New Fuji 55-200mm lens for IR!


Finally, a LONG X Lens for the Fuji Family!

Pawleys Marsh, Fuji X Pro 1 720nm IR conversion w/ the new 55-200mm lens.

Pawleys Marsh, Fuji X Pro 1 720nm IR conversion w/ the new 55-200mm lens.

Fuji X 55-200mm

Fuji X 55-200mm

Yes, the new Fuji 55-200mm lens arrived for my fuji camera systems!  I am currently shooting with a color X-E1, a color X Pro 1 and a IR converted (720nm) X Pro 1.   I know how well the 55-200 works on the color bodies but what I really needed to know how did it work with the IR system!  Would it give hot spots as so many of the Fuji lenses do?  This post is the report of my findings.  The final verdict is that it works very well and as long as you do not go higher than f/16 there are no hot spots to worry about at any zoom range! To me this is a really big deal.  

So far only the 14mm and 35mm Fuji lenses are usable in infrared. So the addition of another lens really helps.  

I am going to give you some examples of how this lens actually does at both the wide and long ends of the zoom range wide open and closed down so that you can get a feel of the usable Infrared range that you can use.  Next week I will do a posting using the lens for color work only.

Pawleys Marsh, Fuji X Pro 1 720nm IR conversion w/ the new 55-200mm lens.

Pawleys Marsh, Fuji X Pro 1 720nm IR conversion w/ the new 55-200mm lens.

OK, let’s take a look at the good and bad of the 55-200 in IR, the Wide end:

55-200mm @ 55mm, f/23.5 No hot spot

55-200mm @ 55mm, f/23.5 No hot spot

55-200mm @ 55mm, f/11  Small hot spot

55-200mm @ 55mm, f/11 Small hot spot

55-200mm @ 55mm, f/22 Bad hot spot

55-200mm @ 55mm, f/22 Bad hot spot

As you can see as you get to f/11 we start to develop a small hot spot, but nothing that cannot be fixed.  Above f/11 the lens becomes unusable at the wide end.

Now, let’s take a look at the long end of the zoom range:

55-200mm @ 200mm, f/11 Bad hot spot, NO HOT SPOT

55-200mm @ 200mm, f/11 Bad hot spot, NO HOT SPOT

55-200mm @ 200mm, f/4.8 Bad hot spot, NO HOT SPOT

55-200mm @ 200mm, f/4.8 Bad hot spot, NO HOT SPOT

55-200mm @ 200mm, f/22 Bad hot spot, SMALL HOT SPOT

55-200mm @ 200mm, f/22 Bad hot spot, SMALL HOT SPOT

The difference at the long end of the zoom is amazing and is usable over the entire range of the aperture!  This is great news for us IR shooters.

Pawleys Island Marsh, 200mm B&W Post Processing

Pawleys Island Marsh, 200mm B&W Post Processing

There is starting to be a large number of IR photographers out there who are using converted Fuji X Pro 1 camera systems.  There are currently 2 conversion companies out there who can do the conversion.  I HIGHLY recommend the X Pro 1 as an Infrared platform and with the addition of the 55-200mm lens to our shooting arsenal we are way ahead of the game!

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A Simple Tutorial on Infrared Post Processing…

from my fine art photography blog

Murrells Inlet Marsh, X Pro 1 720nm IR Faux Color

Murrells Inlet Marsh, X Pro 1 720nm IR Faux Color

The Fuji X Pro 1 has turned out to be one of the best Infrared camera systems that I have ever used… period!  The only good Fuji lenses for Infrared have proved to be the 35mm f/1.4, the 18mm f/2 and the new 14mm.  The Viogtlander 75mm f/1.8 has also proved to be a STUNNING lens also!  So, the camera has proven its infrared capability, now it is time to discuss in detail the recipe for post processing!  It is all quite simple but there are a few requirements that you must understand in order to follow my workflow with understanding.

Needed:

  • Photoshop CS5 or CS6
  • Nik Filters, Viveza, Define Silver EFX Pro plugins for Photoshop, NOT LIGHTROOM.  (You can now purchase the entire library of Nik filters for $149)
  • Kromography False Color Action which can be downloaded here from the right menu bar under the box menu.  You can simply  click on it to download to your computer then drag it to photoshop to install.
  • A converted Infrared camera system capable of generating enough color data to make Faux Color images.  This means 720nm, 665nm, 630nm and 590nm conversions.
  • The ability and desire to experiment!

As you move your RAW (shoot only RAW for IR because of the ability to shift the white balance easily) onto your computer you should automatically tell yourself that you are going to process each selected image in Faux color and B&W.  Sometimes you will notice that the un processed image looks great also (wonderful bronze tones) and decide to do a version like this as well!

Lets talk about the RAW conversion process a little bit.  Photoshops ACR built in RAW converter will NOT apply the white balance correctly and your images will appear deep red.  For this reason I use Capture One version 7 from Phase One.  It is simply the BEST RAW converter that I have ever used.  You can download a trial version and decide for yourself if what I am telling you is true!

