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Thread: Infrared photography

  1. #1
    Ronny's Avatar
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    Infrared photography

    I am interested in the new Canon 70d camera, went to a local camera store and want to know the trade-in value of a 40D. He told me about $200, which I consider not much.
    Then he told me to keep the 40D, but I should consider converting it to an Infrared Camera.
    I have a few questions.
    1. What is really infrared photography?
    2. What is the cost of the conversion?
    3. What is your experience with infrared? Is it also a fun part?
    4. Can infrared pictures also be modified/edit with the softwares, like I have TopazLabs plug-ins?

    Thank you,
    Ronny

  2. #2
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    Re: Infrared photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Ronny View Post
    . . . keep the 40D, but consider converting it to an Infrared Camera.
    I have a few questions.
    1. What is really infrared photography?
    Firstly, what is it not ;-). For most of us with silicon sensors, it is not those fancy images of warm bodied creatures lurking around at night or of your kitchen stove at work. Silicon only detects up to 1100nm wavelength (which is 'infra' i.e. of a lesser frequency than visible red) but warm bodies emit a heat signature at much, much longer wavelengths. So, what we call 'IR' is light reflected from objects, not emitted by them (an oversimplified statement to draw the distinction).

    People get the Bayer Filter (CFA) removed from their sensors, at some risk I imagine, and that camera will never again shoot color. Then they stick a filter on the lens to block visible light (to which the sensor is more sensitive now that the CFA is gone). And we've all seen the ghostly images that result. You get to re-learn correct exposure and focus settings for your camera. I think AF goes off a bit too. MF will a bit difficult with no visible light coming through the lens.

    2. What is the cost of the conversion?
    Costs me nothing! My Sigma DSLR has a removable dust cover which is also the camera's UV/IR blocking filter . With a Canon, your experience is certain to vary

    3. What is your experience with infrared? Is it also a fun part?
    None, never tried it.

    4. Can infrared pictures also be modified/edit with the softwares, like I have TopazLabs plug-ins?
    I'm sure they can . .

    P.S. I have a spare Sigma SD14 if you'd like to play without risk. How about a trade?

  3. #3
    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: Infrared photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Ronny View Post
    1. What is really infrared photography?
    Photography of light with frequencies at the infrared end of the spectrum. Depending on the filters you choose, you could still be playing with visible light.

    2. What is the cost of the conversion?
    About $300 from a service like lifepixel. You don't need conversion to shoot infrared; but you do need it to shoot infrared with handholding shutter speeds. Digital cameras typically come with an IR/UV cut filter over the sensor so that colors aren't thrown off by the sensor's sensitivity to UV/IR light. The filter's not 100% efficient, so you can put an IR pass filter over your lens, and get a tiny bit of IR light to photograph--but this will typically require long shutter speeds that will make a tripod necessary.

    Conversion typically removes the cut filter on the sensor, and then replaces it either with plain glass that allows a wider spectrum through, or (in the case of IR conversion), an IR pass-filter. If the conversion uses plain glass, you can still do regular color photography with the camera by putting a UV/IR cut filter on the lens; or IR photography by putting an IR pass filter on the lens. But if you're only going to be doing IR photography, putting the filter over the sensor is probably the most convenient way to go.

    3. What is your experience with infrared? Is it also a fun part?
    It's fun, but can be more gimmicky than some folks like. The best subjects tend to be plants (chlorophyll reflects IR, so most foliage goes to white), and water (which absorbs IR, so mostly goes to black in shots). White trees by a black lake, that sort of thing. You also need to be good with post-processing and channel swapping if you want to play with false color.

    4. Can infrared pictures also be modified/edit with the softwares, like I have TopazLabs plug-ins?
    Yes.

    Here's an infrared image I took with my (unconverted) Panasonic G3 using the 14-42 kit lens, and a Hoya R72 filter.

    Infrared photography

    It was shot on a tripod with a 6 second exposure time. The image did not look like this coming out of the camera. The image was mostly red. I shot RAW and did a custom white balance in post, and then did a red/blue channel swap to get the mostly-red image to then be mostly-blue.
    Last edited by inkista; 19th September 2013 at 06:52 PM.

