Night Vision vs. Full Spectrum

You may have heard the term ‘full spectrum’ with regard to ghost hunting cameras and video much the last few years. But you’ve had your night vision camera by your side for many years and don’t see a need to switch up. It gets a good picture and that’s all that matters, right. Well, sort of.

What is the difference? Let’s talk about what night vision is…

Night vision, in basic terms, means it sees infrared light (or IR). If you have a camera from years ago with ‘night vision’ or ‘night shot’ it may have a small infrared light on the from of it that allows you to see a few feet in the dark. You may not even see the IR light on the front because it’s invisible to the naked eye. Night vision is cool. It allows you to see in total darkness. But what are you actually seeing? Answer: infrared. That’s it. Only infrared. Most off-the-shelf infrared cams filter out all light so that it can focus on the IR light. So that’s all your getting. It’s akin to putting blinders on a horse. Though it gives you a way to see IR int he dark, it removes the ability to see other light. You do not actually see (most) visible light or ultraviolet. Heck, some night vision cameras even use such a short band of IR that you’re only seeing just a small portion of IR. Yeah, it can get confusing. But, with this, we can suffice to say that IR is very limited in your ability to document light anomalies on an investigation.

Enter: Full Spectrum

Now on to full spectrum. In simple terms, full spectrum refers to the concept of being able to see more than we can see with our naked eye. This means being able to see visible light, infrared and ultraviolet. On one end of the spectrum is Infrared (or IR). On the other side we have Ultraviolet (UV). Cameras can be modified through adjusting or removing filters to see deeper into either end of the spectrum. This conversion, allowing us to see deeper into both IR and UV, is referred to as Full Spectrum.

Camcorder-DXG-FullSpectrum-View4There are different methodologies as to what constitutes good Full Spectrum. In some cases the filter is removed entirely thus allowing all light in. Other methods involve replacing the filter with something that will see IR and UV but filter out visible. I consider the latter (where visible light is blocked) as a multi-spectrum modification, not Full Spectrum. As the term suggests, while you are allowing light outside of visible in, it is not a full spectrum if you’re filling out any potential existing light. It’s like taking off a horse’s blinders so he can see better only to replace them with another pair that blinds differently. Hope that makes sense. I like analogies. While this method may be practical for daylight uses where bright visible light can overpower the IR and UV this is not an issue when conducting low light paranormal investigations in the dark. Since ghost hunting and paranormal investigating is typically done in the dark, you need all the light you can get.

Flexibility of Full Spectrum

Here’s my favorite parts of using a full spectrum camera: you can use any light. Since a night vision camera cuts out anything other than IR the only light source you can use with that type of camera is infrared. That’s it.

With full spectrum, it sees (just about) everything. So, if you want to be covert and use infrared only. Go for it. If you want to use a bright white light. Pop it on. You’ll blind all your fellow investigators and they may unfriend you on Facebook, but it would work. Use an ultraviolet light. It’ll work too. But if you want to take full advantage of a full spectrum cam, use a light that has a full range of infrared, ultraviolet and visible light. One that switches between IR only and full spectrum is perfect so you can use what you need as you need it without swapping out lights.

Sure, there is much more to the science of light and the spectrum in which it resides. But I hope this helps illustrate what the difference is between night vision and full spectrum and how full spectrum is a far better solution for your investigations.

 

Here are a few helpful videos.

 

 

 

 

 

Ghost Hunting Equipment in UseToo many ghost hunting expeditions fail to gather good evidence, because they fail to organize themselves in a scientific manner.

Take some time to carefully plan what sort of a ghost hunting expedition you are trying to mount and what sort of equipment and supplies you need for your team.

Also, you have to think about how to organize your ghost hunting trip, because creating a good organization is the key to getting compelling evidence of paranormal activity.

The following is a check list and organization chart for scientific ghost hunting squads of anywhere from five to nine people.

You do not have to have every piece of equipment on this list, but the more backup you can have for each reading the better, especially video, audio, temperature, time, and location of any paranormal activity.

 

Our Top 10 Picks

See our TOP 10 Picks for ghost hunting equipment for 2017.