My Initial Editing Steps:

  1. Move images from my camera to my computer with an intelligent download tool that renames them with a meaningful name and create an intelligent directory tree for my RAW Library.  For this I have tested dozens of tools and found that Ingestimatic is the best and lowest cost one out there! You can find them here.
  2. Visually edit the RAW files by deleting the images that are simply no good.  Do not clutter up your computer with these useless files.
  3. Batch process my RAW conversion choices and adjust the exposure, contrast and angles.  Capture One will allow this and place the converted image files into a storage directory for later editing.
  4. Within Photoshop, open  each converted image one at a time for post processing
  5. Run Nik Define 2.0 in its default mode on the image for noise reduction, Save.
  6. Run Nik Viveza and without using any selection points increase the structure around 10% and the contrast about 5%, Save.
  7. Having installed the channel swap action that you downloaded here, run it on your image.  The last thing it will do is to open a Hue/Saturation window with the Master channel selected.  Simply select the CYAN channel  and vary the HUE a little bit to bring the sky to a normal blue rather than a blue/green.  Then select the RED channel and adjust the saturation up to a value you like, and repeat with the YELLOW and MAGENTA channels.  When you are happy with the results click on DONE to move on.  REMEMBER:  This is to only get the colors of the FAUX COLOR IR image into the ball park!  The real adjustment will happen next.
  8. Run Nik Viveza again.  Here is where you will use your control points to slightly adjust the colors and contrasts of various image elements to bring out a stunning, etherial work of art!  LOOK closely at your image, decide what you wish to adjust (Hue, saturation, contrasts and de-saturation). MORE ON THIS LATER!
  9. Run Nik Define one more time.
  10. Flatten the image, crop to taste, correct any imperfections (healing tool and content aware fill).
  11. Save the image with a meaningful name in a planned and thought out master image library.
  12. With the finished Faux Color image still open in Photoshop, now run Nik Silver EFX Pro to do your B&W conversion.  There are several built in recipes in this filter that can be used as a starting point.  My favorites are:
  • High Structure Harsh
  • High Structure Smooth
  • Full Dynamic Range Harsh
  • Full Dynamic Range Smooth
  • Fine Art Process
  • Wet Rocks (once in a while)

Save your image again with a NEW file name that reflects the difference in your master image library tree!

Murrells Inlet Salt Marsh, X Pro 1 720nm IR

Murrells Inlet Salt Marsh, X Pro 1 720nm IR

Remember:  Process ALL IMAGES as both Faux Color and B&W.  You really do not know what you are going to get till you do so.

All of this really is VERY SIMPLE and once you have done it a few times it will become second nature to you.  Soon you will be a post processing Infrared God or Goddess!  Congratulations

No, let’s take a look at the image below.  Notice the areas that I have circled as places where I desire to change the colors, contrasts and saturations (both plus and minus). Also consider that this is a 720nm converted camera and as such has a very limited color range (light pinks and warm tones and blues).

Annotated Faux Color, X Pro 1 720nm IR

Annotated Faux Color, X Pro 1 720nm IR

It is in this area and others like them (similar color values that are the same) that we are going to place control points on and change these values!  If you notice that the areas around them also change a little you can place what we call anchor points which are simply control points with no adjustments to bring those areas back to where you wanted them!

You will find this ENTIRE process from the initial loading into photoshop to finish will just take 4 or 5 minutes or less as you become more practiced!

Here are a few more images for you to consider that were taken on the 720nm Fuji X Pro 1 camera system:

Stormy Seas Faux Color, X Pro 1 720nm IR

Stormy Seas Faux Color, X Pro 1 720nm IR

Stormy Seas B&W, X Pro 1 720nm IR

Stormy Seas B&W, X Pro 1 720nm IR

Sometimes Faux Color images simply do not work, then you still have the great B&W ones to work with!

SC School Bus Boat, X Pro 1 720nm IR

SC School Bus Boat, X Pro 1 720nm IR

SC School Bus Boat, X Pro 1 720nm IR

SC School Bus Boat, X Pro 1 720nm IR

Was this information helpful?  Please let me know one way or the other!

1st Official Fuji X Pro 1 720nm Converted IR Post!


Here it is…

Fuji X Pro 1, Brookgreen Gardens, 720nm B&W processed.  Fuji X 35mm lens.

Fuji X Pro 1, Brookgreen Gardens, 720nm B&W processed. Fuji X 35mm lens.

frontnolensWell, it arrived!  After months of consideration after I got my X-E1 I finally decided to send off the X Pro 1 for  Infrared conversion.  It went to Dan at LDP (maxmax.com) and the cost was $500.00.  YIKES!  yes I said $500.00!  Dan explains that the X Pro 1 is the most difficult conversion that he does!  It required him 1.5 days to do the conversion and lots unsoldering/soldering to get to the sensor.  Still, better than sitting on the shelf or an attempted sale on Ebay, plus  I really like the camera and the hybrid viewfinder is just perfect for IR.

I had to decide between 720nm and 850nm so decided to go for the 720 in order to have a little color ( I really like the bronze tones right out of the camera at 720nm).  The total time for shipping – conversion – shipping was 8 days, door to door.  Very fast!

Importantly, the Fuji X Pro 1 camera White Balances perfectly. For these tests I white balanced on a green shrub in front of my gallery.  The process to do so on the camera is simple and fast!

The scope of THIS post is to talk about the conversion itself and to give you some sample images testing each of my normal Fuji and Voigtlander lens set that I use.

  • Voigtlander Heliar 75mm f/1.8 Lens
  • Voigtlander Ultra Wide-Heliar 12mm f/5.6
  • Fujifilm XF 35mm F1.4 Lens
  • Fujifilm XF 18-55mm F2.8-4.0 Lens Zoom Lens
  • Fujifilm XF 18mm F2.0 Lens
  • Fujifilm XF 60mm F2.4 Macro Lens

My first image out of the camera was with the Fujifilm XF 35mm F1.4 Lens.  It is stunningly sharp with great contrasts and tones without any processing at all! This is simply a perfect IR image right out of the camera.

