If there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who you gonna call? You might think of contacting some sort of ghost hunter. You may be the ghost hunter yourself. The best cameras for ghost hunting can put you ahead of the game for engaging in this form of entertainment.
Ghost hunting shows are extremely popular. They are on TV, streaming, and even on YouTube.
Whether you believe in the actual phenomena or not, the cameras and techniques used can also be adapted to other forms of video jobs. Surveillance, both live and remote, is a job that can be accomplished with these cameras, as well.
Top 5 Best Cameras for Ghost Hunting
1. 4K Ultra HD Infrared Night Vision and Full Spectrum Camcorder Review
Here is a camera that Venkman and Spengler would be happy using. It’s marketed as the only small video camcorder that can switch between IR and full light spectrum recording with one button. Many cameras have IR recording capability, but the option of switching with only one button isn’t common at all, especially at a reasonable price.
A relatively simple camcorder, this camera has some features that make it a great choice for general surveillance and for paranormal investigations.
Some of the extra features are an IR LED built in to the camera itself and the option to turn off the light when using external IR lights. Turning off the built in LED effectively doubles the battery life when shooting in IR mode.
Another nice feature is the 30X digital zoom. While digital zoom can never deliver the same quality as optical zoom, having any zooming at all is a great addition for a small, lightweight video camera.
Besides the digital zoom, the kit also comes with an auxiliary wide angle lens adapter attachment. While not especially convenient, it adds to your ability to capture an entire area under consideration.
Adapted and marketed by the Cleveland Paranormal Supply Co., you may wonder who actually makes this camera. It’s manufactured by Ordro, a video camera brand primarily sold in Asia and Europe, not in the USA, and closely resembles the features and form of a couple of cameras from both Sony and Samsung.
With the relatively low price and advanced features, the exact manufacturer isn’t really all the important to know.
The single best feature for ghost hunters is that IR button. Instead of having to go into an operations menu and choose options from a tree of features, you can simply stop recording, switch to or out of IR, and start recording again.
Another nice feature concerning IR recording is the LED illuminator. It emits IR light for better infrared imaging. Unlike other cameras in a similar price range, you can also disable the IR LED. This effectively doubles battery life when in infrared mode. You can then add in a light bank of specialty lamps for the IR spectrum.
One of the other nice things that comes standard with this video camcorder is the level of customer service offered by the Cleveland Paranormal Supply Co. It’s a small company with a very specific business model, helping those intrepid souls who investigate paranormal activities.
Whether you are in it because of deep personal beliefs, or simply into the entertainment aspect, the CPS Co will be your friends.
2. Canon VIXIA HF R800 Camcorder Review
A small, lightweight video camcorder, this camera has an outstanding zoom range for such a diminutive tool. Optically, the zoom has a 32X range, extending to 57X digitally. This is so much zoom that it’s actually a little difficult to hand hold at maximum magnification. That’s a typical problem with smaller cameras and very long lenses.
That’s where Canon’s optical image stabilization comes in. The Vixia HF R800 has an image stabilization system that helps ensure better recordings when dealing with camera motion from shaky hands or even walking around.
Even with a feature like this, it can be sorely taxed by a combination of low light, hand holding, and lower temperatures.
A view screen that doubles as a touch screen for camera control menus makes this smaller camera relatively easy to operate in the field under difficult situations. Not having to press tiny buttons to access deep menu options is a lot better to use when filming under what could be viewed as stressful conditions.
There are also some special recording options available in camera. A slow motion mode is available as well as a fast motion mode. You can film and playback right in camera for a slo-mo effect of rapid action.
Or you can record about 20 hours of video for playback in about 60 seconds. This can really add to the interest level of any surveillance video.
A high capacity, long life battery pack is included as regular equipment for this camcorder. The battery indicator on the viewscreen shows a real time indicator of the exact amount of charge left.
One other feature useful for surveillance and ghost hunting investigations is that the R800 can connect with the Canon Connect Station CS100. This compact device has a full 1TB of storage. That equates to about 150,000 photographs or 70 hours of video.
The camera connects to the CS100 with a USB cable and the simple operation of transfer or playback can be readily done in the field.
3. Sony 4K HD Video Recording FDRAX33 Handycam Camcorder Review
Sony came up with a great idea for a camcorder, design a superior video camera lens, and then build an amazingly full featured camcorder to take advantage of that lens. No surprise that this video camcorder makes the list of best cameras for ghost hunting.
First thing to say about the lens is that it’s a Carl Zeiss zoom lens. Specifically, the Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* f/1.8-3.8 Wide Zoom lens. Zeiss lenses are high quality, the T* designation signifies the lens has advanced anti reflection coating on the elements, important for small zooms with lots of elements.
It’s a 10X zoom (with up to 20X digital zooming), which may not seem like much to some readers, but this zoom starts out wider than most other zooms on small camcorders.
This can really be beneficial for the type of remote or low profile surveillance situations that this camera is likely to used for. Besides the surveillance or ghost hunting, general use of this camcorder for vacationers, YouTubers, and others will benefit from having a wider angle lens.
An image stabilization function allows for shooting in low light or when walking around. The faster than usual lens also helps provide great low light recording. NFC and Wi-Fi allow a lot of options including synching up to five cameras together for simultaneous recording of the same event.
The touch screen menu controls and a very nice microphone round out some features that should provide a high quality recording of whatever subjects you’re in to. There is even manual control of certain functions, focus, exposure, white balance, iris, and shutter speed.
The price of this excellent video camcorder is the only thing that may hold back some people from considering it. It’s about double to three times the cost of some other cameras we looked at.
However, when you factor in the fantastic wider than average lens, the advanced controls, and ease of use, you do get a lot of bang for your bucks spent.
