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05-07-2021, 07:00 AM   #1
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IR Fotography - Tips for a Newb

I've dabbled in photography since the mid-late 90's and did a LOT of processing and printing in my parents' basement when I was in high school and college, then dumped film like a bad girlfriend when I got a K10D. I've always had a fascination with the IR photos that I've seen in books, but never tried it myself because I had developed the idea that it seemed expensive and difficult.

I've been kicking around the idea of "getting back into film" just to try IR and am open to pointers, but some of the articles that I've read are dated and I realize they may not still be accurate.

1) The only functional film camera that I currently own is an old Yashica TLR that has the little red window, so that rules it out for IR photography. I read that cameras that read the DX code on film are also bad choice, but is it possible to modify them to work for IR?

2) Nearly all of my darkroom equipment was sold or donated to the local school over a decade ago. I still have a stainless tank and a changing bag, so I "could" develop and scan at home, but would rather send it to a lab. What do I need to know about sending it off to a lab? Are there certain IR films that labs won't touch?

05-07-2021, 08:39 AM   #2
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I started to shoot a bit of IR last fall but using digital. Is your interest in film IR or just in IR?

I bought a full spectrum converted K-01 and filters and the initial results were promising though I have not done enough to develop any skill at it yet.
05-07-2021, 08:57 AM   #3
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I recently picked up a used *ist DL with the idea of doing IR photography. The camera works fine for normal photography but the sensor is a lot more IR sensitive than modern ones. All you need to get going is a lens IR filter. The thing is, that is going to be more expensive than the camera. I have not pulled the trigger on one yet. No hurry...

05-07-2021, 09:35 AM   #4
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I'm leaning towards film, just because it seems like a cheaper entry......And I could also fire a few rolls of Tri-X through it and experiment with caffenol developing if I feel the need to do any processing at home.

05-07-2021, 09:42 AM   #5
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You can cover that red window with a slip of aluminum foil and black electrician's tape and it should work for IR film. A good source for the film is Freestyle which carries a lot of photographic film products.

One issue you might run into is focusing. IR light focuses differently than visible green (the latter is used as the standard for most lens designs) so if you use the reflex focusing screen, you'll be off a bit for IR. Focus using your viewfinder and then nudge the focus a bit away from the infinity end (some lenses have an IR mark which is used for the offset). Then put your IR filter on and shoot (you need an IR filter over the lens and a lot are available on the internet - just google "IR lens filter" Sample IR filter listing at B&H.). Otherwise, shooting at a smaller aperture and making use of the greater depth of field will help with getting a good focus. Trial and error works too.

Most IR film requires loading and unloading the cart in the dark since the lip of many carts allows IR light to get past. That makes it an issue for a lab unless they're familiar with IR film. Many B&W developers work for IR film so no issues there.

Exposure is something you'll have to play with also.You'll probably be making manual exposures with IR film, so the DX code issue is irrelevant because you will be overriding the camera's exposure setting anyway. You can use the rated ISO for the IR film as a starter, but you'll usually end up adjusting your exposures based on experience. IR film is not hard to develop yourself - just like regular B&W film in all respects except you need to avoid any IR light sources (remember YOU can't see these). Some changing bags are out since they transmit IR light so it's best to unload & decapitate the cart, and load your developing tank in full darkness. You mentioned a stainless steel tank which is ideal for IR (plastic tanks sometimes transmit IR light). Once the film is in your tank, it's just like any B&W film from there on out.

I second jatrax's suggestion on using a converted digital camera for IR (if you get serious). A used K-01 is a good choice, and it's autofocus will work with IR quite well. You can see the IR image on the rear screen, and a DSLR will go further into IR than film (plus with an IR/UV blocking filter, you can use the converted DSLR as a regular camera). You can be spot-on with focusing and there's virtually no grain with an IR DSLR compared to film. Used K-01s are available on eBay and elsewhere, but be sure you read the fine print if you buy. Isaac Szabo is a good resource for having a K-01 converted (there are others).

Last edited by Bob 256; 05-07-2021 at 09:54 AM.
05-07-2021, 11:16 AM - 1 Like   #6
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I picked up an infrared converted Sony A100 (cerca 2006) for 100. It has been converted to 590nm which is great for false colour.



Finding a converted Pentax would be better, but probably more expensive. There are several choices so make sure you research the subject so you get the camera that does what you want. Converted cameras allow you to shoot ir as you would ordinary photography. Using a filter means you are stuck with longer exposures. This guy (rob Shea) does some wonderful infrared YouTube videos

Rob Shea Photography - YouTube
05-07-2021, 12:15 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Cerebum Quote
I picked up an infrared converted Sony A100 (cerca 2006) for 100. It has been converted to 590nm which is great for false colour.



Finding a converted Pentax would be better, but probably more expensive. There are several choices so make sure you research the subject so you get the camera that does what you want. Converted cameras allow you to shoot ir as you would ordinary photography. Using a filter means you are stuck with longer exposures. This guy (rob Shea) does some wonderful infrared YouTube videos

Rob Shea Photography - YouTube
thanks for the info, did not realize a converted camera behaved different that using a IR filter.

05-07-2021, 01:40 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bob 256 Quote

Exposure is something you'll have to play with also.You'll probably be making manual exposures with IR film, so the DX code issue is irrelevant because you will be overriding the camera's exposure setting anyway. You can use the rated ISO for the IR film as a starter, but you'll usually end up adjusting your exposures based on experience. IR film is not hard to develop yourself - just like regular B&W film in all respects except you need to avoid any IR light sources (remember YOU can't see these). Some changing bags are out since they transmit IR light so it's best to unload & decapitate the cart, and load your developing tank in full darkness. You mentioned a stainless steel tank which is ideal for IR (plastic tanks sometimes transmit IR light). Once the film is in your tank, it's just like any B&W film from there on out.
Oh.......I could kill two birds with one stone. I've been wanting to try caffenol developing for a while and came across the below post....

Caffenol: Infrared: Efke IR820
05-07-2021, 02:24 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by trixtroll Quote
Oh.......I could kill two birds with one stone. I've been wanting to try caffenol developing for a while and came across the below post....

Caffenol: Infrared: Efke IR820
And if you're a coffee drinker...................

Hope you can get into the home processing game and have some enjoyment out of it. Three chemicals - only two if you use a water wash instead of a stop bath, but a stop bath is recommended (and you can use diluted distilled vinegar for that to go along with the home coffee brew).

You'll probably find 35mm IR films on the grainy side but that's part of the IR look in many photos using infrared. IR is basically a high speed emulsion (higher ISO than its infrared ISO rating) which has been doctored to change its sensitivity upwards into the IR range with a sensitizing dye. Since large silver bromide crystals are used, it tends to show grain, but that's not all bad.
05-07-2021, 03:04 PM   #10
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Use your Yashica with the window taped over as described above. I would go with either Rollei Infrared 400 or Rollei Retro 400S using a 88A, R72, or similar (720nm cut-off). As for caffenol...I am not sure I would experiment with both IR and it at the same time.

FWIW...I am gearing up to give IR a try going into summer and those would be my choices at present.

Note...I don't think Efke is still in business.


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05-07-2021, 10:24 PM   #11
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If you don't develop the film yourself make sure the lab can develop it. Some labs have machines that use infra-red sensors and at others workers use infra-red goggles.
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