Microchip video cameras are small micro cameras about the size of a US Quarter or smaller. They have been around for a good ten years. These tiny video cameras have been the cutting-edge frontier of small video camera technology. In their ten year history, they have gotten better, cheaper and smaller with more and more features. AS these little wonders have developed, two types of image sensoring technology standards have emerged. They are CCD cameras and CMOS cameras. It's important to understand the difference. Here's a brief definition of each.
CCD: CCD Stands for charge-coupled device.
CMOS: CMOS stands for Complementary metal-oxide semiconductor.
CCD imaging-sensoring chips and CMOS imaging-sensoring chips both have their advantages and disadvantages. Here is a small chart laying out the advantages and disadvantages.
| More sensitive.
Better image in low lighting.
Tend to cause blooming
Less power needed
Better at highlight capturing.
Pinhole video cameras are micro video cameras that have been designed with a small pinhole in the front of them. They are optimized so that the image sensor can obtain images through a hole the size of a pin making them very easy to hide and use in a covert situation. Many professionals in the video surveillance business offer rentals and setups of micro video cameras with pinhole lenses in them built into just about anything including clocks, teddy bears, coffee pots, lamps, radios, books or just about any other object you could hide one in. It's important to watch the quality of the board cameras you are going to obtain simple because the US market has been flooded by low quality naked board cameras that have a limited life and a high rate of failure. One company hawks them for as low as $29.95 but this is definitely not the type of camera you want to use for professional use as you will see in a second. It's also important to note that these naked board cameras require wiring them in the proper manner for power supply and video out plugs. This often requires special equipment.
These little gems have all kinds of uses in the United States and in recent years, the market has been flooded with low end cameras. If you search the internet, you can find microchip cameras as low as $50.00 each. However, these are -for the most part--grade B low end cameras that do not have the features you are looking for in a professional multi-use surveillance camera. Like everything else in life, you get what you pay for. It's important for the surveillance professional to have knowledge of and understand the features of these cameras. Here is what to look for:
AUTOMATIC ELECTRONIC SHUTTER ADJUSTMENT
Video cameras need to have an electronic shutter that automatically compensates for lighting changes. You will find that the ones that do not will either have to much light or not enough light.
Resolution has to do with the lines of image shown on a screen. The greater the resolution, the more the lines. Many of the cheaper cameras have resolution of 360 lines or below. The better cameras have 400 lines or better.
Light rating for a video chip camera is measured in lux ratings. It has to do with the amount of light needed to maintain an image. Many of the cheaper cameras on the market have lux ratings of 0.5 to over 1.0. This requires a high volume of light to show an image and you are best staying below 0.5 lux on black and white.
Of course, all of these cameras are small. Very small. But smallness will vary. Size can be a tiny 29mm (w) X 29mm (h) X 12mm (d) with the best cameras.
WIRING AND POWER
Many of these cameras aren't wired. That means you will have to wire them and determine how to power them. Some of the better cameras let you use them with a standard electrical outlet jack or with a battery pack. They are already pre-wired to use both types of power supplies and already prewired with a standard RCA jack to plug into a recorder.
The better cameras come with a protective housing. The cheaper cameras don't have any housing. If you want a good multi-use microchip camera, i would suggest one that is in a protective housing. On the other hand, if you are going to install the camera yourself in something like a clock or smoke detector, it's best to obtain the cameras that are not enclosed. The purpose of the housing is, of course, so circuits remain protected during use and remain dust free for years of use.
Any time you need a power supply for a video camera and use battery power, we all know you have limited life. The low-end cheap cameras on the market today suck up battery power very quick. Even the black and white cameras. You usually end up with just a few hours of recording time with these low end cameras. However, the high quality professional cameras will give you an extended battery life and offer optional wall outlet power for limitless power supply.
Aside from the actual specs and feature of the camera itself, there are other important factors to consider. Do you want black and white or color? Do you want to use a wireless camera or a hardwired camera? If you use a wireless model, you will generally need a video sender. Some of these video senders are quite bulky but there are now self contained microchip cameras that have wireless senders built right into them and these cameras are very small.
