With the explosion
in digital photography over the last couple of years more and more paranormal
researchers and investigators are using digital cameras instead of traditional
film cameras. Before jumping right into a digital camera there are some points
to be aware of and consider.
do have the advantage of being cheap to operate. With no film to be developed
(pictures are stored on a memory card or internal memory) your pictures are
ready right away for viewing. You can immediately see what you just
photographed on the built in screen. Also, most digital cameras have A/V
cables that you can connect the camera to a TV or monitor for direct viewing.
by their nature make it easier and quicker to transfer pictures from the
camera to a PC for editing, enhancement and analysis. Most cameras can be
connected directly to a PC (or Mac) via a USB cable. Or the memory card can be
removed and put in a card reader that is attached to the PC (many PC's today
also come with card readers built in).
memory chips can hold hundreds, even thousands, of photographs! And since the
card is reusable an infinite number of times there is no reason to take many
pictures on an investigation. Most memory cards are very small and easy to
store. It is quite possible to have the capacity to take thousands of photos
per investigation with a digital camera and 2 or 3 high capacity memory cards.
There is no excuse for running out of film.
cameras, even older models, have some built in sensitivity to infrared light.
Other models can be modified (note that such modifications may void your
warranty!) for IR photography. Many paranormal researchers believe paranormal
phenomena are more sensitive to being photographed using IR light than normal
cameras themselves keep improving in quality and features. Some cameras are as
small and slim as a shirt pocket. Many are weather proof which helps with
outdoor investigations. Others are full size professional style SLR models.
All are loaded with a wide range of features and tools to help with
photography under a variety of conditions.
However, there are some down sides to digital cameras:
The biggest draw back to digital cameras is the
technology itself. Digital cameras are marvels of technology and software.
When you push the shutter button a complex optical sensor detects the light
of the object or area you are aiming at. In a split second the image is
captured. Then complex optical enhancement algorithms "scrub" the image to
enhance clarity, undo movement or shaking, and try to make your picture the
best it can be. To put it another way, the image produced by a digital
camera isn't the real image but the camera's interpretation of what it
sees. That's great for normal uses. But for paranormal investigation it can
be a hindrance. They very software and systems that are designed to enhance
and improve your picture taking can also over enhance the picture. The
camera can take what might only be a pin point of light and enhance it into
a false orb (it's curious to note that most - though not all - orb photos
are in fact taken with digital cameras) or other false image.
rely entirely on their battery to operate. It is important to have a ready
supply of fresh batteries on hand, especially during an investigation. A
digital camera can really "drink" battery power when hundreds of pictures are
being taken, especially with a flash. Also, batteries have been known to be
drained by paranormal activity (see Paranormal Theories).
have a little more of a credibility gap since they can be more easily
manipulated and touched up than a film picture.
cameras, being so heavily technology based, can quickly become obsolete. Not
just the camera but the memory cards used and the software/systems for moving
images from the camera to the PC.
cameras still have a strong place in paranormal research and investigation.
Typically 35mm cameras using 400 to 800 speed film are most common for
paranormal investigation. They don't have to be large, expensive, fancy
cameras. Even a one-time-use disposable camera is a highly effective
paranormal investigation tool!
Film has the
advantage of producing a negative that can be analyzed and enhanced.
Credibility is higher since the negative can be analyzed for hoax or fraud.
And with a negative enlargements are easier and more clear.
The film camera
itself is more "objective". There is no software to enhance the picture. The
film media simply captures the light that comes in through the lens. A dot is
a dot, a bright light is a bright light. The film doesn't "interpret" the
light. It just records it. Therefore, it is harder to dismiss a possible
paranormal image taken with a film camera as simply the result of technology.
Film cameras can
also use infrared film to capture images in the infra red spectrum. IR
photography is, however, much more expensive as it requires IR capable
cameras, special film and developing.
Film cameras do, however, also have some draw backs:
Film purchase and
development, while cheap, is still a cost. You can imagine the cost of buying
and then developing 500+ pictures from a single investigation!
The film itself can
be damaged by mishandling and exposure to heat or radiation (like X-Ray
equipment). And, while uncommon, the film development process can damage the
film. Similarly, any unusual or potentially paranormal images captured might
be the result of a fault in the development process.
Sometimes film is
improperly loaded into a camera and it isn't noticed until after the pictures
are developed. And it is entirely possible to run out of film during an
The camera itself can cause false images if there is a
crack in the lens or body that lets even the slightest light in (even in the
dark with a flash).
pictures have to be scanned in order to be loaded onto a PC for enhancement
and analysis. While scanners today are significantly better, some loss of
quality is inevitable as well as contamination from dust and finger prints.
choice to use a digital or film camera isn't simple. Both are great and
effective tools in paranormal research and investigations. If at all possible,
an investigation should use both types of cameras to cover all possibilities.
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