looking at a dedicated IR camera

Started Jun 3, 2012 | Discussions
Kerry Pierce
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looking at a dedicated IR camera
Jun 3, 2012

I'm going to convert another camera to be a dedicated infrared camera. I've used LifePixels and MaxMax previously, but I'm open to suggestions of another vendor.

I had intended to send in a d200 for conversion. The recent improvements in sensors makes me think I might be better off buying something like the d3200 or d5100 or maybe even converting my d7000. But, the d7k is a little over the budget I had planned for this adventure.

I'd like to see your thoughts and photos, if you'd care to join the discussion.

thanks
Kerry
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Kris in CT
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Re: looking at a dedicated IR camera
In reply to Kerry Pierce, Jun 3, 2012

I have a full spectrum D200, but it is a steep learning curve for me. I have mostly been playing trying to learn how to use it. Nothing too dramatic from me but I have a set on flickr some with a 720nm and some with a red filter.... http://www.flickr.com/photos/coastalconn/sets/72157628785054317/

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herbymel
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Re: looking at a dedicated IR camera
In reply to Kris in CT, Jun 3, 2012

Thanks for the idea on a D200 being sold locally...will even take a bike I have sitting around as part trade...I'll have to look into it more now.
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Kerry Pierce
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Re: looking at a dedicated IR camera
In reply to Kris in CT, Jun 4, 2012

Kris in CT wrote:

I have a full spectrum D200, but it is a steep learning curve for me. I have mostly been playing trying to learn how to use it. Nothing too dramatic from me but I have a set on flickr some with a 720nm and some with a red filter.... http://www.flickr.com/photos/coastalconn/sets/72157628785054317/

Wow, you have some very nice shots there, Kris. I had figured on getting the standard or enhanced IR conversion. The full spectrum seems to be so rich in color that I may have to do another camera with that, but I think I can see why you talk about the steep learning curve. The full spectrum conversion seems to give you a lot more to think about and work with.

Thanks for the post and info.

Kerry

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Kris in CT
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Re: looking at a dedicated IR camera
In reply to Kerry Pierce, Jun 4, 2012

I won't get into the strange history of my camera (ebay purchase), but I ended having a crash course in IR/full spectrum. The only real disadvantage is that using IR filters it blocks the viewfinder. My solution has been pretty simple, focus, AE-L and hold filter over lens and take the picture. I can use any frequency IR filter, But I really like the tiffen red-1 filter (non-ir). I managed to set a custom WB with a -2 EV on green foliage. IR light is very bright and focuses differently so I normally stop down to f11 and set ev to -1 and fire a bracketed set then adjust accordingly. If the D200 had live view it would be incredibly easier.

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intro
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Re: looking at a dedicated IR camera
In reply to Kerry Pierce, Jun 4, 2012

You can check http://www.myinfrared.com i think site is from Indonesia, but don't know for sure. Anyway, you can see some nice IR pictures there.

Asked a member on the forum about infrared, and he told me about this one. He's got some very nice IR pictures posted here also
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1036&message=40421679

Good luck with your IR work!

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NikonScavenger
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Re: looking at a dedicated IR camera
In reply to Kerry Pierce, Jun 4, 2012

The D200 is cheap enough to send away for a conversion, and the CCD sensor gives very good results with a variety of filters.

I have a deep black and white IR camera I had lifepixel modify for me.

It's a steep learning curve and I'm still trying to get a handle on it.

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jdoman
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Re: looking at a dedicated IR camera
In reply to Kerry Pierce, Jun 4, 2012

I had my old D70 converted by LifePixel. I do have fun with it! So much so, I'm thinking of having my D2x converted. I would like a few more pixels. Here are some recent samples:

  1. 1

  1. 2

  1. 3

  1. 4

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talmy
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Re: looking at a dedicated IR camera
In reply to Kerry Pierce, Jun 4, 2012

According to LifePixel you lose custom WB setting with the more recent cameras. That's why I had them convert (Standard IR) my D200 last year. As I never found CCD sensors to be "magical" like many people say, it seemed to be a good candidate. I'm very happy with my D300s for visual spectrum photography.

