Sony NightShot: A Call for Advice from Paranormal Investigators…

MOSS uses Sony DCR-TRV280 Handycam Camcorders with NightShot

MOSS uses Sony DCR-TRV280 Handycam Camcorders with NightShot

I’m going to break away from my typical post this evening, because I’m hoping I can get some advice from techie and/or paranormal investigators out there… or maybe even a super soccer mom who has mastered modern videography. When I formed Missouri Spirit Seekers in 2010, I scrounged up whatever equipment I could afford. I even spent a few tax refunds on some of the more expensive equipment. For the size of my group and the number of investigations we are involved in, the equipment that we have tends to be just right for us. I mean don’t get me wrong, I would LOVE a thermal imaging camera or a few of those fascinating rem-pods that are gaining popularity now. But really… my major concern currently is being stuck in the 1990s with our Sony NightShot camcorders. (Click HERE for an almost current look at our equipment.) 

For years, paranormal investigators everywhere have used Sony’s line of NightShot IR (infra-red) technology. Obviously there are TV production quality night vision cameras out there, but not affordable for most groups. Several years ago Sony phased out NightShot, Super NightShot, NightShot Plus, etc. I always heard rumors as to why they did this, but I’m not sure if they were true. But after doing research, I found that the Sony DCR-TRV280 with NightShot was a pretty reliable and common camera available on Amazon and Ebay, etc. I bought two of them used (for probably way too much money) and one of them immediately malfunctioned several times and so we use it strictly as a charger. I have since ordered another one and so we have two that have been working fairly well for us. I like not having to learn how to use 14 different generations of cameras, so it’s important for us to use the same kind. They come with some problems, though. They are incredibly noisy. One of them has a consistent click about every 10 seconds. Also, in this day and age, working with tapes is an outdated inconvenience. Some investigators would tell me that it is irresponsible, but I re-use my 8mm cassette tapes. Not only are they nearly impossible to find anymore, but they’re expensive, and we go through 4 or 5 tapes in one investigation. It’s just not realistic right now to use them once and have that be it. 

But after nervously buying used camcorders online and not knowing how well they’re going to work, I’ve been concerned with what the common paranormal investigator was going to use for night vision in the future. These cameras aren’t going to last forever. Not only that, but I had to have someone help me to make some considerable accommodations to my computer to be able to upload the video.  I’ll soon need a new computer. Will that computer have the capability to support these old cameras? 

The newest non-night vision Sony camcorder that I own. Sony HDR-CX150

The newest non-night vision Sony camcorder that I own. Sony HDR-CX150

This last fall I went on a paranormal tour hosted by a local paranormal team (as I rolled my eyes), and the group members passed out a handful of newer Sony camcorders (nearly identical to the Sony HDR-CX150 Handycam Camcorder that I own) for tour goers to walk around with. Each camcorder had two smaller IR attachments, and in the dark these cameras had amazing IR technology. In my experience, IR attachments on camcorders that are not equipped with IR technology are worthless. So were these IR camcorders or just amazing attachments? I was not smart enough to take a picture of this camcorder and the attachments, or to sound like a nerd while asking the group leader about their cameras. 

I will be completely honest and say that I haven’t really researched this situation in a year or so. It overwhelms me and I’m not a techie person at all. I do great with technology when I get used to it and learn to work with it. But… I don’t know what I’m looking for. 

So here’s where I need help. What is out there now currently? What are you using? What do I need? What attachments and accessories are required? Someone help transport MOSS to the year 2013! 🙂 


Peace Out!



