The 6 Best Body Cams of 2021

Wearable technology to record all that's happening around you

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The Rundown
"The wearable camera can automatically start video capture on detecting activity."
Best Resolution:
AKASO EK7000 at Amazon
"A leading contender for the title of best body cam 2019 has to offer."
Best Splurge:
GoPro Fusion at Amazon
"If money is no object, the Fusion is the best body worn action camera that you can get."
"A 170-degree ultra wide-angle lens, which lets you record more in each frame."
"Measures a mere 2 x 0.6 x 2 inches and weighs just 1.44 ounces."
Best for Law Enforcement:
Rexing P1 at Amazon
"The Rexing P1 is a durable body camera with 1080p recording, password protection, and resistance to damage."

While the best body cameras have certainly become more commonplace among law enforcement, there are plenty of good options available for the civilian market as well. Many states and cities have laws allowing body camera footage to be admissible in court, which has made them popular among anyone who may need to document their version of events. Body cameras can also be used for generic recording and live streaming. 

The best body cam should have a durable, compact design, good video resolution, and long battery life so it doesn't need to be frequently recharged. Since body cameras are frequently used by outdoor adventurers, sports enthusiasts, and law enforcement, durability is particularly important and a waterproof and shock resistance rating is important to consider. If you're in a car, take a look at our roundup of the best dash cams. Here, read on to see the best body cams to get for any purposes.

Best Overall: MIUFLY 1296P HD Body Camera

MIUFLY 1296P
What We Like
  • Robust design

  • 5MP CMOS sensor

  • 16x digital zoom

  • Motion detection feature

What We Don't Like
  • Not optimized for police and security guards

Having a robust design, powerful audio-visual data recording capabilities, and a host of other features, MIUFLY 1296P is easily the best overall body-worn camera available. Equipped with a 5MP CMOS sensor, MIUFLY allows high video capture in a variety of resolutions, ranging from 848 x 480p (30/60fps) to 2304 x 1296p (30fps). The camera lens has a 140-degree viewing angle and up to 16x digital zoom. Videos are encoded using the H.264 compression standard and saved in MP4 format. The camera utilizes its integrated microphone to record audio in WAV format, and can even capture photos while recording video. MIUFLY 1296P can embed useful information like User ID, Time & Date stamp and GPS coordinates (as a watermark) into recorded videos.

Thanks to a motion-detection feature, the wearable camera can automatically start video capture on detecting activity. A two-inch (240 x 320 pixels resolution) LCD lets you view captured videos, and you can set a password to prevent recorded data from being stolen/deleted. The device has four infrared LEDs for capturing videos in dark environments. MIUFLY 1296P comes with a 2,900mAh rechargeable battery, allowing up to 10 hours of footage to be captured in one go.

Resolution: 5MP | Video Resolution: 480p, 1304x1296 | Waterproof: IP65 | Zoom: 16x | Connectivity: Cable

Best Resolution: AKASO EK7000 Pro 4K Action Camera

AKASO EK7000 Pro 4K Action Camera
What We Like
  • Sharp photos and video

  • Easy to use in action settings

  • Wi-Fi control through the mobile app

  • Budget-friendly price

What We Don't Like
  • Questions about long-term durability

  • Hot USB ports after prolonged use

All told, the body cam category isn’t that different than the more general action cam category. Buyers of both want good performance no matter what activity they're participating in — whether it’s for safety or just for documenting a hike. Of the budget action body cams that do exist, the AKASO EK7000 is one of the most affordable, and best of all, it doesn't require that you sacrifice a whole lot of functionality in the process. At 4K, for instance, it can shoot video at 25fps, and up to 30fps at 2.7K (still a formidable resolution). These numbers are leaps and bounds ahead of hyper-specific body cams.

The EK7000 also has electronic image stabilization built-in, though according to our reviewer probably get better action performance if you go for a camera with optical stabilization. That said, it can still shoot while submerged up to 131 feet underwater, meaning it doesn't have to be relegated to landscapes. One drawback for body cam users, however, is its roughly 90-minute footage cap. Anything over that and you'll be reaching for the charger. But because it only weighs about two ounces, it comes with a ton of accessories right in the box. And when you consider its Wi-Fi streaming and sharing integrations, it turns out to be a leading contender for the title of best body cam 2019 has to offer.