MICROCHIP CAMERA USES
The new tiny microchip cameras will have a number of uses you'll be a position to employ. They can be hidden anywhere. They can be set up in a stationary manner or hidden on your body. The point I am trying to make is that you want a camera that is as much multi functional as you can get. You are not going to be purchasing a new microchip video camera every time you have a new assignment. Although those agencies involved in surveillance with the use of microchip video cameras usually end up with several types, the more functions you can use one for, the better off you are going to be. The small microchip professional camera kit mentioned, since it's pre-wired two ways and has an automatic electronic shutter adjustment for light can be used both outdoors and indoors. It can be plugged into an outlet for indoors or plugged into a battery pack for portable outdoor use. Once again, I urge you to review this kit at:
SURVEILLANCE PROFESSIONAL'S MICROCHIP PINHOLE CAMERA KIT
For on the body applications,there are a number of helpful functions which will let you exit your surveillance vehicle for a "walk by" with a hidden video camera on your body to get the video footage you need.
For these types of applications, I suggest that you review the following:
WIRELESS COVERT PAGER VIDEO CAMERA
COVERT PAGER VIDEO CAMERA
COVERT WRIST WATCH VIDEO CAMERA
COVERT EYEGLASS CASE VIDEO CAMERA
COVERT VIDEO EYEGLASS
DUFFEL BAG COVERT VIDEO CAMERA
CELLPHONE COVERT VIDEO CAMERA
COVERT VIDEO BRIEFCASE
PORTABLE RADIO COVERT VIDEO CAMERA
Other applications for body video cameras can be done with a chip camera yourself. Popular applications include installing a chip camera in a baseball cap or tie. A less technical but extremely effective method is to simply install the camera in a mesh duffel bag and then hide the recorder inside the bag.
For the surveillance professional, stationary applications of video surveillance cameras can be used. Since these cameras are so small, they can be hidden in anything. For the Do-it-yourself type person, you can simply purchase raw microchip video cameras and install them in what ever you want to. Here are a few product examples you will want to check out using this type of application:
VIDEO PLAYER COVERT VIDEO CAMERA
THE NANNY CAM
COVERT BOOK VIDEO CAMERA
COVERT DESK LAMP VIDEO CAMERA
COVERT TABLE CLOCK VIDEO CAMERA
COVERT SMOKE DETECTOR VIDEO CAMERA
COVERT WALL CLOCK VIDEO CAMERA
COVERT VIDEO COLOR LAMP CAMERA
PORTABLE RADIO COVERT VIDEO CAMERA
COFFEE MAKER COVERT VIDEO CAMERA
THERMOSTAT COVERT VIDEO CAMERA
COVERT TEDDY BEAR VIDEO CAMERA
In recent years, there are emerged covert video camera wireless technology that you will want to consider. Whenever you use any type of covert video application, you certainly have a "wire" in that the video camera has to be hard wired so the image can be sent to a recorder. Since the recorders are much more bulky that the video camera itself, you do any more of a problem. Wireless technology solves this problem.
NEW! 2.4 Ghz PINHOLE WIRELESS MICRI VIDEO CAMERA KIT
COVERT WIRELESS CLOCK RADIO CAMERA
COVERT WIRELESS CLOCK/MIRROR VIDEO CAMERA SYSTEM
COVERT WIRELESS DELUXE WALL CLOCK VIDEO CAMERA
900 MHz Wireless Video Camera System With Monitor
LET THERE BE SOUND? IT'S A NO NO!
Although you will find a number of covert video cameras and microchip cameras with built-in sound, they are actually illegal. In fact, U.S. Customs have raided some places selling them in certain years. The surveillance professional needs to understand that the laws dealing with covert audio recording are much different than those dealing with covert video recording. In states that permit one party consent, one party must consent to the audio recording. In those states that operate under two party consent, all parties must provide consent to the audio recording. In no state is there any such thing as no party consent. Thus, any covert video camera with audio would be considered an illegal eavesdropping devise.
TO FULL COLOR AND BACK!
