Easy Guide: How to Convert Camera to Infrared – Step by Step

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Last Updated on 5 months by Francis

Are you looking to explore a new dimension of photography? Converting your camera to infrared can unlock a world of creative possibilities. Infrared photography offers a unique way to capture landscapes in black and white, with stunning tonality and captivating effects. But how can you convert your camera to infrared? In this easy guide, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of converting your camera to infrared, whether you choose to go the DIY route or opt for professional infrared conversion services.

Contents

Key Takeaways:

  • Converting your camera to infrared can breathe new life into your old camera and open up a world of creative possibilities.
  • Infrared photography captures a part of the light spectrum that is invisible to the naked human eye.
  • There are different types of infrared conversion options available, including full spectrum conversion, 720nm conversion, and 830nm conversion.
  • When choosing a camera for infrared conversion, consider factors such as focus calibration, lens compatibility, and desired image quality.
  • Experimenting with infrared photography can add a touch of creativity and excitement to your photography portfolio.

What is Infrared Photography?

infrared photography

Infrared photography captures a part of the light spectrum that is invisible to the naked human eye. Infrared light is formed of electro-magnetic waves that cannot be detected by humans. This invisible light interacts with objects and surfaces differently than visible light, resulting in unique effects when captured on camera.

One interesting aspect of infrared photography is the reflectivity of human skin and vegetation. Infrared light is highly reflected by these subjects, causing them to appear very bright in infrared photos. This creates a stark contrast between the bright human skin or vegetation and the darker surroundings, leading to striking and surreal images.

On the other hand, inanimate objects reflect less infrared light and can appear similar to regular black and white photos when captured in infrared. This provides an opportunity for photographers to explore and experiment with different subjects, revealing new perspectives and hidden details that are not easily visible in visible light photography.

Infrared photography allows us to see the world in a completely different way – with invisible light revealing a hidden beauty that is both intriguing and captivating.

So, what exactly is infrared photography? It’s a fascinating technique that unveils the invisible world of electro-magnetic waves and the unique reflectivity of human skin and vegetation. By venturing into the realm of infrared photography, we can capture landscapes and subjects in a way that is both mystifying and enchanting, adding a touch of creativity and intrigue to our photographic endeavors.

Table: Reflectivity of Different Subjects in Infrared Photography

Subject Reflectivity in Infrared Photography
Human Skin Highly reflected, appearing bright
Vegetation Highly reflected, appearing bright
Inanimate Objects Reflect less infrared light, appearing similar to black and white photos

Types of Infrared Conversion

Types of Infrared Conversion

When it comes to converting a camera to infrared, there are several types of conversions to consider. Each type offers its own unique benefits and considerations. Let’s explore the different types of infrared conversion:

Full Spectrum Conversion

A full spectrum conversion involves removing both the ultraviolet and infrared filters from the camera’s sensor. This allows the sensor to capture UV, infrared, and visible light. Full spectrum conversion offers the most flexibility in terms of the range of light that can be captured. However, it often requires the use of external filters to control the effect and achieve the desired look.

720nm Conversion

A 720nm conversion uses a filter that blocks all wavelengths below 720nm. This results in a color image that can be easily converted to black and white during post-processing. The 720nm conversion is popular among photographers who want the versatility of capturing both color and black and white infrared photos with a single conversion.

830nm Conversion

An 830nm conversion uses a filter that blocks all wavelengths below 830nm. This type of conversion produces a more intense infrared effect with minimal color. The resulting images have a strong black and white tonality, creating a distinct and dramatic look. The 830nm conversion is ideal for photographers who want to emphasize the infrared effect and capture stunning monochromatic infrared photos.

Choosing the right type of infrared conversion depends on your creative vision and the specific look you want to achieve in your infrared photography. Whether you opt for a full spectrum conversion or one of the specific wavelength conversions, each type offers its own artistic possibilities. Explore the different types and experiment with infrared photography to discover the unique effects that can be achieved.

Camera Types and Infrared Conversions

infrared camera

When it comes to infrared photography, different camera types have their own considerations and advantages. DSLRs and mirrorless cameras are popular choices for infrared conversion, with each offering unique benefits.

DSLRs and Infrared Conversion

DSLRs can be converted to infrared, but it’s important to keep in mind that infrared light focuses differently than visible light. When using a converted DSLR for infrared photography, it’s crucial to calibrate the focus for accurate results. This is especially important when shooting with wide apertures, as the depth of field can be quite shallow. Some DSLR models have contrast detect autofocus in Live View, which can provide more accurate focusing for infrared photography.

Mirrorless Cameras and Infrared Conversion

Mirrorless cameras have gained popularity among infrared photographers due to their unique advantages. Mirrorless cameras with electronic viewfinders allow photographers to visualize the black and white effect of infrared photography in real-time, making it easier to compose and capture stunning infrared images. Additionally, mirrorless cameras often have accurate contrast detect autofocus in Live View, which can enhance the focusing accuracy in infrared photography.

