The best body cam can boost your sense of personal safety – from danger and frivolous litigators – by collecting evidence as you work. For creators, body cameras can also serve a purpose as content increasingly needs a close-up personal touch. Law enforcement and security personnel are obvious candidates, but if you drive on the main roads of any major city you’ll find cyclists armed with helmet cameras, and motorists with dash cams. Body cameras are not just for law enforcement but personal protection too.
Wearing your own body camera may seem like overkill to some, but for others there will be very practical uses and advantages – and not all of them will involve personal security or discretely gathering video. In fact, there's a lot of crossover between body cameras used for security and wearable cameras used for leisure or even streaming.
The best body camera will be compact, unobtrusive and easily attached to clothing, and have a lens with a wide angle of view. You’ll also want something that’s robust and, ideally, can be worn out in all weathers and conditions. A long battery life, decent camera resolution and large (and possibly expandable) data storage capacity, so you don’t run out of juice or memory at that crucial moment, are additional musts – as are night vision functions. Infrared capture can be particularly useful, as those involved in the profession of security are typically working into the wee small hours.
Keeping things bang up to date, the more expensive body camera options typically include Wi-Fi and the ability to easily transfer images, either wirelessly to a smartphone, via removable microSD card, and/or connection to your PC via USB. While the majority of examples don’t feature a built-in screen for composing and reviewing images some do, so if the latter feature is important to you, be prepared to shop around as well as pay a little extra for the privilege.
Some users, however, just want a wearable camera they can fix to their clothing and then forget about, so we've included a couple of candidates in this category too – including the rather remarkable little Insta360 Go 2 ., and DJI’s magnetic Action 2.
Best body cameras in 2022
With a brand name straight out of Soviet era Russia, this no-nonsense extremely-capable body camera pares operation back to a few simple well-sized buttons, offering a generous 24-megapixel photo resolution. There's a infrared night vision mode that activates automatically in the dark that can pick out faces at 30 feet, and the lens has a generous 170° angle of view. Attachment to clothing is via a rotatable clip – while video (1296P, 1080P or 720P) from the device can be streamed to your smartphone. This updated model even features a built-in screen, giving the choice of how and where you review footage. The integral rechargeable lithium-ion battery is good for five hours of constant use in 1080P video mode or it can be stretched to 16 hours if the unit is placed in standby mode. It's a brilliant body cam package at this price, and while 5 hours of use might not cover a full shift, it's still way ahead of the recording time of most consumer 'wearable' cameras.
This slender, ultra lightweight body camera with built-in back-clip enables it be worn by cyclists as well as unobtrusively by security services, office workers wishing to record business meetings, emergency services and more. There is a choice of video resolutions with a maximum of 1728x1296 pixels (1296p), with a loop recording function kicking in when data storage is exhausted. The model can be found sold with 32GB or 64GB of memory. The camera only has an OLED info screen, so you can't review footage on the device itself. However, it can link to your smartphone via Wi-Fi an unusual feature at this price. A full charge enables up to four hours of video.
Though not the cheapest option in our round up, this Transcend camera features a robust construction built to withstand extreme weather and shock and looks a bit like a miniature trail camera. With built-in Wi-Fi, a 160° field of view, f/2.8 aperture lens and the ability to take snapshots while recording video, it ticks the necessary boxes. You also get Full HD video capture, a fixed aperture 2.8mm lens, a battery life of 3.5 hours from the 1530mAh Li-Polymer battery, plus a useful 32GB internal memory to get you started out of the box. Operation is one-touch, though the loud activation bleep and recording light may not be ideal if what you’re looking for is a device for discrete filming. It can be attached to clothing via a clip that has the ability to rotate 360°, while the Velcro holder is similarly easily attached. If it’s a heavy-duty device you’re looking for, the Transcend DrivePro could be ideal.
The unit is a little more compact than some body cameras, with bright LED lighting offering an alternative to the infra-red night vision should color be needed. Since it is IP65 rated, the physical protrusions on the body are few (just the lens, lights, a button for them, a rubberized power switch, and a covered USB-C charging socket).
Below the lens is the screen, making the device selfie-friendly as well as handy for enforcement staff. Accessed from the back is a battery (with gasket seal), and hidden inside the memory card. That means the card is well protected, if a little tricky to get to.
The SJCAM A20 has some exciting sounding specs, though we should warn you that it isn’t a native 4K resolution sensor; the Sony IMX335 is a good camera with a square pixel array of 5.15M effective pixels – but a little short of the 8M that 4K needs. Moreover the SJCAM will lose a little more resolution by way of payment for the much appreciated gyro stabilization – though that is a perfectly acceptable exchange.
