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Canon EOS 5D converted for pure infrared use

[see also my Digital Infrared article]

I’m not sure why I like the flower photo below (a throwaway in terms of technical flaws), but it appeals to me on some basic level. It was shot in infrared (read on for details) using the Canon 85mm/f1.2L at f1.2. I adjusted Levels in Photoshop, sharpened slightly and saved it—a few minutes work.

I received my modified (for pure infrared) Canon EOS 5D today. The factory infrared-blocking sensor glass was replaced with visible-light-blocking glass and the focus was adjusted for infrared use by maxmax.com.

The conversion also has the effect of eliminating the anti-aliasing filter, which in theory means sharper pictures (at the risk of moire with some subjects). The maxmax.com turnaround was excellent; they received the camera on a Friday, and it was back in my hands on Monday. I will verify the cleanliness of the conversion soon, and report on it.

Infrared can be rendered as black and white or color—bizarre color if you like (gee, I gotta work on getting my horizons straight...!). One trick is to use Lab color space in Photoshop, as compared with RGB color space.

A few quick notes:

  • As with the Nikon D70, optical quality when shooting infrared is variable. Soft corners are the norm, even at f11, especially with wide-angle lenses (wider than 28mm or so).

  • Hot spots are a problem with some lenses when stopped down smaller than f8. The 50mm/f2.5 macro seems fine; the 50mm/f1.4 has a hot-spot issue.

  • The 5D has good infrared response (though not unusually so). Exposures in sunlight were about 1/125 second at f8 at ISO 100. Today’s sun was somewhat muted, so I will revisit this subject with the D70IR and 5D-IR on a haze-free day.

I expect to produce a detailed report on the 5D-IR and the Nikon D70IR covering many infrared-related issues. Watch this blog.

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