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.

 

– Shawn Porter
More info on Shawn at www.Shawn-Porter.com

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.

You can get most of this Ghost Hunting Equipment at GhostStop.com.

Ghost Hunting Equipment Check List

  • Digital video recorder: DVRs have gotten fabulous in the last few years and there are dozens out there to choose from. Buy quality, because your digital video recorder is one of your primary tools.Be sure and get a DVR with excellent sound quality and buy a good static free external shotgun microphone to go along with the camera. This allows a good DVR to function as a digital audio recorder too.
  • 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 in Photoshop.
  • 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 film for the 35mm, plenty of memory cards for the still camera  and extra tapes for the DVR.
  • Night Vision Equipment: Night vision scopes have gotten a lot cheaper in the last few years and there are adapters that you can use to attach them to video recorder and cameras so you can shoot in near total darkness.
  • Flashlight: Obviously, this is a no brainer. If you haven’t already moved up to a modern LED flashlight now is a good time. Battery life is much longer, the LED bulbs are almost unbreakable, and they often allow for different colors of light and intensity. However, no matter how good your primary flashlight is every other team member should carry a back up light.
  • EMF Detector: EMF Detectors pick up electronic fields at a variety of frequencies. Usually, where there are ghosts there are disruptions in the electronic magnetic field. This is one piece of equipment that every ghost hunting expedition should have and they are fairly cheap.
  • Compass: Obviously, you can use them for navigation, but on a ghost hunting expedition the primary role is as the low tech back up for your EMF gear. A compass reacts to changes in the Earth’s magnetic field and since it is your backup do not buy an electronic compass. A glow in the dark needle is nice.
  • GPS: You can use GPS to record the exact time and location of each paranormal incident as a way point, also some outdoor GPS’s are loaded with extra features like altimeters and thermometers.
  • Thermometers: Obviously, a good thermometer can detect changes in the air temperature, but your ghost hunting team should carry both a traditional mercury thermometer and a digital thermometer to ensure good backup. Also, today both types are very cheap.
  • Barometers: Follow the same logic as with thermometers and have both a traditional and electronic.
  • Wind chimes: Buy the lightest wind chimes you can, preferably ones that are easy to move, and as you move from room to room you reposition the chimes.Windchimes are cheap, but sometimes they are the first piece of equipment to record an unusual phenomena. The team should have several windchimes on the expedition. Many people like to paint them with glow in the dark paint.
  • Infrared Thermal Scanner: These are a great pieces of gear, because they essentially allow you to see changes in temperature across a room or field. When you see the anomaly move towards your team and trigger the wind chimes and the thermometers it is an incredible moment.
  • Air Ion Counter: These are expensive, but useful. They measure positive and negative ions in the air and often provide additional evidence to support thermometers, barometers, and wind chimes.
  • 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.
  • Spot Light: You can get a 200,000 candle power light for about $30.00, but they do tend to eat batteries.
  • Motion Detectors: These can really give you a heads up and they are not expensive.
  • Extra Batteries: Try to have extra batteries for everything.
  • Matches and Candle: Just for back up.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • First Aid Kit: Ya never know!

If you’re interested in Ghost Hunting you really should check out GhostStop, even if you’re not looking to buy anything. There’s a ton of really good information over there as well as info on more advanced ghost hunting techniques, including remote multi-camera recording setups. These guys are ghost hunters themselves and know more about Ghosthunting than just about anyone.