  4. #4
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Infrared photography

    I converted an old Canon D60 (not the new 60D) to full time Infra Red but, I really seldom use it. The reason is that it is another full size camera to lug around (I am already shooting with 2 cameras as is).

    I really wish that I had converted a nice small camera to full time IR. That way, I could just throw it in my camera bag when ever I go out shooting. I would use that a lot more than I use the D60.

    However, the old D60 produces some relatively nice IR images. I kind of prefer my IR imagery in B&W

    Infrared photography

    BTW: The 40D is still a very viable camera (although unfortunately it is not worth a lot of money). I would seriously consider keeping it as a second camera or as a back up camera...

  5. #5

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    Re: Infrared photography

    I did some IR using a Wratten 87 equivalent filter which gives you the genuine IR result of black and white. IMO the R72 is simply a dark red filter.
    I thought it quite interesting to do but not many worked IMO. As others above have said foliage turns white and water dark which I believe from the the clorofil in the leaves.
    This site is one place to have your camera converted http://www.kolarivision.com/tutorials.html
    And the pages give you an insight into IR. The advantage of having your camera converted is that you will use fairly normal exposures as opposed to the six seconds that Kathy needed. I found that my Nikon 5700 bridge camera was fairly responsive to IR through the Wratten 87 and I would need one second exposures in bright sunlight, but a converted camera might use 1/60 so practical for 'people' IR
    Unfortunately I found that my subsequent Panasonic cameras have a strong IR filter and are unsuitable for IR. The 'test' if you have a live view camera is to point it at your TV remote, I have read of people doing this test but by exposing a frame. and if you see the remotes light nice and bright it is worth proceeding with an un-converted camera. I started IR with a Canon P&S camera so it is possible you might be able to do IR with the D40 without a conversion for landscape.

    A snag with IR is that the Wratten 87 is an 'expensive' filter to buy compared to others.
    This one at http://www.amazon.com/77mm-Infrared-...ter+Wratten+87 is priced at $155 reduced from over $300

    The R72 is much less http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_no...20Filter%20R72 ... several prices here.
    I guess it is quite easy to get rid of the red cast by converting to black and white [ Greyscale] in your editor and other tricks as Kathy showed us.

    That is a good idea of what IR can be that Richard posted and the advantage of an unconverted camera is that you can still use it for regular photography.

    In looking at adverts the Wratten IR filters are 720nm rather than deep red filters.
    Checking my Kodak Filter Book if the 72 is an equivalent to the Wratten 72B it passes light between 590 and 650 NM whereas the W87 passes no light beltween 400 -700nm.
    But I am getting in deep here beyond what I really know except it seems logical that a filter producing a red result is using visible [ red] light unlike the one I have which gives a B&W result As for the blue results that strikes me as rather odd as blue is at the opposite end of the spectrum to red.
    Last edited by jcuknz; 17th September 2013 at 10:28 AM.

  6. #6
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Infrared photography

    Using an IR filter in front of your lens is not really easy and (for me) not a lot of fun. The filter requires inordinately long exposures and even still scenes can be messed up because of the foliage moving in the breeze. Focusing can also be a bit chancy because of the dark viewfinder.

    OTOH, shooting with an IR converted camera will provide near "normal" exposure times and will allow you to easily view the image in your viewfinder (since you are not looking through a dark filter).

    Infrared focuses at a different spot than visible light. Older prime lenses for manual focus cameras often had an IR focus point on the distance scale. See the red dot on this focus scale.

    Infrared photography

    You would focus the lens normally. Then note where the "normal" focus point is (in this case the orange line) and switch focus so that the red dot would be where the orange line was originally (in this case about 12 feet or so). This focus switch should take care of the difference in focusing between the visible light and the infra-red light.

    Many conversion companies suggest that you send the lens with which you plan to be shooting along with the camera which will be converted. They will optimize the conversion for that lens.

    The company that did my D60 conversion did not ask for the lens but, suggested that I shoot at around f/11. A small f/stop will provide a wider DOF and "should" make up for any difference in focusing. Since I use my IR converted camera mostly for landscapes on a tripod, the f/11 or smaller requirement is not a problem.

