Digital Cameras & 35mm Film Cameras
Photos of Lost Souls

Ghost Hunting Equipment: Cameras
Photos of Lost Souls

Spirit photography is a type of photography whose primary attempt is to capture images of ghosts and other spiritual entities, especially in ghost hunting.

It was first used by William H. Mumler in the 1860s. Mumler discovered the technique by accident, after he discovered a second person in a photograph he took of himself, which he found was actually a double exposure.

Seeing there was a market for it, Mumler started working as a medium, taking people's pictures and doctoring the negatives to add lost loved ones into them (mostly using other photographs as basis). Mumler's fraud was discovered after he put identifiable living Boston residents in the photos as spirits.

Although William H. Mumler was a fraud he actually helped start the beginning of Ghost Hunting using photo equipment. Cameras are now a commonly used item in the search for ghosts and spirits.

Digital Cameras can be a very useful device which is not costly and you get instant satisfaction unlike with a film camera where you must wait to get it developed. Digital cameras have been known to pick up ghosts and spirits which are sometimes not seen with the human eye and sometimes they are.

Many digital cameras will pick up 'orb-like' activity but this is generally pieces of dust, bugs or other items in the air which appear to be orbs (balls of energy).

The term orb describes unexpected, typically circular artifacts that occur in flash photography — sometimes with trails indicating motion — especially common with modern compact and ultra-compact digital cameras.

Orbs are also sometimes called backscatter, orb backscatter, or near-camera reflection.

Orb artifacts are captured during low-light instances where the camera's flash is implemented, such as at night or underwater.

The artifacts are especially common with compact or ultra-compact cameras, where the short distance between the lens and the built-in flash decreases the angle of light reflection to the lens, directly  illuminating the aspect of the particles facing the lens and increasing the camera's ability to capture the light reflected off normally sub-visible particles.

The orb artifact can result from retroreflection of light off solid particles (e.g., dust, pollen), liquid particles (water droplets, especially rain) or other foreign material within the camera lens. Be careful of jumping to conclusions too quickly when it comes to orbs.

Another instance to look out for when taking still photography during Ghost Hunting is Lens Flares.

The spatial distribution of the lens flare typically manifests as several starbursts, rings, or circles in a row across the image or view.

Lens flare patterns typically spread widely across the scene and change location with the camera's movement relative to light sources, tracking with the light position and fading as the camera points away from the bright light until it causes no flare at all.

The specific spatial distribution of the flare depends on the shape of the aperture of the image formation elements. For example, if the lens has a 6-bladed aperture, the flare may have a hexagonal pattern.

Such internal scattering is also present in the human eye, and manifests in an unwanted veiling glare most obvious when viewing very bright lights or highly reflective surfaces.

In some situations, eyelashes can also create flare-like irregularities, although these are technically diffraction artifacts.

When a bright light source is shining on the lens but not in its field of view, lens flare appears as a haze that washes out the image and reduces contrast.

This can be avoided by shading the lens (the purpose for which lens hoods are designed). In a studio, a gobo or set of barn doors can be attached to the lighting to keep it from shining on the camera. Modern lenses use lens coatings to reduce the amount of reflection and minimize flare.

It is wise and useful to know these particular problems that may occur while taking pictures therefore you do not jump to conclusions. Although there are some limitations with digital cameras, they are still a great tool to use in the world of ghost hunting.

* There are many digital cameras to choose from these days at all price ranges.

35mm Film Cameras can be useful in filming spirits since some theories suggest that because this method involves using a chemical process to create the pictures it may provide better results which you may not get by using a digital camera and that using black and white film you may see images that may not show up on the most expensive digital cameras.

35mm Film Cameras generally have less issues with them versus digital cameras but they are less common these days since digital cameras are so cheap and provide instant results.

* Tripods are recommended
* It is recommended to use 200, 400 or 800 speed film to provide the best results in your photographs

CCD vs. CMOS - Digital Cameras

Today, most digital still cameras use either a CCD image sensor or a CMOS sensor. Both types of sensor accomplish the same task of capturing light and converting it into electrical signals.

