Warning: Long form Infrared newbie nerd ramble fest ahead.
Last year I meant to put a toe into the Foveon pool only to eventually fall in completely.
Started with a used dp2 Quattro.
Thought that would be it, but the dp2 Quattro was so good it led to an sd Quattro after much research.
My interest in the sd Quattro was not a simple matter of Foveon obsession. As much as I liked the dp2 the sd brought tangible benefits.
- Access to faster lenses than the great, but not that fast, built-in 30mm f/2.8 dp2 lens.
- As much as makes no sense when new the, still available new, 30mm f/1.4 Art and sd Quattro kit can be purchased for similar money as a dp2 used to sell for new.
- The sd’s shutter speed tops out at 1/4000s rather than the dp2’s 1/2000s.
- Where the dp2’s brightest aperture at 1/2000s is f/5.6 (f/2.8 tops out at 1/1250s and f/4 at 1/1600s.) the sd’s brightest lens aperture is available at 1/4000s.
- You get an actual EVF with the sd as opposed to the dp2’s less than optimal OVF solutions.
- The sd has a removable IR cut filter…
When I first read about that last one my questions was:
“What is an IR cut filter and why does this matter?”
Then I got distracted by something or another. Had forgotten about this, but a recent 35mmc post brought this to the front of my mind and inspired me to look into it again.
End of the preamble.
Task at hand:
The first benefit of this removable Infrared cut filter is pretty straightforward,
1. Protects the sensor and in older DSLR SIGMA cameras the mirror and sensor.
The second reason was new to me.
2. It allows for easier than usual access to Infrared photography.
Which led to…
Great! What is Infrared photography?
Googles Infrared photography. (Many great articles, like this one here.)
Overview in Eric speak after a Google binging fit.
Visible light is… what we can see. Refreshingly straightforward, that.
Infrared is light that we cannot see with the naked eye, but a digital sensor can. This light that we cannot see can impact the resulting image of light that we can see. For that reason, a digital sensor stack includes an Infrared cut filter.
To remove this filter on most cameras you must send it to a company that will:
- Make your camera an Infrared only camera.
- Void your warranty.
With the SIGMA sd to remove and replace the IR cut filter yourself all that is required is a simple tool. Tweezers.
That is it. Shown in this video removal and replacement is swift and easy enough.
But one more step is needed. Now the sensor is exposed to visible light and Infrared light.
Next up is removing visible light. Found this filter on the right below for the 30mm f/1.4 Art that cost less than $30.
But it is not entirely straightforward. There are many different styles and methods to capturing and editing Infrared photographs.
One method described in Dave Powell’s excellent 35mmc post mentioned above does not even require the removal of the IR cut filter (Who knew?). Instead, a step 2 visible light cut filter is still introduced to an IR cut having sensor and long exposure is used to gather enough Infrared light. As a result, this method allows for interesting and often beautiful color combinations. Other than the length of the exposures required and the trial and error required with timing there seem to be few downsides here. And the upshots are many including the relatively low cost of entry and breathing new life into older, forgotten digital cameras. A great read.
Many Infrared articles stay to black and white photography. After a quick test I did see that color Infrared images are a red muddy affair that I did not find to be that pleasing at all. There will be no samples. Monochrome all day baby!.. For now anyways. Who knows what the future holds? This plays to a Foveon strength since it creates true monochrome RAW files unlike Bayer sensor RAW files that create color RAW files.
Sidebar: In this excellent write up recommended techniques and settings are provided for color and monochrome sd Quattro photos. In it they speak to using a native RAW setup. It is recommended that a red filter be applied, contrast be maxed out, and sharpness be zeroed out. I use DNG so these settings are not available. Turns out this was not an issue at all. Just tweaked clarity, sharpness, and exposure a bit in Lightroom to my liking.
Why do this at all?
Purdy clouds and bright stuff that grows. Good enough for me.
First test shots:
Count me in.
This is where a sensible person would simply go out and shoot with this new setup in an old familiar foliage friendly haunt. Duke Gardens. Me? Nope.
How am I supposed to know how special these images are if I do not compare it to a like sensored non Infrared image? Made up problem solved by taking along the dp2.
Images shot back to back. Both cameras were set to P mode. That is about it.
So as billed in the blog post title here are back to back standard visible light Foveon images followed by Infrared images of the same scene.
Was concerned that the main source of my curiosity involved capturing light that I am not able to see. But I really like what I am able to produce and I do see myself doing this more often.
It is good to know there are options.
Enough to permanently modify a camera by a third party company? Not sure. Perhaps.
Enough to use a visible light cut filter and long exposures with a camera like the ones listed in the 35mmc post? Yes.
But since I have the sd Quattro it is a bit of a no-brainer.
- Does not require permanently modifying your camera and it is easy to switch back and forth between Infrared and visible light photography.
- You can shoot handheld with normal exposure modes.
- Unlike earlier SLR OVF SIGMA cameras that also had removable Infrared cut filters where you had to remove the available light cut filter to compose the shot (Since we can only see available light.) the sd Quattro shows what the sensor sees allowing you to compose the shot on the nack screen and EVF.
A definite yes to Infrared photography for me.
For the rest of the day Infrared photography was used. WIll put up a second post of these casual shots.
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