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The following is a list of basic items that we gathered when we first started out.  It's a nice guide for beginners who are interested in building an investigation kit.

Digital camera

A camera is the piece of equipment that most beginning investigators start with because in most cases they already have one. You don't need to have an expensive digital camera, but you should use one with as high a resolution as you can afford. A 5 megapixel camera is the minimum resolution. The better the resolution you have, the more detail you'll be able to see in your images.

Cell phone cameras are not adequate, even if they have a 5 megapixel or higher resolution, because the image sensors in cell phones are too small and the lenses are not very good.

Get as good a camera as you can afford from a name manufacturer. Point-and-shoot cameras are fine, but digital SLRs with good lenses are better.

Digital recorder

A good digital recorder is needed to record electronic voice phenomena (EVP). Digital recorders are preferred over cassette recorders by most investigators because they have no moving parts; you don't want motor noise in your recordings.

Digital recorders from such manufacturers as Olympus, SONY, and RCA range in price from about $30 into the hundreds of dollars. Again, get the best one you can afford because the higher the price, the better the quality. You'll want a model that can record high-quality sound. Some of the more expensive models record in uncompressed modes, which give you the best fidelity.

With less expensive recorders, you might also want to add an external omni-directional microphone.


Oddly, many beginning investigators forget about taking along this basic piece of equipment. Did you forget you're going to be prowling around in the dark?

Get a small but powerful flashlight, one that easily slips into a pocket. These days you can get a small 5- or 6-inch LED flashlight that emits a very good beam of light. LEDs are a smart choice because you don't have to worry about replacing bulbs; the LEDs last a long time.

And don't forget to bring along extra, fresh alkaline batteries.

Extra batteries

This is something else that is easy to forget about, but none of your other equipment (except the pen and paper) is going to work without good batteries. Most of your equipment is going to require AA or AAA type batteries. Make note of what size you need and be sure to bring along extra alkalines that are fresh.

If some equipment, such as your camera, have rechargeable batteries, make sure they are fully charged before the investigation. You might even consider getting extra batteries and charging them as well.

Many investigators have noted (and have been frustrated by the fact) that haunted places tend to drain batteries; even fresh batteries seem to go dead quickly. So this is even more reason to make sure you have planty on hand.

EMF meter

Meters for detecting electromagnetic fields (EMF) are also popular with investigators on the theory that the presence or movement of ghosts might distrupt or otherwise affect this field. There are a number of models to choose from, one of the more popular being the K-II meter.

The investigator must be careful when using an EMF detector because many things in a house or building can affect it, such as wiring, power sources, and other electronic equipment.  Just because there is a spike on the EMF meter doesn't necessarily mean you've detected a ghost.

Take base readings throughout the area you are investigating and make note of the numbers. This will help in detecting legitimate spikes and anomalies.

Motion sensor

How do you hunt something that's usually invisble? You can try to detect its movement with a motion detector. These gadgets are often used for home security, but the paranormal investigator can set them up to possibly detect the movement of something that the eye cannot see.

Motion sensors are actually detecting heat signatures. When something enters its field of coverage that is above the ambient temperature (in this case, it is assuming that the ghost gives off heat, like a person), the sensor will sound an alarm. Some models are equipped with cameras and will snap a picture.

These sensors are calibrated so that the object must be somewhat sizable to set it off -- a mouse or a bug passing by won't trigger it.

Video camera

Video is great to have, too, either to carry with you or to set up on a tripod and let it run in hopes of catching something anomalous. Make sure the video camera is equipped with some kind of night vision (such as SONY's Night shot) so it can record images in minimal light.  External infrared lights assist in illuminating what the camera can see.

The choices with video these days is amazing. Again, get the best one you can afford. High-definition video has become quite affordable, and it's advantageous to get a camera that has either an internal hard drive or that records on memory cards. These allow you to easily transfer your video to a computer for editing and analysis.