right to do this, for fairly obvious reasons.

In general, BWCs do not conflict with general data policy regulation (GDPR). Provided that footage is only ever used for the reasons for which it has been collected, complies with data protection guidelines, can be accessed only by a limited number of qualified people, is stored safely and securely and is deleted within a reasonable period of time (approximately defined as 30 – 31 days).

Former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe was an early advocate of police using BWCs. As he pointed out, the police are often the only people that aren’t recording, and as such, it’s important to get an official police perspective for plurality’s sake.

“The two big advantages [of BWCs]; one is that it produces the best possible evidence – compelling evidence – for a criminal prosecution, and, as importantly, it holds us [the police] to account. It’s a way of showing how well the officers do the job. On the other hand, if we don’t do our job properly, it will capture that evidence too”

 Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, former Metropolitan Police Commissioner.

A British-American study, conducted in 2013, validated Hogan-Howe’s faith, demonstrating that instances of police using force dropped by 87% when police were equipped with BWCs.

From these results, it is possible to suggest that security operatives could potentially see a similar drop in incidents requiring force if they were rolled out in greater numbers across the industry. As stated in the introduction, this technology could have a markedly positive effect regarding the reduction of instances of violence against security workers.

Lastly, the Home Office has published a list of technical guidelines for anybody using one. The latest edition of this document (created in 2018) places heavy emphasis upon the integrity of evidence and the secure storage of data. It is strongly advised that every security worker who uses a BWC at work familiarise themselves with this document.

Using Video in Court

When it comes to the courtroom, video footage always takes precedence over witness statements or testimony. This means that any spoken or written account of events during a criminal trial must corroborate, not contradict, the video being shown.

Imagine if a person’s account of events was contradicted by direct video evidence. That person would appear to be foolish at best – and an outright liar at worst. In all but the most unarguable of cases, this would likely scupper any chance of a conviction.

It is advisable to never prepare a statement or give evidence without first reviewing all footage relevant to the event. Memories can be very unreliable and it is best to rely on hard evidence (such as HD video), whenever it is available.

The person responsible for the footage will likely be asked to prepare a statement to go alongside it, as well as to be rigorously questioned regarding its contents.

It is important that the statement include environmental factors not evidenced by the footage, as well as any supplementary details that the footage may have omitted.

It is advisable also not to shy away from the reality of the events that are depicted on camera. For example, if the video contains the camera operator using foul or abusive language, the court will see this. The accompanying statement may provide a brief explanation for this (e.g., “it was said in the heat of the moment” or “the person was presenting a serious threat”, etc), as well as an apology. Whatever is detailed in the footage will be the source of questions, so proper preparedness is of paramount importance in such cases.

Body Worn Cameras & Society

The widespread use of BWCs is just one thread in the wider tapestry of the increased surveillance and scrutiny that is being placed on all of our lives. For all the benefits of BWCs, there are any number of foreseeable drawbacks.

For example, it is theoretically possible for a police officer or security worker to behave inappropriately (for example, by goading or provoking a member of the public to an angry outburst), but then only switch the camera on once that person responds to the provocation. The argument goes that body cameras record not only events, but perspectives and viewpoints as well.

It will not have escaped anybody’s attention that different news outlets cover the same news stories in accordance with their specific political bias. Coverage of an event by one news source will likely not match coverage from all news sources, for example. To some degree, the same is true for camera footage. The events are witnessed from the point-of-view of the authority figure, thus enhancing the viewer’s pre-existing tendency to side with them.

Additionally, when the footage is not properly catalogued, stored and accounted for (as physical evidence is), it can render these benefits effectively moot.

A recent nationwide freedom of information (FOI) campaign found that, in many areas, police did not know how many complaints were being made against them and had no official figures to that effect. Among the reasons for this was the relative inaccessibility of the data. This has prompted some critics to suggest that the claims that BWCs limit complaints against police officers (and other professions) are tenuous at best and unreliable at worst.

Despite the many undeniable benefits of portable camera technology, criticisms and issues of privacy remain. In some cases, concerns over privacy raised by the presence of BWCs may be mitigated to some extent by drawing awareness to the pre-existing CCTV presence within these venues. The argument being that patrons are being filmed in the venues anyway, why should they object to the body worn cameras being a little closer?

