Boblov C18 mini body camera review

Can a more discrete body camera pack the same punch?

Boblov C18 review
(Image: © Adam Juniper / Digital Camera World)

Digital Camera World Verdict

Though there are some quirks, and we certainly weren’t impressed with the phone app, the C18 seems to be a practical way to capture video – especially to document events for legal reasons – without incurring much load. We see obvious use for officials and cyclists, though we wouldn’t use it as an alternative to an action camera.

Pros

  • +

    Small and portable

  • +

    Sound-only recording option

  • +

    1296P ‘higher than HD’ video

  • +

    Solid build quality

  • +

    Adjustable clip

  • +

    Tripod mount

Cons

  • -

    No on-device playback

  • -

    No night mode

  • -

    Menus can be a little frustrating

  • -

    Wi-fi app has privacy concerns

  • -

    No image stabilization

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Boblov is a significant player in the body camera (opens in new tab) market, but many of their products sport a robust size and shape; similar to a classic police radio. They have the clear advantage of deterrence – as well as room for batteries and a solid housing – but for many there is the need for a wearable camera that is more discrete.

That’s where the Boblov C18 or C19 models come in; not much bigger than a pack of chewing gum but still able to pack several hours recording for whatever your purpose. 

Boblov has clearly seen that a device often used as a deterrent by those at risk (from emergency services to rideshare operators) also has appeal to consumers. The C18 is pitched for cyclists, hikers and even students aiming to capture lectures.  

Specifications

Boblov C18 review

Boblov C18 with clip (Image credit: Adam Juniper / Digital Camera World)

Max resolution: 1296P (1728 x 1296 pixels)

Battery life: 4 hours

Charging time: 2 hours

Microphone: Yes

Memory: C18 (tested) 32GB built-in (C19 removable)

Recording time: 5.3 hours

Charging socket: Mini USB

Dimensions: 102 x 30 x 12 mm (4 x 1.2 x 0.5 in)

Weight: 53g

Key features

The back of the Boblov C18 (Image credit: Adam Juniper / Digital Camera World)

While the camera doesn’t feature a built-in monitor, there is a stylish OLED used for camera operations. The recording time is only an hour less than some ‘full size’ body cameras, yet the weight under half. 

We also appreciated the inclusion of a tripod mount at the base, as well as the adjustable pocket mount. The camera also offers motion detection as an alternative to body use – the camera activates recording when it sees movement.

In this test we’re reviewing the C18 model, which has a fixed 32GB storage, but it’s worth noting that a similar C19 has a microSD card (opens in new tab) slot instead, offering more flexibility.  

Build & handling

(Image credit: Adam Juniper / Digital Camera World)

The C18 feels just as you’d hope, solidly built with a weight that feels indefinably ‘right.’ It is not heavy enough to be a problem, but not suspiciously light. The camera’s front is also built with a pleasing black/white OLED display which isn’t used as a monitor but serves as menus and feedback. In that sense it is reminiscent of the GoPro Hero Session, and navigated by the up/down buttons on the side.

On the edges at the same level are recesses for a plastic pocket clip, providing an alternative mounting option from the tripod clip on the base. This is a cunning bit of design as they also allow for re-positioning of the clip at four different heights. 

Beneath camera and display is the big, round start button. When pressed, feedback also comes via the camera’s vibration. All operations are conducted via the ‘down’ key on the side and the circular button which serves as ‘select’ in menus. There is also a small power key.

Performance

The still images have reasonable color accuracy (yes, it really was that gloomy a day). (Image credit: Adam Juniper / Digital Camera World)

The camera makes a good job. Our main issue was that sometimes the video with 16:9 recording squashed into a 4:3 window, though this can be resolved in most players and, oddly, didn’t happen every time for us. 

The video is sharp, with detectable grain on a dull day. The fixed focus lens doesn’t lend itself to talking to the camera (except as a note-to-self, perhaps), but gets the wider scene with no issue. It has to be said that the camera does struggle a bit in the dark, as our sample clips reveal, and there is no alternative here unlike some body cameras with infra-red night vision.

Video samples: Using the camera in the day captures video with a good tone - but the night footage struggles as there is no infrared night mode.

The camera also struggles with movement; like all body cameras in the price bracket it lacks electronic image stabilization. Fine for documenting, but not for cinematic purposes.

The video The app didn’t work for us, so we weren’t able to download content directly to our phone. While the devices did connect, the app flatly refused to continue without a GPS connection which felt a little troubling from a privacy perspective. 

Verdict

(Image credit: Adam Juniper / Digital Camera World)

Like many body cameras, this device is all about its use. If you buy it imaging that you’ve got yourself a cheap GoPro or budget action camera (opens in new tab), you’ll be in for a disappointment. If, on the other hand, you take it for what it is – a device for documenting events, perhaps even to collect evidence, then it does so well.

Yes, it’d be nice to have a more modern USB connector, or a trustworthy app to transfer files, but none of these things are essential. Real thought, on the other hand, seems to have gone into the clip accessory, the menus, and the addition of the screw mount for other possibilities.

Given that, we can see a use-case for cyclists, hikers, students, and delivery riders. The only one on Boblov’s list we’d question is dancers, but perhaps that’s just us. We’d have given it another half star if it weren’t for the app.

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With over 20 years of expertise as a tech journalist, Adam brings a wealth of knowledge across a vast number of product categories, including timelapse cameras, home security cameras, NVR cameras, photography books, webcams, 3D printers and 3D scanners, borescopes, radar detectors… and, above all, drones. 


Adam is our resident expert on all aspects of camera drones and drone photography, from buying guides on the best choices for aerial photographers of all ability levels to the latest rules and regulations on piloting drones. 


He is the author of a number of books including The Complete Guide to Drones (opens in new tab), The Smart Smart Home Handbook (opens in new tab), 101 Tips for DSLR Video (opens in new tab) and The Drone Pilot's Handbook (opens in new tab)