Q. What is IR?
A. IR stands for infrared, which is a classification of electromagnetic waves from just below the visible light spectrum down to microwaves. The IR LEDs used in Ghost Lights™ are completely safe (although you should not stare at any kind of light for very long to protect your eyes) and are custom designed to maximize their illumination value for night vision filming.
Q. How does an IR illuminator work?
A. The IR illuminator, or light, floods an area with infrared beams that reflect back to the night vision capable camera and enhance its ability to "see" in the dark, just like a flashlight does with visible light. The amount of projected IR light and the amount and type of reflective surfaces in an area all affect how well the night-vision camera will perform. The more IR light that is reflected back to the camera's lens, the better it works. The reason many of the pictures and videos displayed always look blurry and grainy, even with HD cameras, is because the camera is not receiving enough IR light to process images properly. So a good quality IR illuminator can light up a room like daylight to a night vision camera and it will still appear to be dark to the eyes. A better one will also do the same in large areas and outside as well.
Q. Does an IR light will work with all cameras and camcorders?
A. No. Most cameras and camcorders have IR and UV filters built into them to block IR and UV light to produce better color for shooting in normal light. Many Sony camcorders have a feature called "Night Shot" which turns off the IR filter and activates 1 or 2 built-in IR leds enabling them to shoot in total darkness. Some other camcorder makers are advertising their cameras as having a "Night Scene" but it leaves the IR filter on and only shoots in low light but not total darkness and not with IR light. Many of these can be modified to work with IR light. The LUX rating is important too. The Lux numbers is the lowest level of light a camera can see, so lower is better for shooting in the dark. 0-3 lux usually work best. Also some cell phone cameras work to a limited degree with IR light, but not very well.
Q. How can I tell if an IR light will work with my camcorder?
A. There is a simple test that you can do to see if your camcorder can use IR light. Turn on your camcorder and take it and a remote control into a dark room. Make sure the remote is working. Point the remote at the camera lens and push a button a few times. If your camcorder can use IR light, then you should see a bright flashlight-like beam in your viewfinder or screen. If you see nothing , then your camcorder is not night vision capable and can't use any IR lights. If your camera detects the light from the remote, then turn the remote toward a wall and push a button. If your camera is IR capable, you should see a beam on the wall much like a small flashlight. If you don't see anything, then your camera has limited IR capability but won't work well with IR lights. Also, we will do our best to help you find out if your camera is night vision capable if you email us the Brand Name and Model Number.
Q. 5 mm LEDs vs 10 mm LEDS, which is better?
A. This is one of those cases where bigger is better. a 10 mm (millimeter) LED puts out more light than a 5 mm LEDs. We have experimented with both in portable lights and while 5 mm LED lights work okay in small to normal rooms they have limited range and do not work well outside at all. That's why we chose to use 10 mm LEDs in Ghost Lights™.
Q. 1-chip, 3-chip, 5-chip LEDs, what's the difference?
A. This refers to the number of light producing chips in a single LED. In this case more is not necessarily better. Here are the specs for each type of IR LED:
TYPE CURRENT POWER
1 Chip 20-25 milliAmps 200 milliWatts (0.2 Watts)
3 Chips 140 milliAmps 200 milliWatts (0.2 Watts)
5 Chips 100 milliAmps 150 milliWatts (0.15 Watts)
What this means is 3-chip LEDS have the brightest output of any conventional IR LEDs because they have the highest current rating. It may also appear that 1-chip LEDs may be as bright because they have a 200 mW power rating, but the fact is they are about 70% dimmer because they have such a low current rating.
We have experimented with all of them and prefer the 3-chip LEDs. 1-chip LEDs have a too narrow beam and produce weaker light with spotty looking patterns projected onto surfaces. 5-chip LEDs have a wide beam but are not as bright and have a shorter range. We found that 3-chip LEDs are brighter, blend well, and carry very far, so that's what we chose to use in Ghost Lights™.
Q. Are all LEDs "high power" LEDs?
A. True high power, or high wattage LEDs refers to a newer class of very high current capable LEDs. It gets confusing because all IR LED light makers describe their products as having "high power" LEDs, but the fact is Colorado Para-Tech was the first to successfully design and market a true High Power IR LED battery powered illuminator. True High Power LED IR Lights, like our GL4-PRO series, emit around 6 to 10 times the IR light of regular IR LEDs with more even light distribution, no spot-light effect, much wider and longer range, and are far superior to conventional IR illuminators. True high power IR LED lights provide the kind of light required by professional night-vision filmmakers and photographers.
