A digital spy camera is any small camera that can be used to take still images or videos discreetly. To this end, this type of camera is often disguised as another object, such as a lighter, pen, or even a pair of glasses. Other differences between these cameras include the potential storage of the camera and how the data is taken off the camera. Digital cameras that are very small are often sold as normal cameras because many people enjoy using lightweight and compact devices. While a normal small camera could certainly be used as a digital spy camera, most people use this term only to refer to those devices that directly lend themselves to espionage.
One of the most important differences between spy cameras is the type of recording they make. Some cameras are only capable of taking still images, and they can often be programmed to take these images at regular intervals. Video cameras that lack sound are also common, as are video cameras with sound. A very nice digital spy camera might include different settings that allow the user to choose between stills and video and might even include a sound-only option.
For many people, a digital spy camera is essentially a toy. It may not need to take high-resolution images or include sound. Commonly, people use low-quality cameras of this type to provide additional security at home. A digital spy camera hidden in a teddy bear or other item might be used to keep tabs on maids or nannies while the homeowner is away. Sometimes, low-quality cameras in more portable items are used to spy on business meetings or other important conversations, but these usually need to accommodate sound to be effective.
Spy cameras can be made to store a lot of information or very little. Images are not usually taken at a high resolution, meaning that many images can be stored on the device. Depending on the situation, it may be important to have a camera that can record continuously for an entire day, so some cameras include copious amounts of storage and battery life.
In some cases, a digital spy camera may have removable parts that store the pictures or video, but it is also common for the device itself to connect to a computer directly, like a USB drive. Given the size of the camera, it is usually fairly difficult to include removable parts. Some digital cameras require additional software in order to function, but others work just like any other camera. It is important to make sure that the camera will work with one's computer before making any purchase.