4. Panasonic Full HD Camcorder HC-V770 Review
This camera has an interesting feature and capability built in to it. You can link to another camera via the Twin Video Capture function. Link your compatible smartphone video camera for a picture-in-picture (PIP) view of a different camera angle or position to be recorded along with the main camera recording.
Using the Panasonic camera app on your smartphone or tablet, you can also control almost all camera functions remotely and monitor what is being recorded from a distance. You can also use function to record on a different device or for live video surveillance, making the HC-V770 one of the best cameras for ghost hunting.
Looking at the other features of this camera, we find it has a 20X optical zoom lens. Optical zoom is always going to give you better video, clearer looking images, than a digital zoom. Digital zoom is nice to have, it keeps cameras and lenses smaller, but it definitely comes with a sacrifice, image quality.
Another reason for digital zoom is to give you that boost when you need it, it can be a great tool. Just be aware of the differences between optical and digital zoom.
A design feature that makes this camera a good choice for low light surveillance is the back side illumination imaging sensor.
What a BSI sensor adds to your capabilities is that it provides higher quality recordings because of cutting back on digital noise. In low light situations, one of the things that degrade image quality is electronic noise. Contrast issues are one of the other problems in low light imaging.
High quality audio recording and a really effective image stabilization function also add to the value of this camera for surveillance work. An interesting feature in several Panasonic video camcorders, including this one, is called Level Shot.
When turned on, it basically takes your uneven hand holding stance and corrects it before it even makes it to the film stock. I mean video tape. I mean whatever! You get the idea.
This camera also has manual controls for Focus, White Balance Mode and Settings, Shutter Speed, Iris, Sharpness, Color Saturation, and Brightness.
This camera is not as expensive as prosumer models, but is quite a bit higher priced than simple camcorders.
5. Canon VIXIA HF G20 HD Camcorder with HD CMOS Pro and 32GB Internal Flash Memory
Canon makes some of the best digital video cameras available, the G20 is another good example of this basic statement. It is a prosumer level video camcorder with a built in zoom lens and extremely high quality recording of both audio and visual.
It’s expensive, but not nearly as expensive as their pro series cinematic video products. If you need better video quality than this camera, you’ll need to examine DSLRs with video recording or the specially made for video interchangeable lens, larger sensor video cameras. Both Canon and Sony make a fine line of professional video cameras.
This prosumer level camera is good enough that you can find some professional videographers using this as either a B-roll camera or as back up. For anyone breaking into professional video or simply wanting a superior camera than the run of the mill small camcorder, this is one of the better choices available.
Basically, what makes this camera better than entry level camcorders is a combination of heavier duty build quality and better than average optical and sensor quality.
So, though it may look like the less expensive has similar features, this camera does it all better. Kind of like with a car. You can drive basic transportation or an exotic super car. But, in between is the better than average sedan or SUV. That’s the G20 for video.
Basic features of this camera are a 10X high quality zoom lens, a larger, high MP sensor, and a wide range of usable video camera features. Manual control of almost every aspect of video recording is available, or use canon’s very capable automation.
The camera is also quite a bit heavier than most entry level camcorders, but if you are wanting the best cameras for ghost hunting, surveillance, or general purpose video recording, it’s hard to beat the quality of this G20 from Canon.
Some other things that makes this camera a good choice is that it is part of a complete system of high end video recording equipment. You can attach external microphones, controllers, and recorders to the G20 in order to expand your capabilities.
How to capture paranormal activity with a camera
One of the most important factors in this genre of videography is low light performance and infrared recording. Remote recording ability and long battery life is also vital.
Many of the same techniques for low light or remote videography will apply to ghost hunting. Using a high ISO or otherwise increasing the sensitivity of the sensor.
Other low light techniques can be employed, such as using a tripod or other camera mount.
Holding the camera by hand is another option, but in very low light conditions, this usually isn’t the best option. If you are going hand hold it, be sure to practice your hand holding techniques before you get out into the field. You can also consider a gimbal, unless you’re actually going for the ‘shaky-cam’ effect.
Some additional techniques or options to consider is a bank of infrared (IR) lights to take advantage of your camera’s IR recoding mode. With a light bank, you could comfortably hand hold any video or still camera.
Some paranormal researchers seem to think that being with the camera is the best way to capture interesting footage, others prefer using their equipment remotely. If this is your preferred method of operation, you’ll need to either have your equipment plugged into a wall socket or have long life batteries.
The best cameras for ghost hunting give you those options.
You might find some of the other tips listed on these web pages useful:
- 10 beginner tips for capturing ghosts
- How to conduct a ghost hunt (wikihow)
- Ghost hunting tips and adventures
How I found the Best cameras for ghost hunting
The features you’ll want in your cameras for ghost hunting are the similar to the requirements for surveillance or other surreptitious or low light videography and photography.
- Video Quality. A primary consideration for most video endeavors, image quality is especially important in low light or false color applications. If the shooting conditions are already iffy, having less than outstanding video image quality can make or break the shot.
- Night Mode. A video camera with a night mode optimizes the settings for best low light performance. You can accomplish the same things by changing all the relevant settings yourself, but a night mode is easier to deal with in rapidly changing video situations.
- Infrared recording. Also labeled as IR, this recording mode is very important for certain types of surveillance and virtually indispensable for paranormal investigating.
- Battery Life. For remote surveillance, low light, cold, and all night sessions, good battery life is essential.
- Besides the visual element, surveillance and ghost hunting alike can benefit from good audio recording and reproduction. Either a very good built in mic, or the ability to attach an external mic of some kind will help ensure that you get good audio.
- Flip Screen. Purely for convenience, a flip screen makes video recording easier in low light situations.