Q. I saw another IR light that uses 10 regular LEDs and claimed it puts out 5 watts. Is that true?
A. No. Unfortunately many light makers do not know the real specifications of the components they use. This may be because the don't know the science behind IR lighting or they don't care. The fact is that 5-chip IR LEDs are advertised by the manufacturer as .5 watt LEDs, but they actually only put out 0.15 watt at maximum safe constant output power. When they reach .5watt output, they quickly burn out, so those claims are misleading. So a 10 LED light with 5-chip LEDs actually only puts out a maximum of 1.5 watts. We have researched every type of LED and know the actual specs and real performance of all LEDs currently made. We also know the science behind IR lighting technology and make very careful and deliberate choices as to which LEDs are the best to use in Ghost Lights™.
Q. I saw a light claiming it uses 750 mW V2 LEDs. What are those?
A. We have found no proof that those exist. They are likely misidentified specs of regular LEDs. Regular 100 mW and 200 mW LEDs will take a forward pulse up to 700-750 mW but they cannot handle constant output at that rate without burning out.
Q. 800nm, 850nm, 900nm, what do all these numbers mean and why should I care?
A. 800nm, 850nm, etc., refers to the wavelength in nanometers of the actual beams emitted from the LED. Really the only things that are important to know about these numbers for night-vision use are these: The lower the number, the more visible to the human eye the light is. 800nm-860nm are still fairly invisible. You can't see the beams, but you can detect a faint pink glow from the LEDs when you look directly at them. LEDs in the 900nm range are completely invisible but appear as weaker light to IR capable camcorders. We experimented with all ranges and found the 850nm IR LEDs to be the brightest for use with night-vision camcorders.
Q. Why doesn't the Ghost Light™ look very bright when I look at it?
A. IR (infrared) light is generally not visible to humans. The IR LEDs used in Ghost Lights™ are a higher wavelength that is on the very edge of visibility, which is why they appear faint pink or red to the eye. This is also the brightest wavelength to use for night vision cameras, so while it appears dim to our eyes, it looks bright to the night vision camera.
Q. How long can I run a Ghost Light™ illuminator?
A. Ghost Lights™ are designed for maximum battery efficiency. They do not give off excessive heat so you don't need to turn them off to cool them like regular video lights. They typically run for several hours of continuous use with good quality, fresh batteries, and even longer with lithium batteries.
Q. How far will an IR light reach?
A. That really all depends on how the light is made. The size, power rating, and number of LEDs, all plays a part, as well as the voltage of the power source and overall design of the light. Ghost Lights™ are designed to maximize efficiency to allow the best range of illumination for each model. Our most basic current model GL3-ADV light has an effective range of about 70 feet and our current high-end model GL4-PRO-4 illuminates to well over 200 feet. These ranges are based on use in areas with normal reflective surface, such as inside buildings. Outside ranges very greatly depending on the size and type of reflective surfaces present such as trees, buildings, etc.
Q. What is the difference between Ghost Light™, Ghost Light 2™, Ghost Light 3™, and Ghost Light 4™?
A. Ghost Light™ was our original series of IR illuminators. They were discontinued when we developed the more advanced Ghost Light 2™ series. Ghost Light 2s were discontinued and replaced by the even more advanced Ghost Light 3™ series. The Ghost Light 4™ series is designed for professional use and incorporate only High Wattage LEDs and high current 18650 rechargeable Lithium-ion batteries.
Q. Why do the Ghost Light PRO™ lights cost more than regular lights?
A. The GL4-PRO series cost more because they are much more expensive to make, in fact the production cost for each GL4 is more than the retail price of any regular LED light. We strive to keep costs low so that we can make our lights as affordable as possible, but we refuse to cut corners or use cheaper low quality components in Ghost Lights™. However, the new GL4-PRO series uses rechargeable 18650 Lithium-Ion batteries, so while they cost more initially, they are cheaper to run because you don't have to buy new batteries every time you use it. And since 18650 batteries can be recharged 500 to 1000 times and will last an average of 3 years before needing to be replaced, after about 15-20 uses, a GL4-PRO is cheaper than a $50 light plus ten 9 volt batteries. See our 18650 Battery FAQ for more info about 18650 batteries.
Q. How can I attach a Ghost Light™ to my camcorder if it doesn't have a hot shoe?
A. You can use a flash arm or bracket to mount Ghost Lights™ to camcorders that don't have a mounting shoe. We do not sell those, but we have found several different ones on Ebay for around $5 and at camera shops for about $8-$12.
Q. Where can I see a video demo of Ghost Lights™ in use?
A. There are videos of Ghost Lights™ being used on actual investigations on our Youtube channel as well as on the Products page.
Q. Why are there so many different Ghost Light™ models?
A. It's all about the right tool for the right job. Each model was designed to fulfill a specific need for filming in the dark. New models are always being developed to meet the expanding needs of today's paranormal researchers.
Q. Where can I buy a Ghost Light™?
A. They are currently available on our Products page and in our Ebay Store. Go to the Products page for more info.