The Olympus E-PL1 Full Spectrum Infrared Conversion
The KING of Infrared! There is simply no other way to put it… The E-PL1 makes for the most amazing Infrared platform that I have ever used. When you consider that the Full Spectrum conversion allows any and ALL photography, UV, Normal Color, and Infrared in ANY of the bands used (550, 570, 590, 630, 695 & 830 nano meters) simply by the addition of the proper filter onto the end of the lens you are using, then why would you choose anything else? It is a very light camera system with a good selection of lenses.
I am currently using the new 9-18 Olympus, Panasonic 20mm pancake, The 14-42 kit lens and the Panasonic 45-200mm! Each and everyone of them work perfectly in Infrared with no hot spots at all. I find that for most of my shots that I use the new Olympus micro 4/3 9-18mm lens with the B+W 041 570nm filter the most. Since this is a wide angle lens you will also need to purchase the optional lens hood (I don’t know why Olympus was so cheap as to not include this in a $700.00 lens… Shame on them) I shoot mostly land & seascapes with some nautical thrown in for good measure.
Another reason that this camera is so powerful is that it uses the external electronic viewfinder which changes the way that the camera functions! Normal outdoor photography using the LCD panel is near impossible in bright mid day sunlight which is when most of Infrared photography is done. The viewfinder (hard to find right now) is very small and light, does not impact the battery life of the camera and is crystal clear and easy to see. It shows all of the data normally shown on the LCD panel and I find that I could not live without it! I comes with a little case that attaches to the camera strap for easy carry. You can switch back and forth between the VF-2 and the LCD panel by pushing the button on the VF-2. It will also rotate up so that you can look down into it for low angle shots. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND the addition of this accessory, it will make your shooting experience much more pleasurable and give you more control of the camera system.
Let’s talk about filters for a moment for full spectrum Infrared photography. for the high frequency end of things (down in the 500nm range) you will find that the filters (B+W 041, 90, 91 & 99) are all pretty inexpensive at Amazon.com (around $30.00 each). As you get lower in frequency (695 and up), the price goes up really fast into the $100.00 + range. I suggest that you take a look here and in my infrared gallery for examples of Infrared photography and look and see what you like before deciding on filters. Also check out the earlier posts here as I have done a lot of filter comparisons specifiably on this camera!
You will also need the B+W 486 UV/IR Blocking filter to shoot normal color images. This filter is an expensive one at over $100.00 for a small one climbing up in price as the filter size gets larger! But remember, with this filter you can shoot normal color images!
One other thing that you have to keep in mind is your White Balance. Olympus gives you the option of programming your camera buttons on the back of the camera. One should be programmed to be “one button WB”. With the camera setup in this fashion you simply push the button, take a picture and accept the new WB. This is very important for any band you shoot in and each time you change your lens or filter. It will make the difference between good images and poor. The Histogram will show you the true exposure in Infrared ONLY with the proper white balance! Read up on this function and use it!
OK, first of all you need to realize that this camera/lens combination is SHARP! It takes incredibly detailed images that are breathtaking. Remember the 3 rules of Infrared (previous post) and follow those rules. You will NOT BE DISAPPOINTED! I find that (as I said earlier) I use the 9-18mm lens 90% of the time and the 45-200 the rest. Both lenses give sharp results, but most of my Infrared work is landscapes and nautical where you need a wide angle.
I REALLY like the B+W 041 570 nm filter. It gives stunning Goldie Faux color images as well as great Black & White!