What You Need to know about InfraRed Photography

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What You Need to know about InfraRed Photography
– The technical aspects

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09th April 2014, Singapore – Many are fascinated by infra-red photography (IR), needless to say, one can easily jump into it by buying screw-on infrared filters like the Hoya R72 or Cokin P007 off the shelves (just like what I did many years ago) since these filter are easily available. However, many photographers ended up frustrated with the longer-than-usual exposure just to get a decent white balance before they can even start shooting their first frame. And no one told them that they also will not able to get crispy sharp tree leaves due to the long exposure and they will have to lug a tripod & a remote switch wherever they go. In extreme cases, they are people who literally fried their sensors due to overheating.

Infrared Photo exhibition in Singapore by Allan Lee – Author of this Article.

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So the trend of modifying older DSLRs & compact cameras into full-time Infrared cameras started. So how does it work? Basically the modification will start from dismantling the camera and getting to the sensor unit. Then there will be the slow & delicate job of slowing removing the low-pass (or hot) filter from the front of the sensor unit. A piece of infrared filter is then selected based on their Nm (IR Cut level meter), their thickness, material being plastic or glass, then the installer will cut the filter to size. Once the filter is ready for installation, the installer will carefully placed the pre-cut IR filter over the sensor and position sealed. (This is why IR-modification is an irreversible modification) Then the camera is being assembled back.
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Infrared Modification Services Available!
More Information Below!
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Since there are many companies & individuals doing the modifications on their own, it is also good to know the difference between the type of modifications and other services involved. The price may vary too depending on the process of modification. (or required replacement parts).

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Infrared Modification Services Available!
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For example; there is a basic modification which is pretty cheap.
Steps involved – (SGD $120-$180)
1) Dismantle the camera.
2) Remove Low Pass filter.
3) Paste on a Diamond Cut-&-Break-&-Filed IR Filter (Can be a plastic or glass filter)
4) Assemble the camera.
5) Ready for collection.

Then there is the mid-range modification which is more expensive.
Steps involved – (SGD $200-$380)
1) Dismantle the camera.
2) Remove Low Pass filter.
3) Paste on a Diamond Cut-&-Break-&-Filed IR Filter (Can be a plastic or glass filter).
4) Check for defective parts like the mirror box, shutter arms etc. (replacement will add costs)
5) Assemble the camera.
6) Test for focusing and calibrations.
7) Ready for collection.

Lastly, there is the ultimate modification which is getting popular.
Steps involved – (SGD $450-$600)
1) Test the camera for normal operations and check for faults.
2) Dismantle the camera.
3) Check for in-body fugue & mould & cleaning.
4) Remove Low Pass filter.
5) Check the thickness of the Low-pass filter
6) Water cut or laser cut a selected IR filter to size with the exact thickness.
7) Seal on the pre-cut IR filter using compound sealants.
8) Before assembling, the camera is further checked for defective parts like the mirror box, shutter arms etc. (replacement will add costs)
9) The camera at this stage will be cleaned from inside out.
10) Assemble the camera.
11) Cleaning of all external parts, polishing and restore cosmetic condition.
12) Test for focusing and calibrations.
13) Ready for collection.
14) A workshop on getting the right white balance and a quick introduction to shooting infrared lesson. Workshop includes post-processing methods and tips.

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Infrared Modification Services Available!
More Information Below!
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So before you reach out to that dinosaur DSLR living somewhere in your dry cabinet, hold on. The reality is, NOT every camera is suitable to be converted. Some brand likes to have their cameras made with the hot mirror embedded or pre-sealed, some brand just made it impossible by adding on lots of mumbo jumbos to their circuitries & construction so that you get confused, unplugged or joined a wrong wire and you have a camera exploded in your face. Well, I was really just kidding on the second part – some cameras are just impossible to be modified if I have to put it in brief here.

After scouring through websites and forums, we managed to compile the below list of equipments that are suitable or unsuitable for infrared photography. Please note that the list will be updated constantly as more people will try to modify newer cameras. So if you have some information to contribute, please contact us at the links after the jump.

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Infrared Modification Services Available!
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DSLRs Suitable for IR Conversion:

Canon:
EOS 350D
EOS 450D
EOS 500D
EOS 550D
EOS 600D
EOS 650D
EOS 700D
EOS 10D
EOS 20D
EOS 30D
EOS 40D
EOS 50D
EOS 60D
EOS 5D
EOS 5D2
EOS 7D
EOS 1Ds2
EOS 1Ds3
EOS 1D Mark IV

Nikon:
D40
D40x
D70
D70s
D80
D90
D7000
D200
D300
D1x
D2h
D3
D3s

Sony:
A100
A200
A230
A290
A330
A380
A500
A550 (Only Black & White)
A700
A850
A900
A37
A67
A77
A99

Olympus:
E330
E420
E500
E520
E610
E620

Pentax:
K10D
K20D
K-X
K-R
K-5
K-3
K-S1

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Filters are equally important as that will determine the final colors you will be able to extract from your IR Photos. All IR filters whether it is screw-on, square or industrial uncut stripes, they are measured by NM. Do check out the guide below for the type of “colors” that you might like before you modify your DSLR.

