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Digital Versus Analogue Cameras. A Study Into Which is Better for Paranormal Investigation.

Since paranormal investigation became mainstream one of the key factors of an investigators kitbag is the humble camera. Photography and the paranormal have been kindred spirits ever since the camera was invented and 'spirit photos' started to appear, and since then innumerable photographs have appeared over the centuries that appear to show apparitions, anomalies and other things that could be considered paranormal.

So it's easy to see why today the camera is an essential part of any investigators kit. But the film camera does have its disadvantages. Firstly, to have any chance of taking decent photographs you have to have a decent camera and know how to operate it. The trouble with cheap cameras is that they're notorious for camera-shake, and you could easily blur a photograph and mistake something innocuous for paranormal activity. Not only that, but decent film is also a must so that if anything is captured then it's as crisp and clear as possible. Add on top of that the cost of developing the film once it's used up, and even then you're not guaranteed a result - all of the photos could most probably have nothing unusual in them.

It's probably because of this that digital cameras have been embraced as they have in the investigative world. Although decent digital cameras are still quite expensive, they do have the big advantage of being able to show the photo that has been taken instantly rather than having to wait whilst it's being developed. Plus, because digital cameras work with a memory card rather than a roll of film you can pretty much take unlimited shots, check them out for anything unusual, and if there's nothing there they can be quickly wiped and the process start again. Processing costs are eliminated and eventually the camera can pay for itself.

But are digital cameras as essential to paranormal investigation as we'd like to think? Do you really have a chance at capturing something paranormal with a digital camera? Hopefully such a question will be answered in this study.

The most important thing that needs to be focussed on here is the light spectrum. The eye can only distinguish and register approximately 5% of the overall spectrum of light that's around us. The rest is totally invisible to the eye. Now, it has been suggested innumerable times in recent years that spirit resides in the infrared part of the full spectrum; a particular area that the human eye cannot register. This could be a possible reason as to why people cannot see spirit (Also, it could help explain clairvisual abilities in individuals - could these people have an eyesight that is able to register the light spectrum that spirits reside in?).

Going back to the digital camera. When it was first being designed and created they needed to make the programming and manufacture as cheap as possible to keep overall costs to a minimum, so when they were programming the range of light that the camera would be able to register and photograph it was kept to within the small spectrum that the eye can register, nothing more. Why would they? Such light is invisible and programming the camera to register and capture it would prove utterly pointless and thus an un-necessary expenditure. So digital cameras can only register this small spectrum of light. When a photo is taken it digitally converts the light from this part of the spectrum and this part only and converts it into the digital image that appears on the viewfinder. All other light, since the camera has not been designed to register it, has been filtered out. Therefore, when a photo is taken, just this area of light is captured.

Analogue cameras, on the other hand, work with a much simpler process. A film that is ultra-sensitive to light is securely put into the camera and wound into place. Then, when a photo is taken the shutter is opened for a fraction of a second to expose just enough light onto the film to produce a perfect representation of what was being photographed. The most important thing to remember with an analogue camera is that the light that's exposed onto the film has not been electronically filtered beforehand. The analogue camera is non-biased as to what light is captured onto film and thus the entire light spectrum is photographed, not just a tiny percentage. Since the camera can capture the particular spectrum of light that spirit is said to reside in it therefore can be assumed that if there is a spirit in the frame when the photo is taken then it has been photographed. However, since the light is invisible to the eye, it therefore will be invisible in the photograph. Although this study suggests how spirit is better captured on an analogue camera, it cannot yet suggest possibilities as to why they become visible in some pictures and not in others (unless it might be the simple reason of spirit simply not wanting to be photographed, and quickly moving out of the way before being snapped).

But the past has shown us time and time again that pretty much that all genuine apparition photos have been captured using an analogue camera. As technology progresses however I'm guessing that manufacturers will start producing digital cameras that can register more and more of the light spectrum until perhaps they can capture the full scale, but until that happens I firmly believe that if you want the best chance of capturing paranormal phenomena on camera then a 35mm analogue film type camera is the one to use.

© Copyright 2007 Michael Harbidge. See Copyright page for full disclaimer.