Photographic Equipment

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An Integral Part of Paranormal Investigation

When taking photographs during a paranormal investigation, it is important to know the short comings of your camera, as well as the important features. This is in order not so much to avoid contamination or anomalies, because those are a fact of life with digital photography, but to determine whether or not the anomalies are caused by your camera.

Most of the time you will be taking photographs with your camera in automatic mode, which activates the flash. Set your camera to the highest mega-pixel resolution that your camera is capable of when doing so. Does the number of pixels affect the quality or likelihood of capturing an apparition? Not at all; but it does allow you to zoom in on critical sections of your photographs for closer examination without losing clarity of the image the closer you zoom in.

What is more important than pixelization is the amount of memory your camera is capable of storing data to and how you download your camera’s images to your PC for analysis. Memory sticks (flash memory) are getting quite inexpensive, and can be used over and over again (the beauty of digital photography that you’re not paying for film to be developed). So get the largest size memory card you can afford, and if at all possible get a second or third memory card as a backup, because the more mega-pixels you have, the more memory it requires, and the less number of photos you can take.

The speed at which your camera saves files to the camera’s memory is quite important. When you’re in a hot spot during an investigation and your camera hangs up with each photograph it takes, you could miss that perfect shot because your camera is not ready! Fresh batteries will also allow you to be sure that your camera is operating at optimal speed.

Basically there are four categories of cameras to choose from, with two basic body styles we’ll be discussing in the next few sections. Remember, the purpose of this article is not to help you understand the technology or the marketing of cameras …it’s to help you understand how to determine and analyze contamination in your digital photographs before calling them “paranormally significant.” But before we get into that, we need to start with the cameras themselves.

Ultra-Compact Digital Cameras – $100 – $300

anasonic Lumix F3 Canon Powershot SD1400 IS Sony Cybershot WX5
Quality is typically sketchy at this price point, but Panasonic puts forth a solid effort with the F3. It puts together a respectable 12.1 megapixel sensor and a fast, 4x zoom lens with optical image stabilization. It takes great flash pictures within its (admittedly limited) range and has some great features including nine-point focusing and high-speed single point focusing, face detection, and Panasonic’s excellent Intelligent Auto Mode which balances focus and exposure for the best-looking shots in any given situation.

In short, it’s a solid snapshooter, nothing more.As long as you set your expectations accordingly, you should be happy with this little guy. You can have this camera at around $120.

At under $300, it’s hard not to like the Canon SD1400 IS. The SD line has been a consistent performer and the SD1400IS is no different. It’s also their slimmest ultra-compact to date. Key features include quick startup and auto focus, as well as the stellar DIGIC IV processor and an upgraded 4x zoom that will handle most small groups and portraits quite nicely. It does have a few flaws, like the noise that steadily creeps in above ISO 200, and you won’t see anything of detail while on a photo safari.

But for parties and those kiddie moments, it’s a great point-and-shoot option to stuff in your pocket.And with the ability to shoot HD video in 720p, video on the go is both crisp and convenient. It’s available in four colors. A good choice for $250.

Sony always puts out sexy ultra-compacts, but the WX5 actually includes some exciting tech inside as well, using every trick in the book to help it outperform your typical small-sensor pocket camera. It can shoot up to 10 frames per second and uses some software magic to create low-noise composite images.

It’s apparently capable to shooting rudimentary 3D images too.All this comes in a truly sleek and minuscule camera body featuring a 5x zoom, 1080i HD video, and a 3-inch touchscreen. Whew. All that for a reasonable $299.

The ultra compact digital cameras range from 5 mega-pixel to 12 mega-pixel resolution and are often limited to storing your photographs only in a .jpg format. The cameras are usually thin and lightweight, easy and convenient to carry around. The controls and capabilities of the cameras vary depending on the manufacturer, as do the features, such as manual controls, small buttons and dials, built-in flash, viewfinder, and zoom. Some units do not have a view finder and rely on a digital screen for viewing the subject. Some include a plug-in rechargeable battery, while others require the standard commercial batteries. Most are easy to use, work fairly well, and require little maintenance.