Resolution: 5MP | Video Resolution: 4K, 2.7K | Waterproof: To 131 feet | Zoom: 16x | Connectivity: Cable, Wi-Fi, SD card, Bluetooth

"Every shot, even with a wildly shaking camera, was crystal clear, the kind of clarity you could never get from a similarly priced point-and-shoot camera." James Huenink, Product Tester

What We Like
  • Immersive 360-degree video

  • 5.2K at 30fps and 3K at 60fps

  • Supports VR playback

  • Clear audio

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Action cameras can be considered as special purpose body cams. They allow users to record their outdoor adventures while being immersed in them. When it comes to action cams, GoPro is a name that needs no introduction. If money is no object, the Fusion is the best body worn action camera that you can get.

GoPro Fusion lets you capture immersive 360-degree videos in an astounding 5.2K (30fps) resolution. You can record 3K resolution videos at 60fps, as well as take 18MP spherical photos (at up to 30fps in burst mode). The spherical videos can be played back in VR, and the "Overcapture" feature makes it possible to convert 360-degree footage to standard 1080p videos from any angle, using the GoPro companion app. Speaking of the app, it can be used for creating short clips from the captured footage, posting your favorite photos and videos directly to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and even update the Fusion's firmware. With a total of four microphones, GoPro Fusion can record crystal clear audio. It also has advanced video stabilization capabilities. For connectivity, GoPro Fusion features Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. GPS is also included in the mix.

Resolution: 18MP | Video Resolution: 5.2K | Waterproof: Yes, 16 feet | Zoom: N/A | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, SD card

Best Value: Campark ACT74

What We Like
  • Waterproof to 30m

  • Captures 4K and 108-p video

  • 170-degree lens

  • Works with Android and iOS

What We Don't Like
  • Battery not as big as competitors

  • Settings can be finicky

Campark ACT74 is a pretty awesome body worn action camera and has a slew of features. However, the truckload of accessories that come bundled with it to make it an even better value. The ACT74 can capture 4K resolution video at 30fps and 1080p resolution videos at 30/60fps. It can also shoot 16MP still images. The camera has a 170-degree ultra wide-angle lens, which lets you record more in each frame, and the two-inch HD display can be used to view captured footage.

Waterproof up to a depth of 30m (98 feet), Campark ACT74 is perfect for diving and water sports like swimming and surfing. The cam is compatible with both iOS and Android, and its "Wi-Fi Remote Control" functionality lets you control the device in real-time using your phone. You can also use the app to send captured photos and videos via e-mail and share them on social media platforms. The ACT74 supports microSD cards of up to 32GB in size. It comes with not one, but two rechargeable batteries (each having a capacity of 1,050mAh). When fully charged, the battery allows continuous recording for up to three hours. As mentioned above, Campark ACT74 comes with many accessories such as mounting kits and data transfer cables.

Resolution: 20MP | Video Resolution: 4K, 1080p | Waterproof: With case, 131 feet | Zoom: N/A | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, SD card

Most Compact: SereneLife Clip-on Wearable Camera

What We Like
  • Compact clip-on

  • Records 1080p video

  • Can capture 12MP photos

What We Don't Like
  • Some quality control issues

If you’re looking for a compact camera that can clip right onto your body, the SereneLife clip-on wearable camera is the answer. Measuring a mere 2 x 0.6 x 2 inches and weighing just 1.44 ounces, there’s no question this body camera is compact. Fortunately, its diminutive size belies its feature set. Capturing Full HD 1080p video, the camera’s recording quality is standout. Video might be its main purpose, but there’s also room to capture 12-megapixel pictures. Both pictures and video are stored on a separately-purchased microSD card. The length of each recording is determined by the card size, but the camera supports AVI formatting which compresses video into a smaller size for maximized storage.

For quick playback, a 1.8-inch display will let you view real-time picture and video. You can also review videos on a downloadable app on your mobile device. Just attach the camera to your clothing using the included clip and start recording.

