Camera for infrared photography

Discussion in 'Beginner Questions' started by caroline_collier, May 26, 2017.

  1. I would not convert an old camera. For example, my converted Panasonic G1 is "mushy" a lot, and the G5, which I bought used, just for converting, produces a lot more crispness. You want to be very careful who you have do it but that price you list sounds like quite a bit more than we've paid. I have converted 3 myself and received 2 as gifts. My lastest, Fuji 100, converted really well. It is exciting to use. I'm going back to some places like Kauai and re-photographing some of the palm groves because the latest camera is so much better than earlier ones. I started out, by the way, shooting Kodak's legendary IR film for many years.
  2. FWIW, just for the heck of it I stuck an R72 on a 50mm 1.8 on my D70.

    I shot it pretty much the way I shoot IR film-I was using the older AF 50mm(not even AF-D) which does have an IR index mark, so I just eyeballed distances and put them at the mark on the lens. Unfortunately, a lot of newer lenses don't have any kind of mark at all.

    In any case, at ISO 1600, I was able to get some decent images at handholdable shutter speeds although I was using the lens wide open. I was getting decent exposure in the 1/45-1/90 range. Of course, I metered manually and used the LCD as my guide.

    I shot them as JPEGs and then hit desaturate and cranked up the red channel in Photoshop.

    Here's a quick one out the back door. This is not an award winning photo by any means, but rather just a proof of concept.


    I tried two other roughly contemporary cameras-a D2x and a Fuji FinePix S3 Pro. The latter is a Nikon N80 stuffed with weird proprietary Fuji sensor that used some tricks to enhance dynamic range(for those who don't remember these interesting little footnotes in camera history, the Fuji DSLRs actually found a decently popular niche with wedding and portrait photographers for a while-the photographer at my sister's wedding in 2005 used one exclusively). Both needed exposures ranging into the seconds at f/1.8 and ISO 1600 to register anything with the IR filter in place.

    I've now found myself with two D70s, or rather a D70 and D70s, and I have to admit a temptation to either attempt full IR conversion myself or send one off.
  3. Any way you slice it an infrared camera is gonna cost you a bit. If you have an android and are on a budget the I would get the small "seek compact thermal images for android." I would get something made by FLIR like the "FLIR E60" if money wasn't an issue.
  4. The Leica M8 is pretty sensitive to IR. Leica had to offer IR cut filters to those who complained that their blacks were magenta tinted.

    Re lens markings. Few have an IR setting, I have a 50mm lens with the IR mark beside f2 on the DoF scale. That's the f2 on the infinity side of the scale. So having focused using normal light, shorten the distance by that amount. Elsewhere I've seen a recommendation to use the f5 mark.
  5. Another resurrected thread? It's true about the M8, although they're still quite expensive on auction sites and it'd cost more than getting a 10MP DSLR converted (before you worry about lenses). I've shot my unmodified D810 in IR through an R72, but the longer exposures are a pain - I struggled to get enough light for live view, and you can't really see through the finder if you go that route. I'm sure converting a newer camera will produce better images than an older one - the question really is how much you care about IR photography (I, at least, am more inclined to spend the money on something elderly and cheap). I did quite enjoy shooting with HIE back in the day, and mean to get back to it. I have some expired 120 roll infrared film (I think Rollei) in my fridge, but then I have a lot of expired film in my fridge.
  6. Just to be clear, the FLIR stuff is much longer wavelength infrared than the conversions we're talking about here (actually recording heat of things at a reasonable temperature). They're also very low resolution - even more so for the FLIR ONE accessories than the standalone cameras. Interesting kit, and I've always vaguely liked the idea of getting one myself, but not the same thing as an IR-converted dSLR.
  7. For what it's worth, I just bit the bullet and I've ordered a converted D90. It will no doubt drive me a little nuts compared with my D8x0 bodies, but at least it's a two-dial camera. I could have got a D50 for half the price, but the D90 has live view - which means that if I want to stick a stronger filter on the front (mine's natively 690nm, which I'm expecting to behave fairly similarly to the 720nm I've used before, though I could always actually put the R72 on it; I also have an 850nm filter) I should still be able to see what I'm doing; going up a notch to a D7000 doubles the price again. If I were going purely mirrorless, I'd lean more towards full spectrum - but since I'm a Nikon person and want to be able to see through the optical viewfinder, having a working starting point with the camera in its native form is useful. If I decide I want to complement it with an old dedicated 590nm body, they don't seem very expensive. Now I just need sunlight.

    I had no idea until now that variable infrared filters were a thing - although they don't seem to go far enough into the infrared to be interesting. Live and learn.
  8. If you use an IR pass filter on a camera without the built-in IR block filter removed, then you won't get all that far down into the IR, but maybe enough.

    But also, if the AF works, it should be close enough, especially as you won't be all that far into the IR.

    Well, chromatic aberration correction is designed over the visible range, and so can be pretty far off, not so
    far into the IR. Real IR films from years ago went to 900nm or so.

    On the other hand, silicon goes down to about 1100 nm. That is probably past where the IR focus mark expects.
    With the IR block filter removed, you should get some real IR pictures.
  9. I've had some luck with sticking a 720nm filter on a D810, but since I couldn't see what I was pointing at (including live view), had to stop down quite a bit to even approximate useful focus, and ended up with multi-second exposures, it was a bit painful - it also didn't seem to be all that IR, which might be a function of it having quite a good IR filter. I think I remember having better luck (both in exposure time and visible "IR effect" on foliage) with a D700, so I guess it had a less strong IR filter. Not that I could see where I was pointing through an R72 filter back when I was shooting HIE film either - and obviously I was guessing the exposure. My (690nm IR-pass) D90 is a lot less painful to use, especially since I can see through it if I can live with 690nm filtering. It seemed still to be responding with a 950nm filter on the front; I've not tried fighting that against my D810's IR filter.

    I've got to say that older, lower-end cameras that have been IR converted are cheaper than I expected - I've seen at least some for under £100. The D90 was a bit more (a bit under £300), but that's kind of the entry point for getting live view, which I figure is pretty important for shooting through filters. Mirrorless systems are probably just as viable and don't have a problem here, but I'm fairly tied to the Nikon lens mount and didn't want to source more lenses.
  10. Just a few things. Kodak IR film (now sadly extinct, though I still have some if the cosmic rays haven't gotten to it) has a few characteristics that are hard to replicate digitally. First, it has a much higher sensitivity over more of the IR spectrum than you can get with an unconverted digital with a filter. Then there's the lack of an anti-halation layer which causes the white areas to glow (a lot or a little depending on exposure). Other films like the Konica IR film are sharper (or were) without the glow.

    Some cameras, such as the Leica M8 are VERY sensitive to IR, which is either an annoyance (with the need for an IR cut filter) OR a blessing because you can put an IR filter on it and get pretty good results (though not as extreme and sharp). But beware that the focus point changes slightly so if you focus the picture might not be in focus if the IR light is a large part of the light in the image. You can figure out how to shift the focus and get pretty close and also use a tripod and smaller apertures. Lastly, typically a filter over an unconverted camera ends up with very long exposures and your meter might not handle that well. The M8 doesn't do that and the meter works fine.

    All that said, if you have an SLR where you're seeing through the lens, trying to look through the filter is tough, especially when they are very dark. A converted digital camera with the IR filter over the sensor is MUCH easier. Back in the IR days, there was a guy named David Romano I think who converted spot meters to meter perfectly for Kodak IR film and that made exposure estimation a LOT easier!

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