Digital Camera or Writing Tool?
The likelihood of anyone you know who owns a pen camera being a spy, in the movie sense of the word, is pretty remote.
If they claim otherwise then they're more Walter Mitty than James Bond. It stands to reason, a spy is supposed to be covert and anonymous, they're most definitely not going to advertise the fact by boasting about their high-tech surveillance equipment.
So who purchases pen cameras?
If you believe the marketing blurb generated by the retailers it's private investigators, narcotic units, network television, practical jokers, employers and security-conscious householders.
Looking very much like an everyday pen, outwardly there's nothing to indicate that the camera pen in your shirt pocket or on your desk is anything other than a writing tool. What's at your disposal, in fact, is a sophisticated digital video camera capable of recording sharp color or black and white images.
Depending on the nature of your intended use, there are a couple of options to consider. First, there's the hard-wired version that requires a physical connection to a recording device such as a VCR, Micro DVR or security monitoring system. This gives much greater filming flexibility and, combined with mains power, the ability to film for hours at a time. The disadvantages are that the scene has to be fairly static and cabling hidden out of view. But with its wide angle of view, a pen camera's pinhole lens will record all the action with a bit of careful positioning and advance planning.
For shorter bursts of footage where mobility is vital or in scenarios which can't be predicted in advance, the best bet is a wireless pen camera. Some wireless camera pens store internally what they shoot but capacity is limited. For undercover assignments or discreet surveillance, a better option is the pen camera that transmits its pictures live back to a base station up to 100 meters away.
Placed discreetly in shirt pocket, note book or diary organiser, recording is initiated by simply clicking the pen top. It should be noted that due to US legal requirements, the audio recording functions of these camera are disabled.
As well as live video recording, pen cameras also enable discreet digital stills to be taken. Despite their tiny size, pen camera's produce images that are surprisingly sharp even in low light.
As with virtually all gadgets today, pen camera technology is improving all the time and unit prices falling. One outcome of this onward has been smaller batteries with better performance, a development that has not gone unnoticed by the cell phone makers.
Believe it or not, digital convergence, the idea that many digital devices combining into one, is now delivering the pen camera cell phone!