Ammonite has been working with night vision technology for over 15 years, and has developed some special cameras. We are often asked this question:
Why use a Starlight, infra red or thermal camera, why not just use a regular camera and lights?
At night, visible light is a powerful thing, and its presence completely alters the behaviour of many creatures – in particular, predators. Filming nocturnal predators with visible light at night is pointless if you are trying to film what they actually do. Any visible light will alter the prey they select, alter how the prey escapes (or not) and the method the predators use to get it. Visible light will also alter the relationship between all the animals present, prey or predator, sometimes causing fights, at other times causing panic. Using visible light and daylight cameras also means you have a very restricted range. A 2 kilowatt light is unlikely to go much more than 50m.
Using an infra red camera, with an infra red light, can go some of the way towards solving these problems. However, ordinary infra red cameras need a lot of light to get any distance. (A 2 kilowatt light might get towards 100m)
Using a starlight camera, which is extremely sensitive to infra red, allows you to easily identify a lion at 1Km with a 120 watt spotlight. The starlight camera also has the added advantage of being able to film in moonlight and with wide lenses in starlight, with no added light.
Ammonite’s thermal cameras need no added light at all, instead relying on the thermal ‘heat’ given off by almost every living creature. In combination, these three techniques allow you to film the natural behaviour of nocturnal life without affecting it in any way.