Fuji X Pro 1, Brookgreen Gardens, 720nm RAW un-processed.  Fuji X 35mm lens.

Fuji X Pro 1, Brookgreen Gardens, 720nm RAW un-processed. Fuji X 35mm lens.

OK, the original hot mirror can tell us a lot about the capability of the Fuji body to take IR with no conversion.  The strength of the internal filter from the X Pro 1 is quite strong!  It is actually 2 filters sandwiched together.  They are very much like the B+W 486 IR blocking filter and the LDP CC1 IR blocking filter back to back.  The 486 is a pink/gold  filter that extends a little further into the visible light spectrum before falling off and allows a little less IR to pass through.  The CC1 filter is wider at the UV end.  The two filters together will pass light to the sensor from about  300nm to 700nm.  You can see this in the image below. This is the same filter arrangement (hot mirror) that we normally see in the Canon DSLR line and on the Panasonic Micro 4/3 camera line.

X Pro 1 Hot Mirror showing both Wide bandpass side (gold tint) and the Lower UV side (Aqua)

X Pro 1 Hot Mirror showing both Wide bandpass side (gold tint) and the Lower UV side (Aqua)

X Pro 1 Hot Mirror showing the Wider bandpass side (gold tint)

X Pro 1 Hot Mirror showing the Wider bandpass side (gold tint)

X Pro 1 Hot Mirror showing the Lower UV side (Aqua) similar to the CC1 filter from LDP

X Pro 1 Hot Mirror showing the Lower UV side (Aqua) similar to the CC1 filter from LDP

If you were to look at the 486 and CC1 filters they are the same general colors and pass band to what we actually see here!  So , what does this all mean to you?  If you decide (and convince Dan) to have a full spectrum conversion done on your X Pro 1, you can convert it back to a normal color camera by stacking both of these filters (B+W486 and the LDP CC1) on the end of your lens.  The full spectrum Infrared conversion is one where the hot mirror (IR blocking filter) is removed from in front of the sensor and replaced with a piece of clear glass.  Then, the camera is programmed to the specific UV or IR band with the addition of the appropriate filter on the end of the lens.

Normally, the hot mirror can bee seen as the colored layer of glass under the lens as shown here where you can now see the 720nm filter installed.

Inside the X Pro 1 showing the 720nm filter.

Inside the X Pro 1 showing the 720nm filter.

Lenses that Work/Don’t Work with the X Pro 1 720nm IR conversion…

Lens Hot Spots

As you may know (or guessed), not all lenses work well in the Infrared spectrum.  This is due to many things, but most commonly, the coatings on the lens elements and the coatings on the internal lens barrel and how they reflect IR light energy.  The common failure then is in the form of HOT SPOTS in the center of the image captured by the camera.  These are always dead center in the middle of the image and present as large round white areas.  Sometimes, they can be overcome by using a wider aperture, but not always…

Lets talk about the lenses that I tested that work (or in 1 case mostly work)…

Fujifilm XF 35mm F1.4 Len:

Fuji X 35mm Lens

Fuji X 35mm Lens

WOW, what can I say?  This lens works perfectly in the 720nm spectrum at all apertures!  The camera auto focuses perfectly and fast, the images are sharp and there are no hot spots at any aperture!  Lets take a look.  This first image is raw out of the camera.  I have done not post processing for B&W or Faux Color but there is enough color in the 720nm spectrum to have some interesting Faux Color results.  These types of images will be covered in another post next week and we will spend a lot of time and effort teaching and going through each step in the recipe used to create them in Photoshop CS6 and the Nik filter set.

Fuji X Pro 1, Brookgreen Gardens, 720nm RAW un-processed.  Fuji X 35mm lens.

Fuji X Pro 1, Brookgreen Gardens, 720nm RAW un-processed. Fuji X 35mm lens f/8

Next, is the same image post processed using CS6 and Nik’s Silver EFX Pro for B&W…

Fuji X Pro 1, Brookgreen Gardens, 720nm B&W processed.  Fuji X 35mm lens.

Fuji X Pro 1, Brookgreen Gardens, 720nm B&W processed. Fuji X 35mm lens f/8

Voigtlander Heliar 75mm f/1.8 Lens:

vt7518bThis lens from Voigtlander is one of the sharpest, easy to use lenses that I own.  The fit and finish on this lens is something to behold.  The lens has an included clamp on lens hood that works very well.  The focusing is so smooth that it is scary… It is a PERFECT match for the Fuji X system (X Pro 1 and the X-E1) and works just as well here in Infrared!  I was very happy to discover this in my tests at 720nm!  There are no hot spots at any aperture.  It takes Take a look:

Voigtlander Heliar 75mm f/1.8 Lens at f/11.  Raw

Voigtlander Heliar 75mm f/1.8 Lens at f/11. Raw (notice the nice bronze coloring)

Voigtlander Heliar 75mm f/1.8 Lens, f/8 Faux Color Post Processing

Voigtlander Heliar 75mm f/1.8 Lens, f/8 Faux Color Post Processing

Voigtlander Heliar 75mm f/1.8 Lens, f/8 B&W Post Processing

Voigtlander Heliar 75mm f/1.8 Lens, f/8 B&W Post Processing

Fujifilm XF 18mm F2.0 Lens:

Fuji X 18mm lens.

Fuji X 18mm lens.

This lens works well as long as you do not go beyond f/8.  Past that it generates very discinct hot spot in the center of the image.  While this can be overcome in post processing  with Nik’s Viveza, it is still slightly disappointing…  Still, when used at f/8 or wider the lens generates pleasing sharp images that make it worthwhile to carry in your camera bag!  Here are the RAW test samples for you to consider.