My infrared shots of the Oregon Coast on Google+:

https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/115028486050528607966/albums/5653552796046457505

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Kerry Pierce
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Re: looking at a dedicated IR camera
In reply to intro, Jun 4, 2012

intro wrote:

You can check http://www.myinfrared.com i think site is from Indonesia, but don't know for sure. Anyway, you can see some nice IR pictures there.

Thanks intro, I'll take a look and see what they have.

Asked a member on the forum about infrared, and he told me about this one. He's got some very nice IR pictures posted here also
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1036&message=40421679

Yes, those are very nice, excellent work. Thanks for the link.

Good luck with your IR work!

Thanks. It's been a lot of fun for me so far. I can only imagine a lot more with a large MP, modern sensor.

Kerry

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Kerry Pierce
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Re: looking at a dedicated IR camera
In reply to NikonScavenger, Jun 4, 2012

NikonScavenger wrote:

The D200 is cheap enough to send away for a conversion, and the CCD sensor gives very good results with a variety of filters.

I have a deep black and white IR camera I had lifepixel modify for me.

It's a steep learning curve and I'm still trying to get a handle on it.

Seems to me that you're pretty well along that curve. Those are some very nice shots. I was thinking that the Deep B&W was too much for me. I'm familiar with the Hoya R72. But, I can see that the Deep B&W conversion would be nice to have as well. I may have to get 2 cameras done.....

How much light does that filter eat? Can you still use higher shutter speeds and normal f/stops while shooting? I often like to hand hold the camera and get moving animals or people in the photo, which doesn't really work well with long exposures.

Thanks, good stuff.

Kerry

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Kerry Pierce
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Re: looking at a dedicated IR camera
In reply to jdoman, Jun 4, 2012

jdoman wrote:

I had my old D70 converted by LifePixel. I do have fun with it! So much so, I'm thinking of having my D2x converted. I would like a few more pixels. Here are some recent samples:

Cool. I like those! Did you get the Standard IR conversion? I had a d70 done as well, standard IR, but it's dead. I'm thinking that I should do 2 cameras now. Lots of very cool possibilities with the different filters. Have you decided what you'll get if you convert the d2x?

thanks

Kerry

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Kerry Pierce
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Re: looking at a dedicated IR camera
In reply to talmy, Jun 4, 2012

talmy wrote:

According to LifePixel you lose custom WB setting with the more recent cameras.

I'll have to read that again. I'm not sure it will matter to me, though.

That's why I had them convert (Standard IR) my D200 last year. As I never found CCD sensors to be "magical" like many people say, it seemed to be a good candidate. I'm very happy with my D300s for visual spectrum photography.

Well, I'm with you on that. I have a pair of d200's that haven't seen any use since I got the d700 to pair with my d300. I got a lot of great photos out of them, but the d300 became my favorite DX camera.

My infrared shots of the Oregon Coast on Google+:

Wow, you have some very sweet shots there, Tom. Good stuff!

thanks

Kerry

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Kerry Pierce
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Re: looking at a dedicated IR camera
In reply to Kris in CT, Jun 4, 2012

Kris in CT wrote:

I won't get into the strange history of my camera (ebay purchase), but I ended having a crash course in IR/full spectrum. The only real disadvantage is that using IR filters it blocks the viewfinder. My solution has been pretty simple, focus, AE-L and hold filter over lens and take the picture. I can use any frequency IR filter, But I really like the tiffen red-1 filter (non-ir). I managed to set a custom WB with a -2 EV on green foliage. IR light is very bright and focuses differently so I normally stop down to f11 and set ev to -1 and fire a bracketed set then adjust accordingly. If the D200 had live view it would be incredibly easier.

