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.
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.
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.