Some Thoughts About IR Equipment

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I'll try not to ramble on too much but I've been researching IR imaging and and equipment. I have used IR film (many years ago) and I have had a long term loan of a converted D50. I just converted one of my D200 bodies and received it yesterday. Perhaps my musings here will generate some discussion and some answers that might help the less experienced among us.

1) Jim Chen
I think it might be a mistake not to consider this man when considering the conversion of a camera body to IR. He has a very nice website devoted to IR: http://www.jimchenphoto.com/ The FAQ on his site is first rate. Before I decided on which body to convert I sent a series of emails. He answered each one in detail ... worth the $200 fee all by itself. When the D200 returned yesterday, included in the box was a hand written thank you with notes and instructions on taking IR images and his recommendation for camera settings. That's classy don'tyathink? Email him at jimchen2005@hotmail.com if you have any question about his services.

2) Using IR Filters
IR filters added to a given lens produce the images we all like by passing infrared light and not visible light. At least that's the theory and, for most part the practice.

IR filters are available in a number presets. The most common is probably R72 meaning it is set for 720 nanometers. 715, 830, 870, and 880 also seem to be popular. IR filters in larger sizes are pricy.

TIP: a piece of completely exposed black film acts to pass IR. I know it works but I do not know if the result is consistant. Still, it's a free alternative to an expensive filter.


3) IR Blocking on Nikon Bodies
The more I read the less sure I am that what I am about to write is completely correct but I think I'm close.

As Nikon DSLRs become available, the IR blocking ability becomes better. There might be a couple of exceptions but basically it means that any interference with visible light imaging by IR is lessened more effectively by the IR (/UV?) blocking filter on the sensor as new bodies are produced. Makes sense to me. So ... I should expect the IR performance of the D70, D100, D200, and D2H for example to be better than IR performance from a D300, D90, and D3. Reports seems to bear that out.


4) Converting a Nikon Body for IR
It's amazing how little technical info is available regarding the IR performance of "bare" DSLR sensors whether it be CMOS, CCD, or other proprietary designs.
What I have found is that the earlier Nikon bodies seem to have better conversion potential than later ones. The best, according to two sources I read was the D1, followed by the D1X. Other very good ones are the D100, D70, D50, and D200. I had one of my D200 bodies converted first.

5) My Plans
I think that, over the next several months, and along with the recently converted D200, I'm going to convert a D70, a D2H, and one of my D1X bodies. Whichever serves me best (by my criteria anyway) will be kept and the others will be sold.
 

Butlerkid

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Interesting.

First, I bought a Harrison & Harrison 88A 72mm filter - and never used it! Still have it...

Second, I had my D100 converted by LifePixel. Wish I had known about Jim Chen as I did not get very good customer service from LifePixel. I never liked the D100 - it always seemed "soft" to me. I have been OK with it as an IR camera, but keep wondering if another camera would be better for IR.
 
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Get a film body and shoot real IR???

That's gonna be hard these days. Aura (and 'regular' Efke 820) are the best IR films currently available. And they don't hold a candle to old HIE (too slow, and too sensitive to green light.) I would love to 'discover' a way to sensitize film to IR. Maybe something like hydrogenation (as we used to do for astrophotography.)
 
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My D70 will be reaching Jim Chen this coming Tuesday. I'll report my experiences. I hadn't used my D70 much since getting the D300 and D700, but I checked it out to make sure it worked OK. I was pleasently surprised by the high quality of the photos I got from it. Jim Chen will be setting it up to focus with the 18-70 DX AFS lens. I used that lens on my D300 yesterday at ISO HI1 (6400) and F4.5 and got a lot of surprisingly high quality photos of professional wrestling at 200 & 250th second exposures. Previously I only used my D700...
 
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Mike,

the D200 only recently got on the list of "best IR converted Nikon cameras". Earlier this year, I heard web-whisperings that Thom Hogan and Bjorn Rorslett both had D200's converted and I took it seriously.

A friend recommended Jim Chen and I saw that he had even converted a D90 so I emailed him about other cameras. As you mentioned, he is diligent in answering questions. the best thing I ever did was buy a used D200 and send it to him to convert.

I've also seen some pretty nice recent d300 converted camera IR pics on flickr. So just as there is always new camera technology on the horizon there will always be someone right behind to convert it. :smile:


EDIT: I was not really interested in IR filters because I just cannotsee myself carrying around 2 tripods.
 
Joined
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Springfield, VA & Cape Charles, VA
Mike,

the D200 only recently got on the list of "best IR converted Nikon cameras". Earlier this year, I heard ...

EDIT: I was not really interested in IR filters because I just cannotsee myself carrying around 2 tripods.

I think the good IR sensitivity and the low noise characteristics of the sensor make it so popular.

While the D1X I'll be converting is supposed to be more IR sensitive, it might turn out to require a good bit of PP. I'm confident the IQ will be OK as I've been using a D1X for several years now.

I tested my D200 at Penn Camera today using a used Nikkor 28-105/3.5-4.5D and a used Nikkor VR 55-200. Both showed great IQ at f8 as expected in both light areas, shaded areas, and in bright sun. I have not thoroughly vetted the images but there are no hotspots or other anomalies at first glance. I bought the 55-200VR. I thought the 28-105/3.5-4.5 was overpriced.
 

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