You are probably looking for simplicity in camera operation when you buy any compact digital camera. You want a camera that is easy to use, compact (as the name implies), lightweight, and simply point-and-shoot. Some of these cameras offer scene modes with manual over-ride controls, totally automatic or semi-automatic controls with no addition equipment required. Again, the view finder is sometimes a digital screen, and the flash is built-in and automatic. This equipment is not quite the least expensive, but a very good buy for the image quality. The cameras are moderately priced, depending on the features and number of mega-pixels you’re requiring. They are certainly good cameras for the budget oriented who are still willing to pay a little bit more

Advanced Digital Cameras – over $300

Canon Powershot G12 Nikon P7000 Panasonic Lumix LX5
10 megapixel; 5x optical zoom; 28mm wide-angle; Optical image stabilization; 2.8-inch LCD monitor; 720p HD video; 1.7-inch CCD sensor; Max aperture f2.8; Optical viewfinder; and High dynamic range shooting. The G12 is Canon’s latest high-end compact, an excellent camera for photo enthusiasts and anyone interested in very sharp shots from a small camera. The G series has traditionally been very well received in the photo-enthusiast community, so Canon stuck to the formula: it sports the same sensor, similar body, and familiar interface over last year’s G11. Notable upgrades include 720p HD video, a high-sensitivity system (also seen in the SD4000 and S95 this year), and an upgraded image stabilization system.

It may be considerably bulkier than the S95, which won’t work for everyone, but for an all-around high-performance compact, there’s no substitute. Yours for about $419.00.

The 10.1 megapixel P7000 is Nikon’s foray into enthusiast/high-end compact territory, a direct competitor to powerful shooters like the Canon G11, Samsung TL500, and Panasonic LX5.

The goal here is excellent image quality, achieved with a larger-than-average CCD sensor, a powerful processor, high sensitivity, RAW shooting, full manual control, and heightened image stabilization. The feature that really makes the P7000 stand out from its peers is the 7.1x zoom lens, the longest we’ve seen on any high-end compact.

The twin-dial interface is also the most dSLR-like of the bunch. Image quality and low-light performance will determine if this camera becomes a favorite in this competitive field, but judging by the specs alone, this looks like a great camera to complement a dSLR set-up or help budding photographers. We found it for $399.00 on-line!

Another 10 megapixel camera from Panasonic, the Lumix DMC-LX5 is the much-anticipated successor to the LX3, a compact digital camera that proved especially popular with experienced photographers due to its fast lens, full range of manual shooting modes and RAW file support. The new LX5 aims to build on the success of its predecessor with a new 3.8x, 24-90mm zoom lens, large 1/1.63-inch 10 megapixel CCD sensor and HD movie recording with Creative Movie Mode for adjusting both the shutter speed and aperture. Other key improvements to the LX5 include a re-designed user interface, Power OIS anti-shake system, Intelligent Resolution technology and an optional electronic viewfinder.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 is available now in black or white for about $385.00 on the Internet.

When you’re looking for a camera with more advanced features to satisfy creativity, or which are built with better lenses, these cameras are all-inclusive, yet are still fairly compact and easy to port around. Think of them as advanced cameras made for lazy photographers who want the simplicity of a point and shoot yet the added benefits of optional manual controls and a variety of advanced features. Many of the models include mega telephoto zoom lenses, while others provide wide-angle capabilities. These units also have view finders built-in, or rely on a digital screen, and the flash units are automatic and built-in. Some even have add-ons available such as converter lenses, remote control, external flash and filters. Some models even have image stabilization technology. They are priced in the moderate to high category. These models are very popular among digital camera enthusiasts.

Near-pro Digital Single Lens Reflex Cameras – $499 – $1499

   
Pentax K-20 Canon EOS 7D  Nikon D7000
 Pentax is a name that will evoke fond memories for many photographers whose first SLR experience would have been with a Spotmatic, KM, K1000 or ME Super. Although the company’s market position isn’t as well entrenched as it was during the halcyon days of 35mm film, it continues to attract a devoted following of enthusiasts. The K-7, Pentax’s latest enthusiast/semi-pro level DSLR. Also has a handsome feature list. The sleek, pared-down elegance is a nice change for Pentax, but it’s what’s on the inside that has changed the most: although the megapixel count remains the same, just about everything that matters has been replaced, revised or spruced-up.For 15.1 megapixels, this camera is actually quite an improvement with a wish-list full of features that of most photographic enthusiasts crave and only around $899.00 retail. (Lenses not incl.)  Canon did not shy away from the megapixel race, as the new Canon 7D has a demonstrated with its new 18-megapixel APS-C sensor with a 1.6x crop factor. Each pixel is 4.3 microns in size. Designed for speed, this camera with dual DIGIC 4 chips to speed processing of these large 14-bit files, as well as keep up with the shutter’s 8-frame-per-second top speed. Even the sensor had to be tweaked to enable such speed, with an 8-channel readout to more quickly draw the image off the sensor.

