Infrared/Full Spectrum Cameras

The two most frequently asked questions I get about equipment at The Shadowlands website or via email/phone calls at the GhostHunter Store


There are two kinds of cameras you are going to see out there. Ones that have been built to see in different spectrums of light and ones that have been modified to do this.

ALL cameras that able to total darkness MUST HAVE a light source just like any other normal camera.  The regular “night vision” cameras you see used That are already built in to see usually see in color when there is light and then either switch automatically to IR or you have to activate it like on the Sony Camcorders that have their proprietary nightshot feature.  Then the IR viewing is in black and white.  These cameras all have built in IR lights so you can see in total darkness. Many people do not realize this and when they buy a modified IR or full spectrum camera they are confused why in can’t see in the dark like these others can.

If you have a camera that has been modified to see in the Infrared, Wide Spectrum or Full Spectrum there are some things you need to understand. First, these cameras, once modified, permanently see in the format they were changed to unless you have a special custom model that allows you to switch formats. The majority of the modified cameras out there do not. Simply pull, a modified IR camera only sees in the IR spectrum. So that means even with the lights on or in daylight you can take infrared photos. The same goes for the Wide Spectrum and Full Spectrum cameras. Another difference is that these cameras always see in color. If you have a IR modified camera you will see everything in a pinkish to Purple tint because you are seeing in “color” in the infrared spectrum of light. In Full spectrum cameras you will see a bit more color diversity but there will be a pink to purple tint to your photos as well because you are see in the infrared spectrum as well as other spectrums. This is a good spot to explain the difference.

Infrared Infrared light is invisible to the naked eye and it is what security camera systems and some Sony cameras use to “see” in the dark. Infrared cameras can only see with the aid of IR lights in the dark.

Wide Spectrum These cameras see only in the infrared and ultraviolet light spectrums. You can use an infrared light or an IR/UV light (wide spectrum) in the dark depending on your preference. Ultraviolet light can be seen with the naked eye and should be used with caution since looking at UV light directly can cause eye damage. You are safe behind the camera be watch out for those in front of you and advise them not to stare directly at the UV lights.

Full Spectrum  –  True full spectrum cameras can see in the UV spectrum, the visible light spectrum and into the infrared spectrum. Be careful of cameras saying they are full spectrum but can only see in IR and UV because that is NOT full spectrum that is wide spectrum. You can use any of the available lights out there in the dark, IR, wide spectrum or full spectrum. You basically have three different camera modes depending on the lighting you use with this camera. Here is a breakdown of the various lights you can use ( I realize that these photos will be black and white for many of you so read the descriptions and you can go to to see the lights in color photos)

Infrared lights are invisible to the naked eye but most LED have a reddish dye in them that you can see to tell if it is on. You can use this with any of the cameras but if you use it with a wide spectrum or full spectrum camera, you will only be seeing in IR, nothing else.  A special note about this, FS cameras generally see deeper into the IR spectrum than most other IR cameras do so using just an IR light with it allows you to take deep infrared photos.

A full spectrum light has infrared lights, ultraviolet lights and lights to mimic visible light typically red, blue and green lights.  Since a full spectrum camera can see in all three spectrums you can take advantage of that by using a full spectrum light. For larger indoor areas you may need to use two of these to obtain the desire brightness.

A wide spectrum light has just infrared and ultraviolet lights on it. If you use this with your FS camera you will only be seeing in UV and IR and not in the visible light spectrum.  There is a WS light model out there that allows you to use just the IR, UV or both but most do not offer this feature. Typically this will be brighter that the FS lights.

I personally use a full spectrum camera primarily with an IR light with it since I tend to get more photos with anomalies in them with this combo and taking deep IR photos. I do, however, carry two IR lights just in case the area is large or I am outside and I need more light. I also carry a wide spectrum and a full spectrum light and use them when I am not getting anything in just the infrared spectrum. I like to have the flexibility to change up whenever I want to since the full spectrum camera gives me that capability. I use a camera flash bracket that allows me to use two lights at one time. – Dave Juliano