Fujifilm XF 18mm F2.0 Lens at f/2

Fujifilm XF 18mm F2.0 Lens at f/2

Fujifilm XF 18mm F2.0 Lens at f/4

Fujifilm XF 18mm F2.0 Lens at f/4

Fujifilm XF 18mm F2.0 Lens at f/5.6

Fujifilm XF 18mm F2.0 Lens at f/5.6

Fujifilm XF 18mm F2.0 Lens at f/8

Fujifilm XF 18mm F2.0 Lens at f/8

Fujifilm XF 18mm F2.0 Lens at f/11

Fujifilm XF 18mm F2.0 Lens at f/11

Voigtlander Ultra Wide-Heliar 12mm f/5.6

Voitlander 12mm

Voitlander 12mm

Another great lens from Voigtlander.  This one has a built in lens hood and while it will take screw in filters they need to be wide angle versions.  It also has that super smooth focusing feel but since it is so ultra wide at 12mm you can focus it pretty much at infinity and it will always be in focus.  I love this lens on the X Pro 1 and X-E1.  For 720nm Infrared, it works great until you hit f/22 then it gives a faint hot spot.  This is just fine with me as I rarely go beyond f/11 or f/16.

Take a look at the samples:

Voitlander

Voigtlander Ultra Wide-Heliar 12mm f/5.6 at f/8 RAW

Voigtlander Ultra Wide-Heliar 12mm f/5.6 at f/22 RAW with hot spot

Voigtlander Ultra Wide-Heliar 12mm f/5.6 at f/22 RAW with hot spot

Fujifilm XF 18-55mm F2.8-4.0 Lens Zoom Lens:

Fuji 18-55

Fuji 18-55

This lens is such a disappointment to me…  It is without a doubt my favorite walk around Fuji lens on the X-E1 camera. I hardly ever take it off.   Sharp and clear with great contrast.  That being said it is all but USELESS for Infrared!  There is a major hot spot problem at ALL focal lengths at ANY aperture past f/4.  At f/4 it did take nice images but as you understand, useless for landscapes.   Bummer…..  I am beyond disappointed over this one.

Fujifilm XF 60mm F2.4 Macro Lens:

Fuji 60mm

Fuji 60mm

I am going to initially tell you to simply forget this lens for Infrared.  It has a seriously bad hot spot at all apertures.  I will also share with you that I might actually have a bad copy of it.  It gives a terrible hot spot on my X-E1 when shooting in color as well, especially when using a flash.  I think that I am going to send it back to Fuji for repair and see what they think.  Depending upon that I might re-evaluate it for Infrared later on!

Ok this is all for the initial post.  

The next post will focus on post procseeing and what can be acheived artistically with this new Infrared Fuji X Pro 1!

Please let me know what you think!

Get Ready…. Here it comes!


Fuji X Pro-1 720nm Conversion!

 

Well I actually did it and sent off the X Pro-1 to LDP in New Jersey for a 720nm conversion!  The camera is due back today and the fun will begin!  Stand by….

Fuji X Pro-1  720nm IR conversion!

Fuji X Pro-1 720nm IR conversion!

Repost: Fuji X Pro 1 For Infrared, Part 1, Technical Details


Creating Emotional IR Images From Your Heart

This post was originally posted in my Fine Art Gallery BLOG at: http://markhilliardatelier.wordpress.com/

Using the Fuji X Pro 1 for Infrared

Infrared photography means so many things to me… It is more than a type of photography, rather a passion or better yet an addiction! I have a LOT of experience in Infrared, I have a book in work on it, but MOST IMPORTANTLY, I have practiced the art of creating emotionally charged Infrared images for longer than I can remember, even as long as 45 years ago with film.  Here, today, I will disscuss with you the technical details of using your Fuji X Pro 1 camera system to create these emotionally powerful images as well.

X Pro 1 Faux Color IR Image with only the channel swap

Understand this, you can create Infrared images several different ways:

  1. Film:  Rolli makes a great 720nm IR film in many different formats that with the addition of a 720nm filter on your lens will create great IR images at 100 ISO, and with no filter great B&W images at 400 ISO!
  2. Hoya R72

    Standard Digital COLOR Camera:  With the addition of a 720nm or 850nm IR filter on your camera lens your camera can capture Infrared images.  There is a tradeoff to this way though because each camera manufacturer places some sort of UV/IR blocking filter over the image sensor that allows only visible light to pass through.  Some of these filters are weaker than others and these cameras make for a system that will do well in Color and OK in Infrared with reasonable IR exposure times around a second or two.  Others have a strong filter allowing only a small amount of IR energy to pass.  These require VERY LONG exposure time in order to overcome this filter.  The Fuji X Pro 1 is one of the cameras with a weaker filter! This is exciting because it enables you to easily create IR images with an unmodified camera system!

  3. Converted Infrared Camera:  This type of system is the most popular by far.  There are 2 types:
    • Full Spectrum conversion: The internal UV/IR blocking filter is removed and replaced with a clear glass filter. You can then program the camera with an external IR filter in any range from UV to Color to Infrared!  This is the most adaptable IR system but costly because IR filters for your different lens sizes are expensive!
    • Dedicated Infrared Conversion:  This type has the internal UV/IR blocking filter removed and replaced with a specific IR pass filter and will create IR images in that band only.

What your camera sees!

