How to Use a Pen Camera

by Kimberly Johnson

Camera technology has evolved greatly through the years, and as the technology improved, the size of cameras has decreased. The smaller size needed for cameras has resulted in many hidden cameras that pose as everyday devices such as an ink pen. These hidden pen cameras look exactly like a pen on the outside, but contain all the workings of a camera on the inside. More advanced pen cameras take still pictures as well as video.


Charge the pen camera or install batteries per the manufacturer's instructions. Some pen cameras require batteries, while others charge via an AC wall charger.


Download any necessary software via a computer to the pen camera after purchasing it. Not all cameras require software, but some do. To download software, plug the pen into a USB port or connect it to a computer via a cable. Go to the manufacturer's website to download the software.


Place the pen camera in your shirt or coat pocket, or attach it somewhere on your belongings where it will be able to get a clear picture. Examine the camera carefully to locate the tiny lens and make sure that the lens is facing outward. Make sure the pen camera is securely fastened so that it does not move around. Do not place the camera near water or other liquids.


Turn the pen camera on to begin recording. Although pen cameras vary by manufacture, most turn on simply by pushing down on the top of the pen.


Leave the pen on to record any desired images or conversations. When you are done recording or taking pictures, press down on the top of the pen to turn the camera off.


Attach the connector cable to the camera pen using the manufacturer's instructions and insert the other end of the cable into the computer. Some camera pens have a USB connector and plug into a USB port without a cable.


View the recording taken by the pen camera.


  • check -- Since the pen camera has no flash feature, picture quality is diminished greatly in areas of low lighting.
  • check -- Although pen cameras will record video, most do not not record audio.
  • check -- Pen cameras do not have a focus feature, so you will need to be close enough to the object you are photographing that it fits into the frame. A good rule of thumb is if you can see it easily with the naked eye, the pen camera will photograph it clearly.
  • check -- It's best to test the pen camera at various positions on your body to see which produces the best shots.


  • close According to the The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the following states do not allow electronic recording of individuals without their consent: Connecticut, California, Florida, Maryland, Illinois, Massachusetts, Montana, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and Washington.

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About the Author

Kimberly Johnson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in various online publications including eHow, Suite101 and Examiner. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and began writing professionally in 2001.