I’ve always wanted to do Infrared Photography (since the days of film!), but never did take the plunge as IR film was hard to come by, and even harder to work with.
I came across the IR/UV forums in Clubsnap a couple of weeks back, and began reading up a lot on this topic, and was very interested in trying IR out on digital.
I got a Lee IR filter (730nm cutoff), but attempting it out on my D300 meant very long exposures. Also, as it was a Gelatin filter, it was rather flimsy and reflected quite a bit of light into the camera when placed on the holder.
From the forums, I learnt that the D70 was a rather suitable camera for IR, and decided to get one to mod. That cost me under $400.
As for the IR filter, I did contemplate the options from Life Pixel(US) or Camera Hospital (Singapore), but finally decided on the ELP filter for the following reasons:
1. Edmund Optics has a branch in Singapore.
2. ELP is a plastic, and thus I can DIY it easily. I’m rather good with working with plastics (as compared to the other glass options). Also Camera Hospital refused to return my call (would probably cost about $180 for workmanship), and shipping to/from US will probably cost an arm and a leg.
3. ELP is a 1.5mm thick, which is rather close to the 1.44mm thickness of the original filter. Hoya R72 seems to be about 2mm think.
4. ELP is cheap, costing under $12 bucks for a 2” x 2” filter (Hoya R72 cost $65 for a 67mm filter!). I got 3 pieces, just in case I screw up multiple times…
The instructions for modding a D70 can be read from http://www.clubsnap.com/forums/showthread.php?t=226023 and many thanks to the Deadpixel for the very specific instructions. Here are some of my experiences during the mod attempt.
In Deadpixel’s post, there wasn’t too much information about the “Cut your filter to size”, so perhaps the next few paragraphs would be useful to anyone attempting to DIY the filter cutting.
Before you begin, you need the following:
1. A plastic cutter. (I got a P800 from Art Friend in town).
2. Masking tape / Scotch Tape
3. Mechanical Pencil / Pen for marking cut lines
5. Fine Sand Paper
6. Alcohol soln + gear for lens cleaning
7. Small clean plastic bag (for your finished filter)
The ELP comes in a nice Tear Open packaging, so washed your hands thoroughly before touching the package.
Once the ELP came out of the packaging, I immediately covered the it with Scotch Tape (masking tape would have been better, but I just can’t find any at home >.<) This functions as a protector against scratches and fingerprints and allows marking your cut lines. The IR/AA filter size for a D70 is 29.59mm x 25.27mm, but unless you have a laser cutter and very sharp eyes, I simply measured just under 30mm x 26.5mm. Better more than less.
To cut the plastic, place a ruler over the area you want to keep and line it up over your cut lines. If you have a clamp (F, G whatever), clamp down your ruler and filter so they no not move. The rationale for this is so you do not want to accidently scratch your filter with your cutter, and the ruler serves and an additional protector.
Score on the outside of the cut lines, pulling the cutter towards you (figure adapted from the instructions on the back of the cutter packaging), using even and steady pressure. Perform about 15 to 20 cuts and you would have cut through some 2/3 of the filter thickness. You can continue to try to cut, but I just hold it over the table edge and break it off. Use tape to lift off the fine filter dust if they annoy you. Repeat for the other dimension.
If you made it thus far without scratching and snapping the filter, you are past the hardest part, with a filter approximately cut to size, but with rather rough edges.
Wet the sandpaper, and place it on a firm and flat surface. Tape it down if it moves around. Hold the filter by the edge and run the rough edge lengthwise to smooth it down. The objectives for this step are:
1. To remove the rough edges due to cutting and breaking it off
2. To ensure that that edge is fairly straight.
3. To ensure the the corners are approx 90 degrees.
4. To ensure that the size is approx what you measured.
Wash / Wet the sandpaper / filter frequently as you perform this step. Repeat for other dimension.
Once satisfied with the filter, remove the tape, and wash with gentle hand soap(Not those with “scrubbing beads”, unless you want patterns on your filter), and rinse thoroughly. If there are glue stains from the tape, use tape to remove, or bring out your alcohol to get them off.
Dry off your filter with your lint free cleaning cloth, and quickly keep it in the clear plastic bad you prepared.
Clean up your work desk and proceed to the disassembly of D70. Here are some photos of my D70 in the works.
I accidently broke a corner of the brown connector holder, but no biggie.
When I got to the step after removing the IR filter retaining frame and bracket, but before removing the original IR filter, I compared the cut filter to ensure that it could fit. I had to file it down a little and clean it again. Once ready, I quickly did the swap, and mounted the bracket / frame back. The material around the IR filter seems to be flexible, and will readily accept your filter cut approximately to size.
After assembling back the D70, I did a sky shot to test for dust bunnies.
The sky turned out with a signature reddish tint, with no flashing error messages on the screen. All clear!
My first IR photo.
A few more shots after performing a custom White Balance and simple colour channel swapping.
Yay! My D70i.