I’ve been shooting infrared now for several years. I’ve had the opportunity to shoot various cameras converted into infrared over that time, and have come away with varying degrees of success, both due to my increasing (I would hope) skills and also due to the gear I’ve used.
The Camera - Panasonic Lumix GX1There are a ton of options for camera conversions, from unused “point and shoots” to DSLRs that have fallen by the wayside, dropped in value, and considered not worth selling because they would get very little money. Most IR converted cameras fall into that camp, and to a large degree, it’s not such a bad thing. It’s always best to target a specific camera model for conversion because of its specific benefits for use in infrared. I believe the Panasonic Lumix GX1 is such a camera. Feature-wise, the Lumix GX1 has what I believe are the essentials for great infrared photography, such as;
- Compact size
- Interchangeable lenses
- Full photographic features (eg. manual controls)
- Relatively large sensor
- A ton of available accessories
The Len(s)Your lens choices will be mostly influenced by your creative style rather than anythings else, notwithstanding image quality of course. For me, it will be towards the wider angle lenses.
- Bright, and fast!
- Very sharp across the frame.
- External lens aperture ring!
- Lightweight, all metal construction.
Other AccessoriesYou can see in the above image that there are a few other items that I consider essentials in my kit. One is the Panasonic electronic viewfinder DMW-LVF2;
Another is the ExpoDisc EXPOD2–77 2.0 Professional White Balance Filter;
Lastly, I have on my camera a Really Right Stuff “L” Plate;.
Pretty steep at $120, but I was fortunate to buy this one used from a friend. If your lucky, you can also find a used one for SIGNIFICANTLY less.
As much as in any other type of photography, success will depend more on the photographer’s skills than on the gear used. Infrared does not change this. In fact, it exacerbates it. You must still know the craft, still know and recognize the relevant techniques, and still pay your dues with lots of skunked trips and significant head scratching when you review your images, only to find many are soft, downright out of focus, or just so damn poor that it hurts you just to look at them.
But by far, the gear you use for infrared will invariably make a significant difference in your success. And I must say that this little set-up has definitely helped in increasing my success rate when I go out for some IR work.