Thanks for the additional info, Kris. I'm going to have to read up on the full spectrum filter, because you've lost me on the part about using any freq IR filter and the blocking of the viewfinder. I think that you're saying that you use additional filtering for different effects, but I don't see understand why it would block the viewfinder, unless you mean that it's too dark to see anything.

thanks

Kerry

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NikonScavenger
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Re: looking at a dedicated IR camera
In reply to Kerry Pierce, Jun 4, 2012

Kerry Pierce wrote:

How much light does that filter eat? Can you still use higher shutter speeds and normal f/stops while shooting? I often like to hand hold the camera and get moving animals or people in the photo, which doesn't really work well with long exposures.

Thanks, good stuff.

Kerry

It eats a LOT of light. Those photos were taken on a typical bright Florida day, and I'm at ISO 200, +3 EV, f/7.1 and I'm getting shutter speeds in the 1/100-1/125 range.

If you want more speed, you can dial back the EV, underexpose, and fix most of it in PP. I'm still experimenting with a sweet spot between exposure, aperture, and acceptable shutter speeds.

Lifepixel did the entire conversion for 320 with shipping. They also calibrated the camera to focus in IR (longer wavelength) to work best with Nikon's 18-70 f/3.5-4.5 cheapie kit lens which is a good all-around IR kit lens, so to speak.

I chose the B/W filter because there's less PP involved (switching channels, etc.) and the IR gives the kind of contrast I like for landscapes.

I'm by no means an expert, but from my limited experience...

-bright sunny days work best, overcast doesn't give you the desirable contrast resolution

-IR doesn't expose like visible light, so you're going to have to overexpose your shots

-vegetation reflects a lot of light, a perfectly exposed visible light photo will be overexposed in IR

-anti-glare/anti flare doesn't really work with IR. You will have a lot of artifact from the sun in your photos.

I can attest that while there is nothing "magical" about it, CCD has better contrast resolution than CMOS which works well if you're doing B/W. Also, the big reason I converted a D200 over the D300 (besides that I didn't want to sacrifice a newer camera), was that the 200 reliably white balances in IR. You really don't realize it, but in post-processing a screwed up WB plays hell with most aftermarket programs such as CS and LR.

...but my experience is from my B/W filter. Color IR and enhanced spectrum may be completely different.

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jdoman
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Re: looking at a dedicated IR camera
In reply to Kerry Pierce, Jun 4, 2012

Kerry Pierce wrote:

Cool. I like those! Did you get the Standard IR conversion? I had a d70 done as well, standard IR, but it's dead. I'm thinking that I should do 2 cameras now. Lots of very cool possibilities with the different filters. Have you decided what you'll get if you convert the d2x?

Thanks! Yes, I got the Standard IR conversion. I just like it better than the newer versions. More in line with what I think infrared should look like. If I do get the D2x converted, I'll stick with the standard conversion.

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Kris in CT
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Re: looking at a dedicated IR camera
In reply to Kerry Pierce, Jun 5, 2012

Hi Kerry, To clear it up, a full spectrum conversion replaces the ir/uv block filter with clear optical glass. This allows the sensor to record everything from uv 720ish. So I am physically placing a IR round filter in front of my lens. I checked the one I have and it is a 760nm. I'm thinking about ordering a 950nm.

I set out today to shoot a little comparison for you to see, but I got sidetracked with a gaggle? of egrets (I posted 2 shots in the wildlife forum). It was rainy and overcast so the IR light wasn't the brightest today. I also did a quick pano of the shoreline, handheld, stitched in ICE....

18mm, f/10, 1/60th, iso 100, +1EV

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Kerry Pierce
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Re: looking at a dedicated IR camera
In reply to Kris in CT, Jun 5, 2012

Kris in CT wrote:

Hi Kerry, To clear it up, a full spectrum conversion replaces the ir/uv block filter with clear optical glass. This allows the sensor to record everything from uv 720ish. So I am physically placing a IR round filter in front of my lens. I checked the one I have and it is a 760nm. I'm thinking about ordering a 950nm.

