Conversion to digital IR for an SLR - my experiment

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Chip NoVaMac, Jul 10, 2006.

  1. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    #1
    In another thread I mentioned about sending my D50 off for conversion to IR to Life Pixel (http://www.lifepixel.com/). Well finally broke down and sent my D50 out today for conversion. Unless by some miracle, I should get it back next week some time.

    If it does not get back by Friday, the first chance I will have to put the conversion to a real test will be the weekend of July 22nd. Though the following week may give me more opportunity, since I will be doing a short 5-6 vacation then - I hope to Toronto. :)

    Will keep you all posted as to my experiences. Before, during, and after.

    As to the "before". The phone number listed was answered promptly and competently - compared to another vendor that does the same work. :eek:

    "During": At $250 for my D50 conversion, the price seemed right. IMO the shipping charges back are a bit high compared to my out going charges - but not excessive IMO. More to come over the next few days as I follow up with them on my conversion request.
     
  2. jared_kipe macrumors 68030

    jared_kipe

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    #2
    I assume you have a good black filter? Will you be using an IR filter when not taking IR type shots?
     
  3. Chip NoVaMac thread starter macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    #3
    The conversion does not require the use of any filters for B&W use. And eliminates the use of my D50 for anything other than IR use. But it is supposed to allow hand holding of digital IR shots.
     
  4. Silentwave macrumors 68000

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    #4
    What it does is it takes out the low-pass filter in front of the sensor and replaces it with a custom filter (R72 if memory serves). This eliminates the IR elimination the camera does and gives you many stops of sensitivity back.
     
  5. Silentwave macrumors 68000

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    #5
    Congrats Chip! I've given this some thought myself, and i'll likely have it done soon to some body I pick up online (thinking about D100, D50, or D1 series).

    Be sure to share some examples. What lenses are you going to be using? I have a 28mm f/3.5 AI early version with small rear element that is, according to Bjørn Rørslett, extremely good for IR- sharp and no hot spots, and dirt cheap. I got a good deal at $20 on fleabay but most can go for 50-80 bucks.
     
  6. homerjward macrumors 68030

    homerjward

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    #6
    why didn't you just buy an IR filter that goes over the lens, so you can use your camera for both regular and IR shots?
     
  7. Mike Teezie macrumors 68020

    Mike Teezie

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    #7
    Because the shutter times for such a setup are staggering. The idea of handheld IR is wonderful.

    Chip has other cameras to take regular shots.

    Chip, if you get this back and don't use it much, let me know, I'll take it off your hands.
     
  8. snap58 macrumors 6502

    snap58

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    #8
    I had a used 60D converted in 2004, which was then borrowed by a wedding photographer friend of mine. She does nice things with it. So I had another (Rebel) converted last year which works great. You will only shoot in RAW by the way.

    I've done film IR for years, and and still do a roll now and then. You won't get the halo effect you do from the Kodak film, but still it's pretty good. Much better than the photoshop filters out there.
     
  9. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #9
    The D50 camera as built by Nikon has an IR blocking filter attached directly over the sensor. Also Nikon adds an RGB color sensor over the CCD sothe camera can do color photos. Both these filters block LOTS of light. Removing the built-in filters makes the D50 very sensitve to IR light. I'll bet you could do hand held shots at night with no flash or shoot by moonlight.

    The "over the lens" filter works because it blocks ALL light other then IR and because the built-in IR blocking filter is not 100% perfect and still lets some IR light in. But the effect is that with an over the lens filter you can only do long exposure shots using a tripod. If the wind blows and leaves in a tree move you get a blur.
     
  10. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

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    #10
    Waaay kewl! This is something I've thought about doing but haven't actually done yet -- it will be neat to hear your experiences and to see the results. On Nikon Cafe they have a forum in which a lot of nifty IR images are shown, done with both digital and film cameras.

    This will be a whole new and intriguing avenue to explore....
     
  11. jared_kipe macrumors 68030

    jared_kipe

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    #11
    I didn't know they would replace it with R72 type glass. But that makes sense. I just thought that they removed the low pass and put in clear glass.
     
  12. snap58 macrumors 6502

    snap58

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    #12
    I'm pretty sure they would have to install a filter to block as much of the normal light as possible (below 700 nm) otherwise you wouldn't be exposing for the IR.

