What’s the best kind of video camera for ghost hunting?

You should be comfortable with any camera you use.

For beginners, the best video camera is the one you’ll really use. If that’s your mobile phone, it’s fine for now.

Later, choose a dedicated video camera for your ghost investigations. It doesn’t need to be very expensive.

Your video camera should include:

– A good lens. Glass lenses are better than plastic lenses.  Even if the video camera seems expensive, ask if the lens is glass or plastic.

– A stabilizer to steady the image if your hands are shaking. Today, that’s a normal feature in video equipment.

– The ability to film in low light conditions.

– Also, make sure you can secure your video camera to a tripod, so you can set it up and leave it running.  (If it wobbles, that can affect video integrity.)

Are you good at capturing ghosts on video?  Explore specialized video cameras. Some can produce extraordinary results.

Any equipment I’d recommend in this book might be “old” and replaced by better options by the time you read this.

I recommend watching ghost-related TV shows to see what equipment they’re using. (Sometimes, they get access to specialized tools before the public does.)

Also go to public ghost hunting events, and ask professional ghost hunters which brands and models they prefer. Ask them which video camera features (what bells & whistles) are most useful. They’ll probably point you in the direction of high-end equipment… but maybe not.

Always ask, “Can you suggest a good video camera for someone on a budget?”  Most professional ghost hunters started out with limited budgets. They know what’s worth buying, and what isn’t.

Keep in mind: Some professional ghost hunters don’t really understand their equipment. Always get a second and third opinion. In some cases, the extraordinary results from a certain camera may be more about the person using it than the camera itself.

That’s true of all ghost hunting equipment.

Compare results, and compare users

For example, I know two high-profile paranormal researchers who own “Frank’s Boxes.” Those boxes were made by Frank Sumption, and seem to use radio waves (and snippets of sounds) to form words that “speak” for ghosts.

Franks box
Frank’s Box, opened. Photo courtesy Coast-to-Coast AM.

I’ve seen Researcher A use a Frank’s Box with astonishing accuracy. He has complete faith in the box.

Unfortunately, some of Researcher A’s business practices damaged his reputation.

(That’s tragic, because he really is a gifted researcher.)

Researcher B has a better professional reputation, but flits from one tool or theory to the next.

That researcher swears that, after a while, Frank’s Boxes stop working.

After watching Researcher B at various paranormal events, I concluded that Researcher B is bright and clever… but hasn’t the same ghost hunting skills as Researcher A. (I’m not even sure Researcher B believes that paranormal experiences are real.)

Also, I believe that Researcher A gets better results because he maintains faith in the box. (He’s also convinced that Frank had a unique, mystical gift that transformed each box.)

I believe ghost hunting tools work best when people are confident about the results. That means believing that the tools work, and believing that paranormal encounters are possible.

Get and use equipment that you feel good about. That includes video cameras.

What are the best camera settings for ghost hunting?

Most people set their cameras to about 400 ISO (formerly called 400 ASA) in low light conditions. At that setting, your camera will be sensitive enough to capture subtle light anomalies.

Settings lower than 400 ISO don’t detect much in low light conditions.

Some ghost photographers recommend a setting of at least 1000 ISO to detect the maximum number of anomalies. I disagree, but it depends on the camera.

In low-light conditions (like at night), anything higher than 400 ISO can produce images so grainy, it’s difficult to figure out what I’m looking at.

Don’t take my word for it. Test ISO levels for each camera you intend to use. See what works best for your research.

In addition, I generally set my camera so the flash will always be triggered. If you’re taking photos of ghostly anomalies, you’ll usually get better results with a flash.

breath - not a ghost photo
This photo shows my breath, not a ghost… as far as I know, anyway.

Unfortunately, the light from the flash can reflect your own breath. This is especially risky when the weather is chilly or the dew point is high.

Experiment so you know what your own breath looks like in photographs.
I believe that breath is the number one cause of false anomalies in ghost photos.

Be sure you know what it looks like with each of your cameras. Test that in a variety of weather and light conditions.

This is important: Your breath can show up in photos on warm summer evenings as well as on icy, bone-numbing winter nights.

Once you’re comfortable with ghost photography, experiment with other camera settings. I’ve seen interesting results in low light conditions when I’ve left the lens open for an extended period of time. I’m sure there are other settings you can test to see if they improve your results.

Test everything!

Do I need a special digital camera to take ghost photos?

young man with cameraIf you’re a beginner, use the simplest possible digital camera with a built-in flash. If your phone has a good, built-in camera — and most do — use that.

If you’re buying a ghost hunting camera, make sure it has a flash. Ask if it’s designed to take good pictures in low light conditions, too.

Other than that, you don’t need anything special.

Later, you can explore more specialized cameras. Those can include infrared cameras, heat sensing cameras, and cameras with clearer glass lenses.

(Many budget cameras have plastic lenses. The quality can be fine, but a good glass lens might produce far crisper results. Then, you can identify normal — but odd — things in “anomalous” photos.)

You might also test remote flash lighting and other devices. Still, beginners probably won’t need that equipment for at least a few months.