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Wednesday, 10 July 2013


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I have a Nikon D100 that I got converted several years ago. It's 720nm, so a little color sneaks in. However, I've been eyeing my E-PL1 as a future conversion candidate since I've swung over to M43.

I learned something interesting about IR a couple years ago, on a visit to Mystic Seaport: There's not enough reflected IR over water, and most images came out a couple stops under-exposed. (Or, maybe the light sensing is still visible light, and all the reflection off water throws things off?)

Have fun, and I hope you post some more images from your camera, which would help me decide if 830nm would be the way for me to go.

The trick is not in making the IR picture, but in finding a paper which will impart the brilliance of the high values.

Hi Ctein,

Please can you shed some light onto the filter choices for IR: which one to get for what scenario. I just don't get it.

Context: I want to use IR for landscapes and also for monochrome portraits (I have read that IR can de-emphasize skin blemishes & imparts a bit of a 'glow'... shades of a poor man's Leica :-)

I would also like to retain the ability to shoot visible-only (e.g. with a hot mirror filter like the Leica M8's), if that is possible.

I have been eyeing the Lifepixel site for a while now, but unable to make up my mind re what I want/need.

Many thanks!

Dear Bill,


pax / Ctein

I was very pleased with my experience with Life Pixel a few years ago. I had them convert my original Canon Eos-1Ds which had become basically a paperweight after I moved on to much faster hardware. I also opted for the 'deep IR' conversion following the same logic. I still use it, because the 8 megapixel files are insanely clean. I presume this is because I generally use it in sunny conditions where noise is a non-issue. What I most like about it is the expansion of the useful shooting day in sunny weather. 'Standard' landscape photography under such conditions is pretty much limited to very early or very late in the day; the harsh, bald mid-day light looks awful. But IR images look great at mid-day, so when the sun is overhead I can stow my regular gear and pull out the converted camera and keep shooting.

I have considered having my Nikon D70 converted to all-band (IR/VIS/UV) and using a set of bandpass filters to shape the response. Unfortunately, while the conversion cost isn't to bad, a half dozen to a dozen or more large (72mm)high quality filters blows my budget. But when I win the lottery, it should be fun.

Dear Mike R,

I will be posting more of my photographs as I go, but I'm not sure it will help you make a decision on 720 vs. 830 nm conversions. I won't have any comparison photographs to show you; I'm not even sure how much visible difference it makes.

Maybe someone with more experience with IR photography than I (hello, Lloyd??) can chime in here.


Dear IA,

If you want to retain the ability to photograph in visible light, you need the “full spectrum" conversion and a set of the appropriate filters for visible and IR photography. Read the Life Pixel website thoroughly for guidance in which filters to buy.

While IR does hide skin blemishes, it also renders hair, eye, and lip color oddly. I'd be surprised if your subjects found it an acceptable alternative to a visible light black and white portrait, unless you were going for a very stylized look.

Also, most of the “glow” you talk about was due to the fact that infrared films scattered a lot of light internally. That glow was not an inherent characteristic of IR photography, it was due to halation in the film. If you look through the digital section of my website for black and white IR photographs, you'll notice that by and large they lack this glow-- in terms of crispness, you can't really tell them from conventional black-and-white photographs. It's only the unusual placement of tones that makes them look different.

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

Nice shots (I'm reffering to the portraits of the ZZ-top crew a few days back and these as well), but a bit pricy for a gimmick....so if you just wanna freak around a bit (in the harsh Aussi sunlight:


a simple Hoya filter also gets the job done (be it not as cool as a full conversion).

Greets, Ed.

A very useful site with information is nikongear.com

Don't believe the title, lots of the people are shooting all sorts of converted cameras - mirrorless are becoming more common as they allow a real preview of the scene as apposed to composing a visible scene and hoping the IR is correct.

This topic should regain some interest in The other Spectrums.
I have a full spec E510 camera that is quite nice. UV filters are the most expensive, The Baddar-2 venus filter is the best at 48mm filter thread. For IR a 72mm 720nm and 72mm 830nm (B+W 093) can be had at cheap if you monitor B&H over time. And a normal filter is the #486.

IF you loose your white balance preset, for IR just do a custom white balance of Grass. This works great. For UV do a custom white balance of Black pavement or ashfault. These work well.

Anyone stuck between 720 versus 830nm, Just get the 720nm Camera. If you want 830, then pickup a B+W 093 filter for you most used lens. You can also get the 1000nm cut off filters if you really want to see in the dark.

Keep it fun.

Dear David,

What kind of exposures are you getting in the ultraviolet? Does much get through a conventional camera lens? One of the things that inhibited me from doing a full spectrum conversion, aside from the substantial additional filter costs, was I wasn't even sure how useful it would be without a specialized lens.

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

I have the full spec E510 and a normal (unmodified E3) I was doing a lot testing between the two for UV. I actually found that the exposure was the same for both! Most likely being that the IR cut filter on the 10MP chip (which is the same in the two cameras) does not filter any UV at all. I pick the E3 as produces better high ISO shots than the Full spec E510.
I would have to go back to my notes to look it up exactly. But off the top of my head I remember hand holding 1/8 shutter at ISO 800 F4.
For lenses the fewer the number of elements the better. Also if you can rub off the lens coatings, its even better. I use the Olympus 35mm Macro f3.5 lens. I think it allows a lot of UV through with the baadar venus-2 filter. Also since its filter thread is 52 and the baadar filter is 48mm with a step down ring I don't get vignetting.
I also get lots of UV though with an old YUS C/Y 135mm f2.8 lens. I think it only has 3 elements, but its really soft and the minimum focus distance is too long for most of my use. Also I don't think it has any coatings.
From discussions with Kenny from UKA optics in NY. I would probably only gain an extra stop or 1.5 stops max going with their 78mm T-mount Quartz lens. Which cost $1300 in 2009.
So if your interested in UV, first try and get the Baadar venus-2 filter. Its hard to come by only at astronomy stores or websites and cost me around $200. I think I bought it from Company-7. If you do buy it you need to flip the glass. Use a tool to remove the holding ring and flip it over, then screw the holding ring back. As its camera backwords for telescopes.

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