A CCD is an analog device. When light strikes the chip it is held as a small electrical charge in each photo sensor. The charges are converted to voltage one pixel at a time as they are read from the chip. Additional circuitry in the camera converts the voltage into digital information.

A CMOS chip is a type of active pixel sensor made using the CMOS semiconductor process. Extra circuitry next to each photo sensor converts the light energy to a voltage. Additional circuitry on the chip may be included to convert the voltage to digital data.

Neither technology has a clear advantage in image quality. On the other hand, CCD sensors are more susceptible to vertical smear from bright light sources when the sensor is overloaded; high-end frame transfer CCDs in turn do not suffer from this problem. CMOS can potentially be implemented with fewer components, use less power and/or provide faster readout than CCDs.


Does CMOS sensors deliver the quality images that CCD sensors offers?

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CCD is a more mature technology and is in most respects the equal of CMOS. CMOS sensors are less expensive to manufacture than CCD sensors.

Another hybrid CCD/CMOS architecture, sold under the name "sCMOS", consists of CMOS readout integrated circuits (ROICs) that are bump bonded to a CCD imaging substrate – a technology that was developed for infrared staring arrays and now adapted to silicon-based detector technology.

Another approach is to utilize the very fine dimensions available in modern CMOS technology to implement a CCD like structure entirely in CMOS technology. This can be achieved by separating individual poly-silcion gates by a very small gap. These hybrid sensors are still in the research phase, and can potentially harness the benefits of both the CCDs and the CMOS imagers.

Image Sensors

There are many parameters that can be used to evaluate the performance of an image sensor, including its dynamic range, its signal-to-noise ratio, its low-light sensitivity, etc. For sensors of comparable types, the signal-to-noise ratio and dynamic range improve as the size increases.

There are several main types of color image sensors, differing by the means of the color separation mechanism:

  • Bayer sensor, low-cost and most common, using a color filter array that passes red, green, or blue light to selected pixel sensors, forming interlaced grids sensitive to red, green, and blue – the missing color samples are interpolated using a demosaicing algorithm.

    In order to avoid interpolated color information, techniques like color co-site sampling use a piezo mechanism to shift the color sensor in pixel steps.

    The Bayer sensors also include back-illuminated sensors, where the light enters the sensitive silicon from the opposite side of where the transistors and metal wires are, such that the metal connections on the devices side are not an obstacle for the light, and the efficiency is higher.
  • Foveon X3 sensor, using an array of layered pixel sensors, separating light via the inherent wavelength-dependent absorption property of silicon, such that every location senses all three color channels.
  • 3CCD, using three discrete image sensors, with the color separation done by a dichroic prism. Considered the best quality, and generally more expensive than single-CCD sensors.

Popular Ghost Photos

The Internet, films (like Ghostbusters), and television programs (like Most Haunted, Ghost Hunters, and Ghost Adventures), along with the increasing availability of high-tech equipment are thought to be partly responsible for the boom in ghost hunting.

Despite its lack of acceptance in academic circles, the popularity of ghost-hunting reality TV shows have influenced a number of individuals to take up the pursuit.

Scores of small businesses selling ghost-hunting equipment, paranormal investigation services, and even ghost counseling are booming outside of their prime season: Halloween.

Several companies have introduced devices billed as "ghost detectors," along with the traditional electromagnetic field (EMF) meters, white noise generators, and infrared motion sensors.

The paranormal boom is such that some small ghost-hunting related businesses are enjoying increased profits through podcast and web site advertising, books, DVDs, videos, and other commercial enterprises.

Digital Cameras vs. 35mm Film Cameras in Ghost Hunting

  • Digital cameras provide instant results
  • Digital cameras can be quite cheap compared to film cameras
  • Film cameras generally have higher quality then digital cameras (especially in black and white photography)
  • Film cameras may be able to provide better results in ghost hunting due to the chemical process to create the pictures

  • Digital cameras have improved over the years but some digital cameras have cheaper lens and this can create artifacts in the pictures (eg. lens flares, pixelization and orbs)
  • Film cameras are not instant when it comes to processing your photos unless you are using an instant film camera