A full spectrum camera is just like an ordinary camera, but as the name suggests it can see the full light spectrum, including light in the infrared and ultraviolet frequencies that the human eye can’t see. There are obvious advantages to having a camera that can see more than the naked eye when ghost hunting, not to mention the fact that when paired with an infrared light source the camera acts as a night vision camera.
Any night vision camera, including full spectrum cameras use an active source of illumination in the near infrared band (usually in the form of an external top light mounted on the camera) . This frequency is just outside of the visible spectrum of the human eye, but it can be picked up by the camera’s sensor. It will produce an image which is fully light, despite the fact the scene appears dark to the eye.
In normal night vision cameras the images appear monochrome, either a greenish-tint or black and white, this is because the camera cannot see visible light when in night vision mode, it is only sensitive to IR light, which has no colour. However a full spectrum camera will still be able to see visible light and colours alongside the IR illuminated images.
Rather than being green or grey, the night vision image produced by a full spectrum camera is a pink-purple hue, this gives a unique look when used to film investigations. Although not commonly used for broadcast, the US ghost hunting show ‘Paranormal Lockdown’ is primarily shot on a full spectrum camera.
Full spectrum cameras aren’t easy to get hold of and aren’t generally commercially available. This is because paranormal investigators modify their cameras to turn them into full spectrum cameras. This can be done to pretty much any camera, whether it be a compact stills camera, a digital SLR, a camcorder or a professional video camera. However the modification isn’t easy, it involves taking the camera apart and stripping it down to its sensor in order to remove the tiny glass filter that stops IR and UV light hitting the sensor.
One of the downsides of this modification is that once the filter has been removed, the camera can’t be used as a regular camera. Although some more expensive cameras do allow users to fit an external filter over the lens, which effectively temporarily converts the camera back to being a regular camera.
If you have a camera worth hundreds, or even thousands of pounds, then you might not want to risk taking it to pieces to modify it yourself, but there are companies in the UK, US, Australia and other parts of the world who will modify a camera for you. A lot of these companies also sell pre-modified new and used cameras.
The ability to shoot or take photos in complete darkness using an invisible infrared illuminator obviously has its advantages when conducting a paranormal investigation, but many ghost hunters choose this type of camera in the hopes that it will give them a glimpse of the hidden world around them.
Because just about any type of camera or camcorder can be converted to full spectrum, it means you’ll be able to record your investigation in full 1080p HD or even 4K. Some paranormal groups have even modified 3D and 360-degree cameras for use on their investigations.