The PatrolMaster body camera was designed for police work, but ghost hunters may find some features useful on an investigation. Get the scoop on the gadget after the jump.
Using The PatrolMaster Body Camera
Body cameras can help on-the-go ghost hunters focus on the experiments and find the haunted hot spots without worrying about setting up a bunch of gadgets.
For this review, these features and function were considered in the recommendation:
- Video quality
- Image quality
- Audio quality
- Battery Life & Memory
In the box, you get the body camera, USB cable, outlet plug, a small clip and a longer clip. There’s also a user manual that has some tiny print.
Let’s get on with the review.
I found the camera easy to setup. If you’re familiar with menu settings on a DSLR, then it won’t take much time to ramp up. There are a few settings you want for ghost hunting.
These are the settings I changed with the menu:
- Turn auto power off to off
- Change default recording time to 20 minutes (from 5 minutes)
- Include audio with video recording
- Change default setting to stealth mode to turn off red light and other sensors during record
I also found the user guide easy to understand. The body cam has big buttons that are easy to use. But be careful with the PTT button; it changes the video resolution.
For file transfers, connect the body cam to your computer. It appears as an external drive like a thumb drive. Open your file explorer and trace to the media folders, which say photo, audio and video. Then, you can move them over. You can only delete files by connecting the body cam to your computer. It works equally well on a PC or Mac.
For this test, I use the 1080p/30fps setting, which is the default. Overall, the image quality was clear. As you can tell from the video, it’s a wide-angle capture without the ability to focus or zoom in. That makes sense since it’s designed for police work, so it needs to capture a wide area. Unfortunately, the wide-angle capture creates a fish-eye effect. That’s the distortion you see around the edges.
To use infrared, just press the red camera/moon button. It starts the recording. If you hold it down for a couple of seconds, it switches to infrared. You’ll hear a ‘click’ when it changes to IR. The range is 33′, which isn’t bad. If you have additional lights, it will extend the range. Not too shabby.
To take a picture, just click the camera-icon button with the bullseye icon. By default, it takes 14MP pictures. You can also click it while video recording.
There is a bit of delay while taking the picture and I found it easy to get a blurry picture. That could happen often since you wear the camera and movement will happen.
I’d say, use it for video only since most video editing software lets you export an image.
To record audio, just click the microphone button. Now, audio wasn’t that great. I found it captured my voice well, but anything farther way was very quiet. It’s likely a bust to capture an EVP.
There’s also a lot of handling noise. If you touched the body cam to start video or take a picture, you got a loud rustling sound. Also, any movements you make would also come over the audio. This is a part of the design since you wear it and you have to press the buttons on the camera.
The audio recording has a unique feature (I’m not sure if I’d call it a feature): If you press video record while recording audio, it stops the audio-only recording and it shifts to video recording the audio. That makes sense, but sometimes you want a full audio recording. You can take pictures without pausing audio recording.
The audio files output as MP3.
In this case, you need a second audio recorder for investigations.
Battery Life & Memory
The manufacturer claims the battery has a 20-hour continuous running time before the battery drains. I left it on overnight for 8 hours, and the battery had over 50% charge left. I’d agree with their duration time.
As for memory, I have a quibble. The manufacturer claims it has 64GB built-in memory (you cannot add a SD card to this version), but I turned it on and the memory dropped to 59.6GB. That’s likely due to the camera’s system taking up space.
As for charging time, the body cam arrived fully charged. After I let it run 8 hours, I used the wall outlet to charge it and it only took about 15 minutes to get back to 100%. The USB connection to my computer took 3x as long to charge.
I found video with sound at 1080p/30fps burns 65MB for every minute. That means a 4-hour investigation would use 15.6GB of memory. In other words, this unit can handle an overnight investigation and use up half its space.
Finally, you should consider the price. The PatrolMaster sells for $129 at the time of this review. That puts it below most brand-name handy cams, and those camcorders don’t have infrared with them.
Ghostly Activities’ Recommendation
If you’ve got the money, this gadget can come in handy. Do I think it’s as good as a camcorder? No, it’s not. But having the clip to attach to your shirt so you can do more ghost hunting tests is a big benefit.
It’s unfortunate the audio recording isn’t that great and there’s some distortion due to the wide-angle lens.
Ideally, I think PatrolMaster body camera’s best suited for exploratory ghost hunts or physically active investigations. When it comes to a deeper investigation, bring your standard full-spectrum cameras with external mics.
Note: Jake bought the body camera with his own money, so there’s no expectation of a good review from the manufacturer.