Why get an infrared conversion?
A camera with an infrared conversion is hands down the best way to shoot infrared. See how it compares to film infrared and using a lens filter.
Digital Infrared vs Infrared Film
Because infrared is not visible to the human eye, shooting infrared poses some troubles. When using infrared film, it can be difficult to properly focus the camera since infrared focuses differently than visual light. The amount of infrared light in a scene is also independent of the visible brightness. Because of that, we must take multiple exposures when using film. IR film is sensitive to both visible and infrared light, so an opaque filter must be used on the lens as well. This forces the photographer to place the camera on a tripod, compose his shot, and then attach the filter. Not only is the film hard to develop afterward, but 35mm infrared film is no longer manufactured.
External infrared filter vs infrared conversion
With digital cameras, infrared photography is still possible without any modification. Digital cameras are sensitive to infrared light and contain an internal filter that blocks infrared light. For normal photography, this is a good thing because it allows for accurate colors. However, if you are trying to take infrared pictures this poses a problem. Infrared photography is possible with an external infrared filter like our 720nm filter, but when doing this keep in mind there will be two filters in the light path. One filter blocking infrared light at the sensor, and the external infrared filter blocking visible light. These two filters tend to cancel each other out, requiring very long exposure times to get a properly exposed picture. The external opaque filter also makes composition on a DSLR difficult and requires the use of a tripod for the long exposure times. This makes it impossible to take clear infrared pictures of moving objects.
With an infrared conversion, the camera’s internal hot mirror is removed and replaced with a filter that only lets infrared light through. This makes a camera much more sensitive to infrared. This allows handheld infrared shots to be taken with normal exposure times and low ISO. There is no more need for filters in front of the lens, allowing for easy composition and lens switching. A converted digital camera is the only way to take good digital infrared portraits as the subject no longer has to stay perfectly still for a long exposure. Putting the infrared filter inside the camera instead of on the lens allows you to use the autofocus as well. An infrared conversion also allows more filter options, like the 590, 665, and blue IR, which do not work on stock cameras. An infrared conversion also allows you to shoot with fisheye and wide angle lenses that are not compatible with lens filters.
What is the full spectrum conversion?
In a full spectrum conversion, the camera’s internal hot mirror is removed and replaced with a clear glass filter. This makes the camera sensitive to UV, visible, and IR light. This is a great option for someone who does not want a camera devoted to IR. By using various external filters, the camera can take pictures of regular light, infrared light, UV light, or any other combination of these. Most hot mirrors also have an anti-aliasing filter built in, so by removing this filter pictures will be sharper.