The Canon 7D’s buffer can handle 94 JPEGs at top speed, or 15 RAW images, great for chasing elusive ghosts.What is clear is that the Canon EOS 7D is replete with features, many of which seem like the fulfillment of an enthusiast checklist. but for a price around $1600, and worth every cent! (Lenses not incl.)

 he D7000 is a powerful and feature-packed DSLR which once again illustrates Nikon’s canny ability to satisfy the desires of both gadget fanatics and traditional photographers. Offering semi-pro performance without the complexity, Unlike some rivals which appear to concentrate on the latest must-have technologies, Nikon never loses sight of what traditional photographers want. So along with 1080p movies, a microphone input, dual memory card slots and auto-focusing while filming, the D7000 also features faster continuous shooting, greater viewfinder coverage, more sophisticated metering, and above average construction for its class.

There’s something for everyone here.Bottom line here, is that the D7000’s 16 Megapixel sensor can deliver you excellent results at around $1200 on-line.(Lenses not incl.)

Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras are quickly becoming the preferred medium for serious amateur and professional photographers. Of course, they are higher priced than their counterparts above, sometimes from three to five times more expensive. However, many serious amateur photographers find the benefits justify the expense. DSLR cameras have many benefits compared to the combined lens and body cameras, such as multiple detachable lenses, each of which is designed for specific purposes; wide-angle, portrait, telephoto, and other specialty lenses like Infra-red (IR) or low light-no flash. The detachable lenses have higher-quality optics, making for sharper images. Files can be saved in a multitude of formats, including RAW data (data that never loses its quality when resized), or standard formats like .jpg, .tiff, .png, etc.

A DSLR’s viewfinder allows the photographer to see directly through the lens as the image is taken, unlike most cameras that use a viewfinder system. This allows the image to reflect exactly what will come out on the photograph without it being offset, providing a truer perspective. The flash units are usually an add-on piece of hardware; however, some lower-end units have one built-in. These units elevate and disperse the light at a better angle, often avoiding anomalous contamination.

Digital Rebel XT2i EOS Digital SLR Camera

The camera we’re currently using is a few years old, but still Incredibly advanced and remarkably simple. the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT2i offered us an unbeatable combination of performance, ease-of-use and value. At the time it was introduced, it had a newly designed 10.1 MP Canon CMOS sensor plus a host of new features including a 2.5-inch LCD monitor, with the exclusive EOS Integrated Cleaning System featuring a Self Cleaning Sensor and Canon’s Picture Style technology, all in a lightweight, ergonomic body. The Digital Rebel XTi is proof positive that Canon continues to lead the way with their phenomenal digital SLRs.

Features of this camera model include high performance digital SLR with 10.1 Megapixel Canon CMOS Sensor & DIGIC II Image Processor. The unit is compact and Powerful and has performed digital SLR high-definition clarity with its 10.1 Megapixel Canon CMOS sensor and DIGIC II Image processor. With an effective pixel resolution, the EOS Digital Rebel XT2i offers our team superb detail and clarity with every photograph we’ve taken. And the Canon’s CMOS sensor, each pixel is captured with fine detail to create images of tremendous depth and resolution, ensuring enough information for even poster-sized prints. Which is important when needing to zoom into an area of an investigation for a closer look.

EOS Rebel T5i – a NEW Look from Canon

We’re not going to bore you with the old technical specifications of the XT2i, because instead of replacing its tired, old XS, XT, XSi & XT2i models to compete with younger, sprier sub-$700 models from Nikon, Sony, and Pentax in that extremely popular price segment, Canon chose to release an update to its more expensive T1i in the less competitive $800-$1,000 range, as well Canon included a new EOS Rebel T5i – that offer some notable enhancements to its successor XT2i in video capabilities.

Users will be impressed at how simple and intuitive it is to create breathtaking photos with ease. The incredible image quality and performance starts with an 18.0 Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor and Canon’s superb DIGIC 5 Image Processor. Combined with an extensive ISO range of 100-12800 (expandable to 25600 in H mode), the EOS Rebel T5i boasts crisp, detailed images, even in low-light situations. A continuous shooting speed of up to 5.0 fps allows for fast action capture. 9 cross-type AF focus points help ensure crisp focus throughout the frame, and the Hybrid CMOS AF system enables speedy and accurate autofocus when shooting in Live View mode. In addition, the camera is compatible with Canon STM lenses for smooth, quiet AF performance. And the performance doesn’t stop with photos. EOS Full HD Movie mode with Movie Servo AF makes shooting high quality movies easy, and the brilliant Vari-angle Touch Screen 3.0-inch Clear View LCD monitor II makes composing fun. Seven Creative Filters, now viewable in real-time, puts composition control directly in your hands and is just one of the many features of the EOS Rebel T5i that is sure to renew your creative soul and perfect for the serious researcher.

