The most common battleground in this debate between media formats is photography. Why? Because everyone owns a camera. They are cheap, they are able to give investigators a physical format to show other people, and a picture can be worth a thousand words.
And that's just the problem.
The only real verification that you can have when a photograph is taken is your own word. No matter what is used, analog or digital, the only real back up you have to a photo is the word of the people who were present during the photograph.
This is why most ghost hunting groups have listed a regulation in their code of conduct that no one goes anywhere alone. You are always with a buddy for both safety reasons and also for security reasons.
However, let's just toy with the facts of digital cameras and analog cameras.
An analog camera, one that uses film, is a good starter for some groups who cannot afford a high end digital model. Although you will be using your local Walgreen's, Wal-mart, or other photography developing studio for image processing, a camera can start at $7 and processing can be done for any where from $7 to $10.
It is highly recommended that you use a 35mm camera with at least 400 speed film. This film speed is used to capture fast moving subjects such as athletic events or just your hyper active 4 year old cousin at his birthday party. Since you will be dealing with something that lasts for a matter of seconds, the higher the speed film, the better off you are.
There is a downside to high speed film because it causes a grainy look to it the higher speed you use. Obviously the more grainy the film, the less detail you have so it becomes a trade off in the end.
If you go with a digital camera, you are looking at spending around $175 for a decent model camera. This does not include a memory stick which you will need to save your photographs to. Depending on the format and capacity, these sticks can cost anywhere from $20 to $200. However, each time you use the camera, you save on film processing and time. You will also need a cable to import your photos to your computer or you can order prints via your memory stick. You may also be able to purchase and use a digital card reader to import your photos to your computer.
Digital has one major advantage over analog cameras and that is in it's flash feature. Most digital cameras has a much stronger flash than analog cameras. In some cases, these flashes from digital cameras can produce light around 25 feet further than analog cameras. If you use a digital camera in a place with reflective surfaces, please note this flash advantage or you will have light orbs and streaks everywhere from natural causes!
Digital cameras go through batteries quite quickly and you will need a higher capacity battery which can run around $5 to $15 for a pack of 4 AA batteries or $100 to $150 for a professional grade camera battery.
Despite your format, we recommend getting Duracell's rechargable batteries pack that come with a wall charger for around $20.
False positives happen when you get paranormal results by normal effects. Such effects can be time lapsed photos with light streaks, orbs from dirt, bugs, pollen, or dust, and matrixing which gives the appearances of faces from random patterns of light effects.
Both digital and analog cameras can provide false positives. Here are some tips to avoid false positives in your work.
First of all, every paranormal investigator should be aware of dirt, pollen, or dust in the environment. If you are not, you will get what appears to be a TON of orbs in your photos. While orbs are not considered to be much in the paranormal field, some investigators still get excited at them because they might be the only thing that you capture on an investigation.
Analog orbs tend to be milky white without much texture, but digital orbs tend to have all sorts of cool texture within them.
Dust in the environment and it's orb effect from an MNPSG investigation from a digital camera.
A bug in the photo appears as an orb by an analog camera.
If you have a higher end camera, you do want to set it's shutter speed at the fastest possible setting for the same reason that you want higher speed film. The less time your shutter is open, the less interference you will have from movement. Most paranormal photos that have streaks of light are caused to a slow shutter. The same "open shutter" process is done by time-lapse photographers.
Alleged Ghost Vortex
Time Lapse Photography
As you can see in the photos above, there are some definite similiar traits between the two photos. The time lapse photograph is done by moving a light source with the shutter open. The ghost photo shows what appears to be a light trail from a moving object.
The differences in the photos are apparent though as you can see the time lapse has a dark mist around the word from the arm of the person moving the light object. The vortex photo does not have this "mist" from the movement of whatever caused the streak.
Just be aware that when you have a slower shutter, you will get these streaks from movement of light sources.
One major mistake that many investigators make with digital cameras is the use of the night shot feature. Many get this confused with "night vision" used in videography and think that if Ghost Hunters use night vision cameras, this feature will work great to catch ghosts on photos too! Wrong. What this feature does is allows the shutter to be open for a longer period of time allowing the flash to react off as much as it can before the shutter closes. This could lead to semi-time lapsed photos and if a bug happens to move in front of your camera, you may think you caught a vapor or streak.
With analog cameras, film can be a problem as you can shoot a whole roll of film, only to hear it being eaten by the gears of your camera. This can be frustrating and you lose a lot of potential evidence. With digital cameras, you can corrupt a memory stick and lose all your data.