BioShock Wiki

Welcome to the BioShock Wiki. Log in and join the community.


BioShock Wiki
BioShock Wiki

The Research Camera is a usable item that appears in BioShock, BioShock 2, and BioShock 2 Multiplayer. Unlike the weapons in the games, it does no direct damage to enemies, but it allows the player to gain research rewards.


Main article: BioShock
The research camera looks just like one you'd see topside. According to this magazine article I scrounged up, it can also 'analyze genetic information, parse biological structures,' and lots of other five-dollar words.

The Research Camera does no damage itself, but it is an important addition to the players arsenal. It is found on the level Neptune's Bounty. It is equipped the same way as a weapon, and uses Film to take pictures that unlock biological weaknesses and hidden secrets through research of every Splicer, security device, and Big Daddy. In each research tree, there are five levels that require increasingly more photos to complete. On the first, third, and fifth levels of completed research, a permanent damage boost is applied against the researched enemy type. The second and fourth levels of completed research yield various Gene Tonics and other bonuses that are extremely useful. Little Sisters are the exception, as a permanent increase to health and EVE is given for each completed level of research. The Damage Research tonic increases effectiveness of damage bonuses from research. The Research Camera cannot be upgraded. Film for the camera can be found and sometimes bought from vending machines.   


  • Taking a photograph will automatically pause the game when the photo is taken. As such, it is recommended to always have it equipped when wandering through Rapture.
  • Film is cheap and easy to purchase, so unless the player is strapped for cash and low on Film (under 20 is considered low), it is always recommended to take as many photos as possible, especially on the harder difficulty settings.
  • The greater the quality of the photo, the higher the score. The quality is determined by a number of factors: How centered the camera is on the enemy, how close the enemy is to the player, whether said enemy is in combat or not (if they are in combat, the player gets an "Action Shot" bonus), whether the enemy is dead, and whether there are multiple enemies in the frame or not ("Multiple Subjects" bonus). If the subject has already been photographed, the score gets halved. If the subject is friendly (such as hacked machinery or hypnotized Big Daddies), fully researched, too far out of frame, or if the score is too low, the photo is not taken.
  • You can zoom the camera simply by aiming like you would with the Pistol, Machinegun or Crossbow. This will increase research scores by letting you take a closer shot without actually moving closer to the target. Zooming is obviously useless at point blank range.
  • Photographer's Eye and Photographer's Eye 2 can be stacked, giving a total 25% bonus to photography scores, which means that the photographs taken will have higher scores and a greater number of photographs can be taken of the same subject (since photos that previously had too low a score to be taken now have been boosted to an acceptable score.)
  • If the player kills an enemy before photographing them, don't forget to take a picture of their dead body. This will get a C-grade photo, but as the body count increases as it's sure to do, taking photos of dead enemies can get one to the next level of research, without the associated danger that taking photos of live enemies carries.
  • A great way to quickly maximize research levels for Splicers is the Frozen Tunnel in Fort Frolic. There are numerous types of frozen Splicers that can be photographed simultaneously. Using the Photographer’s Eye tonics, research for multiple Splicer types can be completed in this area (Nitro Splicers, Thuggish Splicers, Spider Splicers, and Houdini Splicers are all present and accounted for). Thanks to the fact that there are multiple posed Splicers, "Action shot" and "Multiple subject" bonuses will apply.
  • Bouncer research can also be maximized in the upper and lower Levels of the Poseidon Plaza in Fort Frolic. Even after the player has rescued all the Little Sisters, Big Daddies constantly respawn in these locations, granted the player kills enough Splicers to cause them to respawn.
  • One can take repeated pictures of the same Splicer, Big Daddy, or Little Sister, though each picture will be ranked lower and given less points.
  • Try to remain calm when photographing an enemy and take the time to adjust the frame, as this will increase the picture's quality. Photographing an enemy will also pause the game, giving one time to formulate a strategy.
  • Because researching enemies typically involves getting as close to them as possible, it can be very compatible with a Wrench strategy. Shocking an enemy will allow the player to get the perfect angle on them while benefiting from an Action Shot bonus, as well as leave them vulnerable to a One-Two Punch.
  • Each enemy type requires a different strategy to be adequately photographed, as well as different priorities. Here are the basics:


