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!

720nm IR E-P1 Camera System For Sale!


720nm IR E-P1 Camera For Sale!

720nm IR image from THIS camera!

This was the first KING of IR camera systems.  You can read about THIS camera and its capabilities on my Infrared Educational site at:  infraredatelier.wordpress.com  There will be many example images, tips and IR recipes specific to this camera system.  The conversion was done at Spencers Camera in Utah in 720nm called Standard IR.  It is a small, compact IR camera system that is easy to carry with you meaning that you will never have an excuse for not getting the shot!  

Visit this Auction HERE

Included with this auction:


  • E-P1 Camera
  • Olympus 14-42mm lens.
  • Battery Charger
  • 3 Batteries
  • Shoulder Strap
  • Box
  • Lens Hood
  • Instruction Manual
  • Magic Lantern r E-P1 guide
  • Access to educational IR site at infraredatelier.wordpress.com


This is a great IR system that will give you years of fun and artful creation.  Look at the 3 samples above that were taken with THIS camera and you will see what I mean.  You can change the flavor of this camera with the addition of external IR filters on the end of the lens as long as you go up in nm range  ie 800nm 850nm and so on.  You cannot go down since the internal filter will block it.


The camera is in great shape with very small minor scratches on the bottom where the tripod attaches!  The lens is clean and clear with no dust.  For IR work the 14-42mm lens is the best selection since we mainly shoot landscapes but this camera will work perfectly with ANY micro 4/3 lens that you desire!

System


NEX-5 Full Spectrum IR Camera System For Sale


NEX-5 Full Spectrum Infrared Camera System For Sale!

I am selling a complete NEX-5 Infrared camera system on EBay.  

It includes the following:

  • NEX-5 with 18-55mm lens
  • Flash
  • Strap
  • Sony external Video Microphone
  • 3 Batteries
  • Charger
  • Lens and Camera Caps
  • Back LCD cover
  • Camera Remote Control
  • B+W 090 590nm Goldie IR Filter
  • B+W 091 630nm Enhanced IR Filter
  • Hoya R72 720nm Standard IR Filter
  • Composite IR Blocking filter made of the LDP CC-1 and the B+W 486 IR Blocking filters to enable the NEX to shoot standard COLOR images!

You can find the system on EBay at the following link:

Ebay Link

There are plenty of pictures of the system on EBay!

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…?

Dang, I Went And Did It Again…


Welcome the NEW Panasonic GH2 590nm Camera!

Or, How to spend money without really trying!

Panasonic GH2

Well, Spencers managed to receive, modify and ship back to me my Color GH2 camera system converted to 590nm Infrared in 3 days! This camera had made the best small color interchangeable lens system that I have ever owned.  But… I am returning to Canon and all of my L glass after 3 years of not being able to use it due to an extreme medical condition from spinal sugury that went very bad, so I decided to convert the GH2 to 590nm while I await its replacement to be announced (hopefully) soon.

I am glad to be able to use my Canon equipment again but will miss the lightness of the GH2 and lenses!

I decided on the 590nm conversion for this camera because over time I have learned through experience that I mostly use 590nm, 630nm and 720nm (occasionally).  This means that I can have no filters on my lenses for 590 and an inexpensive one for 630nm!  Plus there are lots of other lenses that I like to shoot with that I cannot attach filters to:

  • Pinhole Lenses (yes I have several variations for Micro 4/3)
  • Lensbaby with ALL of its options.
  • Holga Lomography Plastic Lens
  • 8mm Fisheye

This will give me greater artistic control in my Infrared world!

Plus there are many advantages of the GH2 over the E-PL1, most important is the fact that the GH2 has a built in electronic viewfinder!  Plus the body is 16 megapixel and has such advanced body functionality that it rivals the advanced Canon and Nikon bodies!

So, here it is sitting on my desk.  Other than taking 2 test images with it I have not had the time to take it out and really use it.  It will be several days before I can so an in-depth review of its Infrared capabilities will have to wait for my next post!

Stay Tuned!

You are invited to the Low Country Infrared Adventure!


Jamie Konarski Davidson & Mark Hilliard
present an exciting, new Photographic Workshop &
Excursion Series on Fine Art Infrared Nature & Landscape Photography!

By Jamie Konarski Davidson

Come along with two of the most accomplished Infrared photographers on the Southeast coast for this energizing study of Fine Art Infrared (IR) photography! Learn about equipment needed for Infrared photography, what subjects  generate stunning IR images, and how to capture & process breathtaking IR images using this new digital technology.

By J.M. Hilliard

We will teach both Faux Color & traditional B&W post-processing techniques using Photoshop CS5, Elements 9 and Nik software. We will have several loaner IR camera systems for you to share if you do not yet own one!

Explore with us the rustic southern beauty of the Low Country. Along with two intense classroom sessions on Infrared Photography and post-processing, we will be shooting breathtaking land and seascapes in Pawleys Island and Brookgreen Gardens. In historic Georgtown we will capture local nautical themes, including the shrimp boat fleet and an ancient working boat yard where you will never know what you will find!

Infrared photography has become wildly popular in the past two years. It allows us to create new, different and emotionally intense images of things we see every day. Combine this capability with the stunning locations that we will be visiting, and you will understand why we are so excited to share this adventure with you.

Even if you do not currently have a Infrared camera  plan on attending! We will have loaner cameras for you to use as well as Infrared Filters to convert your current camera to Infrared!  This promises to be a great photographic experience for all!