So with regard for the Fuji X Pro 1 system we are going to discuss option #2, the standard color camera with an external IR filter attached to its lens.  But you ask: “What filter can I use?”. Well since we are not modifying the internal UV/IR blocking filter you must understand that the camera will pass normal visible colors as well as IR if the external filter allows it.  This is both good and bad!  If you were to install a 590nm IR filter on your lens the camera, it would see everything from 590nm up to 1000nm.  But because the internal UV/IR blocking filter allows much more visible light than IR through, it will poison the exposure metering system.  It is going to see the vast majority of the light as color (red) and expose for that rather than the IR portion.  So attempting to do this will cause very unreliable exposure and great frustration on the part of the photographer.

What we need is to attach an IR filter that blocks ALL of the visible light and only passes IR to the sensor!  So it is best to choose a 720nm IR pass filter to your lens like the Hoya R72 or a 800nm B&W IR only filter like the B+W 093.  The higher you go in nm the longer the exposure time will be…

Now, knowing that we are going to use the 720nm filter which will only pass IR energy from 720nm and up while blocking ALL of the visible light our metering system will now function as it should!

Considerations of problems that must be overcome within the X Pro 1 to get good IR images

  • Even though the Fuji X Pro 1 has a weak UV/IR blocking filter there is still one there.  Exposure time at a normal low noise ISO of 800 and below will still require an exposure time too long to hand hold and still get sharp images.  Most of mine were at 1/30s and longer.
  • Yes, the X Pro 1 works well at high ISO settings, but in IR the camera will still create noise in the dark areas of the image.
  • Fuji X Pro 1 with a custom WB right out of the camera. This is as close as you can get but will still generate a great image.

    White Balance is IMPORTANT when shooting in IR!  The X Pro 1 will NOT reliably do a custom white balance with the 720nm IR filter installed.  But it does have a manual Kelvin White Balance option, so when shooting IR you need to go to this sub menu in the WB settings and set it to 2500K.  I have talked to others doing this and have heard that they also take away green as well in the menu.  I personally think that this is unnecessary and by leaving the green neutral you will get more pleasing Faux Color images.  A properly white balanced image taken on your camera has s slight reddish cast, the sky should be bronze and the green leaves should have a monochromatic feel with a bluish cast. (more on this later) An improperly white balanced camera image will be pure dark red.  While you can still use this image in post processing the lack of a good white balance will throw off your exposure system. Read your camera manual on white balance and understand it!

  • Longer shutter speeds need a tripod to get sharp images!
  • Remote shutter cable to cut down on camera shake!
  • The Hoya R72 720nm IR filter will generate good Faux Color infrared images some of the time, but good B&W images all of the time.  Keep this in mind while shooting and plan to always explore both options in post processing!
  • Faux Color IR images require a channel swap in post processing.  ONLY the Photoshop family (CS through CS6) has this function built in!  Photoshop Elements has an optional plugin called Elements Plus that you can purchase to do this.  Lightroom and Aperture DO NOT have this function!

Ok, enough of this for now. Lets talk images…

 The Hoya R72 IR filter is almost black.  You can see very little through it but don’t worry, the camera can see through it just fine!  You can find these filters on Amazon for about $58.00 in 52mm.  There are a lot of other filter companies out there that make these, some good some not so good… I trust the Hoya!

Mount the filter on your lens, set the ISO to around 1000 and put the camera on a tripod.  Make sure that you have properly set the WB either as a custom on or as a Kelvin entry.  If you choose custom, the camera will require a lot of light to due this properly.  Use green grass to generate the custom white balance.

I like to use the optical viewfinder rather then the LCD or EVF for shooting in IR.  Choose and frame your subject carefully.  Hmm, a word about composition…

There are three items that can make IR images really powerful and full of emotional impact:

  • Sky with clouds!
  • Water reflections!
  • Green Leaves!

The more of these items you can get in your images the better they will be!  Here is an example…

Clouds, Water and Leaves! What more could you ask for? While not done on a X Pro 1, this image could just have well been so!

 As you can see, the sky, reflections and leaves create an emotionally packed, etherial image that draws your viewer into it!  Keep these three compositional elements in mind as you go forth and create your images!

Exposure Issues…

OK, last part of this post!  There are a few small exposure issues that you need to be aware of while doing IR work.  They are:

  • Red Channel over exposure: The RED channel will aways expose a stop or more higher than the blue and green.  After you have taken the image and see the preview on the LCD panel look at the histogram.  It only displays the combination monochrome histogram and if it is close to being overexposed you will get better results by dialing in -1ev exposure compensation and re-take the image.  This is due to the red channel being more sensitive to infrared and causing the overexposure.  You can really see this during the RAW conversion or in photoshop during post processing by looking at the RGB histogram there.
  • Hot Spots:  Some people have reported hot spots in the center of their images when using the 18mm lens.  I have NOT personally  seen any evidence of this with my system as of yet.  Hot spots are areas in the center of each picture that is usually a stop brighter.  They are caused by light bouncing back and forth between the sensor and the lens elements.  These are lens specific and very little can be done while taking the picture to stop or reduce them.  BUT, the aperture can have a drastic effect on them!  If you see these then try adjusting the aperture and review the results, you just might be surprised!  You MUST ALWAYS use a lens hood when shooting in IR.  This will also help stop hot spots by stopping light from striking the objective lens at extreme angles then bouncing around inside the lens between elements.  If you do notice the hot spot you can remove it in post processing very easily by using Nik Filters Viveza.  You use the selection point by placing it in the center of the spot and then reduce the brightness!