These privacy-based concerns nevertheless do carry weight in some cases and should not simply be dismissed. There is a noticeable difference between cameras mounted in the venues that are filming a large group of people and body cameras that are focused tightly on one specific person – and the law would seem to apply this distinction as well.

Concerns that newer BWCs may contain facial recognition software are also to be taken seriously. As is often the case with technological innovation, this could prove a ‘double-edged sword’. Cameras that automatically scan for previous offenders and/or wanted criminals would be useful and help to keep venues and streets safer but would at the same time seriously infringe on the public’s right to privacy.

BWCs are also expensive, costing a lot of money not only to initially purchase and maintain, but also to store footage. Even entry-level subscription packages or regularly cleared SD cards (the cheapest storage options), can cost a fair amount.

BWCs can do a lot of good for the security industry, as well as many other areas, but they are not perfect – and it would be prudent not to rely too heavily upon them.

Today, Western societies have become so used to being filmed, photographed, catalogued and processed, that, perhaps in a curious mass outbreak of Stockholm syndrome, we have begun to broadcast ourselves, taking ‘selfies’ wherever we go, proudly displaying every life event on social media and filming ourselves every chance we get. We’ve taken on starring roles in our own peculiar life-long psychodramas – and we’re ready to perform for the world, whether it demonstrates an interest or not.

What implications these developments will have for our collective culture, good or bad, remain to be seen.

best body camera review
Body CamWeightSize H/L/WIP ratingMemoryBattery LifeFOVScreenEncryption
Hytera VM580D 172g (with battery and belt clip)94x63x20 mmIP6832 GB, 64 GB, and 128 GB 8 hours (720p@30 fps)106°2.8"AES-256
Hytera VM780D 195g (with battery and belt clip)114x61x25mmIP6632 GB, 64 GB, and 128 GB9 hours (720p@30 fps)216°2.8"AES-256
Vantage S1 130g76x54x27 mmIP6632GB9.2 hours (720p@30 fps)140°2"Password Only
Vantage S1 Plus 176g55.9x80x33mmIP6664GB19 hours (720p@30 fps) Additional Battery included140°2"AES-256
REXING P1 113g76.2 x 50 x 25.4 mmIP6764GB10 hours (1080p@30 fps)170°2"Password Only
Guardian G1 175g97 x 62 x 33 mmIP65128GB13 hours (720p@30 fps)140°2"Password Only
BOBLOV PD70 112g80 x 59.9 x 30.5 mmIP6532 - 64 GB12 hours (720p@30 fps)170°2"n/a
BOBLOV F1 130g75 x 54.8 x 20 mmIP6632 - 64 GB12 hours (720p@30 fps)140°0.66"n/a

Hytera VM580D

With a thickness of 20mm and a weight of just over 17grams, the Hytera VM580 is small, lightweight, and smart.

However, the small size does have one or two drawbacks. For example, the screen measures just 5cms across (it’s orientated to ‘landscape’), which is smaller in all dimensions than a smartphone screen, meaning that it cannot be used to check the footage in much detail. It does, however, benefit from the inclusion of touchscreen technology.

The VM580 runs on Android (version 7.1), which will be instantly familiar to anybody with an Android phone, tablet, or other device. This also negates a lot of compatibility issues that could arise with other body worn cameras.

The VM580 captures 1080p HD images at a rate of 30 frames per second. The video quality is sharp and smooth, allowing for the easy identification of suspects, as well as clarity when the footage is reviewed. The ‘one touch’ operation is also a very welcome feature, as it makes capturing footage easy and hassle-free, Along with this it has a 30 second pre and post record function, allowing you to capture any post or pre incident.

The only negative we can find here is with the 30fps frame rate. Due to this, it is conceivable that rapid movement may be missed by the camera, especially during a heated moment.

The camera features AES-256 encryption, meaning that footage is only available to authorised users. Data encryption is an important way to collect and store evidence, as it prevents tampering, complies with data protection laws, and ensures privacy for those captured on film, the VM580 offers 32Gb, 64Gb and 128Gb internal solid state memory capacities.

This camera also has infrared capability, meaning that it can capture a clear image in low light conditions. It only has two infrared LEDs, but these can recognise a human face within 5 metres of the camera and a person’s outline within 10 metres. For a camera of this size, the infrared is good, but there’s nothing here to set it apart from anything else on the market.