    You have to use a red filter with film for the same reason, to block the normal light in order to get the IR effect, if you don't it's just a BW picture. BTW I have had great luck with IR film and just the #25 red filter. I have the opaque filters but never found them worth the extra (tripod) effort.

    Maybe there is a clear IR filter, but mine has a filter that gives a red tint to the RAW file image until you de-saturate it.

    http://web.mac.com/jbg007/iWeb/Site/IRPictures.html
     
  13. Silentwave macrumors 68000

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    #13
    You can have that done too. They sell the clear glass for certain cameras as well. However, best results are done with either the IR filter in front of the sensor or with no filter at all and the filter on the lens- that way your focus is the same.

    Right now i'm looking at options. I'll probably do it myself- for about $100 in materials (95 for the filter plus 3 for a ground strap and a bit for lens tissue) plus a camera (i'm thinking of a D1 series cam as they have great build, great IR response according to bjørn, and good VFs with non-cpu lens metering. I'd be shooting manual but its still nice to have. total cost to me is less than a d50.
     
  14. jared_kipe macrumors 68030

    jared_kipe

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    #14
    I am well aware of the red-black filter is for, I just didn't know there was a service to put one on the sensor.

    I've always wanted an R72 filter, but they're quite expensive. And my lenses need 70+mm filter threads.
     
  15. snap58 macrumors 6502

    snap58

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    #15
    I think that unless you have the camera adjusted for the lens you want to use, you will still need reset the focus for the difference in IR wavelength regardless if it is on the sensor or lens. You put the filter on the lens for film IR and need to adjust the focus, I doubt the digital would be different. At least it's not on either on of mine?
     
  16. Obsidian6 macrumors 6502a

    Obsidian6

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    #16
    I must admit i am jealous. i've wanted to do this for such a very long time.

    I thought about having it done to my 10D i used to have. but i needed the money and woudn up selling it. I'd really like to do this in the future though. ( how cool would that be to have a IR only 1DsmkII ? haha! god the possibilities...
     
  17. snap58 macrumors 6502

    snap58

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    #17
    I think the 10D has the hot filter fused to the sensor so it probably couldn't be upgraded anyway. I would just buy a used one (like Rebel) from a friend or on line if you get a good deal, and have it converted.
     
  18. Mike Teezie macrumors 68020

    Mike Teezie

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    #18
    I have a Canon film SLR laying around.

    If I buy a red filter, and some IR film, is that all I would need to do handheld IR photography?
     
  19. snap58 macrumors 6502

    snap58

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    #19
    Which one do you have, some of them used an IR sensor for film advance and will fog it.

    That not being an issue, The Kodak HIE film (I feel) is the best and you need at least a 25 red. They have some information on it at their site. You really need to bracket it both ways as your meter won't be accurate for IR. I normally used F8 or 11, ISO 200, let the camera choose the shutter and bracket a stop each way. All of mine are hand held.

    There are lots of ways to develop it, but I just used the Tmax and 6 1/2 minutes with good results. Each roll will be different, it takes a little time to get a feel for it. IR film works great with tungsten light which is very heavy with IR, and will produce some nice portraits and nudes indoors. Fluorescence lights by the way have zip. Take notes on the conditions on each roll and you will get a feel for the exposure.

    You must load and unload the film in the dark, it will fog through the canister felt. I have a changing bag, which helps out in the field.

    BTW normal Tmax film is red sensitive, and if you use a very dark red filter you can get a near IR effect, but it will require longer exposures and likely a tripod.
     
  20. Chip NoVaMac thread starter macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    #20
    Why the conversion

    Right you are. I never got around to using my tripod and R72 filter much with other cameras. Too much of a hassle. With a conversion like this, one can shoot handheld!

    That is why I added a second D70s body to my kit. For regular shooting, I decided I wanted to have "matched" bodies - hence why I did not add the D200 to my D50 and D70s kit. So with a "spare" body, the D50, I thought it was time to convert the D50 to digital IR.

    Fat chance I think! :) Or at least I hope. :)
     
  21. Chip NoVaMac thread starter macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    #21
    Thanks for the well wishes

    As part of the conversion they set the focus for the 18-70 for the Nikon. We have one of these used at my shop, and it is being held for me till I finish some testing with my lenses. Life Pixel states that shooting at f/8 should work for most lenses. My tests will only tell.

