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The Combine Camera is a ceiling-mounted security camera attached on a stalk hanging underneath a metal housing.
The cameras retract into this housing when they are commanded by a control system (like Barney used in Point Insertion) or are critically damaged. The cameras spin in a semicircle before retracting which shows that the camera is stored upside down so that when the housing opens, the camera can fall out and unfold quickly under gravity. Gunshots and grenades can destroy these cameras and cause them to retract back up into their slots for good.
The Combine have several varieties of camera, some more obvious than others; they generally seem to prefer the City Scanner however, presumably because of the mobility and ability to scan unsecured areas in patrols which requires less investment of resources. In Episode One, it is shown that Advisors can mentally control these cameras to call in reinforcements, as a Kleinercast is interrupted by their image while a camera flashes at the same time with Alyx groaning, "They're onto us."
In City 17 and the Citadel, ceiling mounted cameras are somewhat common at checkpoints as well as in and around secure locations like the train station and the Overwatch Nexus. The cameras have a flash like the City Scanner but it isn't bright enough to blind the player, however they will often call reinforcements to that location. They feature a small colored light near the bottom that shows their current status:
- Red - Enemy in range
- Orange - Enemy sighted (Too far to photograph)
- Blinking Orange - Possible enemy (Out of range)
- Green - Scanning area (No threats detected)
Other than the obvious mounted camera, the Combine also appear to have concealed 'button' cameras in Nova Prospekt as there are observation screens scattered throughout the facility that show various different areas but when the areas shown are entered, no camera is visible in the expected location.
It also seems that the Resistance has retrieved use of a similar observation technology, as in Dr. Kleiner's lab and Black Mesa East, there are large black + white camera screens which can be scrolled through like the Combine's Nova Prospekt screens. (There is also a G-man instance among these views.)
A camera at a Combine Barricade