The first and obvious choice for conversion would be your old camera that you have replaced with a newer model. Instead of it just sitting in a closet collecting dust might as well get some more use out of it and convert it to IR. Although this is perfectly fine and the route most of our customers take, we recommend that you also consider other possibilities. Perhaps it would make better sense to purchase another model specifically for IR conversion.
Live View or No Live View
As you have read in the previous section there are some differences in focus between visible and IR light. So it makes sense to consider how important it is to you to have the ability to focus with all lenses. If it is important then perhaps it would be best to sell your old camera and purchase a newer model that has Live View or even better, Live View with auto focus.
Then again, maybe you’re like many and would rather have a dedicated IR camera/lens combo instead. Then Live View would not be a concern as you could just have us calibrate to the lens you’re planning on leaving on your IR body most of the time. The choice is yours, it’s all a matter of preference and is the reason why we offer so many calibration options.
It’s a popular misconception that digital cameras have a varied sensitivity to infrared light. Although this may be partially true of stock cameras as they do have internal hot mirror filters of varied IR blocking efficiency. This doesn’t apply though to modified cameras as all IR blocking filters are removed during conversion and therefore the camera’s full IR sensitivity is released.
After modification there is very little, if any, difference in IR sensitivity between models and therefore this is really a non-issue.
We receive lots of questions from prospective customers about what the image quality will be like after conversion. Well, it’s the same as with a stock camera, it’s still the same imaging sensor with the same resolution, dynamic range, noise, ISO range, etc. The main difference is now it’s capturing IR instead of visible light. So yes, the image quality is the same but the look to those images will be different because you are capturing a totally different part of the spectrum.
Point & Shoot vs DSLR
If your main objective is the best image quality then a DSLR or even better, a full frame DSLR, would be the best choice. On the other hand if you are just getting your feet wet in IR then a P&S makes a great starter camera. We receive lots of P&S cameras for conversion for all kinds of applications and people love them especially for travel due to the small footprint.
There is now a third option besides pure DSLR and P&S cameras that you should also consider and that’s the hybrid, mirrorless digital cameras like the Panasonic Lumix G series and the Olympus PEN E-P series. There models are relatively new innovations but have become one of our most recommended lines especially for IR conversions.
What makes these cameras so suitable for IR? 1 – Well, they have the unique ability to auto focus infrared light without any problems with all of their micro four thirds lenses. 2 – They are mirrorless and therefore much smaller then the pure DSLR cameras, while still retaining a large sensor size, similar to DSLRs. 3 – Because they are mirrorless the Auto Focus happens via the imaging sensor and you get a real time preview of the infrared image before you take a picture. 4 – Some models even have a dedicated or optional electronic viewfinders, which allows you to see the same real time preview through the viewfinder as well as the rear screen. This is really handy in bright sunny conditions were the rear screen can be hard to see.
In Camera White Balance
Since IR light looks red to digital camera sensors unless a custom (preset) white balance is set all IR images would look very red. Unfortunately some camera models are incapable of setting a proper in camera WB in infrared because they were never meant to “see” IR light as they were designed for visible photography.
There are a number of reasons why capturing red images is bad. First, it’s very difficult to judge exposure and focus when images are so red. Second, capturing red JPEG images makes it impossible to get the blue sky effect in Photoshop. Of course shooting RAW takes care of this as one can change the WB after the fact in RAW conversion software. Watch the video bellow for a detailed explanation:
Fortunately many cameras still do set a custom WB just fine and even the ones that don’t are totally usable and we get them in for conversion on a daily basis. Currently the following cameras have issues with setting proper WB:
Nikon D40, D60, D90, D300, D300s, D3000, D5000, D7000
Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro
Olympus EVOLT E-520
Although these models are listed as WB problematic they can still occasionally accept a WB reading, it is really a matter of persistence, lighting, WB target and each camera. Some report being able to set WB just fine but since this issue affects at least some cameras we wanted to let you know of this potential issue beforehand.
This guide is more than enough to make an informed decision but if you would like even more info then we recommend you also read our post conversion Quick Start Guide. Another great resource is our Video Tutorials page, you may want to take a look there as well. It might be a good idea to also checkout the Frequently Asked Questions page while you’re at it.
Thank you for taking the time to read this info guide. You should now possess the needed information to proceed with placing your conversion order. Once you place your order you will receive an email receipt with instructions on how to send your camera to us. Upon receiving your camera we will send you an email to let you know we have it and that it’s in our conversion queue. Then, once converted we will send you another email to let you know it’s on its way back and provide the tracking number.