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Infra Red Filters on Digital Compacts at night?

Keith Halsey , Dec 11, 2008; 07:29 a.m.

I have heard and seen some websites on using Infra Red Filters at night to obtain dramatic white light looking black and white photos.Its appears to be very technical with jargon about overiding built in camera exposure CCDs customising on a micro scale(have you ever tried opening up,a digital compact to remove the CCD?)etc and charts of supposed filters that fit over the lenses of various makes for success. In practice what I found was that photo shops I went into 1)thought I was barmy when I said I wanted to photograph Graveyards at midnight(actually Im more interested in Nightclub situations)2)Had a rummage round in their drawers and came up with a choice of 1 IR filter priced at around £50+.3)Couldnt find any second hand (IR)ones4)Held it over the camera-the back screen went black.Decided it wasnt a good buy.Scratched my head as to what to do.My cameras are both Fuji FinePixes.Does anyone know of a camera/filter set up that will work without modyfying the internal CCD-there are supposed to be some that work?


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Brian Southward , Dec 11, 2008; 09:04 a.m.

Digicams vary in how well they block out infrared. If you have one that lets through a good deal of IR, you can just use a R72 filter over the lens and take IR shots in any conditions. See my digital IR folder at http://photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=817145.
This was an Olympus C-7070 digicam. I found out by chance that the Olympus range tend to be good IR performers. Don't know about Fuji.
My IR filter cost about £12 on eBay. (It helps that I have a filter screw thread on the camera.)

Michael Chang , Dec 11, 2008; 10:07 a.m.

Many Sony models have a feature called Nightshot. It lifts the IR-cut filter and switches on a IR LED (as a light source) allowing infrared signal to to recorded without modification. In this mode, the internal sensitivity is also boosted to ISO 2500 (on my camera) which produces rather grainy pictures under very low ambient light, but quite acceptable under high(er) light conditions. This feature only operates in Program, Auto and Video modes.

As a matter of interest, you can cut a piece of 5-1/4" floppy disc's magnetic media and use it as an IR-pass filter. I have tried this and works quite well. Exposure time will be quite long as expected but the picture quality, due to "filter" imperfections, can be quite dramatic and put to artistic use.

Howard Fuhrman , Dec 11, 2008; 10:39 a.m.

I have been shooting ir for over 2 years with a converted Canon G9. I have not found ir to be very effective at night since not all light reflects ir and sometimes what appears bright work for ir. I have no idea if the light in a night club or concert will reflect ir. The advantage with a converted ir camera is in daylight there is very little shutter delay penalty vs a normal uncoverted camera. However with a R72 external filter the exposure penalty can be severe 4, 5, 6, 7 ev. In daylight, I generally handhold my ir converted camera and it is not necessary to use a tripod as you would when using a unconverted camera an external filter.
In the following thread, I believe Mark indicates he converted a Canon G10 and gained 2 stops over an unconverted camera using a 665nm internal filter.
Following is a night ir shot (B&W and color) (used a tripod shot at ISO 80):

Cemeteries are great for IR, many trees and few (live) people. Here is an example.

There are many other ir photos on my web site that is listed below my name. Good luck, be careful ir photography may become your passion.

Edward Ingold , Dec 11, 2008; 11:42 a.m.

Most cameras (since the D100) come with an highly effective infrared blocking filter. If you want to shoot with a filter that blocks visible light, have your camera converted. Otherwise you face long exposures and unpredictable results.

Frans Waterlander , Dec 11, 2008; 12:48 p.m.

"Most cameras (since the D100) come with an highly effective infrared blocking filter. If you want to shoot with a filter that blocks visible light, have your camera converted. Otherwise you face long exposures and unpredictable results."
I don't quite agree with the unpredictable results part. I get very predictable and pleasing results using an unmodified Nikon D70 and Hoya R72 filter. Even autofocus works very well, although I get a very little bit of improvement in sharpness if I make a slight manual focus correction after the camera did its autofocus bit.

Manuel Barrera , Dec 11, 2008; 04:12 p.m.

lots of light and long exposure, manual focus, it depends on the camera as to the image, the filter works find with my fuji s5000 not so much with my G9, set the camera to jpg no raw and if it has setting for black and white that is better. here is a link to an image with the fuji http://photo.net/photodb/photo?photo_id=8006435

Michael Huizenga , Dec 11, 2008; 04:31 p.m.

Try this. Get a piece of E-6 slide film, unexposed and developed. Place a piece over the lens and take a shot. It worked great on my old cell phone camera, and I have a friend who swears by it. You might even be able to get an old throwaway roll at a real camera store for free.

Sarah Fox , Dec 12, 2008; 11:36 a.m.

... or that otherwise useless bit of black leader that you often get back with your print film.

JC Uknz , Dec 12, 2008; 01:42 p.m.

Assuming that you do not want to modify your camera the first thing is to detirmine if your camera is reasonably suitable to shoot IR. Point your TV remote at the camera and watching through the EVF or LCD press the remote button. If you see a nice bright image of the remote signal then proceed to the next step which is to obtain an IR filter. Personally I think a proper IR filter such as Wratten 87 series is preferable to just a dark red filter. The latter gives you a red toned picture instead of the true B&W IR result when you do not record any visible light. I gather the R72 gives a proper result. It is important to not have any light leaks around the filter such as holding a bit of film in front of camera .. a screw in fitting is essential IMO having not done it 'proper' when I started and got white circles etc on my early shots from faint traces of light leaking in and bouncing around the lens. I first used an IR gel in a cokin holder ... not to be reccomended :-) Then I cut down the gel to fit an unused UV screw filter I had.
Unlike when shooting film you have a different focus setting as indicated on the lens barrel for IR I have always relied upon Auto Focus to find focus for me ... I guess to AF a sharp picture is a sharp picture using whatever kind of light ... daylight or IR. The camera always sort of 'gulps' as if to say what the heck am I looking at through this filter and then gets its act together and reveals the IR image on the EVF. Similar to when I took a picture of a solar eclipse, 1/4000 at f/8 and revealed sun spots not visible by visible light that a camera photographing a projected image of the eclipse recorded at about the same time. An astronomical friend was quite intrigued at the differences. The 5700 handled the excess of light and 'closed down' the EVF so I could see the disc with the bite of the moon ... but I wouldn't reccommend doing it .. it is rather a risky thing to do .. I got away with it. A freind with a movie film camera was off work for a fortnight after he recorded an eclipse for TV and was lucky not to loose his sight. An essential part of being a pro tog.
You could expect to have exposures of around one second at f/4 with 100ISO in bright sunlight ....I wonder if the nighttime shots of graveyards were actually taken in daylight becuase my skies go black with my IR filter.
A selection of my IR at http://www.geocities.com/five_with_5700/aaa-ir.html which were taken with my Nikon 5700 recently returned to life with a replaced sensor free of charge by the NZ agents for Nikon ... thankyou very much guys :-) It wouldn't focus.

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