Equipment:
A big part of what we do is use equipment to record and review footage of an investigation. We use the equipment to record various facets of data available from the environment around us. It's a matter to recording the data to set a baseline, then, comparing that data with the data at the time of the investigation. The move data that's recorded, the more potential for results. Never stop recording.
Basic Equipment Advanced Equipment Professional Equipment
Basic Equipment:

  • Identification: Probably the most important thing you can carry is identification. Whether you are investigating legally or illegally, ID is one of the most important things you need to carry. If the police should show up, you will be more respected if you have ID and are able to identify yourself if necessary. If so ordered by the authories, if you do not have ID, you are more likely to be detained even if you have permission to investigate an area. Most, if not all, states require official identification to be carried at all times. SMP and its investigators do not support illegal activities. Permission must be sought before an investigation is conducted. We do not condone trespassing. Please be respectful of others and obtain permission before entering property that is not your own.

  • Notebook and Pen: You should log as much information of your investigation as possible. At a minimum, you will \ want to note the date, time, temperature, and humidity. It’s also very helpful to note the immediate surroundings such as neighboring structures, highways, and utilities. Document any paranormal activity witnessed. If possible, record all equipment readings and all photographs. If you choose to use a pencil over a pen, remember to bring a pencil sharpener.

  • Flashlight: Even if you intend to conduct your investigation during the day, you may need a flashlight for exploring a basement or other poorly lit structure. I recommend one per person and at least one spare.

  • Camera: Since you hope your camera will capture paranormal proof you should use the best quality camera you can get your hands on. Inexpensive cameras use low quality components such as cheap lenses and mirrors. Film-based or digital, just make sure it’s of good to excellent quality. Digital cameras should have image sensors of 4 mega-pixels or greater and should be set to use their highest resolution. Some paranormal groups are instructing people not to use digital cameras. They claim that digital cameras “are known to produce false orbs”. It must be made clear, there is no such thing as a “false orb” since all “orbs” are false positives. In fact the term “orbs” is very misleading. An orb is a sphere, a 3D object. The airborne particle reflections (APR) that are so often mistaken for something paranormal do not have any 3D attributes. All air has particles floating in it and when hit with the flash of a camera some of these particles will reflect a disc of light.
    • Update: A clarification must be made here. According to the law of odds, with all of the possible contaminents in our atmosphere (dust, lint, pollen, dander, hair, smoke, moisture, etc) one cannot clearly identify an arial reflection as a contaminent or paranormal. Neither science nor study has found a clear and precise way to differentiate between instances.

  • Voice Recorder with External Microphone: Voice recorders provide a dual purpose. They assist in note taking while conducting interviews and they may also capture Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP). Analog or tape recorders coupled with an external microphone (mic) will offer you the best sound quality. The mic should be omni directional (boundary mics work best) and have as short a cable as possible. Long cables can pick up radio frequency interference (RFI) which in turn could create false positives or at the very least put your EVP recordings in question. Many investigators will run their EVP recordings through computer software to clean up the recording in hopes of making an EVP clearer. To get an EVP from an analog recorder onto the computer, the recording must be played back while being re-recorded by the computer. This is where the digital voice recorders shine. Many include a USB interface so that the recordings can be uploaded to the computer as easily as transferring a file. Make sure you configure your digital recorder to capture with the least amount of compression and at its highest sampling rate.

  • Camcorder: The video camcorder can serve to capture paranormal activity and also to document your investigation. As with the camera, use the best you can afford, keeping in mind that any video camera is better than no video camera. Some camcorders offer the ability to film in near infrared (NIR) light. These camcorders can be used with no visible light source (i.e. pitch black). Most NIR-capable camcorders have a built-in infrared light source (illuminator). Again, it’s better than nothing, but if your budget allows, you may wish to acquire an external or mountable IR illuminator. Be sure it emits waves in the 850-1000 nanometer (nm) range of the spectrum.

  • Batteries: Always check your batteries just prior to an investigation and bring extra batteries for all your electronic devices.


© Southern Maryland Paranormal, SMP & Paranormal Research in Southern Maryland (PRISM)
Advanced Equipment:

  • Non-mechanical Pencil: In part one, it was recommended that you carry a notebook and pen. Pens are indeed a viable way of recording data. However, because a pen is mechanical, there may be problems that an investigator may experience in the field that will hinder their ability to record data. This is why we recommend a standard non-mechanical pencil. If a tip breaks it can easily be sharpened with a small sharpener, on in a pinch a pocket knife. (Just be certain to not litter the area with pencil shavings.)

  • Compass: In addition to its obvious uses for orienting, a compass can be an important tool for the investigator in the detection of magnetic field anomolies. It is hypothesized that spirits may interfere with magnetic fields, and it may possible to find some of these variations using a simple tool like a compass.

  • 2-way Radio: Communication is critical. If you are in the field with a team of investigators, it is highly recommended that teams carry a 2-way radio. It can be used to determine the source of a sound or its location. It is also good in the event of an accident or if one is lost in the woods. Though not neccessary, it is a very useful tool. Please remember: 2-way radios rated for more than 2-miles MUST have an FCC GMRS license. Cost is $80 for a 5-year license.

