Best Hidden Camera Finders

Updated October 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

13 Models Considered
5 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
234 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best hidden camera finders

Last Updated October 2019

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.

RF frequencies can refer to a wide range of radio frequencies, including GSM, WiFi, FM, VHF, UHF, wireless audio or video, and more.

Key considerations

Hidden camera finders use one of two methods to sniff out hidden cameras: radio frequency (RF) detection or camera lens finders.

Radio frequency detection

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.

Camera lens finder

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.

Power source

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.

Ease of use

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.

Effectiveness

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.

Alerts

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.

Controls

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.

EXPERT TIP

If a hidden camera is turned off and not transmitting, an RF detector will not pick up on it, but a camera lens finder will.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

While not standard, the following advanced features can be found on some hidden camera finders.

White noise generator

The addition of a white noise generator can help to suppress listening devices.

Auto-detection

Some finders include the ability to be “always on” and inform you of RF signals that are suddenly detected.

Telephone tap detection

Some finders include two telephone ports, so you can use the unit with your landline to find out if your phone is being tapped.

Additional accessories

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.

Devices of this type that detect hidden cameras and/or bugs just detect them — they don’t jam them.

Hidden camera finder prices

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.

EXPERT TIP

You are more likely to run into hidden cameras in a hotel or rental room, while audio bugs are more prevalent in an office or conference room setting.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Before sweeping for bugs or hidden cameras, unplug and disconnect all WiFi connections, routers, cell phones, and other wireless devices so their signals won’t interfere with your sweep.
  • When using a hidden camera finder, split the room to be searched into quadrants. Then, sweep one quadrant at a time. This assures that you more fully check all areas of the room.
  • Pay attention to power outlets, particularly if you are renting someplace for a week or longer. Hidden devices like cameras still need to be powered, and mystery plugs in sockets should immediately arouse suspicion.
  • If you find a hidden camera or bug in your room or other location, contact the police immediately. If it’s in a vacation rental, you should also contact the main company so they are aware of a problem with the host.
  • A camera lens finder is best used when all the lights in the room have been shut off.
  • It probably goes without saying, but you should concentrate your hidden camera searching in areas such as bathrooms and bedrooms. Pay close attention to those areas in both rooms that have the greatest compromising potential — a direct view of the bed or shower.
  • The light or laser from a camera lens finder needs to hit the hidden camera lens at just the right angle to flare off it and be seen, so take your time and check all angles when sweeping a room.
  • While some hidden camera finders have range claims for their product, the limited area you use the finder in — coupled with careful sweeping of said area — leave range claims less relevant than other features.

Other products we considered

We have several other hidden camera finders that we want to mention. FEAYEA Anti Spy RF Detector detects everything from hidden cameras to phone card bugs with a frequency range of 1MHz to 6.5GHz. It has a lightweight design and the option of toggling between vibrate and sound alerts. AHNR RF Bug Detector offers both RF scanning and a camera lens finder at a low price. We also like its sound/vibration/visual three-alert system. If you’re in search of a professional-grade RF detector, give Nephon Anti Spy RF Detector a shot. While it has a bit of a learning curve, it detects a wide variety of RF signals and has a frequency range of 1MHz to 8GHz.

RF detectors do not pick up hidden cameras that store data on a removable storage device such as an SD card.

FAQ

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:

  • Any electrical objects within the room: Clocks, smoke detectors, and the like are favorite hiding places for bugs and cameras, so examine them carefully. Be really suspicious if the room has two of a given item, such as two alarm clocks.
  • Random holes: Beware of holes in plant holders, ceiling tiles, or other objects, as these are perfect places to hide a mini-camera.
  • Storage places: Examine drawers, closets, and other storage areas.
  • Dangling wires: Any wires that seem to be out of place should be examined.
The team that worked on this review
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Katherine
    Katherine
    Editor
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Rich
    Rich
    Writer

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