OK, this is enough for today.  The next post will be a detailed Post Processing tutorial that will take you through both Faux Color and B&W processing.  I even have a photoshop action that you can download to semi automate the channel swap and cut down your post processing time!

Italy, 2012, Post 3


Images, Images and More Images!

Assisi, Road Thru Houses 590nm Infrared

Todays post are just a few more of my favorite Infrared Images taken around Italy.  All are 590nm with an equal mix of Faux Color and B&W.  The post processing on them are basically the same as in the last post.  All were taken with the Panasonic GH2 with the 14-140mm Panasonic lens.

Rome, the high fashion district at the Spanish Steps. Notice the vast crowds! 590nm

I will likely add some Color images here as well in the coming days to highlight the differences between locations done in both Infrared and Color!  But for now, on last gallery of Infrared images:

Panasonic GH2 590nm Review Part 2, White Balance Revisited


Proper White Balance Makes Such A Difference!

The Gray WB Card

OK, I realize that in terms of actual helpful posts that it has been a long time.  With advertising for workshops and camera sales, things have been a little stale around here.  But all is not lost!  I have been out and about for 2 days shooting the GH2 (590nm) and playing with different white balances.  Todays post is about setting your WB on the GREEN grass and how it affects the image.  In the first review, I detailed the differences in setting WB on the grass vs. a Gray card, so I will not repeat that prices here.  With this camera (GH2) the choice of how you WB makes a MAJOR difference.  This weekend i simply forgot to bring along the Gray card so all of the work was done on the grass!  In my defense, it just seems to go against all of my advice on WB that I have given you in the past.  Green grass has always been the main source of WB and generally would produce really nice monochromatic tones in the LCD of your camera when properly done in the leaves and a nice bronze in the blue areas of the sky.  I would even Post Proces RAW files to take advantage of this from time to time.  But with a Gray card, the sky takes on a sickly greenish cast that just looks terrible on the LCD, but when you get the RAW file on the computer you get such vibrent gold tones!  What a difference it made…

The image below is an example of forced processing in Viveza caused by a Green grass WB.  It still looks good but it had to be forced in Post Processing….

I simply must remember to bring along the Gray card in the future!

Bellimatrix, 590nm, WB on Green Grass

I have to honestly admit that the Gray card works much better with the GOLDIE (590nm) conversion on the GH2 that it has any right to!  NONE of my other IR camera systems seems to be affected like the GH2 in this regard! I just HATE the way the RAW images look straight out of the camera with the Gray card, but in terms of Faux Color IR the difference is stunning!  The RAW images take on a greenish cast when done on the Gray card vs. the nice bronze & monochrome elements when balanced on the grass.  If you are looking for some interesting bronze tones straight out of the camera then you need to WB on the grass, but if you are shooting primarily for Faux Color then choose the Gray card. By doing so the yellows and golds seem to come naturally during the channel swap rather than being forced in Nik’s Viveza.

For B&W Post Processing, WB had an effect on the overall output, but much less so than when working in Faux Color.  You will notice tonality changes between the WB versions in the mid tones!

Bellimatrix, 590nm, B&W Processing

Still, you can achieve both if you desire in photoshop.  The choice is yours but to me it just makes sense to get the best results straight out of the camera!

Grist Mills Of Rhode Island


Post Processing the Infrared Grist Mills of Rhode Island

Hammond Mill, Selective Focus

I have just now getting around to post processing the Rhode Island section of The Great 2 Week Grist Mill Trip!  I cannot believe that I am so behind… Oh well, better late than never!  Since completion of the trip I have had 2 other Grist Mill Trips with a ton of photos in the que! All of these images were taken on my Olympus E-PL1 Full Spectrum converted IR system using the Oly 14-150mm lens with a B+W 091 630nm filter.

As you can see I processed for both Faux Color and B&W IR images because you just never know how they will look unless you try!

Does everyone understand exactly what a Faux Color Infrared image is?  It is likened to the old Kodak HIE IR films of the 80’s (I actually designed the silver salt growing system for that film while I worked at Kodak!).  In modern converted IR digital camera systems the images are true IR images, but since the sensor is RGB we have a lot of color data there!  To get to what the film was capable of producing we simply swap the data on the Red and Blue channel of the image in Photoshop, fine tune the colors in NIK Viveza and work from there!  Just because it is described as a Faux or False Color IR image doesn’t mean that it is so!

The B+W 091 is a little more on the red  end of the spectrum so the images tend to (when Faux Color…) lean more towards the pinks and reds.

Basic Post processing is as follows:

