Observations On Shooting Normal COLOR On The Full Spectrum IR Conversion E-PL


Sometimes We Just Need To Shoot In COLOR !

If you are lucky enough to have a Full Spectrum Infrared Conversion then you have the ability to shoot both in Infrared and Color!  To understand the options for using this system for color you have to know what type of UV/IR cut filter was removed from your camera during the conversion.

The Old Man, Olympus E-PL1 with B+W 486 UV/IR Cut Filter

There are two types of UV/IR cut filters (hot mirror) installed in modern digital cameras today. If you have a camera like the Olympus E-PL1 that can fully support the Full Spectrum Infrared Conversion, then you have the ability to shoot in both Color and Infrared by simply changing the filter on the lens that you are currently using! That being said, you MUST have a good understanding on the custom white balance function in your camera and how to set it for the spectrum you are trying to shoot in. As part of this understanding, you must know what type of internal UV/IR cut filter your camera had removed then replaced with a piece of clear glass! This knowledge will enable you to choose the proper type of external cut filter to purchase and use for those times you wish your camera to take normal color images!

B+W 486 & LDP CC2 UV/IR Cut Filter

The first type is basically clear glass with a thin rosy sheen on it’s surface. The color comes from very thin (molecules) layers that allow visible light to pass through but capture and reflect Infrared light back and forth between them. It also is designed to allow more visible light and a little Infrared light through to increase overall camera sensitivity. This is what the B+W 486 and LDP CC2 filters are. It works well with the Olympus E-PL1 full spectrum IR conversion but the quality that you achieve is directly related to how well you set your custom white balance. In some instances when I am shooting with a flash, my images come out dark blue but without the flash they have the proper colors! If I would re-set a new white balance then I could then get correct colors using a flash.

LDP CC1 UV/IR Cut Filter

The  second type of UV/IR cut filter installed is aqua colored glass with the rosy sheen on one side. My research into this has shown that this type of IR cut filter stops 100% of the IR light and cuts down the visible light in the blue end which generates less camera sensitivity but better color control. What this means to you is that the camera is less sensitive to light which will require an extra stop or two of exposure to take the same image that you could generate with the other filter.

Olympus E-PL1 Internal UV/IR Cut Filter Back

Olympus E-PL1 UV/IR Cut Filter Front

I called Spencer’s Camera out in Utah and asked Clarence to send me one of the Olympus UV/IR cut filters that they had removed from one of my several Olympus PEN conversions. I was surprised to see when it arrived that it was the aqua type! Since I have been using the B+W 486 UV/IR cut filter with this camera to take normal color images I realized that perhaps my  white balance issues were due to this UV/IR cut filter choice!

I located an external 58mm version of this filter from LDP called the CC1 UV/IR cut filter which I have ordered. I hope to have this new filter in hand the middle of next week for testing. Here is a chart from LDP which shows the 2 types of filters. Remember, the CC1 is the aqua and the CC2 is the gold.

LDP CC1 & 2 Filter Chart

My Expectations

  • I expect that the CC1 (aqua) filter will solve the touchy white balance issues when shooting with a flash unit with visible color.
  • White balance should become easier.
  • Better colors.
  • Less money! That is right, the LDP CC1 filter costs a lot less than the 486!

So watch here for my findings after the new filter arrives!

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3 comments on “Observations On Shooting Normal COLOR On The Full Spectrum IR Conversion E-PL

    • Michel, I usually like to double up on my uv/ir blocking when using a full spectrum system. In fact if you take a look at the removed hot mirror on many of the cameras converted you will find that they are a combination sandwich of 2 separate filters! Both types similar to a 486 on 1 side and a CC1 on the other. There is a slight expansion of covered frequencies by using both and good reason for stacking both. I did a post on this here last year in regards to the Sony NEX 5 full spectrum conversion. The combination of both filters gave much improved visual color than when using only one or the other!

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