Sunday, October 30, 2005

So many DSLRs you don't know what to do with them?

How about converting a spare digital SLR for infrared photography!

For many years I've been dabbling with infrared (IR) sensitive film from all the manufactures (Kodak, Konica & Ilford[1]) with varying levels of success and often much frustration (until I purchased an excellent book by Hugh Milsom[2]). When I bought my Nikon D70 digital SLR I checked that it could take infrared images - I did know that CCD are sensitive to the infrared end of the spectrum, but I needed to be sure. On my first trip with my shiny new camera, to Sicily, I tried-out taking some infrared filtered images with some pleasing results but much frustration. Sure I could see if I was getting acceptable results on the spot - I still needed to bracket my exposures - but I still had to mount my camera on a tripod every time and the exposures, even in noon day sun, were too long: with Kodak Hi-speed IR film I was able to hand-hold in most sunny conditions. The problem was that digital camera manufacturers place a filter in front of their CCD to reduce the effect of infrared light, which is great for everyone except those who want to creatively use IR.

A couple of days ago I came across a tutorial on how to modify my D70 DSLR to shoot just IR. This looked scary and the disclaimer even more so, however Life Pixel will do the modifications for you. Basically the procedure is the replacement of the infrared reducing filter attached to the front of the CCD with a R72 infrared filter which will only let light of a wavelength greater than 720nm through, i.e. cuts pretty much all of the visible light out. The advantages of this are that it is possible to hand hold the camera again and composition is easy as there is no IR filter on the front of the lens. The downside is that I'll have a large collection of redundant and expensive filters. Now all I need is a spare DSLR!

Notes

[1] Kodak PROFESSIONAL High Speed Infrared Film (aka HIE); Konica Infrared 750 (a pdf technical spec sheet); Ilford SFX 200
[2] Milsom, H., 2001, Infra-Red Photography: A Complete Workshop Guide. Available on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

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