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FLIR ThermaCAM® BX320
Thermal Video Imaging Camera

Sometimes referred to simply as a 'FLIR' by the paranormal community, the BX320 produces a constant visual measurement of temperatures in front of the lens.  It has a resolution of 320x240 pixels which is considered high for this type of camera and is twice the resolution of many on the market.  The 5 palettes are white hot, black hot, iron, rainbow, and rainbow high-contrast.  We primarily use RHC during our investigations due to the higher number of colors making more subtle fluctuations more easily detectable.

It is fairly lightweight at around 2 lbs. and is very easy to use.  The integrated laser pointer operated by a trigger on the underside can be very useful in determining what something noticed on the display is.  The BX320 also includes a 2x and 4x digital zoom and can save a number of still frames in memory.  The batteries are rechargeable and last 3 hours each.  Due to the fact that it does not include any way to record video or audio, a separate recording device like the 'clamshell' is needed.  The addition of a special adapter allows us to record both video and audio on the same device.

Thermal cameras are somewhat expensive so not many people have them, but they are definitely worth it for any serious investigator that can afford one.  The resolution is much lower than that of a standard video or digital camera but it is extremely useful nonetheless.  It allows us to see things such as leaky windows allowing cold drafts which people may mistake as paranormal activity, to easily detect active or inactive machinery that may be producing noise, or even to see if plumbing has hot water or steam running through them.  The range is unlimited (you can even see the moon) and works perfectly in total darkness since the technology has nothing to do with light.  While some palettes can produce a view that looks suitable for navigation in total darkness, it should not be used in that way.  An obstruction may be the same temperature as the floor and thus lead to injury.

A common misconception is that thermal cameras allow the user to see the infamous 'cold spot' that many believe are caused by entities attempting to manifest themselves by drawing energy from the air.  A thermal camera is not an ambient air thermometer and is not effective in that use.  This is also true for the style of non-contact infrared thermometers commonly used by investigators.  Steam, for example, has very little mass and thus does not show up well despite being much warmer than the surrounding air.  That does not mean the manifestations themselves are undetectable.  We have documented several instances where what we believe was an apparition went unseen by the naked eye but was picked up by this camera.  This suggests that manifestations have some sort of mass capable of being detected by the camera and/or disrupt the reading of the background temperature.  However with so little attention being given to understanding the nature of spirit manifestations by the scientific community, it is merely conjecture at this point in time.

One vital thing to note about thermal imaging is that many surfaces produce thermal reflections.  Reflective surfaces include objects such as glass and mirrors to less-obvious materials such as finely-varnished wood and even painted walls.  It is very important to be aware of what you are filming as a simple human reflection could be mistaken for paranormal activity.  An apparent entity with missing limbs could easily be attributed to a human reflection on something like a hanging mirror, as demonstrated in the mirror example above.  It is also very easy to see where people have been due to residual heat left behind by handprints and sitting.  These signatures can remain long after that person has left the room.  A residual heat signature in an area where there positively was no one around for hours before may indicate paranormal activity, but we have yet to come across that situation.  The more likely explanation is something as simple as air from a heating system blowing on a surface for a sustained period of time.  These are all important things to keep in mind when using or viewing any thermal imaging system as many things can contribute to false-positives.

Sony GV-D1000 "Clamshell" Mini-DV Recorder
FLIR Recording System
The GV-1000 is a digital video recorder that uses the same Sony Mini-DV tape used in Mini-DV camcorders.  This is convenient due to only requiring one type of tape to use between camcorders and this DVR.  Unfortunately, the tapes themselves only hold one hour each on SP so it is very important to remember to change tapes. 

We use this to record the video output from the BX320.  We then had to hunt down an adapter to allow us to connect a microphone to it due to the recorder not accepting a microphone input.  We finally found something that worked, a SP-Preamp by The Sound Professionals.  This lets us make verbal notes on things we see, which makes it a lot easier to detect false positives.  It also provides an additional platform to record EVPs on without requiring additional time needed to review it.

The dimensions are 5.8 x 5.1 x 2.6 inches and weighs almost 2 lbs.  This makes it very portable.  Some groups use a two-person operation with one operating the camera while the other holds the recorder.  We decided to secure it in a Portabrace harness attached to the FLIR operator, turning it into a one-person operation.  This makes it much more convenient for us due to not needing to worry about getting cords and people tangled up in addition to freeing up another person to use other equipment. 

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