Ghostly Activities tested the FLIR One Pro against a FLIR TG165 to see which thermal imaging camera you should use on your ghost hunts. Get the recommendation after the jump.
Ghost Hunting With Thermal Imaging Cameras
Thermal imaging cameras help you see a possible ghostly manifestation that your other cameras may not record. Since they use heat, it’s another range of energy our eyes and camera lenses can’t detect. In other words, these cameras offer another layer to find ghosts that may manifest during your investigations.
Many researches believe that ghosts will create cold spots, or hot spots, in areas they manifest. Thermal imaging cameras will capture these changes. Infrared cameras or full-spectrum cameras will not. Also, thermal imaging cameras will give a source to prove, or debunk, those ‘chilly’ feelings in a haunt.
At Ghostly Activities, we use thermal imaging cameras for engagement sessions. We’ll point the camera at REM pods, Boo Buddies, EDIs, etc., to record the environmental changes. These devices already measure temperature, but they don’t take pictures. The thermal imaging camera gives us the ability to capture an apparition as well.
Testing The Cameras
For this test, Jake took different pictures around the house. He put a special emphasis on human shapes and reflective surfaces, which can cause false positives. In gallery below, you’ll see 3 pairs of images. Each set is taken in large, open areas with normal clutter and standing in front of a reflective surface. If you ghost hunt in private residences often, you’d experience these conditions.
In these rooms, the temperature ranged from 67°F to 70°F. Jake also had the dogs out to see how the cameras would capture animals rapid movements. Also, Jake used an iPad Mini 4 to take pictures for this review, but he tested it on an iPhone 6s. It worked just as well as the iPad.
Note: Ghostly Activities bought the FLIR One Pro and TG165 with our own money without the expectation of compensation or a positive review from the manufacturer.
Image Quality Comparison
As you can tell from the images, the FLIR One Pro wins for image quality. It has better resolution, shows a larger area, and it can outline physical objects. That will help you debunk an apparition as a lamp, table, plant or something else used as furniture or decor. However, the FLIR One Pro did not outline my body because it was a heat-signature reflection, not a physical object. The outline feature needs visible light to work well. That’s a couple of ‘gotchas!’ to know. And it still means the FLIR One Pro can give false positives. Any reflective surface can trick the FLIR One Pro. This camera did a fine job with capturing stills of dogs running around. There was no image blur you’d get from a DSLR or the TG165.
As for the TG165, it doesn’t have the same resolution as the One Pro and it doesn’t outline physical objects. The overall image quality is ‘foggy.’ I’ve used this camera often over the years, and it has a difficulty capturing large, open rooms in detail. It also gives false positives because it has the same problem with reflective surfaces. In addition, critters, like dogs and cats, appear as glowing blobs.
FLIR One Pro Benefits & Cons
There are few great things, and some areas of improvement, for the One Pro. These include:
For an entry-level device, it has a video setting that works just like you think it would on a tablet or smart phone. You just swipe to the Video and press the red button to start recording. If you take video from your phone or tablet, then you already know how to use it. Really, the One Pro is just a thermal imaging extension to your existing camera features.
This could be a good-or-bad thing, but the One Pro has many options for you to choose from. For this test, we used the default options. You can change the heat sensitivity, color palette, IR range, and many other features. It can be overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re doing. We say stick to the defaults because they work just fine for an investigation.
Since the images and videos store to your Photo folder, it’s easy to pick one — or all of them — and share to social media. You can also email yourself to post on your website. In other words, you can post in (almost) real-time to your analysts for review.
The camera is less-than-palm size. It’s light weight, so it won’t interfere with your phone’s balance. We used an iPad Mini for this review, and the weight and size never interfered with using the tablet.
Short Battery Life
Wow, this thing drains fast. The battery lasts less than an hour. It doesn’t use power from your phone or tablet: It has to be charged on its own. If you turn on the Video setting, the battery drains even faster. It even loses power when turned off and stored. That means you have to be strategic when using it on an investigation. You may want to use it when you get activity. You can’t keep it plugged in to its USB charger when using it. This is a big drawback.
From a personal preference, we like to use an SD card to store and move files. It’s just easier to use in the field. Since the One Pro records to your phone or tablet, you’d have to attach it to a computer to move files around. You could also use the WiFi or Bluetooth settings to move files to an external storage drive. We just think it’s easier to use the SD card. Plus, an SD card means you don’t use up all the storage on your phone or tablet.
There is an option to use FLIR’s cloud storage, but it looks like you’d share with a group of users. I’m not sure if ghost hunting teams want to share ghost pics with engineers.
It takes a few steps to start using the camera. First, you download an app. Then, you register it. After that, you create an account with FLIR to activate it. Really, it’s a plug-in camera. It would be better to just plug it in and start using it. This is just an annoyance and relatively painless, but still. Don’t make a plug-in gadget that requires a bunch of steps.
Like most FLIR products, the price tag is a bit hefty. The FLIR One Pro sells for about $400. The TG165 goes for $375. This is higher than most ghost hunting gadgets like Mel Meters, Zoom audio recorders and many digital cameras. There are some substitute thermal imaging cameras, like SEEK and PerfectPrime. You can get discounted prices on Amazon, so that may save some cash.
Ghostly Activities’ Take
Overall, we recommend the FLIR One Pro camera, but it has a serious ‘gotcha!’ with its battery life. It’s superior to the TG165 version. We think it will be valuable to debunk apparitions, or even capture one. It may be on the pricey side, but advanced teams will find it handy. Just remember to use it when activity starts. Its battery life won’t last for the full investigation.
Feature image: FLIR Systems FLIR ONE Pro™. ©2019 FLIR® Systems, Inc. Retrieved from https://www.flir.com/products/flir-one-pro/ on Feb. 21, 2019. All other photos by Ghostly Activities, and free to share.
Jacob ‘Jake’ Rice has always loved ghosts and scary stories. When he’s not being a tech nerd for work, he’s the gadget guy on the team. He hunts ghosts, spirits and other paranormal entities in Seattle and the Puget Sound area.