Best setup for recording potential UAP

Tomer

Member
There's much talk about the scarcity of great photo and video evidence of UAP, indeed an argument I often hear is that in a world full of HD camera phones there should be more high quality footage on display. I, like many people, have seen some curious things in the sky, mainly at night and when I have gone to capture this with my phone have found that it's actually pretty rubbish at recording far away objects in any great level of detail, the videos are blurry, unfocused, and could be of anything.

So, in the interest of posterity, what would be the perfect set up for recording and identifying things in the sky? I've heard mention of the Nikon P900 but I've heard it's actually quite hard to keep an object in frame when it's zoomed in very far. I know very little about cameras so, please enlighten me.
 

jarlrmai

Senior Member
Your best best for a portable/everyday solution is the Nikon p900 super zoom type cameras, they are cheap and compact enough and have enough zoom for reasonable ID purposes, the IQ is 'bad' though for artistic/high quality photos. Artistic setups for long range photography weigh a lot, cost a lot and are bulky as hell, sports/wildlife photography setups basically.

Yes it is very hard to keep small distant objects in frame and more importantly achieve focus, it takes practice, just take it out on a clear day and practice with planes. Keeping the mass central is key, find something to rest it on or lean on (wall/tree/car/building etc.)

So many UFOs even shot with high zoom cameras are just camera artefact's from the object (plane/star) not being in focus, it can very hard to get focus on a small object in the frame.

When shooting something that does not fill anywhere near the frame auto settings will let you down, auto exposure will try to average the scene but your UFO might not even register for it as it is small, even zoomed in a plane fills only a small amount of the screen, learn about this and understand, for ID purpose shutter speed is key keep it high at the expense of everything else (shutter priority)

Also a lot of the time you might be shooting "lights in the dark" where even zooming in on a light doesn't actually show anything because it's a point light source. There might be an object there say a plane but there's no way the camera will expose for it automatically and if you try to manually expose there's not enough light to show the body of the plane and the light will over expose and glare in the image. There are just some scenarios where the camera is not going to show what is there, understanding the limits are is key. This is is big with people shooting planets/stars because there is nothing but the point light source there, the artefacts become the UFO (donut shapes/morphing UFOs etc.)

Having the tool and then misinterpreting what it shows is common in UFO videos, camera shake, over/under exposure, bokeh and the various types of lens aberrations and lens flare/glare/motion blurring are all common sources of UFOs even taken on a zoom camera.

The other things to keep in mind are to shoot in RAW if you can (recording the RAW sensor data is the most information and the best for analysis) make sure your clock is right on your camera, or set to UTC. Make sure you understand the metadata. If your camera does not have GPS receiver record a GPS track of where you are on your phone so your photos can be sync'd to the GPS track later on and views compared with google maps etc. Take wide angle shots as well as zoomed in shots. Video what you can but also take stills as they will be higher quality.
 
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deirdre

Senior Member.
i'm thinking they need to use old manual cameras. at least the ufos in the old days looked like something.
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LilWabbit

Active Member
There's much talk about the scarcity of great photo and video evidence of UAP, indeed an argument I often hear is that in a world full of HD camera phones there should be more high quality footage on display. I, like many people, have seen some curious things in the sky, mainly at night and when I have gone to capture this with my phone have found that it's actually pretty rubbish at recording far away objects in any great level of detail, the videos are blurry, unfocused, and could be of anything.

So, in the interest of posterity, what would be the perfect set up for recording and identifying things in the sky? I've heard mention of the Nikon P900 but I've heard it's actually quite hard to keep an object in frame when it's zoomed in very far. I know very little about cameras so, please enlighten me.

One can also make the argument that UFOs almost invariably appear at the fuzzy limits of any camera/sensor performance (also called the Low Information Zone by Mick).

That's why UFOs picked up by even cutting-edge military-grade sensors are no clearer, nor will likely ever be.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Nikon P900/P950/P1000 type great for planes, contrails and the moon. But it's fustratingly slow and bad at focussing and changing zoom.

The point of rapid zoom is that you can zoom out, recenter the object, then zoom back in again.

