My First IR Cameras
What converting for IR does
A digital camera is by nature very sensitve for light that is deeper red in color than the human eye can see. For natural (to us) colors, this infrared (IR) needs to be blocked. Therefor there is a filter over the lens, that blocks infrared but passes normal red. It also blocks ultraviolet (UV), which is above blue. If you remove the filter, the camera becomes sensitive to both infrared and ultraviolet, which knock all colors out of place. The secret to good natural colors is a good IR blocking filter. So let's take it out.
Plants reflect way more IR than they reflect green. Without an IR filter, the IR light goes to the sensor via the red pixels, and a bit via the blue pixels too. This overpowers the green so much, that plants turn orange, or even a pale red.
If you'd then block visible colors, and only leave in IR, things get interesting. Living plants, including their flowers, all turn light. Blue skies remain dark, because the blue is blocked, but clouds turn bright. The standard IR eye candy is bright summer days with black skies and bright trees. Light overcast becomes dramatic. Skin looks fuzzy.
Note this is not a heat sensitive camera like a FLIR is.
Converting a camera for IR will likely brake it a bit
I decided to sacrifice my dad's Canon compact camera. It worked nice, but I noticed that something was off in the focus, so I opened it again and then I killed the electronics. With static, I think.
Then a aquaintance, Marleen, gave me a bag with old cameras. There was an Olympus compact camera, which was my next sacrifice. I succeeded, but it can't remember date and time anymore. Also, if you want it to focus to infinity, it is hit and miss. Always do several takes. It seems to do a better job when not zoom out all the way. I think this is induced by the infrared conversion. IR has a longer wave length and chromatic aboration is likely not controlled below visible red, so it needs the sensor to be ever so slightly further away from the lens. Zooming in a tad, allows the autofocus to overcome this.
There is another issue with the camera, that I might have caused or came with the model: When turned off, the camera keeps draining the battery, likely the reason the battery it came with was dead.
This page is about the Olympus, but I can tell you that the Panasonic GF2 that I converted, also got some weird damages: It does not recognize it's native lens anymore (not a problem for me) and it can't tell if the onboard flash is folded in, and fires the flash with every picture. And something is odd with the manual shuttertime too. But Aperture priority works with vintage lenses, so it is good for me.
So before you ask, no I will not convert your camera; chances are I break it beyond usability.
Here's a video I made right after the conversion
You can see what the filters do.
(And I painted the filter holder black, because I saw it's reflection in the images, I failed to mention that in the video)
We like the moon!
I like the IR to let out the pictorialist in me. And I wanted a camera with more control over the image.
One day I noticed the camera picked up the moon, before my eyes did. There is a lot more IR coming from the moon than visible light (about two EV more). And I noticed that in infrared, I can photograph the rising full moon with texture in it, while having correct exposure of the foreground in the setting sun too. Normally, the moon blows out all it's texture. You can verify this with your phone. Photographing the mares of the moon is impossible due to the huge contrasts with the sky, or, if the moon just came up, due to the haze of the atmosphere. IR pierces right through such haze (which is one of the reasons the James Webb Space Telescope shoot in IR.)
I made an image of my dog Baloe in these conditions, and it is one of my images that I like best. I wanted to capture such scenes better. It sparked a whole new project. Shooting IR in moonlight.
Another take of that shoot got some praise of Bad Astronomer Phil Plait.