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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Covert Cameras

By Charlie Reese

I have always liked spy toys, but covert cameras have always been my favorite. There is something about a hidden camera that is just so captivating to anyone who grew up during the Cold War. Nowadays, photographic evidence doesn't mean quite as much as it used to " photos can be convincingly doctored " but there was a time when a picture was the most definite kind of proof you could get.

Covert surveillance cameras were the best weapon of law enforcement to catch dangerous fugitives or intercept spies in the midst of their dirty deeds. A covert camera could be used to bring back nuclear secrets from Russia or provide convincing evidence that a prisoner of war was still alive after being held for months.

Although some of the glamor around covert cameras has died down, the cameras themselves are better than ever. Things which were unthinkable or at least difficult to imagine 20 years ago are now a part of every day reality. You can have cameras the size of a tie pin that can get reasonably good resolution " at least at close range. Slightly larger covert cameras can be smuggled around as lipstick, pens, or flashlights. You could even hide one in your shoe if you wanted to. Even video cameras can be made pretty tiny. I have seen covert cameras small enough to fit on a small radio controlled airplane. With the impressive mini cameras available on the consumer market, who knows what the government can do.

Of course miniaturization isn't everything nowadays. We've proven that we can get covert cameras very small, but sometimes a much more normally sized camera will do quite well. A hidden camera doesn't need to be particularly tiny if you can conceal it properly. Through camouflage, skillful placement, and proper lighting, a fairly large covert camera can go undetected for months or even years.

Even so, to me there is nothing more secure than a covert camera hidden in plain sight. Covert cameras can be disguised as pretty much anything. Your camera could be a pack of cigarettes, your lighter, or even the frame on the side of your glasses. The last one is worthy of consideration because it provides a very convenient way to aim the camera. If you can take a picture just by looking at something, your secret spying is likely to go completely unnoticed. Despite the fact that these secret cameras don't always work as well as in the movies, quite often they give you uncanny good results. It's all a matter of picking out the right gear, positioning it in the right way, and making sure you have the one thing that cameras will always need " light.

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