Resolution: 18MP | Video Resolution: 1080p  | Waterproof: No | Zoom: N/A | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, SD card

Best for Law Enforcement: Rexing P1 Body Camera

What We Like
  • Durable for law enforcement

  • 1080p video recording

  • 21x optical zoom

  • Long-lasting battery

What We Don't Like
  • Some quality control issues

The Rexing P1 is a durable body camera that's ideal for law enforcement. It boasts a 1080p FHD camera, and 21x optical zoom that supports night vision capabilities. It can capture crisp footage up to 50 feet in the way even in dark conditions. There's 64GB of built-in storage for recording video, photos, and audio. Battery life is solid, with a 3,000mAh battery that should allow 10 hours of video recording, more than 11 hours of audio, or 20 hours of standby time. It should let you use the camera for the average work day without needing to recharge.

Other features include password protection, that encrypts files so they can't be stolen or deleted. The only way to delete any files is by connecting through a computer with a USB cable. Perhaps the biggest selling point is the IP67 waterproof rating, meaning the camera can survive complete submersion underwater. It's also shock-resistant, so it can withstand drops, bumps, and scrapes.

Resolution: N/A | Video Resolution: 1080p | Waterproof: IP67 | Zoom: 21x | Connectivity: Cable

Final Verdict

The best body cam is the MIUFLY 1296p HD (view on Amazon). It's a durable body camera that can take high-resolution video for up to 10 hours. It also can embed many kinds of useful information when capturing photos, like GPS location and time and date stamps. For more sports-oriented users we like the AKASO EK7000 Pro 4K Action Camera (view on Amazon). It shoots 4K video at 25fps and has great image stabilization.

About Our Trusted Experts

James Huenink has been writing for Lifewire since 2019, covering a wide range of consumer tech including action cameras and accessories.

FAQs

Can I record other people with a body camera?
While there isn't anything stopping you technically, it's often better to ask permission before capturing video of anyone. However, if you are in a public area, you are well within your rights to take photos or videos of your surroundings. Laws surrounding body cameras can vary by state, so if you are concerned about the legalities of constantly recording video, we recommend checking out the NCSL Body-Worn Camera Laws Database.

Can you record law-enforcement with a body camera?
Things do become slightly more muddled when using body cameras to record law-enforcement. While you are technically allowed to record law enforcement, some states have tried to regulate the recording of audio under wiretapping laws. We recommend checking out this ACLU primer for shooting videos of the police before going further.

Are police body cameras always on?
While an increasing number of police departments are required to wear and use body cameras, those body cameras aren't always on or filming. In most cases, police officers are able to control when they have a body camera on. Officers can choose to turn on the body camera before an encounter (or conversely, turn it off). Moreover, even if the body camera is on, the footage isn't readily accessible to civilians.

What To Look For in Body Cams

Resolution/Video Quality

The key things you'll want to have in a body cam is a resolution and video quality that's crisp and smooth. The most standard resolution is 1080p at 30fps, which should give you good, smooth recording without breaking the budget. You can step up to 60fps if you want even smoother recording (or slow down to 24fps for slow motion effects). Above that, you get 4K usually at 30fps, which is much sharper, but that results in a corresponding increase in price.

Durability/Waterproofing

As with anything that gets worn and carried around with you all the time, durability is hugely important for a body cam. If you're in law enforcement, you'll want something that's MIL-STD 810G, a certification that promises lab-tested shock resistance, drop resistance, and more. A waterproof rating is also important, with IP65 meaning the device is protected against submersion in water up to 5m and also resistant to dust. There are higher and lower IP ratings, with IPX ratings meaning no dust resistance and just water.

Battery Life

A body cam can't be easily recharged if you're wearing it around all day, so battery life is important. The size of the built-in cell can vary, with 1,000mAh to 3,000mAh being standard. Ideally, you'll want a device that can take you through an 8-hour workday. Most body cams likely won't be able to last a full 24 hours, since the size of the battery needs to be balanced against the compact and lightweight design. One option is to get a body cam that has more than one battery so you can swap them out when one runs out of juice.

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