    I hope that at least these lenses will provide great results:

    - Nikon 10.5 fish-eye
    - Tokina 12-24
    - Nikon 18-200VR (will be very happy if this does as well as the "tuned" 18-70 that they use to calibrate)
    - Nikon 105VR Micro (less hopeful on this one)

    They can tune the converted body to whatever lens you want. You just have to send them the lens. Though they have instructions on how to do this on the D50 for the DIY types.

    Thanks. I have high hopes.

    Always been intrigued by IR. In film it can be hit or miss. Add to that the likes of Canon and others using IR for setting film advance - you might have issues. In digital it is fun, but requires long exposures for the most part.

    Don't be.

    Life Pixel is the only company that I know of that does the conversion of the Canon 10D. Maybe now I might find someone that might want to buy my 10D body. :)

    They don't do the 1Ds, but they do convert the 5D. :D
     
  22. snap58 macrumors 6502

    snap58

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    #22
    Have you actually ever use IR Film? Just curious.

    From my experience you should not have any problems with long exposures. I keep mine on manual at f11 and adjust the shutter, rarely have to go lower that 1/60. For best IR effect you normally want to be in bright daylight. If you keep your lens at f8 or 11, you will likely not have any focus issues as the DOF will more than make up for it. It is nice being able to see and adjust the exposure in the view finder rather than the bracketing with film.
     
  23. Silentwave macrumors 68000

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    #23
    i'm mainly goin to be using my 28/3.5 AI (with IR focus mark) for my shooting with this, but i'll do my own stuff for the AF :) As far as those lenses, don't think you'll have much of a problem except perhaps with teh 12-24. I don't recall with the tokina but I remember the nikkor has a hot spot for IR>
     
  24. Chip NoVaMac thread starter macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    #24
    Experiences in the conversion process

    There are three companies that I know of that do digital IR conversions; Life Pixel (http://www.lifepixel.com/shop/cart.php?m=product_detail&p=3), IRDigital (http://www.irdigital.net/) and MaxMax (http://maxmax.com/).

    MaxMax and IRDigital were among the first to offer conversion services IIRC. Life Pixel seems to be a more recent arrival to the conversion scene.

    Never checked into MaxMax since their "new" converted bodies seemed to indicate high prices. IRDigital has had some comments from users on DPR and other places for a slow response to emails. I found this to be true for IRDigital myself. Also there have been reports from some about a long wait for their converted bodies to come back from IRDigital.

    With Life Pixel they provided a phone number to call. A few weeks ago I called, and the phone was answered promptly. I was inquiring about their turn around time. I was told at that point, they were turning around in two to three days.

    Reading their website, I was pleased to see they addressed the issue of lens focus. For us Nikon owners they will adjust the focus for the 18-70. Though their FAQ states that shooting at f/8 should provide decent results for most any lens. And they will calibrate for what ever lens you send with your body. I was hesitant to send my 18-200VR, so I accepted the default 18-70 focus.

    Their order process was painless and very complete. Including their follow-up email. I chose to use PayPal. My credit card company is very responsive to PayPal issues.

    I sent my D50 out on Monday via UPS 2nd Day Saver, and it was recieved at 9:30AM (their time) today. I called them this afternoon (maybe their lunch time) and had a prompt answering of the phone call. I explained that I shipped a D50 to them on Monday and that they should get today; I was told that they had received it. That was good news to me. :)

    I asked when I could expect it back. I was told that it would ship out most likely on Thursday, they had a slow time right now. Good news for me since I took the 2nd Air option for return. So It looks like I should get it back by Monday.

    The guy I spoke with was clear and professional. And very helpful. I am sure that if I have any issues they will be addressed in the same manner.
     
  25. Chip NoVaMac thread starter macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    #25
    Yes i have used IR film. And while it can be handheld exposure wise, exposures themselves can vary to a wide extent.

    Digital gives us instant feedback in IR, for better highlight and shadow control.

    In these days of AF, and for those of us that are more critical about the use of DOF, conversions may be the best of both worlds.

    But even as Life Pixel stated, f/8 should be enough to cover most uses. I assume that if I really got in to digital IR I might need to have my 105VR tuned to a specific body, regardless of the aperture I used.
     

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