Many people want full color video these days in microship video packages. That's fine, but full color requires more light. The basic problem has always been that for covert surveillance applications, full color becomes a problem because you never know how much light you are going to have. The all new Micro Video Color Pro solves that problem. The camera automatically switches to black and white when the light level gets too low.
Micro Video Color Pinhole Pro
VIDEO RECORDERS AND PLAYERS
One of the main points you will have to consider when using something other than your standard in the vehicle video camera is how you are going to record the video image. It, of course; has to be recorded to something. There are a number of long play recorders on the market you can obtain for stationary applications. A review of various types of long play recorders can be found at:
VIDEO SURVEILLANCE SUPPLY
PORTABLE VIDEO RECORDERS
For on the body applications, you have to decide if you want to go wireless or just hide an EVO on your body. The mess bag trick is likely the less complicated. Sony's EVO 8mm video recorder/player is small enough, however, to be hidden on your body in places such as the small of your back. For information on portable 8 mm video recorders go to:
EVO: PORTABLE VIDEO RECORDERS
NIGHT VISION AND NIGHT VISION PHOTOGRAPHY
Seeing in the dark and photographing in the dark has always been an interest to surveillance professionals. The use of night vision photography in covert surveillance applications has increased simply because the cost of night vision scopes has come way down.
In fact, there are now night vision cameras themselves with IR lighting than can not be seen by the naked eye.
Night vision devises, because of their high cost, used to be
the domain of military applications but as technology has advanced,
that has changed. Useful night vision scopes for private surveillance
applications can now be purchased for under $500.00. To see some
samples of night vision photography, go to:
NIGHT VISION PHOTO SAMPLES
To understand a little about how night vision works, go to:
HOW NIGHT VISION WORKS
There are several ways to employ the use of night vision in your surveillance applications when it is needed. Many investigators are under the misconception that a night vision scope has to be hard mounted to your camera in order to utilize night vision photography. Nothing could be farther from the truth. basically all you have to do is get a good night vision scope in front of your camera lens in the right manner. Using a microchip surveillance camera, it becomes very easy to simply tape the camera onto the back of a night vision scope in the right manner. Presto! You have a night vision video camera!
For your standard in the car surveillance camera/recorder, there are a number of options you can use. Although there are a number of night vision products you can purchase to obtain hard mounts for your video camera depending upon the video camera that you use, there are also a number of other options. For a review of a camera adaptable night vision scope, go to this page:
THE NIGHT CAM CAMERA ADAPTABLE NIGHT VISION SCOPE
With the use of a piece of wood and a drill, anyone can develop their own camera adaptable night vision scope. The idea is to design some sort of holder that will tie down your video camera and then just get the scope in front of it. It's very easy to do.
Aside from photography with the use of night vision. It is useful in conducting night surveillance to have various types of night vision equipment so you can see in the dark as opposed to for your camera equipment. one of the most popular types of night vision equipment in use today is night vision goggles. The goggles contain straps that fit around your head and place small night vision scopes in front of both eyes. Some investigators proclaim that they can drive in rural areas at night with their lights off with such devises but I certainly wouldn't suggest that! One of the features you want to have if you choose to use night vision goggles is instant flip-up feature. By that, I mean that you want to be able to quickly flip up the scopes that cover your eyes. For a review of one of the most popular priced night vision goggles on the market, go to:
NIGHT HAWK NIGHT VISION GOGGLES
STILL PHOTOGRAPHY STILL MATTERS!
Since 35MM cameras have many more adjustments and filters you can use as well as usually have much more image amplification power, still photography with telephoto lenses are most usually to obtain Positive ID shots of the surveillance subject. One of the most popular such 35 mm cameras is the PhotoSniper. It's designed to obtain long range still photos with a super telephoto lens and has a trimount that makes it easy and quick to use. You can review it at:
SEEING BEHIND YOU IN A SNAP!
One of the most popular surveillance gadgets to have around is the surveillance mirrored sunglasses. With them you can see behind you very easily. The Surveillance Sunglasses are extra wide on each side and have covert mirrors in them so you can easily see behind you. A review of them can be found at:
NEW COVERT SURVEILLANCE REAR VISION SUNGLASSES