  1. After conversion of my RAW files in Capture One Pro v6 I then do my critical deletion edit using Bridge.  This is perhaps the most difficult step. You have to look beyond low contrast off color images and see what they can be. Look for coloration (this will get better with time), emotional impact (yes you CAN do this! I have several BLOG postings here that talk specifically about this one…) and sharpness and exposure.  Think about each and every image in terms of Faux Color and B&W! When finished, I then open the images one at a time in Adobe Photoshop CS5 with ALL of the NIK filters installed.
  2. I did my normal cropping to my master storage size of 12.5×8.5 making sure that the image was at 300dpi and in the Adobe RGB 1998 color space
  3. I ran NIK Software’s Define 2.0 for noise reduction. For this I simply accept the default settings!
  4. I then ran NIK Viveza 2.0 and specifically added 20% structure and 10% extra contrast without any control points so that the changes affected the entire image!  This was to create a brighter deeper image before I ran the channel swap Photoshop Action!  WOW!  WHAT A DIFFERENCE THIS MADE!
  5. I then ran the channel swap action and proceeded as normal with the rest of my Post Processing Recipe! This is the Khomography Photoshop Action that you can download here towards the bottom of the right hand menu! The action swaps data between the Red and Blue image channel and allows you to adjust the Hue/Saturation in the Red, Yellow, Green, Cyan, Blue & Magenta color channels separately!
  6. In the action select the Red, Yellow, Cyan and Blue channels and adjust each of them using saturation and hue to get the image elements to start to fall into place. Pay careful attention to the Cyan channel adjustment as most of the time the sky takes on a green/aqua tint which looks terrible!  Simply adjust the Hue of the Cyan channel to fix this!
  7. Now, Calling up Nik’s Viveza again I will select specific elements of the image with control points.  I will add contrast and structure then adjust the primary colors R,G and B to adjust the specific color of the compositional element to achieve the overall color I want for it.  You can also use the Warmth Slider to add or remove warmth.  This entire process takes only a few moments to do if you understand your basic color wheel and how to mix to change!  This process will give you your final ball park image!
  8. THEN I called up another of NIK Software’s world class filters and ran the TONAL CONTRAST filter in the COLOR EFX PRO plugin.  The result was this incredible image full of contrasts tonalities as well as contrasting colors!

Rather than simply place the images here in the post separately I am going to try Word Press’s new Photo Gallery.  Simply click on any of the images that you see to bring up a nice slide show!

You Do NOT have to spend a fortune to do IR!


How To Do It On The Cheap!

 

I know, this was supposed to be a post on the GH2 tests but I have been getting a lot of email and comments about the assumed high cost of getting into Infrared Photography!  This insane notion needed to be stopped before it got any further!

If you have an extra camera system laying around you can reasonably expect to send it off for conversion for $200-$300.  Yes that is a lot of money but the expansion of your artistic mind set that Infrared will give you will be worth it.  But there is a cheaper way!

EBay is a great place to find used digital camera systems already converted to Infrared!  I have purchased several of these used IR camera systems in the past year for next to nothing and have NEVER had a problem with a single one that came from EBay!

So far I have purchased from Ebay:

  • Canon G10 at 720nm for $350 (G10’s are in high demand)
  • Canon G9 at 665nm for $300
  • Canon 10D at 850nm for $250
  • Olympus E-P1 at 720nm for $300
  • Canon 20D at 590nm that I picked up for $300.00!

Why you ask did I purchase all of these system?  Well I TEACH Infrared Workshops and as part of that I have loaner cameras so that my students can try different camera systems before they decide on what type of camera and what conversion they like the best!  But the real point that I am trying to make here is that YOU DO NOT have to spend a lot of money and that EBay is your friend!

Point and Shoot cameras are very inexpensive and are light and easy to carry.  This means that you will always have a IR system on hand.  Mirror-less SLR IR systems like the GH2 and OLY Pen systems give your the advantage of interchangeable lenses and are small and light.  DSLR IR systems have the advantage of being able to share lenses and accessories!  If you shoot Nikon, do not be afraid to buy a used Canon camera and a cheap lens and vice-versa!

Go back through this blog and read the posts on the 14 IR camera systems that I have tested!  You will notice that I tend towards smaller lighter and cheaper cameras!  There is a whole world out there full of people with IR systems that are upgrading to something newer and cooler (in their eyes!) who would jump at the chance to sell the old ones for funds to add to their new ones.

Beware of buying from friends in camera clubs as they are looking to recover ALL of the money they spent both for the camera as well as the conversion!  As I said EBay is your friend!

 

Panasonic GH2 590nm Review – Part 1


OK, It Starts Again – IR Camera #14 (I think…)

Panasonic GH2

Well… I think this makes camera #14, but I have had so many that I am no longer sure!  This is really a sad state of affairs.  As you all know, I have touted the Olympus E-PL1 as the “King Of Infrared” for a year or so now.  But sadly, the King has died, long live the King!  I am not very sad over sending the color GH2 off to be twisted into 590nm, after all, I am addicted to IR.  Rather I am sad over loosing such a fine COLOR system!

It is true though, that I have returned to my Canon systems for color work, and I am very happy with the results there.  So on with the show!

The body functionality of the GH2 is simply amazing.  It rivals that of the advanced Canon and Nikon bodies but in such a form factor that it makes using it a joy!  I love the fact that it is such a small body.  Add in the fact that it is a 16 megapixel system with both a built in electronic viewfinder and an articulating LCD panel guarantees a true winner.

I sent the camera off to Spencers Camera in Utah and had it back in 3 days!  I decided upon 590nm for this camera rather than Full Spectrum because I find that 99% of the time I shoot in either 590nm or 630nm.  I can change between the two with the addition of a B+W 091 630nm filter on the lens which costs about $25!  This means less to carry when I travel which is very important to me.

The GOLDIE or SUPER COLOR IR Conversion, GH2 Camera

When the camera was returned from Spencers the first thing that I noticed was that I had NO idea how to set the custom white balance.  Spencers had programmed this into the body but I needed to do it again as I am going to use the Panasonic 14-140mm lens on it.  I did some research on the web and discovered how to do a proper WB and no matter how hard I tried I could not get my WB to match Spencers.  So I called them and was informed that they only use a gray card in direct sunlight to WB with!  OK, I will file this data away for later consideration!  For now I have both Spencers WB and mine (green grass) programed into the camera (yes it can hold 4 custom WB settings).