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Whether you choose a DSLR or a mirrorless camera for infrared conversion, it’s essential to consider the specific requirements and capabilities of the camera model. Each camera type has its own strengths and considerations when it comes to infrared photography, so it’s important to choose the one that best suits your needs and shooting style.

In summary, converting a DSLR or a mirrorless camera to infrared opens up a world of creative possibilities in photography. While DSLRs require focus calibration for accurate infrared results, mirrorless cameras with electronic viewfinders offer real-time visualization of infrared effects. Both camera types have their own advantages and considerations, so it’s important to choose the one that best fits your shooting style and preferences.

Lenses and Infrared Photography

infrared-compatible lenses

When it comes to infrared photography, not all camera lenses are created equal. Some lenses may exhibit hot spots, which are areas of excessive brightness or artifacts that can detract from the overall image quality. It’s important to choose infrared-compatible lenses that are specially designed to minimize or eliminate these issues. Older lenses, in particular, may be prone to hot spots, especially when used at wide aperture settings.

Fortunately, there are resources available to help photographers select the right lenses for infrared photography. Kolarivision, for example, provides a comprehensive list of infrared-compatible lenses that have been tested and recommended by experienced photographers. This list can serve as a valuable guide when choosing lenses for your infrared adventures.

Infrared-Compatible Lenses

Lens Brand Aperture Focal Length
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Canon f/1.8 50mm
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G Nikon f/1.8 35mm
Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 Sony f/1.8 85mm

Hot Spots in Infrared Photography

Infrared photography can also introduce hot spots due to the nature of infrared light and how it interacts with certain lenses. These hot spots can appear as bright, circular areas in the image and can be particularly noticeable in the center of the frame. The severity of hot spots can vary depending on the lens and aperture used.

“Using infrared-compatible lenses can help minimize or eliminate hot spots, ensuring consistent and high-quality results in your infrared photography.”

By choosing lenses that are specifically designed for infrared photography, you can minimize the occurrence of hot spots and achieve better overall image quality. These lenses are optimized to transmit and focus both visible and infrared light, resulting in more balanced and pleasing infrared photographs.

Remember to always do your research and consult reliable sources when selecting lenses for infrared photography. The right lenses can make a significant difference in the quality and creativity of your infrared images.

Infrared Filters

Hoya R72 Filter

Infrared filters provide photographers with an alternative to converting their camera to infrared. These filters are designed to block visible light and allow only infrared light to reach the camera’s sensor. One popular choice among photographers is the Hoya R72 filter, which blocks wavelengths below 720nm. Using an infrared filter can create unique and captivating effects in your photography, bringing a new dimension to your images.

When using an infrared filter with your camera, it’s important to note that the filter acts as a strong neutral density filter. This means that it reduces the amount of light reaching the sensor, which can result in longer shutter speeds or higher ISO settings. It’s important to consider your exposure settings and make adjustments accordingly to achieve the desired effect.

“Using an infrared filter opens up a world of creative possibilities by allowing photographers to capture a different spectrum of light. It creates a surreal and dreamlike quality in the images, making them unique and intriguing.” – Professional Photographer

Capturing the Infrared Effect

To capture the full infrared effect with an infrared filter, it’s important to follow a few key steps. Firstly, set your camera to manual mode to have full control over your exposure settings. Use a tripod to ensure stability, as longer shutter speeds may be required. Adjust your white balance to “Daylight” or “Manual” to enhance the color and tonal range in your infrared photos.

Experimentation is key when using an infrared filter. Different scenes and lighting conditions can produce varying results, so don’t be afraid to try different compositions and settings. Keep in mind that foliage often appears bright in infrared photos, while skies may appear dark and dramatic. Use these unique characteristics to your advantage and explore the creative possibilities of infrared photography.

An Example of an Infrared Filter

Filter Wavelength Blockage Effect
Hoya R72 Below 720nm Produces a strong infrared effect with minimal color

The Hoya R72 filter is a popular choice among photographers due to its ability to block wavelengths below 720nm. This filter produces a strong infrared effect with minimal color, allowing photographers to capture stunning black and white infrared images. The Hoya R72 filter is compatible with a wide range of camera lenses, making it a versatile option for infrared photography.

Benefits of Infrared Photography

benefits of infrared photography

Infrared photography offers a range of benefits that set it apart from traditional photography. By capturing the invisible light spectrum, this unique form of photography produces surreal and captivating effects that can transform ordinary landscapes into extraordinary scenes.

