Spy Pen Cameras are some of the most popular spy cameras on the market.

So it’s no surprise that people often want to know exactly how they work before they consider purchasing.

Here’s what you need to know:

What Are Spy Pen Cameras?

spy pen camera

A Typical Spy Pen Camera

Spy Pen Cameras are covert recording devices disguised to look just like a normal pen. People are often surprised when they begin researching spy pen cameras at just just how well disguised they are.

Could you tell the difference between this stealthy recording device and a normal pen?

All In One Recording Devices

Spy Pen Cameras are DVR (digital video recorder devices), and are body worn.

A DVR Camera means that all the elements of the Spy Camera are built into the unit.

In the case of a Spy Pen Camera, you get the video recorder, the microphone, the storage device (either Wifi of memory card) and the battery all contained with the Spy Pen.

Body worn means just what you would think – you wear the spy camera on your body!

spy pen camera on shirt

How You Would Typically Wear A Spy Pen Camera

Spy Pen Camera Packing (What You Get)

Here’s what you can expect when you buy a Spy Pen Camera:

  • The Spy Pen Camera itself
  • A USB cable which connects to the Spy Pen and the PC – which allows you to easily extract the files (more on this later)
  • A charger – this allows you to recharge the device. Typically this will include connections to the USB cable so you can charge via the PC if you want to.

spy pen camera packaging

Spy Pen Camera Packaging : What You Get When You Purchase

The Spy Pen Camera is also a normal pen and can write using normal ink. Some Spy Pen cameras come with replacement ink cartridges too.

Inside The Spy Pen Camera

Let’s take a quick look inside the Spy Pen Camera to see how it works:

spy pen camera unscrewed

A Spy Pen Camera Taken Apart

Here you will see the USB connection and memory card slot. As you can see, the modern Spy Pen Camera is well designed but space is at a premium! When you leave the memory card in the memory slot, there is just enough room to connect the USB cable to the USB slot (pictured) when you want to extract the files.

I’d recommend leaving the memory card attached when you set up your spy camera. Although well designed, it’s generally not a good idea to keep taking the memory card in and out. Anything with moving parts will eventually wear out and the memory card reader on the Spy Pen Camera is no exception.

Typical Uses For Spy Pen Cameras

One way you might use a Spy Pen Camera is in a job interview. Typically, you would leave it unobtrusively on a desk and record whilst you are being interviewed.

It is highly unlikely that anyone would suspect you are recording with the Spy Pen, because it looks just like a normal pen.

Also bear in mind that any reasonable job interviewer would expect you to bring a pen along to the interview – making it perfect camouflage for your stealth recording.

Spy Pen Cameras are also proven to be useful in prosecuting harassment cases. Think about a typical office scenario where a woman is harassed by a male colleague.

Without evidence, it is basically her word vs his word. However, with footage captured from a spy camera, it becomes much easier to prove that the victim is being harassed.

woman harassed at work

Time For Some Covert Spy Cam Recording!

Further Uses Of A Spy Pen Camera

Secret shoppers can use spy pen cameras to get audio and video evidence of their experience whilst shopping. Think of how powerful a secret shopper review would be with full audio and video evidence!

Whilst I am sure this might not be popular with big brands, it’s great news for the consumer. Why use online reviews (which might be fake and shilling for the company) when you can see for yourself what actually happened with covert spy pen recording?

Here’s a great example of mystery shopping in action. In this example the employees were stealing from the boss – but a spy pen camera caught them out!

If you notice the position of the camera it must be a spy pen camera or possibly gum camera that was used to capture this footage.

Another use of a spy pen camera could be if you were entering a dangerous area and wanted to capture the footage. Other uses are of course for police officers wearing body cameras to use as evidence in showing exactly what happened in controversial cases.

Here’s an example of a Las Vegas US police officer pursuing two suspects. He had to make a snap decision in order to protect the public, so decided to shoot through his windshield to stop the suspects.

Recording Using A Spy Pen Camera

So how do you record using a Spy Pen Camera?

Like most modern body worn spy cameras, spy pen cameras are designed for ease of use. Usually you just have to press and hold the record button for 2-3 seconds to begin recording.

In most cases, the spy pen camera will display a light to indicate it is now recording, so you’re always sure you’ll get the footage you want.

spy pen camera on off switch

A Spy Pen Camera On Off Switch

Note that the on off switch is easy to access – right at the top of then pen – and it’s disguised as the nib retract button. Perfect camouflage.

In this instance, the camera would flash a light to indicate it is recording – usually the light is blue or red. It would also flash a different colour when you charge the spy pen camera.

Charging and transferring files from Spy Pen camera to your PC

Spy Pen Cameras work exactly the same as other types of Spy Camera. You transfer the files to your PC using a USB cable (supplied when you buy the Spy Pen Camera).

The devices are usually compatible with modern operating systems, such as Windows 10, Windows Xp, Windows 2000 etc. Any windows machine will usually work with a Spy Pen Camera.

spy pen cameras with USB cables

Spy Pen Cameras With USB Cables

To transfer the files, simply plug in the USB cable to your machine and connect to the Spy Pen Camera. The PC will automatically pick up the Spy Pen as a separate drive.

You can then transfer the files from your spy pen to your windows machine using the standard drag and drop windows operation.

Legality Of Recoring Covert Footage

NOTE: Bear in mind the laws for recording covert footage in different parts of the world. In the USA for example it is illegal to record audio in some states.

US States Where It Is Illegal To Record Audio Without Consent

These are known as “two party” states. Two party means that at least two parties need to agree to the recording.

  • California
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • Pennsylvania
  • Washington

You have to assume that in any other state that you will need permission to record audio from the subject. However, bear in mind that in harassment cases audio will probably not be required to prove that harassment actually happened.


If you’re thinking of buying a body worn spy camera, Spy Pens are an excellent choice.

As I hope you can see, they are extremely well camouflaged. No one would ever suspect that you are secretly recording, because the device looks exactly like a normal pen.

They can be used in a variety of circumstances as I’ve illustrated in this article and are easy to use and operate.

Bear in mind that they do not offer quite the amount of flexibility as a Spy Watch Camera. Because the Spy Pen will typically be in a fixed position i.e. attached to your shirt or jacket pocket, it is harder to move around easily if the subject moves.

Because of this you may want to consdier looking at a Spy Watch and comparing the features of the two. A Spy Watch Camera has all the facilities and advantages of a Spy Pen Camera, but offers even more flexibility of recording because you can easily adjust your body position to capture more footage.

Have a look at our guide to Spy Watch Cameras before you decide. You’ll also be able to see the quality of footage you can get using a typical body worn spy camera.

Happy Spying!