Incorporates several tools in one, including a hidden camera finder, a vibration alarm, personal alarm, and two separate LED flashlights. Recharges via USB port. Compact and easy to carry around.
This option is only for hidden cameras; it does not feature an RF detector for bugs and other devices.
Beats out other devices with its ability to detect electromagnetic frequencies. We love the white noise feature that really does keep this device less detectable. Current customers rave about the availability and knowledge of the customer service team.
Can get a bit touchy with too many signals at once.
Rechargeable battery lasts a long 15 to 20 hours, and can be charged via USB or AC. Sleek design that is compact and portable. Features a sensitivity adjuster.
Instructions are fairly poor, so you will largely be figuring it out on your own.
Lightweight, portable, and affordable. Rechargeable battery lasts two to three hours. One-click design is easy to use.
Features three strobe light modes, so you can set it to your preferred sweeping pace. Does not have an RF mode. Some felt that it worked too slowly to find a hidden camera.
Quickly becomes your best friend in terms of hidden device detection. One of the more versatile products available that doesn't discriminate from detecting GPS data to mobile phone devices as well. An easy favorite for those in need of a product that acts fast.
May not work effectively in crowded environments where cross signals occur.
They are on street corners and coffee shops. They watch you eat, ride the streets, and shop. Cameras are everywhere these days, and a quick search on Amazon shows that this trend has also spilled into the amateur world with a wide selection of tiny, inexpensive consumer cameras that are easy to hide. While people use these to keep an eye on their homes, pets, and children, those less scrupulous are using them to spy on the activities in changing rooms, hotel suites, and more.
Checking your surroundings for hidden cameras has become an unfortunate necessity, and one way to do this is with a hidden camera finder. These devices use a couple of different technologies to sweep for not only hidden cameras, but also audio bugs, GPS trackers, and more. This guide will help you navigate this emerging niche by explaining what a hidden camera finder does and what features and other considerations you should be aware of when shopping for one. We also examine various price ranges for these devices and offer up a few of our favorite hidden camera finders currently on the market.
Hidden camera finders use one of two methods to sniff out hidden cameras: radio frequency (RF) detection or camera lens finders.
Hidden camera finders that use RF detection pick up on the radio waves used by wireless cameras to transmit information. These can detect signals anywhere from 1MHz to 10GHz or higher, depending on the finder. More professional finders are able to detect a greater and higher range.
In addition to cameras, RF detectors can be used to find a number of other types of devices such as audio bugs, GPS trackers, and even mobile phone SIM card bugs.
To use these, you typically turn on the device and start slowly walking, or sweeping, through the room. If the finder detects an RF signal, it alerts you. The majority of these ramp up the alert the closer you are to an object, making it easier to find.
A camera lens finder, by contrast, is used solely for the detection of hidden cameras. It relies on flashing LED or laser lights that bounce off camera lenses and give away their presence.
To use a camera lens finder, you activate the finder and hold it up near your eye (some include lenses that you actually peer through). Like RF detection, you then slowly sweep the room. A hidden camera shows up as a flash of light reflecting back at you.
Some hidden camera finders use RF detection, some a camera lens finder. The best incorporate both, providing you with more options for tracking down a hidden camera.
Hidden camera finders are largely hand-held devices that use some form of battery as a power source. Some use disposable batteries, such as a single 9V. More commonly they use a rechargeable battery. If a device uses a rechargeable, know how long a charge lasts and how the unit is charged. You should also verify that it ships with all the cords you need to recharge it.
The camera finder you choose should offer clear reporting so you can quickly tell when you’ve detected a device and can easily track it down. These typically have a simple design with minimal controls, so by and large they are not overly difficult to use. Further, a more compact model that can be used with one hand is not only easier to use, it’s also more discreet.
Learn if your hidden camera finder is able to weed out cross signals — wireless signals you can’t control — or if it constantly throws up false positives. The addition of a sensitivity control can help to overcome cross signal issues.
There are three types of alerts that you encounter with these devices: sound, light, and vibration. If you detect a signal, a device may use one or more of these to let you know. The best devices provide you with options on what you wish to use for alerts and provide features (an ear jack, vibrate only) so that you can use the unit discreetly.
The controls for these are fairly straightforward and are usually in the form of an on/off switch and some way to dial in sensitivity. A way to determine signal strength — usually in the form of a series of LED lights — is also standard.
While not standard, the following advanced features can be found on some hidden camera finders.
The addition of a white noise generator can help to suppress listening devices.
Some finders include the ability to be “always on” and inform you of RF signals that are suddenly detected.
Some finders include two telephone ports, so you can use the unit with your landline to find out if your phone is being tapped.
Verify that a hidden camera finder ships with all instructions and charging cords necessary to understand and run it. Some include earphones so you can use the unit more discreetly.
As this is an emerging market, more finders now incorporate a range of other personal safety features, from alarms to flashlights. You can expect to find much more of this going forward.
Hidden camera finders start out around $30 and can run up to hundreds of dollars for more professional models. The two primary price ranges for the majority of these are $30 to $50 and $50 to $100.
Inexpensive: In the lower range, you tend to find simple camera lens finders or RF detectors, while some may incorporate both. These offer basic, no-frills detection, but are still effective.
Expensive: At higher price points, you are able to detect a wider frequency band and pick up on more devices. You can also find more advanced features and an overall better build quality.
Q. Will a hidden camera finder work for both wireless and wired cameras?A. It depends largely on what type of finder you buy. If you buy one with a camera lens finder, it should be able to find both wired and wireless cameras. A hidden camera finder with only an RF signal detector, however, can only find wireless cameras and then only when the wireless cameras are on.
Q. Why does my finder keep beeping or otherwise returning false positive hits?
A. If the unit is saying that there is something there but there isn’t, the sensitivity may be turned up too high. Try adjusting the sensitivity. You may also be running into a variety of other signals which may be affecting the unit. Be sure that all wireless networks, routers, and WiFi devices are disconnected before using your hidden camera finder.
Q. In addition to a hidden camera finder, what can I do to locate hidden bugs and cameras?
A. When in a new environment such as a hotel room, take some time to really examine everything around you. Some areas to concentrate on include:
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