Infrared photography camera equipment
Photographers interested in Infrared photography often want to know what camera equipment I use for my Black & White infrared photography. While there are many different, effective camera / lens combinations in use today I can only express an opinion based on my experience gained in the field while using my own infrared photography setup.
When I was considering entering infrared photography, ability to use full frame DSLR system with lenses, filters and other equipment I already owned was important to me. I didn’t want to invest more money or time into owning and learning about yet another new camera system. Apart from the need to learn how differently infrared light will behave vs visible light spectrum, my transition into the Infrared photography was painless.
After some considered research I sent my camera to LifePixel in US. Based on my experience in dealing with them I can highly recommend using their Infrared camera conversion services. LifePixel.com is excellent, resource rich website for all matters regarding infrared photography and much more.
For more information You can also visit Kolari Vision or Camera Clinic in Melbourne, Australia. With the increased interest in area of infrared photography there are now more new companies starting to provide similar IR conversion services.
When it comes to colour infrared photography I must admit that resulting false colour which infrared conversion process produces doesn’t pleases me at all. I think I said enough about that.
I opted for LifePixel’s Deep Black and White IR filter ( it corresponds to 830 nm filter). This strong IR filter will accomplish Black and White image straight out of camera and it has ability to produce the darkest sky and whitest foliage.
Camera and lenses
Canon 5DIII together with Canon 17mm TS lens is my main camera / lens combination I use most of the time. 17mm Lee Filter adopter ring( seen on the lens ) also provides protection for the large front lens element and may act as small hood preventing the sun flare entering from the sides of the lens.
Original Canon 5D ( seen on the right with Lee wide angle hood / filter holder) was my first, now back up IR camera. It has no live view so to properly focus the image I had to use IR mark on the lens after I have already focused the scene trough the viewfinder. Now I certainly can appreciate the luxury of having Live View which makes focusing much precise and easier to user.
Filters and filter holders
I relied on Lee filter systems before with my conventional landscape photography , so now I have just transitioned it to use with my infrared photography as well. Lee wide angle hood with circular polariser I only use on Canon 24 mm TS lens due to strong vignetting issues it will produce on Canon 17mm TS lens.
Normal Lee filter holder (100mm) mounted on 17mm adopter ring on 17mm TS lens will also cause vignetting at extreme ends of lens shift range and effectively it will limit lens use to approximately allow for half of the available shift range on each side. However, even with that limitation I find TS lens to be indispensable tool when I need to precisely compose the scene in the field.
For long exposure photography I use range of Lee ND stoppers (6, 10 and 15 stops ). Mostly I use 6 or 10 stop filter. I have rarely used 15 stop ND as I still like photographing early in the morning or later in the afternoon when the light levels for the use of this filter are too low and would require very long exposure times.
I also occasionally use set of Lee ND graduated filters 1, 2 or 3 stop ( hard and soft ) depending on the situation in the field. Often it is combination of one ND stopper and one grad ND filter together
I find it beneficial for my portfolio to stay within the same focal range of lenses ( ex. 17mm and 24mm) but occasionally I will also use different lenses I have been using with my conventional photography. It is important to mention that some of the lenses due to nature of their design for the visible light spectrum will produce problematic hot spot ( white spot ) in the middle of the imaging circle and therefore will not be suitable for the use in infrared photography.
You can find out if your lens is suitable for the use in infrared photography on Kolari Vision website. They maintain current database of known hot spot issues with different lens models from the range of lens manufacturers .