    One nice thing about the old D60... I have an old Sigma 28mm f/1.8 prime lens which cannot work (due to Sigma's reverse engineering) with any camera newer than the Canon 10D. Sigma will not or cannot retrofit this lens. But, since the D60 is older than the 10D, the Sigma lens works on it O.K..

    I have noticed that eBay often offers cameras which are already converted to IR. These include both DSLR and P&S models. There is also an offer to convert a P&S camera to IR for $105 USD. Many of us have old P&S cameras laying around which are virtually worthless but, which could be candidates for IR conversion...

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Infrared-IR-...item43a99c04f0

    I have an old Nikon Coolpix Camera which I might get converted. That would be nice to carry around. I know nothing about this service and am not recommending or not recommending it! It might be worth $105 to have a little P&S that I could carry around with my "normal" DSLR cameras without overburdening myself with weighty equipment...

    If the Coolpix works OK, I would then sell my converted D60 and Sigma lens...

    BTW: a Canon Rebel XT might be a nice DSLR candidate since it is a relatively tiny camera.
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 18th September 2013 at 02:54 PM.

  7. #7

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    Re: Infrared photography

    I have never been exactly sure if the softness I have experienced with my IR has been due to wrong focus or subject movement but since I was using my Nikon bridge camera which is a reccomended type by the firm I listed, without any focusing scale I simply let AF have its head on the basis that AF would find IF focus as well as ordinary light focus. It certainly wasn't camera shake here becuase the camera was sitting on the ground and probably I followed my normal practice of using the 10 second release.
    Infrared photography

  8. #8
    Ronny's Avatar
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    Re: Infrared photography

    Thank you for all the information. It looks nice to make those landscape pictures, but the way you describe it is a complete new learning curve.
    I will give it a deep thought and maybe I will keep it as a second body, because I have 5 lenses.
    I shoot images for Realtors too.

    Ronny

  9. #9
    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: Infrared photography

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    Focusing can also be a bit chancy because of the dark viewfinder.
    Well, that and the light being at a different wavelength, as you pointed out. However. If you have a camera with liveview and exposure simulation, a lot of this issue can be mitigated simply by putting the camera on a tripod and using liveview, and using 10x magnification to manually adjust critical focus.

    Shooting infrared with my XT was a PITA (no liveview, optical viewfinder only). Shooting it with my G3 (liveview both in the EVF and on the flip-out LCD) was a piece of cake.

  10. #10
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    Re: Infrared photography

    you can shoot colour and bayer array filters are not removed in most the mods I've seen. It's just mixed light you get weird casts like orange trees. You may be able to find a hot mirror filter to screw on to outside and shoot as per normal like you can cold mirror (aka IR filters). I modified a fuji s5600 to do just that. Some of the info in this thread is relating to a NONE modified camera with a weaker IR cut/hot mirror so IR passes albeit at a low rate so you need very long exposures. I shoot handheld on the s5600 just fine with 780nm (sometimes called coldmirrors) or higher on. Anything with accessible hot mirror can be modified but some cameras have an them missing for Astro/DSO photography.

    The colour thing is probably misunderstanding, you do take out the IR filter and some take AA filter too but I decided against that. Higher wavelengths of Near IR cut through the colour filters as if they were clear, visible colours often show the same in IR pics as many dyes are transparent under it. This leads to the B&W thinking from missing bayer array perhaps?

    You can get some colours with a 780nm filter as the closest parts (ie. somewhere in 700's to high 800nm range IIRC) don't go through the filters on the photosites at equal rates as there is still different blue/green/red transmission at these shorter wavelengths so you get slight casts such as black is ice blue not white (when colour balance for red to white). The vast amount of the luma details are from longer wavelengths of NIR above 900-1000nm and that does see the visible filters as same hence mostly black and white.

    edit: it's common to do a red/blue channel swap in landscapes in particular for different colour casts. Normally you'll only get ice blue, sepia to pinkish colour but with messing in channels you can get blue sky back etc. As for portraits it can be odd with the blue hair and black eye colour look and the milky translucence of skin and it looks a bit "40 days of night" and hard to make it flattering.
    Last edited by Davey; 19th September 2013 at 09:27 PM.

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