For more serious stuff that only appears briefly, I'd want something that you can adjust the zoom and focus manually and rapidly. Currently, I use an old Canon 7D and a Sigma 50-500 lens. The downside is that it weighs about 7 pounds. If I were to buy a camera to take to CE5 camp, I'd get a mirrorless that has great low-light performance, with a manual zoom lens.

Given a large budget, I think I'd go with a Sony Alpha 9 or A7S III. Then the lens chosen would be a trade-off between weight and zoom range. 200-600 might not be wide (or light) enough, maybe 70-350

But this is pushing things as far as you can. What you need as a minimum is something that's better than your eyes. So in daylight you should be able to take a photo that reveals more detail than you could see with the naked eye. You don't need a superzoom for that.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
What you need as a minimum is something that's better than your eyes.
what about phones? the chances someone has a camera on them when a ufo goes by is slim. but people carry their phones.

my phone shows less details on far away objects than my eyes can see, but its a 40$ phone from walmart. (it takes fantastic pics for kids opening christmas presents or if youre shopping and want to send an item pic to a friend etc.)

is there some kind of specs people should look for if they want their phones to take decent long distance photos?
 

jarlrmai

Senior Member
what about phones? the chances someone has a camera on them when a ufo goes by is slim. but people carry their phones.

my phone shows less details on far away objects than my eyes can see, but its a 40$ phone from walmart. (it takes fantastic pics for kids opening christmas presents or if youre shopping and want to send an item pic to a friend etc.)

is there some kind of specs people should look for if they want their phones to take decent long distance photos?

Most phones, even the high end ones are not better than your eyes most are worse. They are wide angle with no optical zoom.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Most phones, even the high end ones are not better than your eyes most are worse. They are wide angle with no optical zoom.
It's getting there. Samsung S21 Ultra has a 10x optical zoom that's probably better than your eyes. The wide-angle has 108 megapixels, which is quite a lot. Also 8K video and good low-light performance.
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
eek. pricey
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Sure, but they still sold millions of them worldwide. And it's also indicative of technology that will become much more common over the next 5 years.

I think we are rapidly approaching a watershed moment for UFOlogy.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
I think we are rapidly approaching a watershed moment for UFOlogy.
i dont know. the UFOs seem to be outpacing our technology. in 50 years tehy went from looking like tin cans to having physics defying maneuverability, and often shape shifting capabilities!
 

JMartJr

Senior Member
Sure, but they still sold millions of them worldwide. And it's also indicative of technology that will become much more common over the next 5 years.

I think we are rapidly approaching a watershed moment for UFOlogy.
Maybe, but I expect there will always be combinations of size and distance of phenomenon that defies good resolution, and remains unidentified.
I fear the bigger watershed will be as CGI crosses into the range of undectable, and photo-video evidence becomes worthless.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
There's much talk about the scarcity of great photo and video evidence of UAP, indeed an argument I often hear is that in a world full of HD camera phones there should be more high quality footage on display. So, in the interest of posterity, what would be the perfect set up for recording and identifying things in the sky?

I guess the problem there is once you identify it it's not a UFO/UAP. Therefore the only true UFOs/UAPs will always be just outside the range of what can be clearly defined, no matter how good the camera is.

Better cameras = more photos of planes and balloons. Which is not what I'd want to be spending my money on. But each to their own. :)
 

NorCal Dave

Member
Even when you know what your looking at and it's close, it's still a challenge. I was trying take pictures and videos of some CalFire planes yesterday. I felt like I could wave to the pilots in the spotter plane, but on my phone (iPhone 11) it's just a small far away looking plane. Even when a large MD80 banked over my neighbors house about 300 yard away it didn't look like much on the phone. I switched to my Panasonic GF3 (micro 4/3 mirrorless Walmart special) with a 45-150 manual zoom and it was still a pain. Sat in a chair with arms braced and managed to get a Facebook worthy bit of video.
Being old enough that I need to use cheaters to try and see the viewfinder in the glare of the sunlight doesn't help either.
 

Tomer

Member
I guess the problem there is once you identify it it's not a UFO/UAP. Therefore the only true UFOs/UAPs will always be just outside the range of what can be clearly defined, no matter how good the camera is.

