Low Light Systems
 

Perhaps the best known and most sought after camcorder feature is the ability to take decent video footage in conditions of little or even no visible light. Pioneered by Sony who call it 'NightShot' this utilises the inherent ability of the sensitivity of all image chips to Infra red light. This if left unfiltered seriously affects the colour rendition of lit scenes and so the IR light is normally filtered out opto-electronically. Sony made the use of this filter selectable by the user and also fitted IR Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) to the camera to provide some illumination at locations where there was no visible light available. This is a different technique from that used by so called 'Night vision' or 'Starlight' scopes which use a method of amplifying the amounts of light entering the device by means of a phosphor coated tube and photo-multiplier.


Originally meant for nature watching or video work in very low light situations Sony have incorporated 'NightShot' into most of their consumer camcorder models in the past 8 years. Use in paranormal investigations quickly followed the release of the early models. They quickly became one of the most used tools of the modern paranormal investigator and whilst they do permit footage to be obtained in very low light / no (visible) light situation they do not appear to have any special ability to 'see' ghosts or spirits. Inevitably, a lot of theories and ideas to explain their usefulness have sprung up over recent years - most of it nonsense and made by individuals who base their investigation ideas on some form of pseudo-science that they have picked up or made up.


In short IR Night vision cameras do allow the investigator to record a greater portion of the total light spectrum and allow pictures to be recorded in conditions of no visible light. This has obvious advantage to investigations - seeing fraud being performed for example that may otherwise go unnoticed in the dark being just one. It is a fact that to date there is no evidence that ghosts or spirits (if they exist at all) emit IR light or are more visible under IR lighting conditions although as one might expect there are some who would no doubt challenge that statement.


We are dealing with something that is an true 'Unknown' and therefore it makes sense to look for evidence of it in as many different ways as we have available. Ghosts may only be visible to IR sensitive devices but they also may be just as likely to be viewable only with Ultra Violet (UV) light. Night vision is an excellent tool for the paranormal investigator but it's use confers no special advantage or magical ability to the user.
There are several camera manufacturers that appear to use this IR enhanced Night vision mode but in reality it is only available on Sony models of camcorder of all formats. Panasonic did offer the same ability in some early models but after losing a patent infringement battle with Sony they have no dropped this IR enhanced technique and now use the same method as the rest of the camcorder makers - Colour or Mono Slow Shutter. This is also strangely now fitted to many Sony camcorders too in addition to their own IR system and works by leaving the 'shutter' open for longer allowing more light to be gathered at the image chip. The results of such 'slow shutter' techniques are of little benefit to paranormal investigators - it does increase by several orders of magnitude the amounts of light reaching the image chip but any movement is horribly blurred and has extremely low definition as a result. Even when the movement is of a known subject - such as a member of one's own team of investigators for example it is often impossible to identify them on the resulting video footage due to the motion blurring these modes create.

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