  • Thuggish Splicers: Very common and very easy to photograph. The ideal strategy would be to let the Thuggish Splicer see Jack and then set up the camera for a good shot (given their very predictable route, this should be easy). Also, it is possible to dodge the Splicer's initial attack and photograph it during its recovery.
  • Leadhead Splicers: Because of their longer ranged attacks, Leadhead Splicers can be harder to photograph than Thuggish Splicers; however, they are in greater abundance. Try moving behind cover, coming out to take a quick shot (being quick with the camera is necessary for this), and then move back to pull out a weapon. Leading them into traps or distracting them with other enemies is another good way of getting more precise Action Shots. Because of their abundance in Neptune's Bounty (where the Research Camera is located), taking good shots throughout the level may allow the player to reach Level 3 to Level 5 by the end of the level, allowing the player to focus on killing them much earlier than other Splicers.
  • Nitro Splicers: Though rare, they are easy to photograph. Get their attention but keep back enough to be able to dodge their attacks and take the picture.
  • Houdini Splicers: These Splicers are rare and very difficult to photograph. First of all, take advantage of still Houdini Splicers (ex. the two dancing in Cohen's apartment). Whenever leaving one of their religious sites in Arcadia, one is bound to appear at the opening (preparing for a shot beforehand is a good idea). Hitting them with Electro Bolt or Winter Blast will stun them long enough to take a good picture. Overall, quick enough use of the camera is key to unlocking this enemy type's valuable research rewards.
  • Spider Splicers: The player is forced to take a picture of three of these in Neptune's Bounty, although there are four possible ones to photograph. Aside from this, it is advisable to either hit them with Electro Bolt or Winter Blast to hold them in place. Like Thuggish Splicers, they may charge the player, giving one a good opportunity; though this is rarer than a Thuggish, and the player should just learn to be quick with their Camera.


For all machines in this section, using Electro Bolt, Winter Blast or Liquid Nitrogen is a good way to keep them from threatening the player.

  • Security Cameras: Rather common, and very easy to photograph. Find a way to get under them then take the picture (using electricity, ice, or just sneaking under them is an easy way to do this).
  • Security Bots: Easy to find, easy to research. If one wishes to photograph some more Bots, simply set off an alarm. It is advisable not to spend too much time researching an individual Bot, otherwise one will risk getting seriously injured. Another way is to hack a Security Camera and wait for a Splicer to set off the alarm and then start taking pictures.
  • Turrets: Treat them like a stationary Leadhead Splicer.

Big Daddies and Little Sisters[]

  • Big Daddies are the second easiest subjects when it comes to researching. Since they're not initially hostile, it's easy to get up close and take the perfect shot, and one can get a Multiple Subjects multiplier if they are with a Little Sister or fighting a Splicer. Also, a new Big Daddy will respawn in the place of one that was killed by the player and roam the same area that the previous one did. Try not to have Static Discharge equipped, as bumping into a Big Daddy may trigger the Gene Tonic and turn it against the player. On the other hand, hostile Big Daddies will add the Action Shot bonus to their pictures.
  • Little Sisters are the easiest subjects to research, however, once they have all been saved or harvested in a level, no more will appear in the level. Since they tend to hide behind their Big Daddies once they spot the player, it is advisable to photograph them unaware. Note that the Little Sisters in Andrew Ryan's office, the ones who deliver teddy bears for rescuers at the Gatherer's Garden, and the one the player has to escort in the Proving Grounds can be researched.

Little Sisters respawn at approximate intervals of 3 minutes. Every time a Big Daddy puts a Little Sister back in her vent after she complains about being tired or her belly being full, he retrieves a new one. As such, it is entirely possible to finish fully researching Little Sisters by merely following around a single Big Daddy.

Recommended Plasmids[]

  • Electro Bolt will temporarily stun enemies, letting the player photograph them with impunity while still earning the Action Shot bonus.
  • Winter Blast is even more effective, as it will freeze enemies in place for even longer. Using this Plasmid also avoids accidentally killing a Splicer when they're touching a body of water.

Recommended Tonics[]

  • The Photographer's Eye line of Tonics will make researching significantly easier. It is recommended to equip it when researching Little Sisters and Houdini Splicers.
  • Natural Camouflage can be of great help when trying to get the ideal snapshot, and can also make for a handy escape tool if the player gets spotted. Be careful though, taking a photo will make the player visible again.
  • The Wrench Lurker line of Tonics will soften the player's footsteps, making subtle approaches safer and easier.