One of the key advantages of infrared photography is its ability to capture landscapes in a completely new way. Infrared photos showcase a different tonality and color palette, creating a distinct mood and atmosphere. The lush greens of foliage appear white, giving a dreamy, ethereal quality to the image. This new perspective allows photographers to experiment with composition and lighting, resulting in visually stunning and creative shots.

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Moreover, infrared photography offers a touch of mystery and enchantment to your images. The effects produced by infrared light can be both unique and surreal, adding a captivating twist to familiar subjects. From capturing the delicate details of a flower to revealing the majestic beauty of a landscape, infrared photography opens up a world of possibilities for photographers seeking to push the boundaries of their creativity.

Exploring Different Subjects in Infrared

capturing people, nature, and architecture in infrared

Infrared photography offers a captivating way to capture a variety of subjects, each with its own unique results. Whether you’re photographing people, capturing the beauty of trees and nature, or exploring architectural photography, infrared can add an intriguing touch to your images.

When photographing people in infrared, the infrared light can create distinctive effects on their skin and facial features. The infrared spectrum interacts differently with human skin, resulting in ethereal, almost surreal portraits. The skin appears smooth and blemishes may appear less pronounced, giving a dreamlike quality to the images. This unique rendering can add a sense of mystery and intrigue to portraits, making them stand out.

Capturing trees and nature in infrared yields stunning results. Infrared light is highly reflected by chlorophyll, causing leaves to appear white in infrared photos. This creates a striking contrast against the dark branches and trunks, giving the scene a wintery, otherworldly aesthetic. The resulting images are hauntingly beautiful, showcasing nature in a different light.

Infrared photography also lends itself well to architectural subjects. Buildings and structures take on a distinct and captivating appearance when captured in infrared. The materials used in construction, such as concrete and metal, reflect infrared light differently than visible light, resulting in a unique look. The textures and details of architectural elements are enhanced, creating a visually compelling composition. Whether highlighting the lines of a modern skyscraper or the intricate features of a historic building, infrared photography adds a new dimension to architectural photography.

In summary, infrared photography provides a captivating way to explore different subjects. From photographing people with unique skin tones to capturing the enchanting beauty of trees and nature, or revealing the hidden qualities of architectural structures, infrared photography offers an exciting and creative avenue to explore.

Editing Infrared Photos

Once you have captured stunning infrared photos, it’s time to bring them to life through editing. Editing infrared photos requires special attention to preserve the unique tonality and color effects. Here are some tips to help you enhance your infrared images:

Adjusting Highlights

One common challenge in editing infrared photos is managing highlights, especially in foliage. Infrared photography tends to produce bright, white foliage due to the high reflectivity of plants to infrared light. Therefore, it’s crucial to adjust the highlights to maintain details and prevent overexposure.

When editing infrared photos, use techniques such as selective exposure adjustment or highlight recovery to bring back details in the brighter areas. This will help strike a balance between the bright foliage and the rest of the image. Take care not to push the adjustments too far, as it can lead to unnatural-looking results.

Custom White Balancing

Custom white balancing is another essential step in editing infrared photos. Since infrared light produces unique tonal ranges and color shifts, adjusting the white balance can help enhance the overall look of the image. Experiment with different white balance settings to find the one that best suits your vision for the photo.

Remember, infrared photography is all about exploring creativity and pushing boundaries. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different editing techniques and effects to add depth and personality to your infrared images. It’s through experimentation that you can truly unlock the full potential of your infrared photos.

Choosing the Right Camera for Infrared Conversion

When it comes to converting a camera for infrared photography, choosing the right camera can make a significant difference in the quality and versatility of your infrared images. Different camera brands offer their own pros and cons, so it’s important to consider your specific requirements and preferences before making a decision.

Full-frame cameras, such as those offered by Canon and Nikon, are known for their high resolution and exceptional image quality. These cameras are capable of capturing stunning details and producing sharp and vibrant infrared photos. However, full-frame cameras can be heavier and bulkier, which may not be ideal for photographers who prefer lightweight and compact setups.

Mirrorless cameras, on the other hand, are becoming increasingly popular for infrared photography. Brands like Sony, Fujifilm, and Panasonic offer mirrorless cameras that are lightweight and compact, making them perfect for photographers on the go. What sets mirrorless cameras apart is their electronic viewfinders, which allow you to see the black and white effect of infrared photography in real-time. This eliminates the guesswork and ensures accurate composition and exposure, enhancing your overall shooting experience.

When choosing a camera for infrared conversion, it’s also essential to consider the compatibility of lenses. Different camera brands may have specific lens options that are more suitable for infrared photography, so be sure to do your research and choose lenses that will help you achieve the desired creative effects in your infrared images.