Features:

  • 18.0 Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor, 14-bit A/D conversion, ISO 100-12800 (expandable to H: 25600) for shooting from bright to dim light and high performance DIGIC 5 Image Processor for exceptional image quality and speed.
  • High-speed continuous shooting up to 5.0 fps allows you to capture the action.
  • 9-point all cross-type AF system (including a high-precision dual-cross f/2.8 center point) for exceptional autofocus performance when shooting with the viewfinder and Hybrid CMOS AF increases autofocus speed when shooting photos and movies in Live View.
  • EOS Full HD Movie mode with Movie Servo AF for continuous focus tracking of moving subjects, manual exposure control and multiple frame rates (1080: 30p (29.97) / 24p (23.976) / 25p, 720: 60p (59.94) / 50p, 480: 30p (29.97) / 25p), built-in stereo microphone, manual audio level adjustment, and Video Snapshot with editing for expanded movie shooting options.
  • Vari-angle Touch Screen 3.0-inch Clear View LCD monitor II (approximately 1,040,000 dots) with smudge-resistant coating features multi-touch operation and Touch AF for an easy and intuitive experience, flexible positioning, and clear viewing even when outdoors.
  • Scene Intelligent Auto Mode delivers expertly optimized photos and offers improved scene detection for amazing results when shooting at night.
  • Expand your creativity with advanced imaging features like Handheld Night Scene mode, HDR Backlight Control mode, and seven Creative Filters that can be displayed in real-time during Live View shooting.
  • Multi Shot Noise Reduction provides outstanding noise reduction while preserving precious detail at high ISO speeds.
  • Compatibility with SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards, including Ultra High Speed (UHS-I) cards.
  • Compatible with the full line of Canon EF and EF-S lenses.

Additional Features:

  • Lens Aberration Correction
  • Feature Guide
  • GPS Compatible
  • JPEG Resizing
  • Photobook Set-up
  • Image Rating
  • Scene Mode Position
Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price:
EOS Rebel T5i 18-55mm IS STM Kit
Estimated Retail Price: $899.99


Our Latest Addition – The Canon 70D DSLR

During the early days of digital SLRs, Canon was pretty much the undisputed leader in CMOS image sensor technology. Almost every new EOS model came with an increase in resolution and high ISO range, and when the EOS 7D appeared in late 2009, the company had progressed from 3MP to 18MP, and ISO 1600 to ISO 12800, in just over nine years. But since then Canon’s APS-C cameras have all sported variants on the same basic sensor design, to the extent that you could be forgiven for wondering what on earth their engineers were doing all day. Now we know.

The EOS 70D is a mid-range SLR for enthusiast photographers that from the outside looks like a sensible, indeed desirable upgrade to the EOS 60D. It borrows many of the best bits from Canon’s existing SLRs, including the autofocus sensor from the EOS 7D, the fully articulated touchscreen from the EOS 700D (Rebel T5i), and built-in Wi-Fi from the EOS 6D. But on the inside it sports an entirely new sensor that is, potentially, revolutionary. It offers 20.2MP resolution, but uses a ‘Dual Pixel CMOS AF’ design in which every single pixel is split into two separately-readable photodiodes, facing left and right. This means that in principle they are all capable of phase detection autofocus in live view and movie mode.

On-chip phase detection is nothing new – we first saw it in the Fujifilm F300EXR back in 2010. Since then it’s been adopted in one form or another by most manufacturers, with arguably its most successful implementation coming in Nikon’s 1 System mirrorless models. But because until now it’s used relatively few active pixels scattered sparsely across the sensor, it’s had practical limitations, often only covering a restricted area of the frame and struggling once the light drops below outdoor daylight levels. Canon says that its Dual Pixel AF system, in contrast, works across an area 80% of the frame width and height, in light levels as low as 0 EV, and at apertures down to F11. This means it could well be the most capable live view autofocus system we’ve yet seen on any type of camera.

We’ll look at the technology behind the EOS 70D’s live view AF in more detail later, but let’s not forget that it has to work as a conventional SLR too. To this end it uses the same 19-point AF sensor as the EOS 7D for viewfinder shooting, but with slightly simplified control options in firmware. It can rattle shots off at 7fps for up to 65 frames in JPEG or 16 in Raw, and its standard ISO range covers 100-12800, with ISO 25600 as an expanded option. Image processing is via the DIGIC 5+ processor first seen in the EOS 5D Mark III.

