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Infrared Camera Conversion Discussion (1 Viewer)

JohnRice

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I'm hoping some others here have gotten an IR conversion, or are interested in discussing them and sharing photos.

I've been planning to have a camera converted, probably by LifePixel to Super Color (590nm). At first I was going to convert a Nikon D5500 I have but never use, but as I researched it, I realized that the best way to shoot with a converted camera is with live view, and through my typically long thought process, decided to completely dump my entire DSLR setup and go exclusively mirrorless. I know a lot of you already followed this. So, now I have Nikon Z5 and Z7ii bodies, planning to have the Z5 converted.

I used to love shooting IR film, especially Konica 720, which was fine grain with an anti-halation layer (unlike Kodak High-Speed Infrared) and produced very appealing results. Digital IR offers a LOT more options and flexibility, especially when you do a moderate conversion like the Super Color that retains some visible spectrum.

I haven't sent the Z5 in yet, partly because I'm still shocked by how much I just spent on new equipment. I will soon, though, or what's the point of having the Z5?

Who wants to join in on a discussion, and has anyone done a camera conversion?
 

Scott Merryfield

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I have not converted any of my cameras to IR, but it's something that has interested me. Occasionally Outdoor Photographer magazine, which I still subscribe to, will have a feature on IR photography. Some of the images published have been amazing.

When I last did some research into this, LifePixel's site mentioned that there is some Photoshop manipulation required for image files from cameras converted to Super Color (590nm). Any idea what type of manipulation is required? Are the adjustments unique for each image, or could some sort of preset be applied to cover most of the adjustments -- meaning that many of them would be the same across all images? I would assume that I could use a different editor to achieve the same results as Photoshop -- I use DxO PhotoLab (a competitor to Lightroom) to process my RAW files.

I do have a Canon EOS M -- Canon's very first mirrorless body -- that is just sitting in my closet collecting dust, as its resale value is almost nil. That would be my only current body that would be a candidate for IR conversion. My only two other bodies -- a Canon EOS R full frame and Canon M50 APS-C -- each still get used a lot for general photography. The M, though, does have some limitations -- no EVF, a rear LCD that can be difficult to see in bright sunlight, and a very slow auto focus system. That last item is probably not an issue, though, as I wouldn't be shooting any moving subjects. However, the LCD issue is a concern.
 

JohnRice

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I have not converted any of my cameras to IR, but it's something that has interested me. Occasionally Outdoor Photographer magazine, which I still subscribe to, will have a feature on IR photography. Some of the images published have been amazing.

When I last did some research into this, LifePixel's site mentioned that there is some Photoshop manipulation required for image files from cameras converted to Super Color (590nm). Any idea what type of manipulation is required? Are the adjustments unique for each image, or could some sort of preset be applied to cover most of the adjustments -- meaning that many of them would be the same across all images? I would assume that I could use a different editor to achieve the same results as Photoshop -- I use DxO PhotoLab (a competitor to Lightroom) to process my RAW files.

I do have a Canon EOS M -- Canon's very first mirrorless body -- that is just sitting in my closet collecting dust, as its resale value is almost nil. That would be my only current body that would be a candidate for IR conversion. My only two other bodies -- a Canon EOS R full frame and Canon M50 APS-C -- each still get used a lot for general photography. The M, though, does have some limitations -- no EVF, a rear LCD that can be difficult to see in bright sunlight, and a very slow auto focus system. That last item is probably not an issue, though, as I wouldn't be shooting any moving subjects. However, the LCD issue is a concern.
There is a Red/Blue "Channel Swap" that takes the odd colors that come out of the camera and makes them a lot more usable. In Photoshop that can be programmed into an action and even batch processed. Then there's the issue of setting optimal white balance, which remains a bit of a mystery to me. It's not clear if I can do a preset in camera and have PS convert the RAW file, or if I have to convert it with another app like Nikon's. The basic problem is that the Adobe RAW converter won't allow a color temperature below 2,000K, but that's needed to properly convert the RAW file. I'll only be shooting RAW. I have taken a Nikon test RAW file and played with it, but it's from an older camera, a D5000 as I recall. This is one area where LifePixel falls short. They tell things, but don't actually explain them. So, I don't know if I can do a manual white balance in camera and open it in PS, or if I still need to convert to TIFF first using the Nikon software.

Then there are some other selective Hue adjustments you can make, as well as if/how you convert to B&W, which you can do selectively by color. It's almost endless what can be done. I foresee many hours at the computer, but that's actually something I find interesting, since it's a new aspect of photography to me.

The EOS M might be nice to convert... except do you really want to be shooting all the time in daylight with no viewfinder? I had originally planned on getting a used Nikon Z50, which is crop, to have it converted, but once I decided to also get a Z7ii, it made the most sense to convert the Z5. I dropped an absurd amount of $ the last two weeks replacing almost everything I have, but I'm going to sell almost all the DSLR based stuff, as well as my extensive Bronica outfit, which I finally realize I'll never use. I figure I might as well get a Mac Studio with some of the proceeds, while I'm at it.
 

Scott Merryfield

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The EOS M might be nice to convert... except do you really want to be shooting all the time in daylight with no viewfinder?
The lack of a EVF is my biggest concern with the M. Spending $300 on a IR conversion may end up being a waste of money for that reason. A better solution would be for me to wait and see where Canon takes its R and M line ups in the future. My M50 would be a better candidate, but I cannot convert it now as I use that body as part of my small, light weight travel kit. I will probably upgrade that body somewhere down the road, but right now there is not a good alternative without changing to a different brand for my small kit, which I really do not want to do.

As for post processing, performing a red/blue channel swap is probably not that difficult with DxO PhotoLab. While I have not tried it, I do make adjustments to individual color channels with that software, and it's quite similar to how I made the adjustments when I used Lightroom. I would have to check on the white balance / color temperature limitations of PhotoLab, though.

I am not someone who enjoys spending a lot of time on a PC post processing RAW files. I have created numerous presets for different situations that saves me a lot of time, as I can apply most of the settings automatically and then make just a few fine tuning adjustments, plus those things that would be unique to each photo -- straightening horizon, cropping for composition, etc.
 

JohnRice

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Here's an infrared shot from back in the day (late '90s) that I like, using Konica 720, shot with a Bronica SQ-A and 250mm lens.

Bowl-&-Pitcher.jpg
 

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