Better cameras = more photos of planes and balloons. Which is not what I'd want to be spending my money on. But each to their own. :)
Yeah, I don't subscribe to the, in my opinion, limited view that all these things are birds and balloons, at the very least we know there are experimental aircraft out there and perhaps strange atmospheric effects that are little understood.

Plus, cameras are fun.
 

JMartJr

Senior Member
Yeah, I don't subscribe to the, in my opinion, limited view that all these things are birds and balloons, at the very least we know there are experimental aircraft out there and perhaps strange atmospheric effects that are little understood.

Plus, cameras are fun.
While I am reasonably sure to my own satisfaction that all these things observed so far are balloons, birds and other known phenomena, I'm not at all averse to somebody being ready to capture evidence that the NEXT one is something amazing and new. I'll be honest and say that I think it unlikely that that will happen, but unlikely things have happened before now, and at worst we'll at least get some better pictures of birds and balloons. And possibly even some other sorts of things in the air, possibly aerodynes of the tethered variety, which I always enjoy seeing! ;)
 

Creamy Pasta

New Member
As an amateur astronomer/astrophotographer and an avid satellite spotter, I've seen many strange things (UAP/UFOs) in the sky. However, my advice isn't what camera do you need. What you need is a half-decent pair of binoculars. I guarantee you it turns UFOs into IFOs every time.
 

LilWabbit

Active Member
Yeah, I don't subscribe to the, in my opinion, limited view that all these things are birds and balloons, at the very least we know there are experimental aircraft out there and perhaps strange atmospheric effects that are little understood.

Plus, cameras are fun.

They are.

But don't you find it at least a little curious that:

Fact: UFO images throughout the decades have been invariably grainy quite irrespective of sensor/camera capability.

Were we to make the likely (whilst not inevitable) prediction that you nor others won't break this trend by capturing reliable high-definition footage of alien craft using the latest equipment, then we have two options:

Either (1) the aliens, for some reason, are intentionally appearing just perfectly blurry enough for each sensor to create doubt while alerting mankind to the possibility of their existence, or (2) it's just not aliens.

Whilst not having to agree with me, perhaps you can at least acknowledge that it's not an unreasonable view to see argument #1 as a convenient response to the above fact, and quite far-out at that.

Maybe not for you, but for many wanting to believe in alien visits (and hoping for better footage), blurry footage at least offers certain benefits. It offers a pretext to call something 'evidence' whilst simultaneously allowing for the necessary speculative latitude to keep the alien hypothesis alive.

You've probably noticed how quickly in the social media the more gullible enthusiasts latch onto even easily explicable blurry birds and windblown objects as proofs of aliens (not referring to the Navy videos). There's a need to believe in alien visitations. There's a desire to believe. A desire that precedes all closer dissection of the 'evidence'.
 

Tomer

Member
They are.

But don't you find it at least a little curious that:

Fact: UFO images throughout the decades have been invariably grainy quite irrespective of sensor/camera capability.

Were we to make the likely (whilst not inevitable) prediction that you nor others won't break this trend by capturing reliable high-definition footage of alien craft using the latest equipment, then we have two options:

Either (1) the aliens, for some reason, are intentionally appearing just perfectly blurry enough for each sensor to create doubt while alerting mankind to the possibility of their existence, or (2) it's just not aliens.

Whilst not having to agree with me, perhaps you can at least acknowledge that it's not an unreasonable view to see argument #1 as a convenient response to the above fact, and quite far-out at that.

Maybe not for you, but for many wanting to believe in alien visits (and hoping for better footage), blurry footage at least offers certain benefits. It offers a pretext to call something 'evidence' whilst simultaneously allowing for the necessary speculative latitude to keep the alien hypothesis alive.

You've probably noticed how quickly in the social media the more gullible enthusiasts latch onto even easily explicable blurry birds and windblown objects as proofs of aliens (not referring to the Navy videos). There's a need to believe in alien visitations. There's a desire to believe. A desire that precedes all closer dissection of the 'evidence'.
No I think it's a pretty poor argument. As is stated in the UAP report, American military hardware isn't best set up to capture high definition images of objects very far away, they use radar, ladar, IR etc because that's effective for tracking the sorts of objects they usually concern themselves with. If this is the situation the US govt is in, why would we expect any better of consumer grade cameras, which are for the most part not designed for this purpose either?