The VM580 supports around 8 hours of continuous battery life. As with all manufacturer’s claims about battery life, we advise you to take this with a pinch of salt. Nevertheless, the camera does feature a back-up battery (meaning that it can even record footage while the main battery is being changed). The inclusion of a back-up battery is excellent, especially in a device this small and lightweight. However, 8 hours’ battery life, although good, could be a bit better, in our estimation.

One feature we really liked was this camera’s ability to function as a two-way radio. It works via the ‘Push to Talk Over Cellular’ applications, requiring 4G capability with a sim card or a reliable Wi-Fi network. Once this is all set up, simply press the PTT button and you can make quick and clear voice calls to other body cameras or other radios. The sound quality is great, too, thanks to the inclusion of an excellent 1-Watt speaker.

Pros

✅This Radio and Body camera all-in-one allows users to record and talk through one device.

✅One-touch operation for photo taking, audio and video recording.

✅IP68 certified camera is fully dust-proof and water resistant.

Cons

❌ Good, but not amazing battery life.

❌ Only 30 FPS on fast movement images could be missed.

If you have access to a Hytera-compatible dispatcher, you can even stream live video. This is an incredibly useful feature, as it allows you to share video of an emerging situation in real time. The only downside here is that the dispatcher must be compatible with Hytera products, otherwise streaming video is off the table entirely.

Despite its slender design and relative lightness, the VM580 is fairly tough. It features an IP rating of 68, making it fully dust proof and water resistant. It also meets MIL-STD-810G standards by being able to withstand being dropped from up to 2 metres in height. This is excellent, although it won’t survive being dropped down a flight of stairs or hurled off a ledge, it will likely emerge unscathed from any rough and tumble that occurs while it’s in use.

On the whole, this is a brilliant product that not only excels at its core function, but also takes on extra jobs as well. It’s a great little overachiever jam-packed with excellent extra features and innovative design choices. First rate.

Hytera VM780D

By contrast, the Hytera VM780, loaded as it is with similar features to the 580, is a little bit heavier at 195g or 205g, depending on which battery you happen to be using.

The choices of battery are 2500mAh or 3500mAh. The option to select different batteries for a device is always a welcome one, as it often gives users a say in how much money they spend, as well as the ability to tailor a purchase more to their specific needs.

The screen size is also about 2cms bigger than that of the 580. The 580’s small screen size, though perhaps necessary due to that device’s size constraints, is not one of its better features. At just over 7cms, the 780’s screen is noticeably better, allowing the viewer to pick out more details during playback.

The 780’s camera is also completely rotatable, which is another neat option.

Many of the differences of the 780 are to do with size, with the larger camera not needing to make the same concessions as its smaller counterpart. Beyond this, however, there isn’t a huge amount of difference between the two, both are genuinely excellent products. It really comes down to the consumer to decide which camera best suits their specific needs.

Vantage S1

Compact, trim, and very lightweight, the Vantage S1 body camera measures just 76mm from top to bottom, is only 56mm wide and has a practically anorexic thickness of just 27mm. In addition, it only weighs 130g, making it a great choice for use over extended periods.

At its highest setting, this camera can capture crystal clear footage in 2304 x 1296p resolution, which is very impressive indeed. It can also take footage in standard HD, as well as several lower resolution options.

The only downside with this feature is that, despite the presence of low consumption technology, it does impact the battery life. The 2700mAh battery will last for well over 9 hours at the lowest video resolution (848 x 480p), but the quality of the footage may negate its use as evidence in any criminal case.

The battery will last just over 7 hours in full HD mode, but this is less than the battery life offered by many other cameras on the market. At the highest resolution, the battery will die completely after only 6.5 hours (and again, we urge you to always be conservative with your battery estimates). It isn’t that the battery life is terrible, just that it sits at the lower end of what we can reasonably expect for a camera in this price range.

Some issues with the battery can be mitigated due to its relatively rapid charge time (4 hours for a full charge), however.

The S1 has infrared capability, which activates automatically in low light, negating the need to manually switch between the ‘regular’ and ‘night vision’ modes. The S1’s night vision can capture clear images from up to 10 metres away, which is very impressive. In addition to the infrared LEDs, it also features built-in white lights.

