What equipment do I need to start out?
One of the questions people often email me about is equipment. There is no shortage of equipment out there that is marketed towards paranormal investigators. Some is custom built specifically for paranormal investigation, while others were simply 'electrical tools'. It also isn't cheap. Some pieces of equipment cost over $300 for one piece of equipment. This is why we say it can become an expensive hobby. Not everyone has a spare $300 in their pocket to splash on a piece of equipment they may or may not find useful. So what do you need in your 'kit' if you are starting out?
This is what I believe to be a staple item. A digital recorder is used to record your paranormal investigation sessions. You play back your recording to see if you can hear any voices that you didn't hear with the human ear. It is called an EVP. If you are at a level where you are asking about equipment, you will know what an EVP is. You can get digital recorders ranging from under $30 and upwards of $400. You can even use the voice recording software on your mobile phone. If you are going to use your mobile phone, remember it will interfere with other pieces of equipment if you are using them. For anaylising your EVP, I recommend Audacity. It is free software that allows you to play back, trim and even enhance your clips if you wish. I personally don't enhance EVP's because I believe that when a good EVP presents itself it needs no modification. Remember once you 'enhance' a piece of audio you are changing it. Some people can fall into a trap of over enhancing which can make a simple start sound like a voice thanks to audio pareidolia. If EVP is something you are starting to dive into, you will work out what works for you. Everyone is different. Once you have done a lot of work with EVP, you can start to do more experiments and maybe start using a white noise generator which is said to aid your sessions and then it may be time to invest in a better recorder, but when you are starting out, you don't need to buy a really expensive fancy one. If an EVP is going to happen, it will happen.
Converted Video Camera with nightshot or IR Light
A lot of people like to set up static video cameras or use a hand held video camera. As it is dark, they either use Sony cameras which have the nightshot function or a converted video camera where essentially a protective lens is removed. You then use an IR light and you can see in the dark. These images look either green or pink depending. They feel they may capture things like light anomalies or shadow people. I personally use a video camera for a very different reason. The video camera gives you a matter of fact non bias view of what really happened. It is great to use when reviewing a personal experience or anything that has happened during an investigation. Firstly it can see in the dark. If you are walking around in the dark, someone can knock something and not realise. A video camera will capture this, allowing you to debunk it. Sometimes it is also really easy to get caught up in the moment. When you watch it back, you may have more of an insight into what has really happened. If you do capture something you can't explain, well that is just a bonus. Some people like to also use a digital still camera. I used to do this alot, however I don't anymore. After studying photography, I am not personally convinced that anything I have seen in photos is paranormal. Everything from orbs, to shadows, to lens flare and even pareidolia are major factors when it comes to photos. If it is something you want to do go for it. If you google how to convert a camera to IR, you can find many youtube videos showing you how to do it. You can do it with cheap $30 dollar digital cameras. Remember you will need to also buy an IR light. If this is a bit complicated many places online sell them pre converted and even sell them as a pack with an IR light. Just remember, no matter how someone markets them, they are not full spectrum cameras as it is impossible to see the full spectrum of light. They will allow you to see in IR using an IR light and in UV if you decide to use an UV light. Just make sure if you are going to do any kind of photography, don't use a flash. A flash is what causes a lot of these 'orbs' and lens flares etc as it is simply the way light bounces off things.
Notepad and Pen
This is something that often gets overlooked. At the end of each vigil, write down your experiences. What you are doing is creating a log. Our brains aren't so good at remembering things. If you write it down straight after it happens, you are likely to have a much more accurate account of what happened than if you tried to remember a few days later. By putting all this information together, it also allows you to see if there are any patterns etc. Some people like to just write it down while others like to make up a form which is like an investigation report. It can be very easy to put this one aside, but try to do it. Try to include things like the weather outside, the phase in the moon cycle, the time things have occurred. To me, this is where the real investigative work begins.
Flashlight/lanterns, red lights
This should be a given, however I can't tell you how many times I have gone to an investigation and forgotten my flashlight. Try to always have one in your bag or kit. It is for no other reason than your own safety. When you are walking around in the dark in an unfamiliar setting, it is easy to bump into things or even fall down stairs. You can also set up lanterns around the property and using red light is good as well. It doesn't do anything to enhance the paranormal side of things, but it provides enough light for people to see without making it too bright or straining on the eyes. If you have red lights set up around the room, you can also take photos and video using a normal camera that hasn't been converted as there is just enough light to see. Do remember though that you don't have to switch the lights of or even investigate only at night. Since most people will be investigating at night with the lights off, some form of light is a must!
Always have a supply of batteries on hand. They will go flat at inopportune times. If you have a video camera, carry a spare charged battery with you so that if it happens to go flat, you have a backup. Batteries can and will go flat and the worst possible time, so always have a spare on you.
Do I need fancy light up equipment?
If it were up to me, I would investigate with my recorder, my camera and my notepad. For me this is all I need. There is of course a range of light up equipment out there that people like to use. A KII is one of them. I personally do not like KII meters. They were originally developed for electricians to find live wires in the walls. They are designed to pick up an electrical source. They light up when they pick this up. They also light up when they pick up radio waves as well such as walkie talkies. It means it is possible for a truck to drive past and it could possibly set it off. It means that if your mobile phone is on it can set it off. There is too much room for false positives when it comes to a KII. If you really want something to read EMF, I would suggest a Mel Meter. It gives you are reading in numbers and also gives you the temperature in the room. If you really want to splurge there is a model with an antenna with a REM POD which will light up if something comes within the field of the REM POD. Leave the KII at home. You can also buy an actual REM POD which are very expensive, however again I would suggest an all in one Mel Meter it gives the best value for money and a REM POD is a REM POD. It is a type of touch sensor so it doesn't have to be the famous red circle you see on TV.
What about ITC?
There is no shortage of spirit boxes, portals and apps out there that allow us to 'talk' to the other side. There is even a device called the ovilus where the spirit can supposedly make a word appear on the screen. For me, ITC is how you interpret the results. You are either someone that likes using spirit boxes etc or you aren't so this one is a very personal choice.
Ultimately the equipment you use is based on how you investigate and what you believe works or not. I think start off with the basic kit above and then you can add onto it based on what you think you need. Attend investigations hosted by a tour company. They should have the latest in technology so you can see it in action. Ask them questions about how it works and decide for yourself if you think it is worth it. In the past I have purchased equipment because I have seen it on TV, but when it actually arrives, it is nothing like I thought. Before making that financial commitment, make sure you have seen it and more importantly understand how it works. There is no point using a piece of equipment if you don't understand how it works. You need to be able to interpret the results - including any false positives so this knowledge is essential.
So that is pretty much my advice when it comes to equipment. Start small and then work out what kind of investigator you are. Don't feel pressured to use a piece of equipment just because everyone else is using it. If it is too expensive, it doesn't mean you can't investigate. There are also a lot of cheap old school methods you can use as well. Start out with your digital recorder and do some EVP work. This is really the bones of investigating and if you had to choose one piece of equipment, this should be it. From there, you can go as far as you want! Remember as well, one of the best pieces of equipment you can use is yourself. Your senses are heightened. Take it all in. What are you seeing, smelling, hearing and feeling?
Where do I buy equipment?
Oz Paratech are your first stop shop here in Australia for equipment. They have pretty much anything and if they don't, they can usually get it in. It saves you a lot of money in shipping. When you buy direct from the supplier overseas, you often pay more in shipping than the actual piece of equipment. They also offer Afterpay making it more affordable.
WD Paraproduct are the best out there when it comes to IR lights for your video and still cameras. They also ship worldwide.
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