As for the supposed fact, well yes footage of objects that are far away with cameras not designed for the purpose tend to be grainy, I'm not sure much is gained by stating this truism, and I think positing hypothetical answers to this most broad of statements isn't going to take the debate any further. I personally think we need more data, and was speculating on an effective way to gather it, if you're satisfied with your answer, then feel free to step away from the issue.
 

LilWabbit

Active Member
As is stated in the UAP report, American military hardware isn't best set up to capture high definition images of objects very far away,

I haven't read any such statement in the report. The report simply acknowledges that the available UAP evidence is of somewhat poor quality for any definitive conclusions, and that if the Congress wants better analysis, they should release funds for more human resources (not hardware).

Your statement "military hardware isn't best set up to capture high-definition images of objects very far away" is, frankly, not based on intimate knowledge of the various sensor capabilities of the DoD and their highly diverse operational purposes.

But we're digressing. My point was: UFO data is invariably grainy despite sensor performance. Not because of it. This is a curious fact for one reason only:

At any given point in time, whether in the past or today, there's a great range of cameras and sensors available with highly varied performance specifications. And yet, the UAP seem to have a curious knack at lingering right at the far range of each camera capability, even when it's a low-range camera not particularly far for other existing cameras to capture in high definition.

And with UAP images that are not out of range, they tend to be invariably out of focus, taken in poor lighting or weather conditions. In other words, the UFOs seem to live in the low information zone (LIZ) as aptly coined by Mick West. Since technology keeps advancing, yesterday's LIZ is today's high information zone (HIZ), and today's LIZ is tomorrow's HIZ.

UFOs follow our technological trend, and keep perfectly out of range, or out of focus, for each camera used. Near or far.

Conveniently.
 
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Tomer

Member
'The sensors mounted on U.S. military platforms are typically designed to fulfill specific missions. As a result, those sensors are not generally suited for identifying UAP. '

That's a direct quote from the report.

As for the rest of your response, you are essentially restating a position that has already been stated, so there isn't too much point in me restating my rebuttal.
 

LilWabbit

Active Member
'The sensors mounted on U.S. military platforms are typically designed to fulfill specific missions. As a result, those sensors are not generally suited for identifying UAP. '

That's a direct quote from the report.

Thank you. I still see no mention of "American military hardware" not being "best set up to capture high definition images of objects very far away" which you claimed to be in the report. This is a very different statement from the one you quoted from the report.

My response to your 'rebuttal' addressed what seemed like a misreading of my first response. You highlighted range limitations in current camera technology as the main issue for all the grainy images. I responded it's not, based on evaluating the available UAP data. We have the capability to capture many of the same images in high definition. Both, in the military as well as commercially.

We just never do.
 
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JMartJr

Senior Member
No I think it's a pretty poor argument. As is stated in the UAP report, American military hardware isn't best set up to capture high definition images of objects very far away,
It may be significant that only objects very far away remain unidentified.

But sincere good luck on the hunt. And at the very worst, photography is an interesting hobby, so yo cant really go wrong!
 

Rory

Senior Member.
I'm not sure much is gained by stating this truism, and I think positing hypothetical answers to this most broad of statements isn't going to take the debate any further. I personally think we need more data, and was speculating on an effective way to gather it, if you're satisfied with your answer, then feel free to step away from the issue.

I agree with Tomer here. The topic of the thread is "what equipment do you recommend for recording UAPs?"

I know I also expressed doubts about the project - but on reflection I think I'd delete that comment if I could.

It's probably quite annoying if you're just asking a question about equipment and people keep telling you your idea has flaws. Seems like that position has been stated enough times now.

Perhaps it can go back to equipment ideas?
 

LilWabbit

Active Member
I agree with Tomer here. The topic of the thread is "what equipment do you recommend for recording UAPs?"

I know I also expressed doubts about the project - but on reflection I think I'd delete that comment if I could.