The DrivePro Body 10 offers similar camera features as its big brother the Body 20 - and they look practically identical too. But the big difference is that this model doesn't offer the ruggedized, shock-resistant construction (though this is still gives water protection). So this is not so well suited to the rough-and-tumble of law enforcement daily use - however, its simpler build does make this model considerably cheaper. The other thing you lose is the wifi capability, so you lose the simple connection to your phone for reviewing your footage. A perfect choice, perhaps, for those wanting a body cam for less demanding applications.
Discretion is the name of the game when it comes to this personal security device or, cough, spy cam. It’s a small and lightweight body camera option that also comes supplied with a clip, or, alternatively, can be worn about the neck, pendant-style. Chief among its enticing features is Full HD video up to 30fps, for which you’ll want to make use of the 32GB card supplied out of the box. Alternatively, a 64GB microSD card is offered. If there’s a compromise due to its diminutiveness, it’s that battery life can’t match others here at a comparatively paltry 180 minutes from a full charge. What some may find useful here, however, is that the device features a built-in USB port for connecting directly to a laptop of PC for transferring footage. If you want simplicity, then this device delivers. Read more: Best spy cameras
The Insta360 Go 2 is not a long-lasting security device for law enforcement. In fact it's quite the opposite. It's a cute and tiny wearable camera you can clip to your clothing, snap to a magnetic pendant around your neck, prop up on our own desk in its own holder, stick to a car dash or window... and more. Capable of unique immersive POV shorts and also worth considering as a minimalist rig for vloggers, the lightweight Insta360 Go 2 has some surprisingly big features for such a small camera. Excellent image stabilisation, ‘horizon lock’ and a multi-functional battery case make this versatile clip-on camera more than just a novelty item. Is it a body camera? Not in the professional security sense – but it is a 'body camera' for the rest of us that's tiny, clever and a whole lot of fun.
When is a body camera not a body cam? When it’s a ‘micro camcorder’ of course. Mere semantics, obviously, as this item can be worn ‘hands free’ thanks to a handy back clip and is one of the smallest options on the market. If it’s simplicity of operation you’re after, this one offers the core essentials of 1920x1080 pixels video capture at 30fps, removable 8GB microSD card for storing up to four hours of HD quality footage, plus easy plug ‘n’ play operation via USB. OK, so there’s no Wi-Fi connectivity, view screen, GPS, personal alarm or other ‘frills’, but those looking for an affordable and discrete solution – or simply wanting something to clip to their lapel or cycling helmet – will want to investigate further.
Another splash-proof water resistant robust unit for those looking for a personal security or surveillance device, this one comes with infrared shooting, Full HD video or 8 megapixel stills capture, 16GB internal capacity to allow for up to 8 hours of video to be recorded, a microSD card slot to provide data expansion plus a useful LCD display. Once again recording is a simple one-button procedure, while, to make sure that a crucial moment isn’t missed, there is a loop recording facility of either two or five minutes duration. The remaining video recording time is also displayed. If it’s a given you don’t also need Wi-Fi connectivity, what more could you want for the asking price?
The DJI Action 2 is not built as a body cam but, thanks to its compact design and magnetic mount it can serve as one for one in a certain scenario. If you need to capture video for a limited period and don’t want to wear more than a T-shirt or tank top, then the camera module of the Action 2 can be secured in place to a magnetic grip on a lanyard beneath the fabric; it’s much more discrete than a body belt or head mount yet gets quality first-person footage. You can even review it on the excellent built-in screen, or play it back on your phone thanks to its wi-fi connection. The camera’s range of attachments also makes it a great choice for cyclists (the classic helmet mount may be preferable).
The Rexing P1 is a great option for bouncers and others working in the dark, thanks to its built in infra-red illumination which can light subjects as far off as 15m at night. What might seem a little silly to some – the siren and flashing lights – also offers a good panic button option in some less-than-salubrious working environments. The 3,000mAh rechargeable battery is charged via USB and the connection weather-sealed securing an IP67 waterproof rating. There is also capacity to augment the memory with an microSD card, but despite that the casing is definitely successfully ruggedized and will survive a drop (possibly even a hammer blow). The rear LCD displays useful info plainly (if not graphically); the time left and battery remaining, as well as allowing in-field playback, which is handy, and with no wi-fi you can’t be hacked.
• The best home security camera for home security and surveillance