About Patrick Keller

Patrick Keller is an educator, blogger, and the host of the Big Séance Podcast, which is a place for paranerds to have an open discussion on all things paranormal, but specifically topics like ghosts and hauntings, paranormal research, spirit communication, psychics and mediums, and life after death. He’s the founder of the now inactive Missouri Spirit Seekers and has spent a lot of time experimenting with spirit communication tools and techniques, such as EVP. Patrick also has a passion for spending hours at a time in cemeteries and loves cemetery photography. Visit! View all posts by Patrick Keller

10 responses to “Sony NightShot: A Call for Advice from Paranormal Investigators…

    • Patrick

      Had a giant response and my computer deleted it for me. That was awfully nice. Anyway, it has been a while but I’ve been to many of these sites. Some of them are probably a bit shady. I’m wondering if full spectrum (like the camera from this link) automatically makes it also IR (night vision) or if it’s a step up… or if it’s something I’ll need an IR attachment for… or if it’s even compatible. Have I asked enough questions? 🙂

      • Randall Keller

        Full spectrum cameras still require light of course. Left alone, they show the entire spectrum in available light – including UV and IR. Adding your own portable light source then governs what the camera shows. I you add an IR light source, the camera shows you only IR. if you add Full spectrum light (which emits some noticeble light unlike IR), allows the camera to show the full range. I hope that was cler. I never know these days. 🙂

      • David Fernandez

        I’d recommend having a decent SONY camera modified to full spectrum like the CX-220. U can buy one for a good price from my friend at U can use them in the day for sky watching & at night, just attach an IR light & you’ll be golden. It’s better than a night shot because it sees the full spectrum night & day. Also, most older Sony night shots aren’t HD ( not that it makes much difference at night) But I’d recommend the SR-42 or 45 as they have internal hard drives for storage. I have about 6 & they’re awesome!

  • Randall Keller

    I can’t offer much since I’m in a similar situation. Plus, I’m different. I set up a regular camcorder and shoot available light. I’m not usually in complete darkness, but when I am, this camera becomes a recorder. Then I use a pair of inexpensive full spectrum HD video cams. I like these a lot – light weight, reliable, and I attach either FS or IR lights to them externally. If I had the money (and one dy I will) I’d buy that expensive Sony that’s production grade – it’s like $2500 I think. I would personally not fret it too much because as long as they work, you’ll still capture the same thing as you would with the money cameras. But the sooner you get to digital, the better. I know the work doesn’t suffer, but it saves time, effort and money. That’s my 2 cents (with inflation).

    • Patrick

      After your responses, I realize I have some research to do. But you answered a major question I had about the full spectrum and still needing IR or other light source. I guess there are probably affordable options out there now that weren’t really available when I was out searching last. The main reason I am fretting is due to both of my current NightShot cameras skipping a beat every now and then… sometimes more often and sometimes not at all. And it doesn’t seem to make a different if it is a new or used tape. They both do it. It just worries me. I just know that the worlds greatest apparition is going to happen in that split second that got skipped. 😉

      • David Fernandez

        You can get a digital night shot for under $100 look on ebay for the DCR SR-42 or 45. They’re perfect. When in night shot mode, the IR filter is removed. Not many realize this. If you add a screw on IR filter lens u can use night shot in the day & sometimes they x-ray through certain material.

  • MaryJo

    FYI, is very credible. My team has used their products and they are good folks!

  • David Fernandez

    I use a few different Sony cameras from the DCR SR-42, 45 &DCR SR-200 all with night shot. I also have a CX-220 custom modified & attach an IR light. It is full spectrum so u kinda see in purple but it’s great. I have a guy at The Sony night shots are just fine to use. Especially the DCR SR42 & SR-45. U can find them on each Bay from $40.00 to $150(problem because they know the value of night shot. I also enjoy use a basic Mel meter a KID & a few different digital recorders which is in my opinion the best for evidence as I’ve gotten incredible EVP’s. I’m moving to Marionville, Missouri & are looking to join a group if they’re close enough. I have over a decade experience in the paranormal including Ufology. Stan Romanek (Youtube “alien in the window”) is a good friend of mine. I’d suggest getting some of the Sony camcorders I have. Automatically downloads to the newest windows. I have a closed Faceb group called Monterey Paranormal Investigators. If you ask, I’ll let u into the group. Thank, Dave

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