Wolfcom Venture hands-on review

The Wolfcom Venture body cam is simpler than a GoPro, but not as refined

The Wolfcom Venture is the body cam for the rest us; we’re just not sure the rest of us need one.
The Wolfcom Venture is the body cam for the rest us; we’re just not sure the rest of us need one.
The Wolfcom Venture is the body cam for the rest us; we’re just not sure the rest of us need one.


  • Very small, lightweight
  • Simple and easy to use
  • Works with add-on cameras
  • Lens tilts
  • Built-in LED lights


  • Add-on cameras bring a mix of resolutions, aspects
  • Not the most appealing design
  • Video quality and many features remain to be seen
  • No built-in LCD screen
  • Kind of expensive

Wolfcom may not be a name you’ve heard of. The company is well known in the security and law enforcement markets, however, selling thousands of body cameras to police departments every year. The Venture is the company’s entry into the consumer market. It’s a wearable, mountable camera that builds on Wolfcom’s experience to include some features not normally found in action cameras from the likes of GoPro or Garmin. While the final product is not yet available (Wolfcom recently held an Indiegogo campaign for the product, where it hit 300 percent of its funding goal), Digital Trends did get some brief time with a preproduction model and we can talk about the initial experience in our Wolfcom Venture hands-on review.

The everyday body cam

There are two things that we noticed immediately when we picked up the prototype: the Venture is astonishingly lightweight, but it’s not much to look at. This is clearly a product made by engineers, putting function above form. This isn’t inherently bad, but cameras like the GoPro Hero5 Black certainly look and feel better.

The Venture also isn’t the most capable filmmaking tool. Video resolution is limited to 1080p and it doesn’t have a built-in LCD screen. Nor is it waterproof, although, it is weather sealed.

That said, it is probably best not to think of the Wolfcom Venture as a direct competitor to the GoPro Hero. It’s more of an everyday body cam, useful for life-logging, demonstration videos, and safety purposes (as a dashboard or bike camera).

And there appears to be at least moderate interest in such a device. Since we last reported on the Venture, its Indiegogo campaign has raised more than $84,000, well above the $25,000 goal.

The Wolfcom Venture’s real selling point is its ease of use. A single switch is all that’s required to operate it; slide it down to turn it on and start recording automatically. The camera also employs a safety mechanism to prevent users from accidentally turning it off, requiring the power switch to be slid up, then down, and then up again in order to actually stop recording and turn off the camera. The Venture buzzes to let you know when it’s recording and when it stops, and an easily seen “REC” light on the front glows red when it’s recording.

This is clearly a product made by engineers, putting function above form.

The Venture ships with a basic clip mount that allows you to attach it to an article of clothing, the bill of a hat, or your car’s sun visor. It is surprisingly flexible as both the mount and the lens itself can rotate. Clipped to your shirt, simply rotate the camera so it’s vertically oriented, and then tilt the lens down so it’s facing forward. On a visor, do the opposite: align the camera in the same direction as the clip and tilt the lens back up.

Four LED lights surround the lens and provide illumination for low-light shots. They’re not terribly bright, but this could be particularly useful for, say, auto mechanics trying to record what they’re doing in tight, dimly lit spaces.

A suction cup mount, helmet mount, magnetic clip, and handlebar mount will all be available separately.

No Venture is an island

Another unique ability of the Wolfcom Venture is its support for accessory cameras. Wolfcom offers a variety of single-purpose add-on cameras that plug directly into the Venture. The night vision camera uses infrared light to see up to 20 feet in complete darkness. The headset and glasses cameras are great for hands-free point-of-view recording (or for your Locutus of Borg cosplay). There’s even a button camera that disappears invisibly into your shirt. Wolfcom advertises it as being perfect “for those secret spy missions.” I guess only you know if you need such a thing; in our brief hands-on experience, we (thankfully) did not have time to explore the implications of such a device.

One thing worth noting regarding the add-on cameras is that they won’t necessarily record at the same quality, or even aspect ratio, as the main camera in the Venture. The glasses camera, for example, shoots in a 4:3 aspect ratio; you know, like your old tube TV. So if you want to mix and match footage, well, it won’t be that easy.

Wolfcom Venture review other cams front
Daven Mathies/Digital Trends
Daven Mathies/Digital Trends

Wolfcom is also touting its critical reconnect technology, which basically means the Venture is smart enough to start recording on the main camera if a connected camera becomes disengaged. This would primarily apply in law enforcement scenarios, where a scuffle with a suspect could cause the accessory camera to come unplugged.