This camera also features an internal memory card, manufactured by Toshiba, that can store up to 32GB of data. While not perfect, 32GB should hold roughly 19 video clips, which is good for a camera of this size. There are no other memory options, however, and the card cannot be replaced, meaning that footage will need to be transferred elsewhere on a fairly regular basis.

On the negative side, this camera does not feature data encryption, instead relying on a password-protected USB port, which is required if you want to view the videos. The password-protected USB is a nice feature, but it doesn’t feel as safe as data encryption.

Pros

✅ Compact and light-weight

✅ Man down feature built in both cameras

✅Night vision can capture clear images from up to 10 metres away.

Cons

❌ Battery life is poor at Higher Resolutions 

❌ Internal memory only, which is 32gb (larger memory in the Vantage S1+)

The S1 has an IP rating of 66, making it reasonably well protected against dust and water. It can also survive a drop of up to 2 metres without sustaining any serious damage. It’s impressive to us that a camera as thin and lightweight as this one can be as tough and durable as it is.

Another cool feature is this camera’s ‘man down’ function, which can be activated by holding the ‘menu’ button in place for a few seconds. When this is done, an alarm blares loudly and white lights flash – perfect for emergency situations wherein you need to quickly get somebody’s attention.

Overall, this is a very good camera that’s hampered by one or two minor issues. To what extent these issues will affect the user depends greatly on what the camera is being used for. We would prefer a few different design choices/features, but your mileage may vary. In any instance, if only for its size and easy portability, this camera is a winner.

Vantage S1 Plus

When juxtaposed with the Vantage S1 Plus, however, the S1 loses a few more points.

For starters, the S1 features AES563 data encryption, which we feel is far superior to the S1’s password-protected USB feature.

Additionally, the S1 Plus has a built-in memory of 64GB, literally doubling the memory capacity of the S1.

The S1 Plus also comes bundled with a spare battery, which is a welcome addition, even if the 2500mAh battery is inferior to the S1’s 2700mAh. We weren’t crazy about the S1’s battery life, so the fact that the S1 Plus features a battery with a smaller capacity (despite being a bigger device), is a little off-putting. We wouldn’t expect to get much more than 6 – 8 hours out of it at 1080p, less if the GPS was in use.

As mentioned earlier, the S1 Plus is a bit bigger than the S1 – weightier, too. At 176g, however, it’s still nice and lightweight. Weirdly (and we’re honestly not sure why), this version isn’t as tough as the S1, only sporting an IP rating of 65 and therefore not being as element proof as the S1.

In some areas, the S1 Plus greatly improves upon the S1, but in others, the S1 has it totally beat. The S1, for example, has a better battery, is more hardwearing and durable, and thus is better suited for outdoor use. It’s also lighter and more portable than the S1 Plus.

The Plus, on the other hand, comes with an extra battery, boasts far greater memory and offers data encryption, among other improvements. Each version has its benefits and drawbacks, so it’s up to you to decide which features matter most.

REXING P1

Definitely one of the coolest looking BWC 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 with 170° field of view 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 body cameras 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 body cameras 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 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 cameras 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

✅ Police Panic Mode with one button press which plays a loud audible siren sound and flashes light

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 body camera uses AVI format which is notoriously difficult to play on some Microsoft software programmes, compared to other body cameras that use MOV format which is much more acceptable, it also 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 body  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 body cameras, like people, it’s what’s inside that counts – and by that yardstick, the Rexing P1 has got a little bit of catching up to do.

Guardian G1

The Guardian G1 body camera offers superb 1296p full HD video recording. This high quality footage is captured by a 32-megapixel body 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° field of view 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 camera 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 body  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 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. 

BOBLOV F1

The Boblov F1 is a no frills, no flash exercise in simple, effective product design. This is a device that’s high performance, easy to use and lightweight without being flimsy or breakable.

The camera is exceptionally user friendly, with the buttons easy to get at and remember (with the welcome inclusions of ‘delay start’ and ‘delay stop’ functions). Recording begins at the touch of a button, making it perfect for unexpected situations. As you know, in a crisis, things can escalate quickly – and a camera that starts filming fast is exactly what you want in those types of scenarios.

The F1 can capture footage with a resolution of 1440p, which is excellent and can really be useful for spotting details such as facial features, identifiable items of clothing and vehicle registration plates. The footage also looks lovely, very clear and crisp.

