>>IR-enabled 717 review<<

Started Apr 19, 2004 | Discussions thread
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luben solev
luben solev Senior Member • Posts: 2,119
>>IR-enabled 717 review<<

Hi All,

I recently used MaxMax (www.maxmax.com) to fully IR enable my 717. Since then I’ve performed a small test to see what this baby can do. I wanted to share with you what I have found so far, so you can also make an informed decision on whether to perform this on your beloved 717. Before continuing I’d like to point out that I am in no way affiliated with the company that performed this service for me (MaxMax – http://www.maxmax.com ) & have not received any incentives (such as free conversion or filters) to write this article. Also all results are specific to the 717. The 828 with its RGBE sensor will behave very differently. Andy Williams has already done a lot of work on reviewing its IR capabilities, so check out his threads. To keep it easy to read I’ve written it in the form of a Q&A

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1 – ‘So what is it?’
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The procedure involves the replacement of the IR-blocking filter from in front of the CCD. It is replaced by non-blocking glass, thus making the 717 capable of capturing the spectrum up to about 1200nm (well into Near-IR spectrum).

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2 – ‘Well, isn’t the 717 already able to do this using the Nightshot Mode?’
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Yes, but you are limited to f2 @ 1/60s, which means that you have to use a few ND filters in order to get it to work during the day. Even then you don’t have any meaningful control of exposure, depth of field, shutter speed, white balance etc. etc. Thus you can’t take any action shots, you can’t take anything needing big DOF, you can’t take stitched panoramic shots etc. etc.

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3 – ‘Well why doesn’t MaxMax just put a switch to enable the lifting of the hot mirror in Manual mode?’
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The answer is that the camera won’t be able to focus properly. The speed of light through glass is different to that through air and this results in divergence of the light hitting the CCD.

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4 – ‘How does the camera manage to focus in Nightshot mode then?’
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Good question. The answer is that in the Nightshot mode the electronics inside the camera expect there to be air instead of glass and as such they compensate for this when focusing. This compensation does not occur in any of the other modes, since the camera expects to see glass there.

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5 – ‘How about an electronics hack or a firmware upgrade?’
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Well, being an Electronics graduate I know that electronics hacks can be very complicated and may well end up costing more than a relatively simple glass replacement. As for firmware, the 717 does not support firmware upgrades. The 828 does support firmware upgrades, but as yet I don’t know of anybody producing a firmware hack to allow you to shoot non-compromised IR. And by the time this crack comes out (if ever) the summer would have gone and with it countless photographic opportunities would be lost.

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2 – ‘OK, enough of the sales pitch, how much does it actually cost?’
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The 717 (or 707) conversion costs $250 + postage. The company also converts 828s and P72s. I’m not certain of the cost of conversion of those models, although Andy Williams can help with the 828. The IR-blocking filter (XNite-CC1) is also necessary if you want to continue to use the converted 717 to take normal colour photos & is priced at $76 for the 58mm version. MaxMax also sell various IR Pass filters with visible-cut wavelengths ranging from 630nm to 1000nm aimed at providing various strength IR effects. They are also around the same price. Check out:
http://www.maxmax.com/aXNiteFilters.htm

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3 – ‘What!!! That’s a lot of money, I think I will do it myself.’
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Fair enough. A few people in this forum have attempted this procedure on their own – some maybe even successfully. I didn’t want to do this, since I was born with 2 left hands (and I am right handed ) and knew that I would end up ruining my only digital camera.

The biggest problem encountered by the people who have tried to do this has been to get the correct piece of glass to replace the IR-blocking filter with. If it is not exactly the same thickness, the camera will have trouble focusing. If it is not made from high quality multicoated glass a hotspot may appear in the centre of all images taken with the camera. I did not want these problems, so I opted for MaxMax, which is a professional outfit converting 717s and 828s by the dozen. I am yet to regret my decision.

END OF PART 1 - SEE PART 2 BELOW

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Luben
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The world is not black and white, but different shades of grey.

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 Canon EOS 5D Mark II Canon EOS 550D Canon EOS 60D Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM +4 more
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