We tested the feature using the glasses camera — unplugging it in the middle of recording — and it indeed worked as advertised. However, it also created two separate video files, and then a third when we reconnected the accessory camera. That’s likely not a huge issue, particularly in the intended use case, where the goal is simply to capture what you can, but it does seem somewhat unrefined.

A lot remains to be seen

There are many features in the prototype that are either incomplete or nonexistent compared to the proposed final version. Wi-Fi is absent, which means we couldn’t test the mobile app; given that the camera has no LCD monitor, Wi-Fi is probably important. The angle of view is also only 95 degrees, compared to 120 for the final version. For this reason, we found it pointless to try to analyze or share any sample footage. Wolfcom claims there will be no fisheye effect (straight lines rendered as curves) in the final version, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

What we can say is that the Venture is a tiny, lightweight, easy-to-use camera. Clip it to your shirt or jacket and you’ll hardly notice it’s there. At least in its current form, the Venture has basically no options — it is a set-it-and-forget-it camera in the purest sense. Again, this means it doesn’t stack up to a GoPro for people who need more control, but the absolute simplicity will certainly appeal to some.

The Wolfcom Venture will not dethrone GoPro, nor compete side-by-side with other action cameras of its ilk. However, it could be useful for a wide variety of demonstration videos, safety monitoring, and some security applications. It’s niche, but judging from the Indiegogo campaign, it’s a popular one.

Our one pause comes from the price, which is planned to be $359. This puts the Venture in league with high-end action cameras (the GoPro Hero5 black is just $400). And the one area where most people could benefit from a set-it-and-forget-it camera, driving, is already taken over by much cheaper dedicated dash cams that are better for that activity. The Venture may succeed in becoming the body cam for the rest of us, but we’re just not sure the rest of us really need one.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: heat-powered watches, phone cases with reflexes

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

The best mirrorless cameras pack all the power of a DSLR, minus the bulk

Mirrorless cameras offer a lot of photography firepower, inside a compact body. Explore the best mirrorless cameras, from the pro-level to the beginner-friendly shooters, in this guide.

Starting your very own vlog? Here are the best cameras to buy

Any camera that shoots video can be used to vlog, but a few models stand out from the crowd thanks to superior image quality, ergonomics, and usability. When it comes to putting your life on YouTube, here are the best cameras for the job.

From 4K powerhouses to tiny action cams, here are the best video cameras

Although not as popular as they once were, dedicated video cameras still have their benefits. From travel vlogging to home movies to recording your kid's little league game, here are the best video cameras you can buy right now.

What to look for and what to avoid when buying a camera

Looking to buy a new camera? Our comprehensive camera guide for 2016 has answers to any camera or photography questions you might ask, whether in regards to pricing, image quality, or weatherproofing.

From 11K to just OK: The biggest photo gear announcements at CES 2019

From 11K cameras to 1 TB media cards, CES 2019 brought a peek at new gear for photographers and videographers. But what photography gear grabbed our attention the most? Here are the biggest photo gear announcements from CES 2019.

Authentic, holistic, retro photography is in: Here are 2019’s predicted trends

What types of imagery are we most drawn to? According to recent stock photography data from Adobe, StoryBlocks, and Shutterstock, authentic, holistic, and humanitarian content will be in high demand in 2019.
Social Media

No yolk! A photo of an egg has become the most-liked post on Instagram

Until this weekend, the most-liked post on Instagram was of Kylie Jenner's baby daughter, which has around 18 million likes. It's now been knocked off the top spot not by a stunning sunset or even a cute cat, but by an egg.

Going somewhere? Capture more than your phone can with the best travel cams

Hitting the road or doing some globetrotting this year? Bring along the right camera to capture those once-in-a-lifetime vacation memories. Here's a list of some of our current favorites.

This A.I.-powered camera follows the action to produce epic selfie videos

Want to capture more epic action selfies? The Obsbot Tail is a camera-gimbal combo that uses artificial intelligence to follow the action. Using a handful of different modes, the camera works to keep the action in the frame.

Sony crams its best camera tech into the new $900 A6400

Love Sony's autofocus, but can't stomach the full-frame price? The Sony A6400 mirrorless camera uses some of the same autofocus technology and the processor of the A9 in a compact, more affordable crop-sensor camera.

These point-and-shoot cameras make your smartphone pics look like cave paintings

If your smartphone camera just isn't giving you the results you're looking for, maybe it's time to step up your game. The latest and greatest point-and-shoot cameras offer large sensors, tough bodies, and long lenses -- something no phone…

GoPro bumps resolution on Fusion 360 cam to 5.6K with new firmware

Currently available in public beta, Fusion firmware version 2.0 offers a new 5.8K mode that results in 5.6K output when the 360 camera's two hemispheres are stitched together. It also adds support for 24 fps video and RAW time-lapse…