What is a Lipstick Camera?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A lipstick camera is a very small video or still camera which is roughly the size and shape of a tube of lipstick, hence the name. Lipstick cameras are also sometimes called bullet cameras, again in a reference to their distinctive shapes. There are a number of uses for lipstick cameras, ranging from helmet-mounted point of view cameras for skydivers to various spying and investigative applications. Many camera and photo supply stores carry lipstick cameras, and they can also be obtained from retailers who specialize in clandestine observation equipment.

Many lipstick cameras are specifically made for outdoor activities like hang-gliding.
Many lipstick cameras are specifically made for outdoor activities like hang-gliding.

The design of a lipstick camera tends to be very simple and pared down, because of the small size. The camera may be able to store images on a small internal storage device, or it can broadcast a signal to a receiver. The image quality on a lipstick camera varies widely; some producers make very high quality cameras with great resolution, while others can record a great deal of footage, but the footage may be grainy or otherwise imperfect.

Some lipstick cameras shoot in black and white.
Some lipstick cameras shoot in black and white.

There are numerous legitimate uses for lipstick cameras, although many people think of them specifically as spy tools. In films and television shows, a lipstick camera may be mounted to a helmet or automobile for a distinctive point of view shot. These small cameras can also be used as security cameras, or to monitor various locations such as zones on a sports field to ensure that no acts of cheating occur. The small size and affordability of basic models can also be appealing to independent film makers.

In more shady applications, lipstick cameras can be used to monitor a wide range of people and activities. These small cameras can be fitted into other objects to make them less obtrusive, and they may be outfitted with features like motion-activated on switches, to ensure that the camera only captures useful footage. Prevailing laws about the use of cameras for clandestine observation vary; before purchasing a lipstick camera for this purchase, it may be a good idea to research local regulations.

Many companies make weather resistant lipstick cameras for use in outdoor applications, and rugged models which can withstand conditions like bumpy bicycle races or helmet-mounted hang-gliding. Both black and white and color models are available, along with lipstick cameras which can pick up sound or infrared signatures. All of these features should be taken into account by people who are considering the purchase of a lipstick camera, to ensure that they choose suitable models.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a EasyTechJunkie researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


I've always been curious about lipstick cameras. Does anyone out there have one?

A few questions. Where would I find one and how much do they cost? If I am going to break the bank I will just forget about buying one. Also, how much video can they take? Is it ten minutes or does it record for hours and hours?


I have a lipstick camera and I set it up in the living room any time my wife and I go out and leave our daughter with a sitter.

I hate to sound paranoid, but with your children you can't take any chances. You never know when someone is doing something that you object to that might have a lasting effect on your child.

Luckily, the camera has only served to confirm that we have a great sitter.


Lipstick cameras are kind of a double edged sword. The thing about a hidden camera is that you never know what you are going to see when you record people without them knowing. Maybe you will see something hilarious, maybe you will see something horrific.

I have a buddy that suspected his wife may have been cheating on him. He put a lipstick camera in his bedroom every day before he went to work. Sure enough, she was cheating on him and he had to see it all on video. It is one thing to find out it is true, its something much worse to have to watch it in all its tragic detail. Don't mess around with lipstick cameras unless you are prepared to see what they show you.

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