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Infrared Filter Colors:

500NM to 620NM –
Denser Yellow signature, More Colors can be extracted.

650NM-720NM –
Denser Blue signature, Very typical IR colors.

750NM-770NM –
Denser White signature, Less Colorful. Highly popular for the flexibility to extract colors or to render into monochrome.

800NM & Above –
Monochrome (Black & White), High Contrast. (Best used with a Red Filter)

Full Spectrum –
The Ultimate IR Filter, Gives all kinds of interesting colors & costs a bomb, a leg & an arm. But not exactly popular.

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Hotspots
A phenomenon that occurs when certain lenses are used. A bright and distinctive red circle appears in your IR photo right at the centre and no amount of processing can correct that out. (possible, but lots of work) Some lenses that produces hotspots on IR photos can be correct by selecting a wider aperture while there are some other lenses that gives you a red surprise throughout the aperture range. So you have to test around to get to the right lenses.

We have compiled a list of lenses from all over the internet (including our some of our local forums) that are suitable or not suitable for Infrared shooting.

Good IR Lenses-

Canon:
Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4 L
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L
Canon EF 28-135mm F3.5-5.6 IS USM
Canon EF-S 17-85 f4-5.6 IS USM (no hotspot’s)
Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
Canon EF 28mm f/2.8
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 MKI
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 MKII (no hotspot what so ever)
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L
Canon EF 75-300mm f/4.0-5.6 IS
Canon EF 135mm f/2L
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.0-5.6 IS L
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 macro
Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM
Canon EF 135mm f/2.0 L

Nikon:

Nikon 12-24 mm f/4.0 G IF-ED AF-S DX
Nikon 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 G ED AF-S DX
Nikon 20mm f/2.8 D
Nikon 24-70mm f/3.5-5.6 UC
Nikon AF 35-70mm f/2.8 D
Nikon AF 35-70mm f/3.3-4.5 (1986)
Nikon 70-210mm f/4.0-5.6 D

Other Brands:
Panasonic 20mm F1.7 no hot spots
Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 EX
Sigma AF 15mm f/2.8 EX Fisheye
Lensbaby 50 mm f/2.8
Lumix 14-45 kit lens no hot spots
Peleng 8 mm fisheye
Phoenix 100 mm f/3.5 macro

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Bad IR Lenses –

Canon:
Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
Canon EF 16-35mm f2.8 L
Canon EF 20mm f/2.8
Canon EF 35mm f/2
Canon EF 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5
Canon EF 28-70mm f/2.8L
Canon EF 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5
Canon EF 35-80 f/4.0-5.6
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4
Canon EF 50mm f/2.5 Macro
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS
Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
Canon EF 24mm f/2.8

Nikon:
Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-4.5 G ED AF-S DX

Other Brands:
Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 with visible hot spot
Sigma 10-20mm f/4.0-5.6 EX
Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX
Sigma 30mm f/1.4
Sigma 20mm f/1.8
Sigma 50-500mm “Bigma”
Tamron 19-35mm
Tamron 70-300mm f3.x-xxx Macro
Tamron SP AF 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 AD aspherical macro
Tamron AF 18-200 F/3.5-6.3 XR (IF) Di-II lens
Tamron AF 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 LD macro
Tokina 12-24mm f/4

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Other Tips/ Advices on IR Hotspots.

1. If hotspots appears, try using a larger aperture. Many times the hotspots disappears or greatly reduced.

2. Hotspots seems to be the most obvious at 50mm focal length. Many claimed that through the viewfinder, one can see a hexagonal shape distinctly. Therefore, try to avoid shooting at 50mm. Longer focal length lenses with smaller aperture will cause hotspots too.

3. Using Circular Polarizer (CPL), UV filters, ND filters will not reduce hotspot.

4. Lens hood will not reduce hotspot.

Thanks to All the contributors, the various websites and individuals for testing out and providing all the require information for this ultimate compilation.

If you have more information to share with us, please feel free to email us so that we may update the list and keep everyone informed.
Cheers to the Eighth Color!

ED.

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Infrared Modification Services Available!
If you are keen to modify your DSLR into a full time Infrared camera (so that you can forget about the insane long exposure and the added freedom to use any lenses you like), please email us to find out more. (ourshutterjourney@live.com.sg)
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If you would like to talk to us, please join us at SIREN (Singapore InfraRed Enthusiasts Network) https://www.facebook.com/groups/SgInfraRedEntNet/ which is proudly managed by Ourshutterjourney LLP.
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12 Responses to What You Need to know about InfraRed Photography

  1. micky poh says:

    Where can I do the modify my d200

    Like

  2. Nazrul says:

    Canon 400d is not supported?

    Like

  3. Larry says:

    Hi where in SG I can modify my cam to take IR pix?

    Like

  4. Valerie says:

    Hi can my Sony Alpha 55 (not 57 as stated above) be modified? thank you

    Like

  5. Pingback: Singapore Chinese Garden (Infrared) | SHUTTER JOURNEY SINGAPORE

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