OIC...... Wow, that's quite a different outfit than I had imagined. I think I understand the issues you described now. Thanks for clearing that up for me.

I set out today to shoot a little comparison for you to see, but I got sidetracked with a gaggle? of egrets (I posted 2 shots in the wildlife forum). It was rainy and overcast so the IR light wasn't the brightest today. I also did a quick pano of the shoreline, handheld, stitched in ICE....

Those are rough IR conditions, but IMO, you still did quite a fine job capturing some good stuff. Handheld pano, wow....

Thanks again, Kris. Interesting stuff and great photos.
Kerry
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Kerry Pierce
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Re: looking at a dedicated IR camera
In reply to NikonScavenger, Jun 5, 2012

NikonScavenger wrote:

It eats a LOT of light. Those photos were taken on a typical bright Florida day, and I'm at ISO 200, +3 EV, f/7.1 and I'm getting shutter speeds in the 1/100-1/125 range.

hmmm, yes, it surely does eat a lot of light. I don't know if that would bother me much, though. I'll have to look into it more closely.

If you want more speed, you can dial back the EV, underexpose, and fix most of it in PP. I'm still experimenting with a sweet spot between exposure, aperture, and acceptable shutter speeds.

Yes, that might work as well. Most of the time I am looking for 1/250, maybe even 1/500. With a newer camera, I could up the ISO pretty high to compensate, but even with the d200, I'd think that ISO 800 would be fine for IR. My first IR cam was a digicam, with noise galore. IIRC, noise doesn't seem to adversely impact IR as quickly as it does normal color shots. I need to dig out some of my high ISO shots from the d200 and see what it looks like. I can't remember now, how ISO 800 looked.....

I chose the B/W filter because there's less PP involved (switching channels, etc.) and the IR gives the kind of contrast I like for landscapes.

Yes, I understand. The really deep black sky can be very hard to get at times, with the standard Hoya filter, especially at the horizon. Yours look positively black where the sky shows through and I suspect that the horizons would be quite dark as well.

I can attest that while there is nothing "magical" about it, CCD has better contrast resolution than CMOS which works well if you're doing B/W. Also, the big reason I converted a D200 over the D300 (besides that I didn't want to sacrifice a newer camera), was that the 200 reliably white balances in IR. You really don't realize it, but in post-processing a screwed up WB plays hell with most aftermarket programs such as CS and LR.

I never worried much about WB, so may have screwed up in that respect. In fact, I used to spin the dial for the various WB presets just to see the different looks I could get. I need to read up on WB for IR to see what I've been missing.

I have 2 d200s that I could convert. I hadn't thought about the contrast differences from CCD to CMOS, which could be important, especially if reliable WB is something that I will want to do.

...but my experience is from my B/W filter. Color IR and enhanced spectrum may be completely different.

I really appreciate you taking the time and effort to explain your experiences. It's very helpful to me and has given me a lot to think about. I think that I'll probably do 2 cameras. I want a standard IR for sure, because I know basically what that's going to give me, but I'm quite intrigued by the deep B&W and one of the others as well....

Thanks again for the great samples and good info.
Kerry

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Kerry Pierce
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Re: looking at a dedicated IR camera
In reply to jdoman, Jun 5, 2012

jdoman wrote:

Thanks! Yes, I got the Standard IR conversion. I just like it better than the newer versions. More in line with what I think infrared should look like. If I do get the D2x converted, I'll stick with the standard conversion.

I understand and agree. I like the standard IR and will definitely have one camera set up for that. I think I'll do 2 cameras so I can utilize one of the other filters as well. That would really broaden the spectrum of possibilities.

Good luck with the d2x if you decide to do it.

Kerry

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