Hidden Camera Detector Buying Guide

Hidden Camera Detector Buying Guide

If you ever feel that someone is watching you, a hidden camera detector could offer some peace of mind. They are designed to help you locate hidden cameras and other recording devices.

But, there are many features to consider before making a purchase.

The following details will help you know what to look for. Find out which features are most important, how these devices work, and other info that will help you make the best selection.

Keep reading to explore all the top features of a hidden camera detector…

What are Hidden Camera Detectors?

As the name suggests, a hidden camera detector is intended to help people detect hidden cameras. They are often handheld, so you can take it with you anywhere.

Using the detector, you can scan your surroundings in search of hidden cameras. Though, some of these devices also allow you to scan for other recording devices, including audio recorders.

Why Do People Use Hidden Camera Detectors?

There are a variety of situations where you want to make sure that no one is watching you.

You could be staying at a hotel and want to ensure your privacy. Or, you could be convinced that someone is spying on you.

Other uses include workplace monitoring. Employers may use a detector to prevent illegal recording. This could include the detection of hidden cameras in a casino to prevent gambling fraud.

How Does a Hidden Camera Detector Work?

Hidden camera detectors are designed to help you locate surveillance equipment by scanning the area for transmissions coming from these devices. The most common types of transmissions include:

  • RF (radio frequency) transmissions
  • WiFi transmissions
  • GSM transmissions

Along with these transmissions, some hidden camera detectors use infrared laser lights. With this option, you point the device around the room. The light is then reflected off the lens.

With infrared lights, you’re relying on your ability to see the reflection. This can be difficult in certain situations. For example, in a bright room, the reflection may be hard to see.

When scanning for transmitting devices, you can only detect devices that actually transmit information. For example, a standalone camera with an internal memory card may not need to transmit.

Whichever technology is used, the operation is the same. You will walk around the room, pointing the detector at the wall, desks, furniture, and other objects.

As you scan the area, you will likely detect objects that are not hidden cameras. This could include televisions, phones, and other electronics. Unplugging these devices or using a monitoring mode on the detector can help weed out non-surveillance equipment.

The detector will alert you to the presence of a transmitting device with a series of beeps or vibrations. As you aim the device around your surroundings, the beeps will get louder the closer you get to the transmission.

What Features Should You Look For?

There are several key features to examine. This mostly revolves around the technologies that are used to help you find hidden cameras and audio listening devices.

Before you start shopping for a hidden camera detector, familiarize yourself with these features:

  • Available detection modes
  • Radio frequency range
  • GSM detection
  • WiFi transmission detection
  • Filters
  • Protection mode
  • Laser infrared lights
  • Battery life
  • Controls and ease of use

Available Detection Modes

Hidden camera detectors often rely on beeps and vibrations to let you know if a camera or listening device is nearby. If you plan on using the device discreetly, look for a detector that includes a headset or vibration detection modes.

Some models will use a series of lights on the detector to alert you to the presence of surveillance equipment. This can be difficult to use compared to other detection modes but allows for silent operation.

Yet another detection mode is a signal strength graph or dial. The dial will move as you move closer or further from nearby cameras and audio devices.

Radio Frequency Range

RF scanning is the most commonly used method of scanning for hidden cameras. But, they are dependent on the range of frequencies that they can detect.

Low-end detectors may only scan between 1MHz and 4GHz. This prevents you from being able to detect some of the more modern hidden cameras that operate on 5GHz or 6GHz.

This frequency range also applies to listening devices and other surveillance equipment. The greater the frequency range the better chances you have of finding hidden devices.

GSM Detection

GSM (global standard for mobile) detection is used to detect devices that transmit over the same network as mobile devices.

Even if a hidden camera detector can scan for GSM devices, you may still have trouble finding them. Unlike RF devices, they only transmit data when they are in use. This means you can only detect them when they are actively recording or sending information.

WiFi Transmission Detection

WiFi transmissions can be tricky to detect. This is due to the abundance of WIFI-enabled devices.

Almost everywhere that you go, you’ll come across WIFI devices, from smartphones to routers and personal electronics. Filters and protection mode can help deal with this issue.


Hidden cameras and listening devices are not the only devices that transmit data using RF, GSM, or WIFI.

Without a filter, your hidden camera detector will pick up all transmissions that it detects. This could include radio stations, cell phones, GPS devices, and any other device that relies on one of these technologies.

Quality filters will dramatically increase the price of the hidden camera detector. But, they can also dramatically increase your chances of finding surveillance equipment.

The filter is often the dividing line between detectors that cost less than $20 and the higher-quality devices.

Protection Mode

Protection mode, or additional monitoring options, can help you deal with a weak filter. These options allow you to flag a device or signal as safe. The detector will then ignore the signal.

If you scan a room for radio frequencies and pick up a radio station, you can flag the signal. This helps you narrow down your search for actual surveillance equipment.

Laser Lights

Laser or infrared lights are used for physically detecting camera lenses. As mentioned, they reflect light off the camera lens. This isn’t the most reliable method of detection but is affordable.

Another advantage of infrared lights is that they may help you find a device that does not transmit a signal.

The other methods of detection all rely on the ability to detect a transmission, whether its RF, GSM, or WIFI. But, if someone plants a small recording device with internal flash memory, there may not be a transmission to detect.

As you examine hidden camera detectors, you may want to look for one that includes this technology as an extra method of finding hidden cameras.

Battery Life

Hidden camera detectors are typically handheld and powered by either a rechargeable internal battery or disposable alkaline batteries.

When comparing detectors, look at the stated battery life. Some of these devices can operate for 4 hours or more before the battery needs charging or replacing.

Controls and Ease of Use

The controls are found along the exterior of the device and may appear complicated at first glance. In fact, some of these devices can be incredibly difficult to use without thoroughly reading the instructions.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to determine the ease of use by reading a product description. To get more details about the function of the device, you should read customer reviews.

That covers the primary features of a hidden camera detector. Next, you’ll want to consider the cost of the device.

How Much Does a Hidden Camera Detector Cost?

The cost of hidden camera detectors will vary, depending on the features and technology used. If you want a detector capable of scanning for GSM, WIFI, and RF transmissions, you can expect to pay more.

The most advanced detectors can cost over $10,000. This is beyond the needs of the average consumer. Luckily, there are quality detectors in the $20 to $300 range.

These lower-end devices can still help you locate hidden cameras and other surveillance equipment, but they may not have the ability to scan for all transmissions. Specifically, WIFI and GSM scanning is often only available with the professional-grade detectors.

Instead of containing all the scanning technologies, these detectors will typically scan for RF signals and may contain a laser for reflection detection.

The radio frequency range that can be detected will also impact the cost. For modern surveillance equipment, you will want a device that can cover 1MHz to 5GHz frequencies. Though, there are devices capable of detecting frequencies up to 30GHz or higher.

How Do You Select the Right Hidden Camera Detector?

Always compare product before making a purchase. If you don’t want to end up with a worthless handheld piece of plastic, you should keep the information provided in mind.

Remember to consider the technologies that are used by the hidden camera detector. Laser or infrared lights can help you locate camera lenses and are often found on low-cost devices.

Along with laser or infrared lights, RF or GSM scanning is also useful. But, these technologies often result in a higher cost. When purchasing a device that scans RF signals, also look at the frequency range.

The last piece of buying advice is to spend some time reading hidden camera detector reviews. Not only will you get more details about the device, you’ll find out if it really works.

Compare several options, read the reviews, and choose the features that are most important to you. You should now be able to select the hidden camera detector that meets all your needs.

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