08 May 2011

Should you convert your Camera to Infrared?

Infrared images are stunning but is it worth the cost?

Should you convert your Camera to Infrared? Are you willing to give up a camera only to shoot infrared with? This is the question I asked myself. For me the answer came a little easier than most who ask this question.  I have in the past purchased novelty lenses and other things that I thought were cool and fun. Now I have a shelf of these things collecting dust because that novelty wore off. Unfortunately, it wore off fast and the money spent, feels rather wasted. I now (try to) take a long look at the purchases I make, which could be considered a novelty item. I am a person who really doesn’t like to half ass things. So if I have an idea, I try to follow through not cheating it, for the authenticity sake. Like you can make infrared looking images in Photoshop; however, for me that’s not good enough. Not to say it isn’t for someone else. I just want to go the distance when I create an image I am looking for. This may be the process oriented sculpture back ground I come from. However, as a person who does HDR photography, I like the process. However, now they make it so easy, and you can get that HDR look with a simple filter. I don’t think they look as good as an image with 7, 5 or just 3 exposures, but for many it works.

Anyway what are the advantages to converting to infrared? Basically, I liked the idea I could shoot at 1/200 of a second, rather than a long exposure if I wanted to shoot infrared at a wedding. I will say having people to hold still for a long time sucks. However, I don’t do wedding photography. So I guess that really doesn’t apply. I do like however, to take photos without a tripod. I do like to see what I am shooting through the viewfinder and these are things you can’t do easily if you are shooting with an infrared filter on your camera’s lens.  However, to convert a $1000 camera and spend another $350 to convert that camera to only infrared, is a tall order. Like I said for me the answer was a bit easier. I would have liked to convert my 20D rather than my 40D (which I wanted to use as a backup), but somehow, I got a little speck of dust under my UV Filter on my sensor. How this happened, I have no idea. Nevertheless, after a cleaning from Canon, which I really didn’t need, as I knew where the dust speck was. They finally gave me a quote of $650 to fix the dust problem. So I called around getting quotes to fix, and I found if I converted the camera to infrared, they would clean it out anyway. Like I said, it was easier for me.

 How often do I shoot infrared though? Well, most of my professional work never would use infrared. Even so, I like to be in the outdoors. So when I go camping or hiking, I always try to take this camera with me. I generally carry two bodies. The down side is that I live in Arizona. The best images I get are on cloud covered days with lots of green like trees, not something very abundant in Arizona. In Arizona, we have sunny cloudless skies and very little to reflect the infrared like large green trees. It’s a giant dust bowl and what green there is, would be in the way of a vast golf course, which don’t’ interest me. Or, cacti which after 18 years of cactus, I personally am sick of them. So where you are located, infrared may be ideal and maybe not.  This is something to take note of. Also if you have too much cloud cover, you will lose the quality of your infrared, which means your intensity will be lost. You need the perfect clouds. There are places that this would be perfect, but you have to have the right combination. All things to consider before that purchase of a conversion. You have to ask, will this be a common style for you or a fad?

Where to get your conversion? Well, after you finally decide if it’s worth the cost, then you need to shop. Well, I know most people go to Life Pixel, and I haven’t really heard anything bad about them. I chose LeZot Camera repair out of Vermont. I love the Maple syrup from Vermont. Ok that wasn’t why I chose them. It was how helpful they were when I was talking to them. They weren’t even trying to sell me the conversion. I was actually seeing if they could do the original repair, which would have only cost $250. That was much better than the $650 at Canon. I had been thinking about doing a conversion for some time and since it was necessary to fix my 40D, I figured it was better to just spend $100 more and get the conversion. The best part for me is, I really enjoy doing the infrared. I have always liked black and white photography, and it brings me very close to that with an extra kick I like. So for me, I am finding it not so much a novelty.  (Review of LeZot)

Be prepared, you will have to learn how to convert your images as they don’t come out of the camera, like you see them pictured. The images come out usually red, and you have to spend time processing them. You could shoot in black and white mode, but then you lose some of the great quality of an infrared. So if you don’t like all the Photoshop work, you may be better off with that quick Photoshop filter, like doing the “HDR” look. This technique is for process oriented photographers. I guess that’s why I like infrared. It’s not for everyone. Unless you have patience, it might not be for you. 

No comments:

Post a Comment