Along with precision and technological power, spy equipment should also be covert, i.e. you should be able to hide it in plain sight. You need to observe things around you but you should remain unobserved. At the same time, the equipment should provide you with clear and quality data recording. While indoors, it is easy to hide cameras and other such surveillance equipment. In a cupboard, under a desk or table, nooks and corners, behind a plant . . . the possibilities are endless. But keeping an electronic eye on events, just inside the house is not enough.
In most cases, the real action takes place outside the targeted area or location. And in case of vandalism and thefts, monitoring external surroundings is the key to catching the burglars or vandals in the act and preventing future incidents. But even the best spy cameras can falter at outdoor surveillance, due to the delicate nature of most spy devices and harsh outdoor conditions like rain or heat.
Best Spy Cameras for Outdoor Use
The following are some points to consider, when selecting a spy camera for outdoor surveillance:
☛ Firstly, design and style of the camera. Silent and secretive is the attitude you are looking for, so the camera must be able to fit into nooks or corners and stay hidden, all the while, maintaining a view.
☛ One such design is the bullet or lipstick-shaped camera, which has a thin cylindrical profile, mounted on a small metal arm. This type of camera is a normal security device and is great for outdoor use due to its durable and tough design. Some models are even waterproof. Bullet cams are best for peering down or focusing on targets from a height.
☛ Another camera design is dome shaped or eye in the sky. They are more secretive and concealable as compared to bullet cameras. They also capture wider images or video from a complete 360° angle. They can be fixed or be PTZ (Pan tilt zoom), where the camera angle can be controlled from a remote location, through a joystick or software.
☛ Then there are mini or teeny-tiny models, which once installed, you will find them difficult to detect! Pinhole cameras are primarily designed for covert operations and spy monitoring. Their small size makes them concealable in nearly anything.
☛ The second point to consider with using outdoor spy cameras is function and protection. The camera must be tough and durable enough to withstand the elements of nature. Vandal and tamper proofing is also a factor with a dome cover and housing bracket. On the functional side, night-vision or infrared is a must feature for night-time surveillance. Zoom and high resolution are other features.
Keeping all the above points in mind, here are some of the best outdoor spy cameras.
I. VideoSecu IR Dome Camera 1/3" CCD 540L F3.6
- Dome shaped model
- Night vision enabled - 28 LED IR illuminators
- Sony CCD with horizontal resolution of 540 TV lines
- Aluminum casing makes it vandal-proof
- Color photo sensor automatically switches to B/W in low light conditions
- Power supply of 12 v 500mA included with camera
II. Logitech Alert™ 750e Outdoor Master System
- Security system software and camera
- Discrete bullet-shaped weather-proof camera
- Night vision with motion-sensitive recording: when motion is detected, camera starts recording
- Audio pickup with built-in microphone
- Software stores recorded data to computer
- HD resolution and 130° wide angle lens
- Start with one camera and easily expand system with up to 6 add-on cameras
- Watch live feed from camera on iPhone, Android or BlackBerry devices
- Price: $350
III. SVS-A1: Outdoor Light Bulb Camera by Spy Camera Specialists
- Place camera in light bulb fixture to record surroundings
- Black and white video capture with 380 TV lines resolution
- Receiver connects to TV or VCR, for recording or watching captured data
- Price: $200
IV. Mini Bullet Camera SCI-P151G
- Small-sized camera (as big as a AAA battery) with waterproof casing
- 4.3mm pinhole lens with a resolution of 380 TV lines
- Magnet mount included with camera
- Very concealable and compact design
- Price: $220
V. Ultimate Spy Camera
- Covert camera encased in a solid black case
- Camera is powered by rechargeable Li-polymer battery
- Designed for outdoor use with mounting bracket
- You can place the box flat or mount it on a wall
- Motion-activated recording technique with CMOS camera of 30fps and 75° viewing angle
- Camera uses SD card to store recorded data
- Up to 6 hours of video recording on a single charge of battery
- Price: $500
VI. Brickhouse Security HD HomeWatchCam
- Motion-activated, completely wireless camera
- Camera can be hanged using bracket or mounted on wall using included rubber suction mounts
- Snapshots of resolution 1280 x 720 pixel are rendered into an .AVI video file
- Frame rate capture of 10-30 frames per second
- Recorded data is stored to a 2GB SD card; memory is expandable up to 16 GB
- Completely waterproof and weatherproof camera
- Powered by 4 AA batteries; can operate for 4 days on standby
- Price: $200
Note: All prices mentioned are approximate and depend on various factors like location and offers available.
From the above list, it's easy to see that outdoor spy devices are a little more expensive than their indoor counterparts. This is due to their small size and the extra feature of being nature-proof or water-resistant. Even audio equipment like bugs and listening devices are pricier, due to higher audio pickup sensitivity and increased durability. That being said, spy products are in a league of their own due to their sensitive nature and usage, so price is really not something to quibble about, especially when it comes to data quality and clarity.