In terms of control layout the EOS 70D is a logical evolution of the EOS 60D, adopting many of Canon’s intervening updates and improvements. So it offers a full set of external controls to operate most key functions, and Canon’s well-designed Quick Control screen to cover pretty much everything else. It also adopts the superb touchscreen interface that debuted on the EOS 650D (Rebel T4i), which we’ve found to be more useful than you might at first think. The 70D also regains an array of features that disappeared between the EOS 50D and 60D, such as AF microadjustment.

Canon EOS 70D key Features

  • 20.2MP APS-C ‘Dual Pixel CMOS AF’ sensor
  • DIGIC 5+ image processor
  • ISO 100-12800 standard, 25600 expanded
  • 7fps continuous shooting, burst depth 65 JPEG / 16 Raw
  • ‘Silent’ shutter mode
  • 1080p30 video recording, stereo sound via external mic
  • 19-point AF system, all points cross-type, sensitive to -0.5 EV
  • 63-zone iFCL metering system
  • 98% viewfinder coverage, 0.95x magnification, switchable gridlines and electronic level display
  • Fully-articulated touchscreen, 1040k dot 3″ ClearView II LCD, 3:2 aspect ratio
  • Single SD/SDHC/SDXC card slot
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • Single-axis electronic level
  • Built-in flash works as off-camera remote flash controller
  • AF microadjustment (can be set individually for up to 40 lenses, remembered by lens serial number)
  • In-camera High Dynamic Range and Multiple Exposure modes (JPEG-only)
  • ‘Creative Filter’ image processing styles, previewed in live view

Key Specs Compared

In the table below we see how some of the EOS 70D’s key specs measure up against its more expensive big brother, the EOS 7D, and its main rival, the Nikon D7100. What’s interesting here is just how close the 70D is to the 7D in terms of spec – in much the same way as Nikon’s D7000 made the D300S look almost redundant, it’s quite difficult to see why most Canon users would now choose the top-end APS-C model.

 Canon EOS 70D  Canon EOS 7D  Nikon D7100
 Effective Pixels   • 20.2 MP   • 18.0 MP
ISO Range   • 100-12800 standard
• 25600 expanded
  • 100-6400 standard
• 12800 expanded
  • 100-6400 standard
• 50-25600 expanded
 No. of AF points   • 19   • 19   • 51
 AF in live view   • Phase detection   • Contrast detection   • Contrast detection
Screen   • 3.0″ 3:2
• 1,040,000 dots
• Fully-articulated
• Touch sensitive
  • 3.0″ 4:3
• 920,000 dots
• Fixed
  • 3.2″ 4:3
• 1,228,800 dots
• Fixed
Viewfinder   • 98% coverage
• 0.95x magnification
  • 100% coverage
• 1.0x magnification
  • 100% coverage
• 0.94x magnification
Continuous Drive   • 7 fps   • 8 fps   • 6 fps
Storage   • SD/SDHC/SDXC   • Compact flash   • SD/SDHC/SDXC
• 2 slots
 Weight  (inc batteries)   • 755g (1.7 lb)   • 860g (1.9 lb)   • 765g (1.7 lb)
Dimensioin   • 139 x 104 x 79 mm
(5.5 x 4.1 x 3.1″)
  • 148 x 111 x 74 mm
(5.8 x 4.4 x 2.9″)
  • 136 x 107 x 76 mm
(5.4 x 4.2 x 3.0″)
Wi-Fi   • Built-in   • Optional   • Optional


Size and Design Compared to the EOS 60D


The EOS 70D directly replaces the EOS 60D in Canon’s range, and is very similar in terms of size and design. It’s a bit smaller though, and has a sensibly-updated control layout. Here we take a more-detailed look at the two cameras side-by-side.

From the front the EOS 70D looks almost identical to the 60D. But it’s slimmed down a bit, being fractionally narrower. Look a little closer and you can also see that the 60D’s front-facing mono microphone has gone (replaced by stereo mics on the top plate).
The two cameras are pretty similar from the back too, with the 70D retaining the same basic layout. It gains Canon’s improved live view/movie mode controller, and has a physical switch to lock the rear dial against accidental operation rather than a button. Other than that it uses all the same buttons, just not necessarily in the same order.

Kit Options and Pricing

The EOS 70D will be sold body-only for £1079 / $1199 / €1099
As a kit with the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM for £1199.99 / $1340 / €1249
With the EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens for £1399.99 $1549 / €1499
With the BG-E14 battery grip will cost £229.99 / $270 / €215.


Disclaimer – Although Desert Highlands Paranormal Research uses Canon and Olympus DSLR cameras above, it should be understood that the camera is only as good as the photographer. Nor do we recommend or suggest this equipment. It is here only for your comparison. However, before you buy anything, always do your research first!