In 1080p mode, the battery should last between 8 and 10 hours (less if the GPS and Wi-Fi functions are in use). The battery life is pretty good overall – and only takes about 4 hours to fully charge.

The F1 does not have a charging station, it just comes with a standard USB cord and a plug. Some users may find this vexing, but we don’t see it as a serious drawback.

‘Night vision’ mode is accomplished via the inclusion of 3 built-in IR lamps. Users have the option of setting the IR manually or having it occur automatically. Unlike the main setting, however, the night vision mode on this camera isn’t very good. It can capture images up to about 4 metres from the viewer, but these images aren’t all that clear, which is a shame.

There’s also no back screen on this camera, so you won’t know what you’ve filmed until you check the footage on another device. In fact, the only screen on this camera is a tiny (1.6cm) LCD display that details the time, date, and other important information. This feels limiting to us. Even a small playback screen would be better than no playback screen at all.

Perhaps to offset this issue, the F1 boasts a high rate of compatibility, easily connecting to and working with an array of other devices, so footage can be easily watched on them. 

The camera being compatible with both IOS and Android systems, allows you to review videos on a smart phone, sync the date and time.

When downloading any video Windows users will likely have to download the VLC media player (it’s free software, so don’t worry) in order to play back any footage. This is because the footage isn’t particularly compatible with Windows Media Player, but users have had better results with the VLC player.

The F1 has a built-in GPS positioning chip which allows you to detail exactly where a piece of footage was taken. You can even combine the GPS with the video footage for playback, in order to show a more complete account of what happened and where. The GPS works exceptionally well, with the only downside being that you need to be outdoors to use it.

The camera weighs just 130g but the rubber casing feels as solid and rugged as you could possibly want. The whole camera just feels like it would be almost impossible to break. The internal components are all shielded by a tough outer layer that doesn’t even have any visible screws.

PROS

✅ Button design makes it convenient and fast to start recording.

✅Built-in GPS chip, record your tracks while recording video.

✅Picture quality and Sound quality is very good.

Cons

❌ Need to be outside to activate GPS

❌ Small flashlight function on the front isnt going to be a help for anything.

Likewise, the two attachment clips (included with the camera) appear to be sturdy and reliable, so it’s hard to imagine this camera falling off at any point.

That being said, the F1 has an IP rating of just 65, making it far from the most weatherproof model we’ve seen. 65 is by no means a bad rating, but it could also be better.

There’s also a front-facing light that could be used as a torch in a pinch, but it honestly isn’t up to much and is no match for a good torch, or even the light from your phone.

All things considered; this camera is OK. It does exactly what it sets out to do. It isn’t particularly impressive, and its only truly outstanding feature is the great picture quality (and even that’s only during the day). It is, however, easy to use, well laid out and totally reliable. Once again, it all depends on what you want to use it for.

BOBLOV PD70

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 camera 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.

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 the lightests of all body cameras we have reviewed, It is, however, very solid and hardwearing 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. 

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. 

PROS

✅ Lightweight design

✅ Really Good Battery Life

CONS

❌ Doesn’t have encryption or Passwords protecting it.

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. 

Comparison Table

Body CamWeightSize H/L/WIP ratingMemoryBattery LifeFOVScreenEncryption
Hytera VM580D 172g94x63x20 mmIP6832 GB, 64 GB, and 128 GB 8 hours (720p@30 fps)106°2.8"AES-256
Hytera VM780D 195g114x61x25mmIP6632 GB, 64 GB, and 128 GB9 hours (720p@30 fps)216°2.8"AES-256
Vantage S1 130g76x54x27 mmIP6632GB9.2 hours (720p@30 fps)140°2"Password Only
Vantage S1 Plus 176g55.9x80x33mmIP6664GB19 hours (720p@30 fps) Additional Battery included140°2"AES-256
REXING P1 113g76.2 x 50 x 25.4 mmIP6764GB10 hours (1080p@30 fps)170°2"Password Only
Guardian G1 175g97 x 62 x 33 mmIP65128GB13 hours (720p@30 fps)140°2"Password Only
BOBLOV PD70 112g80 x 59.9 x 30.5 mmIP6532 - 64 GB12 hours (720p@30 fps)170°2"n/a
BOBLOV F1 130g75 x 54.8 x 20 mmIP6632 - 64 GB12 hours (720p@30 fps)140°0.66"n/a