It's probably quite annoying if you're just asking a question about equipment and people keep telling you your idea has flaws. Seems like that position has been stated enough times now.

You're probably right.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
American military hardware isn't best set up to capture high definition images of objects very far away
please ponder how the meaning of "far away" has changed over time

when it comes to identifying objects approaching via the air or space, there's some military and scientific infrastructure dedicated to that
examples:

Article:
The U.S. Space Force maintains Upgraded Early Warning Radars (UEWR). These radars are capable of detecting ballistic missile attacks and conducting general space surveillance and satellite tracking. They are located across both the United States and United States European Command.


Article:

What is Planetary Defense?​

Planetary defense is the term used to encompass all the capabilities needed to detect the possibility and warn of potential asteroid or comet impacts with Earth, and then either prevent them or mitigate their possible effects. Planetary defense involves:
  • Finding and tracking near-Earth objects that pose of hazard of impacting Earth;
  • Characterizing those objects to determine their orbit trajectory, size, shape, mass, composition, rotational dynamics and other parameters, so that experts can determine the severity of the potential impact event, warn of its timing and potential effects, and determine the means to mitigate the impact;


Might be interesting to find out what equipment this involves, besides big radar dishes.
 

ventsyv

New Member
Maybe a polarized lenses to cut down on glare? Seems to me that many UAPs are the result of glare of some sort. Daytime tic-tacs come to mind...
 

JMartJr

Senior Member
Depending on budget and how portable you want to be, I'd at least look into whether an upgrade to an external (directional?) mic might be something you want to do. If the UAP makes any sounds, that could help rule out (or in) potential identifications if you can capture them. Again depending on budget, some ability to shoot IR might be useful?

FWIW, I take a lot of pics at kite festivals and events, and selected a camera for bringing distant objects in the air close. I use a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300, which at the time I bought it had about the most zoom you could get on a camera that did most of the work itself (At an event, I'm generally too busy to take a lot of time operating a camera.) For what you want to do, a super zoom has the drawback of not being great in low light photography. But I'd guess that light sources in the night sky are not generally going to resolve into much anyway. On the other hand, for daylight work, bringing an interesting kite way down the beach close enough to capture what it was, it works very well. Presumably would work as well for daylight UAP.

P1070894.JPG

For a lighted flying object at night, it can get some OK pics if the object is reasonably large in the frame, but about half the pics are badly bokehed (If bokeh can be used as a verb!) Not super sharp, but enough to get a sense of what you are seeing.
P1070704.JPG

For one more example that may make more sense if you are not into kites (but who would not be into kites?) here is a pic from the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn last year. This is discarding a large number of images that were no good, but catching some moons of Jupiter was satisfying.
P1210356.JPG
 

NorCal Dave

Member
Apparently these come very highly recommended:



Not the cheapest option, admittedly. ;)
I dunno, if stuff like "Go Fast" and "Gimble" are the best we have from this platform, it seems we can create equally un-compelling evidence for a lot less money. Maybe we should create a "Piss-Poor-Pixels-Per-Dollar" index.

Seriously though, I don't think there is a perfect set up. As Tomer said in the OP, either stuff is too far way, or it becomes very difficult to zoom in enough to capture anything meaningful. Most consumer photo equipment, including phones, are made to be used up close. Most people want to take pictures of other people and maybe their surroundings, not stuff off in the distance. There are the large stuff used by professionals for stills, but they come at professional prices and a professional learning curve. For video, a large studio camera with fluid head and large zoom would work well. Think of how they use them to follow a tiny golf ball in flight for 300+ yards. But, again, hardly portable or affordable.

But as already pointed out above, the best set up would just move the LIZ further out. By definition, UFO/UAPs operate in the LIZ. The aliens always know how to stay just outside the limits of whatever technology is deployed to detect them.
 
I dunno, if stuff like "Go Fast" and "Gimble" are the best we have from this platform, it seems we can create equally un-compelling evidence for a lot less money. Maybe we should create a "Piss-Poor-Pixels-Per-Dollar" index.

Compared to these boys:



They're a bargain! :D
 
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