By J.M. Hilliard

Infrared Workshops & Excursions!


Basic and Advanced Infrared Workshops and Excursions are coming!

Seacoast Artist Guild in Pawleys Island, SC is sponsoring a 1 day Infrared Introduction workshop at The Lens Work Gallery  at the end of April.  You must be a member to attend. Please click on their link above to get more information.

Jamie Davidson and I are putting on a 3 day Low Country Infrared Adventure &  Workshop on July 8-10.  This will be centered in Pawleys Island but will include GREAT OUTINGS in and around the Low Country of South Carolina. It also will include two 1/2 day Advanced workshops that cover everything from equipment to printing but REALLY hit Post Processing FAUX COLOR and B&W Infrared Images!  More Info will be coming soon on this workshop.

Jamie and I  are also planing another similar Infrared Adventure in from Oct 30 thru Nov 2nd called The Inner Banks Infrared Adventure & Workshops that will take us down the Sound from Grenville, NC to the Outer Banks shooting shrimp boats and other nautical scenes! It also will include two 1/2 day Advanced workshops that cover everything from equipment to printing but REALLY hit Post Processing FAUX COLOR and B&W Infrared Images!  More Info will be coming soon on this workshop.

Lastly Vic & Lori Grbich and I are  in the beginning stages of planning a weekend Great 2011 Grist Mill Excursion this Fall to Pitkins, SC!  If you have read any of my posts here about grist mills and Infrared then you KNOW how excited I am about this trip!

Stay tuned for Info!

Spencers Camera IR Conversion Discounts


Coupon Code For $25.00 Off Your Future Orders!

Spencers Camera is giving any of my customers/readers a $25.00 discount on any Infrared Conversion if you order on their WEB page and enter the following coupon code:  hilliard25

Their WEB address is:
http://www.spencerscamera.com

I have had VERY GOOD service from these folks on the conversions on my Olympus PEN camera systems and have had 4 done so far with a 5th in process now!  They offer 830nm, 720nm, 665nm, 590nm and Full Spectrum Infrared conversions.  They offer conversions on so many different camera systems that it is impossible to list them here in a short post.

Sony NEX-5 Full Spectrum IR Conversion


Another IR Camera, I Am So Ashamed…..

Sony NEX-5

OK, so I have the opportunity to have a Sony NEX-5 Full Spectrum IR (Spencers Camera).  It comes with a 18-55mm zoom lens that is built like a tank.  The camera is easy to hold and point, the LCD panel is SUPER BRIGHT. I like the APS C sensor because it gives me better control over DOF.  There are currently 3 lenses out there for this camera, a 16mm, 18-55 and a 18-200. It has an attachable tiny flash unit that screws into its top (weird)!

The 18-55mm Lens is Larger Than The Camera!


Native E Series Sony Lenses

This camera had the Full Spectrum IR conversion done to it by Spencers Camera out in Utah.  It took 4 days including shipping time to send and get the converted camera back!  Wow are they ever fast!  The did send back the removed hot mirror (more on this in another post in a few days. There are quite a few converted NEX 5 & 3’s out there now and a lot of great images are showing up in the various support forums.  I HOPE that this one can at least live up to the functionality of the Olympus E-PL1 Full Spectrum Infrared conversion. I know from experience that the Oly system is one tough act to follow!

There are some problems with the camera that will cause instant hair pulling with photographers who have any experience at all.

  • Menu controls are REALLY buried deep in the menu system…. ICK
  • The Camera will NOT Custom White Balance with a IR filter on the end of the lens!
  • 49mm Filters!  Not a universally accepted filter size!
  • No Electronic Viewfinder

There is nothing you can do about a poorly designed menu system other than to grin and bear it.  But as long as you shoot in AV mode (aperture priority) 90% of the menu functionality that you need are single button selections except for white balance!

White Balance…. Hmmm this one could have been a show stopper except for the fact that the camera will report to you the correct wb figures in kelvin and tint values before it tells you to go take a flying leap…  But then… You can take those values and select MANUAL white balance and enter them!  This is a work around but it does work! So instead of a -1 for lack of custom white balance I give the camera a -.5!

I HATE it when I cannot find the proper filter sizes for my lenses!  49mm!!!  You cannot even buy a LDP CC1 UV/IR cut filter in this size!  That means that you have to use a step up ring and mount a 52mm filter and throw away the lens hood because it WILL NOT FIT over a 52mm filter!  Can you tell that I am angry about this?  To put on a filter based lens hood causes the entire assembly to vignette!   Oh well, the new 18-200 Sony lens is 67mm which is a standard filter size. I can see a new lens in the future if I decide that this system is a keeper.

The lack of an Electronic Viewfinder can be a real issue for some photographers (myself included). I will tell you though, that in Sony’s defense that if you put the LCD panel in the BRIGHT SUNLIGHT mode that you can see it perfectly in the bright light!  What More can I say?

Pawleys Island Pier, B+W 091, Handheld

I took the camera out for a test drive today. I used a B+W 091 and a LDP CC1 filter.  The CC1 was perfect and allowed PERFECT color images (more on this in the next post.  The 091 gave STUNNING B&W images but very poor Faux images (could have been a combination of the filter bandwidth and the sun light direction). I am VERY impressed with the B&W images though with the 091.  They are sharp and clear with great DOF.  The camera handled well and the normal aperture priority controls were readily at hand.  The images have good contrast and depth.

NEX-5 Full Spectrum, B+W 091

OK, enough on this for now, more soon….