 

 

Ghost Hunting Gear Check List

  • Flashlight: Safety first! Since most paranormal investigations take place in low light environments, close quarters and in the evening, have yourself a flashlight. A red light is best as it helps preserve proper vision. But any light will do to keep you from stubbing your toes.
  • Audio/EVP Recorder: An audio recorder is considered mandatory for any ghost hunt. It’s purpose is many-fold not only to record potential EVP (electronic voice phenomena) as evidence but also to document your entire investigation. Make sure to verbalize what you are doing while recording so you have an audio note, relay the time and tag any events that take place. Recorders come in many forms from high-end recorders to the newer wrist bands (which are especially ‘handy’). For such a small recorder, you’d might be surprised at how great the quality is.
  • Video Camera: Like an audio recorder, a video camera is a great way to document your investigation while also capturing potential evidence. You can carry one with you, mount it to something or set it on a tripod to record all night. Camera technology has gotten smaller, faster and increased greatly in quality over the last few years. Today, you can get an amazing 4K video camera, the size of a GoPro quite inexpensively. A more recent advancement is also the addition of 360-degree cameras that capture the entire room. Be sure to look for ‘Full Spectrum’ or ‘Night Vision’ to make sure you get one that can see in the dark. Full Spectrum is, essentially, night vision plus and is the preferred method for capturing as much light as possible during dark investigation settings. (see article: Night Vision vs. Full Spectrum)
  • Lighting for Cameras: Proper lighting for cameras and camcorders is very important. Though the term ‘night vision’ implies that the camera can see in the dark, what it really means is that it can see invisible light. So, you will need an infrared (IR), ultraviolet (UV), full spectrum or visible light source. If you are using a great full spectrum cam, the options are really wide open. Match the right camera up with the right light and you will have yourself an powerhouse setup.
  • EMF Detector: EMF Detectors pick up electronic fields at a variety of frequencies. One of the most common theories within the ghost hunting field is that entities may have the ability to manipulate electromagnetic fields. So, detecting those changes is key for investigators. This is one piece of equipment that every ghost hunting expedition should have and range from fairly inexpensive to a few hundred dollars for most sophisticated and feature-heavy models.
  • Digital Still Camera: It’s all about the Megapixles! – The higher the resolution the more you will be able to zoom in later on when you are analyzing your photos. Keep in mind that while most video cameras also have the ability to take still photos, a dedicated still camera will generally take a much better photo.
  • Digital Image Editing Program: Sometimes by adjusting contrast, shadows and highlights or colors, you can find things in a photo you didn’t know were there.  Photoshop is my favorite.  And remember you can give your video the same treatment with the color correction tools in a Video Editing Program like Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere.
  • Misc. Camera Gear: You’re going to want a decent camera bag and tripod, extra batteries or battery pack and plenty of memory cards. Some of the smaller ‘POV’ style cameras also have a wide range of mounting accessories such as head straps, chest harnesses and car mounts.
  • Thermometers: As with EMF, theories suggest that a ghost might have the ability to change air environmental changes, such as temperature. Given that, a thermometer is how you would detect these changes. Thermometers come in a few different forms including ambient detection or ‘ranged’. Generally, what you really want is an ambient thermometer. This senses the temperature of the air around the meter, itself. A ranged thermometer only reads the temperature on the surface of an object. As such, that is only really good for detecting the source of the change, such as air vents or leaks in windows and insulation. Some thermometers provide both readings and some EMF meters have on-board temperature detection as well.
  • Thermal Camera: These are a great pieces of gear, because they essentially allow you to see changes in temperature from a distance on a visual color heat map. It’s a great way to be able to ‘see’ temperature forms. Many will refer to this as a ‘FLIR’ though this is really the most common and trusted brand name.
  • Trigger Objects: Trigger objects are a great way to help interaction. There are also some triggers objects out there that also include some investigation tools within them such as an EMF meter that lights up to let you know something is nearby. BooBuddy, the interactive bear, is a prime example of a trigger object that is purposed to attract, sense changes in the environment then attempt a line of communication. It’s really quite amazing with all the tools inside of it. It’s like having a full investigator on your team.
  • Walkie-Talkie: Always useful, but try to get one that is hands free, preferably with headsets. Today, you can actually link a team together through conference call on cell phone if everyone has the minutes.
  • Motion Detectors: These can really give you a heads up and they are not expensive.
  • Watches: Each team member should have a watch and they should all be synchronized with the other members watches and time codes on the camera equipment. Sometimes this is the most challenging part of a hunt. TIP: The wrist band EVP recorders typically have a ‘watch’ mode so it gives you the time as well.
  • Paper and Pen: They don’t run out of batteries and they are cheap, and you can record a written log. It’s a good idea to have a secretary recording the time and description of events as you go, because this represents the closest you can get to human memories, without the filter of technology.
  • Cases and Holsters: Of course you’ll need something to put all this equipment in for carrying to the investigation and keep your hands free during the hunt. The key is to keep the sophisticated equipment protected on the way in. Go with a hard case and, if possible, one with foam on the inside. There are also holsters and vests you can wear during the investigation to keep all your tools at the ready. While vests can be quite cumbersome and a little intimidating to a client if you come in armed like a SWAT team, the smaller leg holsters or waste pockets can be just as effective without all the fuss.
  • First Aid Kit: Ya never know!