Pros and Cons of Different Camera Brands for Infrared Conversion

Camera Brand Pros Cons
Canon High-quality full-frame cameras
Extensive lens options
Heavier and bulkier bodies
May require focus calibration
Nikon Excellent image quality
Durable build
Weight and size
Focus calibration required
Sony Lightweight and compact
Electronic viewfinder
Smaller lens options
May require lens adapters
Fujifilm Retro design and controls
Great color reproduction
Limited lens options
May require lens adapters
Panasonic Compact and versatile
Excellent video capabilities
Smaller sensor size
Limited lens options
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As shown in the table above, each camera brand has its own advantages and considerations. Ultimately, the best camera for infrared conversion depends on your individual needs and shooting preferences. Whether you opt for a full-frame camera for exceptional image quality or a mirrorless camera for portability and real-time composition, converting your camera for infrared photography opens up a world of creative possibilities.

Recommended Infrared Conversion Services

If you’re looking to convert your camera to infrared, it’s important to choose a reliable and reputable company that specializes in infrared camera conversions. Three trusted companies that offer professional infrared conversion services are Protech Photographic, LifePixel, and Kolarivision.

Protech Photographic is a UK-based company that provides conversions for customers in Europe. With their expertise and attention to detail, they ensure quality results and expert handling of your equipment.

LifePixel and Kolarivision are US-based companies that offer a wide range of infrared conversion options. Whether you’re looking for full spectrum conversion, 720nm conversion, or 830nm conversion, they have you covered. Their experienced technicians can guide you through the process and help you choose the right conversion for your needs.

When considering infrared conversion services, it’s essential to choose a company that is reliable and reputable. Protech Photographic, LifePixel, and Kolarivision are trusted names in the industry, known for their expertise and quality results. So, when it comes to converting your camera to infrared, trust the experts and choose one of these reliable infrared conversion companies.

Conclusion

Converting your digital camera to infrared can unlock a world of creative possibilities in landscape photography. Whether you choose to go all-in with a complete camera conversion or experiment with infrared filters, this unique form of photography offers a fresh perspective on familiar subjects.

By venturing into the captivating world of infrared photography, you can add a touch of creativity and excitement to your portfolio. The stunning black and white effects and unique tonality will make your images stand out and grab viewers’ attention.

So, don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and explore the intriguing world of infrared photography. It’s time to unleash your creativity, experiment with different techniques, and capture captivating landscapes that will leave a lasting impression.

FAQ

Can I convert my camera to infrared myself?

Yes, if you have the technical skills, you can convert your camera to infrared yourself. However, it is recommended to seek professional conversion services for best results.

What is the difference between full spectrum conversion, 720nm conversion, and 830nm conversion?

Full spectrum conversion removes both the ultraviolet and infrared filters, allowing the camera to capture UV, infrared, and visible light. 720nm conversion uses a filter that blocks all wavelengths below 720nm, resulting in a color image that can be easily converted to black and white. 830nm conversion uses a filter that blocks all wavelengths below 830nm, producing a more intense infrared effect with minimal color.

Do all camera lenses work well for infrared photography?

Not all camera lenses are suitable for infrared photography. Older lenses, in particular, may exhibit hot spots, especially at wide aperture settings. It’s important to check for reported problems with lenses before converting a camera to infrared.

What are infrared filters?

Infrared filters block visible light and allow only infrared light to reach the camera’s sensor. They can be used as an alternative to converting a camera to infrared. The Hoya R72 filter is a popular choice for infrared photography.

What are the benefits of infrared photography?

Infrared photography offers unique and surreal effects, transforming ordinary landscapes into extraordinary scenes. The tonality and colors in infrared photos create a different mood and atmosphere, allowing photographers to capture landscapes in a new and captivating way.

What subjects work well for infrared photography?

Infrared photography can be applied to various subjects. People can have unique and sometimes unusual effects on their skin and facial features. Trees and nature subjects come to life in infrared, with leaves appearing white and adding a wintery look. Architectural photography can also benefit from infrared, with certain buildings and structures taking on a distinct and captivating appearance.

How should I edit infrared photos?

Editing infrared photos may require special attention to properly handle the unique tonality and color effects. It’s important to be mindful of blowing out highlights, especially in foliage, and adjust exposures accordingly. Custom white balancing is recommended when editing infrared photos to enhance the color and tonal range.

What should I consider when choosing a camera for infrared conversion?

When choosing a camera for infrared conversion, factors to consider include lens compatibility, weight, and desired image quality. Different camera brands offer their own advantages and considerations, with full-frame cameras providing higher resolution and image quality, while mirrorless cameras are lighter and allow for accurate portrayal of infrared effects through electronic viewfinders.

Which companies provide reliable infrared conversion services?

Protech Photographic, LifePixel, and Kolarivision are trusted companies that specialize in infrared camera conversions. Protech Photographic serves European customers, while LifePixel and Kolarivision are US-based companies offering a wide range of infrared conversion options.

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