Night Vision, Infra Red, and Standard
an opinion on different camera types in regards to the paranormal
As far as paranormal groups go, ours is relatively new, with only a small amount of investigations having been preformed, and as such, our opinions may not hold as much weight as those of other more established groups. However, we are also coming into this field of paranormal investigations with a fresh eye, a different perspective that is not influenced by those that have come before. Anything within this paper is strictly opinion and the opinion of one individual, not the entire team.
Take for example the various camera types used. I am not talking about camera versus camcorder, or of different brands, but rather the night vision cameras, those with IR capability, and the standard camera, what they are actually capable of, and how they are used.
Night Vision cameras, or for those familiar with the Sony brand NightShot, allows the user to film or take pictures in utter darkness. Or, at least that is what I believe most people think, due in part to military themed movies and what they have come to expect from night vision goggles. With true night vision, it utilizes ambient light, even star light, to amplify the image coming in through the filters. With the common night vision cameras, you will note that they use a type of IR illuminator; instead of using an existing light source, they are sending out infra red light, and what the camera registers is that light being reflected back. This is not true night vision, in the sense of what people have come to expect, but is relatively close. Some night vision cameras do have a feature to detect or read infra red light, but with that, all you are going to see is the light source, you will not see anything that the light is shined on (for that, you’d have to put it back into the night vision mode).
So how would a night vision camera work with the paranormal? In truth, I don’t know. In part, I believe that certain entities (such as ghosts) may exist within a light spectrum just outside what we can see, whether that be in the infra red of ultra violet, and as such cameras equipped to see within that spectrum would be able to detect or record them. And, with my understanding of light waves, an entity within the infra red would become recordable when light from an IR device is used. But, as far as night vision goes, I don’t believe anything would turn up that a standard camera couldn’t detect. A true night vision device uses the same spectrum as a standard camera, and will only record what could normally be seen. In the very least, a true night vision device would be best used for cryptoid investigations, or in those situations where a night setting would provide the best results.
With Infra Red, just as the night vision, we have two types: reflected and thermal. When someone is browsing the internet for an IR camera, chances are you will come across devices that uses LED lights; this is reflected IR. The LEDs are emitting light from the infra red spectrum, and so what you see on the monitor or display is the infra red being reflected back. Thermal IR is the displaying of radiant heat, and is used by fire fighters, rescue workers, and Predators, where the color blue is a cold temperature and red is hot. Unless you have hundreds of dollars to purchase a cheap thermal camera, you’ll be looking at the reflected IR devices.
IR is useful in that it reflects infra red light, and should help detect entities that may exist within that spectrum, and as being an “invisible” light source, it can be set up within areas without informing the world of what you are doing; a large number of security cameras and trail cams (outdoor cameras used by hunters) are IR reflecting. Thermal is also useful as it helps the visualization of hot or cold spots. Even though I made a case for IR with the night vision, at the same time I want to stress that it may not be necessary for a paranormal group to use that technology. Why? More often than not, an investigation will start off with someone having seen something; if it can be seen, it exists within the visible spectrum.
What can be said about standard cameras that we haven’t seen or experienced for ourselves? As I am not concerning myself with resolution, the answer would be “not much”. A standard camera will see what we see, or what we could see if we paid attention. A lot of images that show something can be simply explained as things that we didn’t notice when the picture was first taken. As an example, a lot of photographers will say that very same thing, that when the picture was taken, they did not notice that (entity / creature / UFO) in the background. The focus or attention wasn’t what was around them, but rather what was before them, their target. In this, a camera is perhaps our best tool, in that it allows us to go back and look for things we normally would not have noticed.
Once again, we have a case where there are two types of cameras within this category: film and digital. Digital is great in that you can take dozens, if not hundreds, of photographs without worry, whereas with film you are limited to the number of exposures before having to switch film rolls. Then there’s the expense of having the film developed versus the cost of a memory card. A digital camera just makes more sense. But does it? A digital camera only sees what you see, and due to the technology involved, will alter an image. A film camera doesn’t do that. By opening the aperture, the film is exposed to all light, including infra red and ultra violet. Film will show more of what is in the area than digital, but digital will have clearer pictures of what you are taking a picture of.
One work around of this is in knowing that digital cameras do have the capability to see infra red; all one has to do is remove the IR filter. I wouldn’t try this, but there is that option.
Now then, in my opinion the best camera to use, or at least the best one that someone who is working on a budget might be able to afford, would be a digital camera that utilizes reflective IR with night vision. You will have the one camera that can be used in any given situation. Even in daylight, I would have the night vision feature turned on, so that it would register infra red; then again, that may damage the camera in some way… I’ll have to read up on that. The only downside is that you would have one camera for everything. Should it break or malfunction, your investigations become drastically limited.