Tuesday, 28 July 2015

How to—and how NOT to—get started in Digital infrared Photography

First rule: do not start with magazine articles such as those that have appeared in Amateur Photographer. Even a reader of the natural home of the head-in-sand luddite wrote to complain how misleading one article had been.

Second rule: Use the information available on the internet. It is far better than anything I have seen in a magazine both on taking and processing infrared images.

Third rule: Do not simply buy an IR filter and try it on an unconverted camera. The sensors of many cameras have virtually no sensitivity to the infrared end of the spectrum.

Fourth rule: To get started buy an infra-red converted Nikon D80 or D70 for £120-200 from the many available on eBay UK. You will pay much much less than the price of a conversion. This route has been completely ignored by the magazines. Could it to protect their advertisers? Also check which Nikon lenses are suitable for infrared since some show ‘hotspots’ on the image. Canon bodies—if you are that persuasion—are also available but less commonly than the old Nikons. Again check on websites which lenses are not suitable. The advantage of the old DSLRs over many converted compact cameras (also freely available on eBay) is that they offer RAW rather than just JPEG output, thereby offering greater opportunities for processing.

Fifth rule: If you do not want to pay for the full version of Photoshop to do channel swapping, use Photoshop Elements and buy Elements+ for US$12 which unlocks that capability.

These are some of the websites I found to be particularly useful in getting me started:

Lifepixel  and Kolarivision (good advice and guidance on their own conversions, filters and processing). Also this tutorial guide.

There are many other websites but some which were useful in the past are now out-of-date.