Help Caption[]

Press _ to take

Used to take pictures of the various
creatures of Rapture.

Taking enough pictures will give you
various bonuses against the type of
creature you're photographing

The Research Camera requires film,
in the same way that weapons
require ammunition.


BioShock 2[]

The Research Camera in BioShock 2.

Camera Icon.png
Main article: BioShock 2
That thing's a miracle in technicolor, kid. Works like a movie camera. Start the film rollin' before you open fire on a Splicer, and then anything you hit him with tells you more about his DNA.
Augustus Sinclair[src]

"Keep up! Buy one today!"

The Research Camera returns as a usable weapon, both in the single-player campaign and in multiplayer. It is the sixth weapon found in the game, and is the second weapon found in Pauper's Drop.

The camera has the same function in the campaign as with the original, granting Subject Delta permanent rewards for researching different enemy types. However, unlike the original Camera, this new tool records videos instead of pictures and doesn't require any collectible film to run. It also functions differently from the original in many other ways.


  • When the camera is equipped, targets who have not already been fully researched are outlined in gold. Once the player pulls the right trigger to start the camera, the last weapon equipped prior to the camera is instantly re-equipped and the player can start firing normally before the target can react to the player, so there is virtually no strategic cost to using the camera, as long as one remembers to equip an actual weapon and not, say, the Hack Tool, before equipping the camera.
  • If a target has already been fully researched, the camera will not start and the previous weapon will not be equipped, leaving the player vulnerable to attack, so it pays to be aware of which types of opponents have already been fully researched, as well as watching the camera's reticule and/or the gold outlining of targets.
  • The camera films for a limited amount of time, which can be extended by use of the Extended Reel Tonic. The filming also stops if the target is killed, or the player receives a reward for the film.
  • The Research Camera can also be used to Film the corpses of dead enemies for five research points.
  • If trying to research an enemy while filming another one, reequipping the Research Camera and selecting the new target will end the current research prematurely and switch to the latter.
  • In BioShock, some of the best research rewards (Natural Camouflage could be attained at Houdini Splicer research level 2) can be earned early in the game. In BioShock 2, on the other hand, they are earned much later in the game, thus it is important to put the camera to maximum use just to get all the rewards. This may involve purposely hanging around an area to engage and research specific enemies.
  • It is highly recommended to research Thuggish Splicers to full before leaving Pauper's Drop, as they completely stop appearing in the next levels.
  • Brute Splicers stop appearing for a portion of the game, although they re-appear near the end, so it is important to research them sooner rather than later.
  • The quickest tactic to gain research points is to have hacked Machine Gun Turrets, Mini-Turrets, Security Bots, or all three attack enemies frozen with Winter Blast. Immobilized enemies will be helpless as friendly Bots and Turrets pummel them, racking up points. Using this technique, the player can easily rack up 2000-4000 research points in a single camera run.
  • Continuing the above advice, only using Winter Blast, machine gun and 2 bots (and if possible, a MG turret) its possible to get 2000-4000 points or more in a single camera run for tough targets (Big Daddies, Brute Splicers, Big Sisters). This makes it possible to fully complete research for Brute Splicers on the same level they are first encountered (Pauper's Drop) and get the Armored Shell 2 tonic. The steps are as followed: (1) Have two hacked bots ready and if possible, one MG turret. Make sure Winter Blast and the Machine gun is equipped. Now switch back to the camera. Quick-save the game. (2) Engage the target and freeze them right away. (3) Start the camera recording and use the machine gun. Your bots (and the turret if available) are also firing. Be sure to freeze the target as soon as it thaws. So it doesn't shatter and die an early death, let it thaw for an instant if you think the freeze will kill it. (4) Enjoy up to 4000 points on a single camera run. This is very useful for reaching the last level of research on big targets. This means that before leaving Pauper's Drop, you can fully complete research on Security machines, Lead Head, Thuggish and Brute Splicers and also Big Daddies. For Brute Splicers, when you kill the first researched Brute Splicer in the corner near the Limbo Room and when you leave that area, make sure you go to Town Square where you found the camera. There you will see another Brute Splicer with a bot. If you go around and try to come to that area later, this Brute Splicer may not be there.
  • Repeatedly attacking a research subject with the same type of attack gets less points over time with the same method. Using Plasmids against the target is more efficient than attacking them with one single weapon type.

