Some Thoughts About Converting a Camera for Infrared

by | Jul 6, 2020

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

I’m often asked about what kind of camera a photographer should choose to have converted to infrared-only capture. For me, that has always been a simple question: I pick the oldest one that I own and also one that I use the least.

Having it converted to infrared gives that old camera new lease on life and while it may lack the newest features– more megapixels and better image processing chip—of a new camera, I usually compensate for this by shooting all of my infrared images at a modest ISO setting, typically 400, and capturing in RAW format as shown below. As far as white balance is concerned, I don’t obsess about this like some IR practitioners do—not that there’s anything wrong with that. You can read some of my thoughts on this subject here but I have gotten so many questions from readers on this subject that I am planning on writing a more expansive post on it real soon now.

How I made this shot: That’s the approach that I took with the above image when shooting a converted (not by me) Olympus E-P1, a golden oldie that was launched by the company back in 2009. The E-P1 is basically a rebodied E-620 Four-thirds system camera that was re-imagined for Micro Four-thirds use. The lens used was a borrowed Olympus 9-18mm f/4-5.6 that was adapted for use on the E-P1 using the Olympus MMF-3 Four Thirds to Micro Four-thirds lens mount adapter.

Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 7.57.10 AMThe image was shot at one of the picnic grounds at Barr Lake State Park, near Brighton Colorado. Exposure was 1/320 sec at f/11 and ISO 400. Image was processed in Silver Efex Pro then Color Efex Pro using the Glamour Glow filter to warm up and add some Wood Effect glow to the foliage.

Right now I’m excited about LifePixel’s new Hyper Color conversion and bought a lightly used Panasonic’s Lumix GX1 camera and had them convert it using this intriguing filter. The GX1 was introduced in 2012, so it’s an oldie too but I have one that I love to take to car shows and the price was right from Roberts Camera for the one I purchased to experiment with this new filter. You can see some examples, here and also on my Instagram account. Follow me at @joefarace.

I have found that Life Pixel does a great job with IR conversions and they have done most of my Canon DSLRs and all of my Panasonic Lumix G-series mirrorless cameras. This is not a paid or sponsored endorsement, just my experience.

New copies of my book, The Complete Guide to Digital Infrared Photography are available from Amazon for $24.95 with used copies starting at $11.04 as I write this. Creative Digital Monochrome Effects has a chapter on IR photography and is available from Amazon for $31.40 with used copies starting for around $2.00, less than your next coffee at a Starbucks drive-through. No Kindle versions are currently available for either of these books, sorry.