Today I took the camera out and did some test shots using both WB values in a good location that gave the triangle of IR compositional elements:

  1. Sky with clouds…
  2. Reflective Water…
  3. Various types of Green Leaves…

One major difference that I discovered between the 590nm GH2 and the E-PL1 set at 590nm is that the GH2 did NOT over expose the red channel!  The internal exposure metering system handled Infrared poisoned with Red Visible light perfectly!  This really is a big step forward in that I can again trust the exposure meter and concentrate on the subject.

Refresher on 590nm Infrared:

Various IR Filter Curves, Look At the 090 For 590nm

There are some minor issues when using a 590nm filter that you must understand in order to overcome.

  • 590nm is firmly in the realm of the visible spectrum creating visible overexposure from 590nm to 700mm.
  • White Balance is ALL important to getting good color and proper exposure.

The first listed issue really is the most important one to understand.  Our camera’s electronics and algorithms are designed with color images in mind.  When we remove the hot mirror (UV/IR Cut Filter)  and attach a dedicated 590nm or 665nm filter OR a clear glass filter (Full Spectrum) and use a 590nm external filter, we are allowing a small amount of visible light from 590nm to 700nm strike the sensor along with the infrared spectrum from 700nm to 1000nm.  Since 590nm is in the deep red area of the visible spectrum the RED channel is overwhelmed with bright red light and the blue & green channels see more of the 700nm and up light.   This tends to confuse the camera computer and while it will display a normal looking histogram (monochrome), if you look at the separate RGB histograms the red is off the edge and way overexposed!  Usually you can overcome this during the RAW conversion process by changing the exposure down 1 or 2 stops in conversion.  Sometimes the overexposure is so bad that you are out of the range of repair during the conversion process.  So I following the following steps to overcome this in camera:

  1. Proper White Balance to equalize the color Channels
  2. Set the camera histogram to separate RGB channels so that I can directly monitor the RED channel
  3. Check the exposure on EVERY shot and dial in the appropriate exposure compensation.  Normally this is around -1 or -2 but some subject matter like lots of leaves will require you to switch to manual exposure  to go – 3 or more!  A cloudy sky will actually force you to add + exposure compensation.  Just take a test shot and check the red channel histogram then make the proper adjustment.
  4. ALWAYS use your lens hood to prevent lens flare as well as to keep contrast up by stopping light from hitting the objective lens at extreme angles.

590nm will generate very pleasing warm Faux Color images that dip in to Gold tones hence the name “Goldie Filter”!  This can work for very pleasing images that will stun you with their emotional impact.  Yet they will also generate VERY nice B&W images as well in Post Processing!  If you find that you do not care for the Gold tones you can simply reprogram the camera with an external filter to get different results!

  • B+W 091 630nm medium red filters will move you into the Pink/Red toned Faux Color Images and cost around $30.
  • B+W 092 695nm dark red filters will move you into the Red/Copper toned Faux Color Images and cost around $100.
  • Hoya R72 720nm deep red filters will put you into the Coppery toned Faux Color Images and cost around $120.

You can go even higher, 800, 850 ad 900nm but these will require the use of a tripod and they are VERY expensive filters!  Not bad for a dedicated 590nm camera!  You can still change the flavor of it with the addition of an external filter.  The only rule is that you cannot go to an external filter lower than 590nm.

Gray Card Set for Setting Camera White Balance

OK, lets look at some sample images.  I am going to show you 2 sets of 3 images.  First set is with the camera WB set to green grass.  Image 1 will be the RAW image straight out of the camera, Image 2 will be the Faux Color version and Image 3 will be the B&W.  Set 2 will be the same 3 images but with the WB set to a Gray Card in bright sunlight.  You will be AMAZED by the difference that WB can give in your photography after viewing them.   The Gray card used is a simple plastic set that I purchased from Amazon for about $10.00.

OK, here is set #1 with the WB set to the Green Grass:

RAW:

RAW image, WB to Green Grass

Faux Color Post Processed, WB to Green Grass

Notice the lack of gold tones and the shift to orange/red trees.  There is a little yellow grass.  To me this is still a very pleasing image overall!

B&W Post Processing, WB to Green Grass

A very nice B&W image that can still have a lot of work done on it for improvements!  

OK, now set 2, the same basic images but with the WB set to the 18% Gray Card!

RAW:

RAW Image with WB set to the Gray Card

Notice that the colors are WAY off from the image WB’ed to the Green grass!  The sky has shifted towards a greenish/copper and the leaves have shifted towards Aqua  while some of the green has taken on a Yellow glow.

Faux Color:

Faux Color image with WB set to the Gray Card

Here is where we really see a major difference!  NOW the trees have the classic GOLD tone that one expects from the 590nm band!  Some of the grasses are still pink but different plants look different in IR!

B&W:

B&W Post Processed with the WB set to the Gray Card

Even here we see differences between the two different WB’ed images.  This is due to the fact that B&W Post Processing is determined by the range of COLORS of the image that we start with!

So, what I am seeing here with these two sets of images is that WP has a MAJOR effect upon the finished product!  The first set of images actually look closer to what you would see with a B+W 091 690nm filter in place rather than a 590nm filter!  We will discuss this in greater detail in the next post (Part 2) in the next few days.  For now this should give you a lot to think about in relationship to White Balance!

On top of that you have to admit that the clarity and sharpness of this camera/conversion and lens is simply remarkable!  I am very excited about the fact that the exposure is dead on so far.  I will also experiment with the exposure and histogram in the coming days in varying sunlight and different subject to insure that indeed the Panasonic GH2 is the NEW KING OF INFRARED!

What do you think…?