#64: Mini DV MD80 Spy Camera Review for Private Investigators

Over the past few months I had to break out of my spy camera comfort zone and go from using my 808 Car Keys Camera to the Mini DV MD80 spy camera.  The only reason I had to break from my comfort zone was because of the technical problems I had with an old 808 camera during surveillance.  So while on a case I scrambled to charge and program the time in the Mini DV camera and I eventually used it that day and have been using it since.

Why have I continued to use Mini DV MD80 over the 808 Car Key camera?

Video Quality

I love the video quality on this camera.  The video appears to be much sharper than any of the spy cameras I have used in the past.  The video is always smooth and doesn’t get choppy when moved around quickly.  The video comes out pretty good in low light conditions.


The size of the camera is equivalent to the 808 Car Key camera and is about the length of a thumb.  The camera is small and relatively discreet in most videotaping conditions.

Easy to use

I only have to press two buttons and I am videotaping.  There is no guessing as to whether the camera is operating correctly or not.  The light is blue when it turns on and a red blinking light appears when the camera is videotaping.  If you know me, you know I hate complicated spy cameras.  It also powers off after a short while in standby mode to save battery life.

The Attachments

This spy camera comes with a variety of attachments.  The camera comes with a couple of mounts that the camera can clip on to (though I haven’t used them).  It comes with a rubber camera cover to protect the camera is case it is dropped.  It has a small strap that can be connected to the camera which can be placed around your wrist.  And last but not least it comes with a clip attachment which I use.  I really only use the clip attachment so I can grip the camera better when videotaping.  In the video review I attached the camera with the clip on to my visor and videotaped while driving and it turned out pretty good.  So if you need something on short notice to videotape someone driving in front of you then this will come in handy.

Spy Camera Comparison
Compare sizes (808 Car Keys and Mini DV MD80)

What I Don’t Like About It

I Hate the Shape!

The shape of the camera makes it difficult for me to aim the camera properly in close conditions. If the person I’m videotaping is close to me I have found it difficult to aim the camera properly without drawing attention to myself.  Truthfully if the shape wasn’t so awkward it would be the perfect spy camera in my opinion.

The Basic Specifications of the Mini DV MD80 Camera

  • Video Format – AVI
  • Video Code – M-JPEG
  • Video Resolution – 720/480
  • Frame Rate – 30 frames per second
  • Memory Card – TF, Micro SD, Up to 32 GB (though you will need to recharge before reaching 32 GB)
  • Battery – High Capacity Lithium Polymer Battery

Overall Impression

I would definitely recommend this camera. This spy camera is inexpensive and works well. I have seen it priced between $10.00 and $20.00 on Amazon.

Until next time,



  1. Hey Andrew,

    I’m currently using the 808 keychain camera (#16) and love the picture quality but i don’t like the battery capacity. 30-40 mins at times is just not enough. I’m curious to try the MD80 based on your review. What do you get for average recording time? Is the picture quality better? I find in bars and other low light places the picture does get grainy. Also, how do you find using this camera in common places like grocery stores…it seems it would be somewhat awkward with the shape to point at a subject discreetly, especially compared to the ease of the keychain cam.


    • Thanks for the comment. I haven’t used the MD80 camera not stop until the battery has died. I personally think the video quality is slightly better on the MD80 camera. As for the grainy video in dark places that is something that every covet camera will encounter. Even Panasonic backup camera gets a bit grainy in dark conditions.

      I recently did some video taping in a casino. It wasn’t as dark as some bars I have been in but it was close. The video turned out pretty decent however as you state I did see patrons in the casino glancing down at my hand despite my efforts to not make it stand out.

      The camera is cheap and I would suggest buying it and trying it out. If you don’t like it then use it as a backup when the 808 camera fails or malfunctions. You are not out a great deal of money if it doesn’t work out for you.

      In most cases I will say I don’t get a lot of looks at my hand when following someone in a store. But I don’t like the shape personally and have a hard time aiming it properly from time to time.

      • I just purchased one and am curious to see if it bumps the 808 as my “go to” covert camera. Thanks again. I enjoy the podcasts and would be interested in hearing more of your “war stories”/”uncomfortable conversations”.

        Take care

        • LOL. I will do my best to share more stories and uncomfortable conversations. Let me know how you like the MD80.

  2. Recently I’ve bought two cameras of these type for use at work. But this one knocks it awesome. The case is built like a tank, it’s very smooth to use. The voice activated function is really awesome.

  3. I was wondering if you happen to use hidden cameras like one in wall clocks? I was planning to buy one, and would appreciate a review about this.

    This is the actual product that I am going to purchase from one of the online stores.

    • Hi Cha Yan,

      I do plan on doing reviews about things like this in the future. I actually have had one on my desk for over a year that is still in the box that I need to review.