Types of Actions Scored[]

This counter keeps track of the number of research points earned so far.

The Research Camera detects various types of attacks during a battle and will increase the score if different ones are used in combination. Different icons are shown for each while the film reel is rolling. A small plus mark will appear on the icon if a type of attack is especially effective.

  • Projectiles - This includes most varieties of ammunition that Subject Delta can fire from his weapons.
  • Melee - Damage caused by the Drill or melee attacks with other weapons.
  • Traps - This includes Plasmid Traps, Trap Rivets etc.
  • Explosives - Damage caused by the Grenade Launcher or other explosives.
  • Other Enemies - This can be achieved by using Hypnotize to get another enemy to attack the subject, or by causing security devices to attack the subject.
  • Electricity - Damage caused by Electro Bolt or other sources of electricity.
  • Fire - Damage caused by Incinerate! or other sources of fire.
  • Ice - Damage caused by Winter Blast, Freezing Drill or other sources of freezing damage.
  • Insects - Damage caused by Insect Swarm.
  • Telekinesis - Damage caused by objects thrown with Telekinesis.

Research Icons[]

Recommended Plasmids[]

  • Electro Bolt temporarily stuns the enemy, granting the player a temporary reprieve. Using this Plasmid also increases the player's score due to its elemental bonus.
  • Winter Blast stuns enemies for even longer and also increases the player's score.
  • Insect Swarm stuns enemies for a short moment and grants the player an elemental bonus.
  • Telekinesis grants an elemental bonus to the player's research score. Try to use only small objects so as to avoid killing the target too quickly.
  • Decoy will not only keep nearby enemies away from the player, but it may also cause the affected targets to attack each other, granting the player a research bonus. At level 2 and higher, the Decoy acts like a trap and provides a further research bonus.
  • Hypnotize will grant the player a research bonus if the target is locked in combat with another enemy. This can also be used to keep the target off one's back. Try to target the weakest enemy in the area to avoid dealing too much damage to the researched enemy.
  • Security Command can grant the player a research bonus by causing Turrets and Security Bots to attack the target (at level 2 and higher, a Security Bot can also be summoned at will). This also distracts the target, keeping him from attacking the player.

Recommended Tonics[]

  • Extended Reel extends the filming time, letting the player earn more research points per enemy.
  • The Keen Observer line of Tonics will increase the player's research bonuses while filming, speeding up the leveling process.

BioShock 2 Multiplayer[]

Barbara Johnson using the Research Camera.

Main article: BioShock 2 Multiplayer

In multiplayer, the player will always have it equipped, and can use it to research dead bodies (by pressing a "research" button which pops up when near an enemy corpse), granting them a damage bonus against that particular enemy during the match. It takes a small amount of time to photograph a corpse, leaving the player open to attack. If the player is killed by a researched enemy, the research will be lost. Research bonuses are also lost upon transforming into a Rosie. The Research Camera now uses the Flash Port on the back of the camera, and features an early design of the Flash Bulb mounted to its left side.

Recommend Tonics[]

  • Expert Researcher will reduce the time required to research an enemy by more than half.


Behind the Scenes[]

  • In BioShock, the Research Camera and the Wrench are the only weapons that don't have any upgrades. In BioShock 2, this and the Hack Tool are the only weapons that don't have any upgrades.
  • The camera in BioShock was originally designed to have upgrades as early as 2004[1] and upgrades for "Zoom" and "Flash" are still mentioned in the UnrealScript source code.
  • The Research Camera is the only ammo-using weapon in BioShock which doesn't have a reload animation. The film is automatically loaded after each shot or once collected.
  • The BioShock Research Camera makes a brief appearance in BioShock 2 in the Unstable Teleportation Plasmid easter egg, held by some statues.
Film Reel Icon.png
  • Even though the Research Camera of BioShock 2 doesn't require any collectible film to run, there is a film reel icon left unused in the game's HUD texture files.
  • The camera's design appears to be modeled after the 1915 No. 2 Folding Autographic Brownie Camera.