  • Chemical Light Sticks: Sometimes called "Chem Lights" or "Glow Sticks," these are useful emergency tools. Some theorize that spirits will sometimes use battery power to manifest themselves, draining energy from any sources available. You may simply drop your flashlight and break it or lose it. 'Chem Lights' are nice because you can open the package, bend the stick to break the inner core and shake to illuminate for quick, emergency light. They are generally rated for 8 to 12 hours and will give you a little security just in case.

  • Electromagnetic Frequency (EMF) Meter: Much like the compass, the EMF detector is able to plot magnetic field fluctuations. The benefit of the EMF detector is the it can chart minor fluctuations that may be difficult to see when using a compass. Use of an Electromagnetic Frequency (EMF) Meter may help detect variances or anomalies with in magnetic fields. Although it is not a proven fact that spirits interfere with EMFs, it is a helpful tool in detecting strong electromagnetic fields. These field disruptions may interfere with equipment, causing sporatic mechanical problems, thus leading to sounds that may be mistaken for paranormal events. Strong EMF fields may cause individuals headaches, dizziness or a feeling of uneasiness.

  • Barometer: A barometer measures the atmospheric pressure around us. As storms come and go, the pressure changes. Some individuals are so sensitive to barometric pressure changes that they can get headaches and other body aches. Changes in pressure can affect moods and emotions. By using a barometer to check pressure changes, one may be able to explain why some people feel uneasy or in pain in a suspected haunted location.

  • Dowsing Rods: Although not proven to be viable, dowsing has been used for locating water, valuable metals, gems, hidden items & paranormal energy. Dowsing also known as 'Divining' or 'Water Witching' has been done for thousands of years. After repeated testing in controlled conditions, no accurate conclusions can be drawn. Paranormal investigators who use the Dowsing Rods say that the rods cross in the presence of paranormal activity.

  • Infrared Video Recorder: This tool can be a simple home camcorder designed to take video in little or no visible light. Sometimes called "Night Shot," these camcorders are good for night time investigations. Some cameras are rated better for night-time environment. '0-Lux'(Zero Lux) is the rating that works best for zero visible light. The circuitry is made to operate with the infrared(IR) light that may be present.

  • Infrared(IR) Light Source: Many camcorders rated for night-time recording work better with an external light source. Though expensive, many are available for sale on the internet including eBay. These 'lights' can range from as little as $75 each to $500 or more. Be sure to pay attention to the coverage of the light. Some lights only cover 25'-30' in distance, while others may only cover 30°. Your camera will work best of the light penetrates the darkness deeper and covers a wider area.


© Southern Maryland Paranormal, SMP & Paranormal Research in Southern Maryland (PRISM)
Professional Equipment:

  • Digital Video Recorder (DVR) System: This is a system of cameras, set up to one device (DVR) that records data from multiple cameras at one time. A perfect example would be on the "Ghost Hunters" program. The view is projected on an imaging screen in a 'split-screen' fashion. The screen could be a TV or a computer monitor attached directly to the DVR unit itself. The cameras are usually rated for 0-Lux and can record in full light or in total darkness. The benefit of this setup is that a team is able to record more than one place while investigating. It also uses digital media, like a computer hard drive, so Hi8 or camcorder tapes are not wasted. DVR systems are very expensive and start generally about $500 and up.

  • Thermocouple Thermometer: Thermocouple Thermometers are thermometers that record ambient air temperatures using a probe or 'wand.' IR thermometers record surface temperatures where the 'red dot' touches. IR thermometers are not good tools for measuring ambient air temperatures. Common household thermometers are not good either because time is needed for the thermometer mechanisms to adjust to the new temerature reading. Thermocouple Thermometers are made to detect temperatures faster and more accurately. These units can be found for as little as $50. Better units are generally about $100 or more.

  • Hygrometer: A hygrometer is a meter that records the humidity in a given location. Certain hygrometers can also record dew point. Humidity and dew point can determine concentrations of molds or mildews. That alone can have an impact on the perception of paranormal activity. Some mold spores can cause illness and other issues that affect one's perceptions. Humidity and dew point can also affect mechanical & electronic equipment and cause false positives in photography by causing lenses to 'fog up' and give the appearance of anomalous activity.

  • Geiger Counter: When investigating the paranormal once must consider all variables and record it accordingly. Some literature has been written to support the possibility that paranormal energy and evidence of, may have influence on radioactivity. Granted, we are talking minute fluctuations, but any data to support the existance of or the lack of the paranormal is important.

  • Ion Counter: Some paranormal groups have started exploring the possibility of testing for negative ions in the atmostphere around us. Basically, increasing amounts of negative ions in the atmostphere around us is a buildup of static electricity. Some groups say there is a correlation between paranormal activity and a build up of negative ions. Some natural phenomenon such as a lightning strike can changes the ion fields. As we have said before, testing of all variables can lead to success in this field. Ion counters can start about $150 in price.


© Southern Maryland Paranormal, SMP & Paranormal Research in Southern Maryland (PRISM)