Forgot Password
Pentax Camera Forums Home
 

Reply
Show Printable Version Search this Thread
07-08-2014, 01:21 PM - 2 Likes   #1
Senior Member
Omestes's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 207
IR Converted K-x Minireview/discussion

Late in 2010, thanks to a small influx of cash I decided to finally take the plunge and dive into "real" photography. After an obscene amount of research I bought a new K-x, happily ditching the more popular and available Canikon flavors that most would pick. It was, I'm pretty sure, the only K-x available for sale in Phoenix, and I bought the last one. I loved it, it was almost the perfect camera, super small, and very good for the price. I quickly replaced it with a K-5 when they hit a good low price, though, and since then the poor K-x has been sitting in my closet, unused and unloved. My girlfriend was going to use it, but she just wants a point and shoot, and monopolizes my Olympus EP-3. I've tried selling it on Craigslist, without much success (or rather, any success, obviously).

I've had my sights on trying infrared photography for awhile, I bought filters, I bought various step-up/down rings, etc... I took some passable photos, but never really got into it, since it is a pain to shoot on a normal digital camera. The huge exposure times, and resulting sensor/iso noise made it hard to really work with the resulting images. Shooting blind with a DSLR was a bit of a pain. Using an EVF on my M43 camera was a bit better, but the EP-3 has some of the ugliest high ISO and sensor noise I've ever seen.

Long story short, I finally took the plunge and sent my neglected K-x out to be converted with a 720nm filter. I reviewed the options, and heavily relied on old threads here for my choice. I skipped the big ones, since one of them (LifePixel) didn't list Pentax on their accepted brands, and the other (Spencers) has some remarkable horror stories here. I talked to one guy, who was recommended on the forums, and he told me "most people convert K-01's", which I would do, if he was willing to buy me a K-01 to convert. I have what I have, and must work with that. I settled on Kolari Vision, which at least didn't have any negative reviews.

Dealing with them was a bit odd. Very impersonal. Use Paypal to send $250, send your camera wait, then get it back; no personal interaction with them at all. I even left a note on my invoice asking for some updates, since I was planning on going out of town in the same time frame. Nothing. This isn't a tick against them really, but it would have been nice to actually know people were working on my camera, and I wasn't just sending it into an emotionless black box... Regardless, the camera came back in two weeks, the only thing in the box (besides the camera) was a small brochure with some information on the use, and a free(!) grey card. Ahem. USPS mangled the box pretty well, it was almost triangular when I grabbed it from the mail box, it was so bad I documented it before opening it, not that it would have mattered since Kolari Vision only stuck $50 of insurance on the box. Luckily everything was fine, nothing was broken. None of this matters, I suppose, the only thing that does is how well does it work?

It works fine. At first I thought there was dust stuck between the sensor and filter, but it was just surface dust. A quick tour with a blower cleared it up. All functions work fine, SR works, sensor cleaning works, etc... These are the things that were most likely to go wrong, according to my research. No issues with focus. I sent along an old 18-55 kit lens for calibration, hoping, perhaps naively, that I'd be "more" calibrated than their normal routine (calibrated to 50mm, or whatever you send along with the camera). I don't know if this made a difference, I doubt it. I sent it because it is the lens I don't care about losing, I almost sent my 35mm 2.4 since it is my least favorite (uh oh!), but didn't because I probably still won't use that lens and 35mm isn't a length I ever really use.

I can't complain about their workmanship, at all. I would recommend them to anyone looking to do the same.

So... On to the actual usage of an IR converted DSLR. All of my comments here don't reflect on the actual conversion, take this more as a critique of physics.

Shooting IR is hard. And when it isn't hard, it is just vexing and confusing. Adding to this is the fact I haven't used my K-x for a long time, and have neglected my DSLR for 4 months (got a deal on a Voightlander film rangefinder, so I've been playing with film most of the year).

When you first start using you IR conversion, you realize that everything you've learned about light and metering are now wrong. First you must realize that white balance isn't. You need to set a custom balance, and then set it so grass is considered white. Further, if your going to work on RAW, make sure to set up a custom profile for IR, since pretty much every shot will be at the farthest cool end of the spectrum. You expect a bright shot; nope you underexpose everything to pure black. You expect a dark shot; nope, you get a nice pure white frame. This is especially true of scenes with foliage. Common sense says that leaves are dark. In IR they aren't, they are white; worse, they are translucent, so your scene is very bright. For a normal outdoor scene, with tons of sky, generally you expect it to be bright; nope, it is going to be underexposed because the sky is very dark in IR. A sky with clouds on the other hand, can completely eat your dynamic range since clouds are bright and the sky is black.

Indoor lighting is a crap shoot. Incandescent and halogen have almost the same values as in visible photography. Florescent and LED lighting, on the other hand, has very dim to no light whatsoever, since they don't emit in that end of the spectrum at all. All of this renders on-camera metering somewhat useless. Take what the camera says as a very rough suggestion. So far, until I learn to "see" in infrared, shooting is very much an experience in trial and error, with lots of chimping in between. Shoot, look, adjust, shoot, look, adjust, repeat until it is passable. It also highlights one downfall of the K-x for IR shooting, only having +/-3 stops of EV compensation hurts. The 5 on higher end models would be godsend.

The on-camera flash is still usable, but you need to go modify the flash WB setting to not change it, otherwise your photos just come out red.

I haven't noticed any real variations in IR "color temperature", so far having a single custom WB works. Perhaps there is something I haven't found out about there, but so far IR is plenty uniform. Though, I haven't wrapped my head around color rendering yet. When shooting in color balanced IR, some things turn out blue, some things are warm white, and some are cool white, and some are dark rust red. I'm not sure what registers as blue, or why. Actually figuring out colors is a bit harder than exposures, they are very counter-intuitive.

Focusing is another bag of worms. IR focuses different than visible light, so even with a well adjusted camera (which mine seems to be), autofocus can go completely wrong. I've mostly noticed this close up, and far away; mid-range seems to work mostly fine. Shooting close requires some fine tuning, even if things in the viewfinder seem spot-on. Generally, when your first shot is a surprise, it is best to pop into live-view, zoom a bit, and do your fine tuning there. Even then, often, you depth of field isn't going to be exactly what you expect from normal shooting experience. Distant shots are harder, I had to do a fair amount of research to get it right (or mostly right rather). The first thing I noticed is that infinity focus on most shots were blurry. This is true on every lens I've tried. At first I thought I might have a calibration problem, but I don't. Physics are at fault, not my camera. The secret is stopping down, a fair bit. Every lens has a different sweet spot, where infinity is acceptable in IR, so there isn't a hard and fast rule of thumb. For the 15mm limited, it is f8, anything below that will be soft at infinity, and everything above is fine. I've also heard that using zone/hyperfocal focusing works too, but I haven't really wrapped my head around that yet.

Also... some lenses aren't going to be very good for IR shooting, even if they are beautiful for everyday photography. My biggest disappointment is the FA-50 1.7. I LOVE this lens for normal light, it is my second favorite lens for pure rendering personality. But in IR it flares like crazy. It doesn't have a hotspot (an over exposed bit thanks to the optics being only designed for visible light), but it flares even when the sun if far off frame. Most of my lenses work fine, especially the indomitable 15mm limited. Another odd issue is with my manual focus Sigma 24mm 2.8 Super-Wide II. The lens works fine, it might flare and lose contrast a bit more than usual (which is a lot, really), but still takes good shots if you take care, but the metal hood that came with it reflects IR like a mirror. The black paint on the hood is almost completely transparent to IR, so all your shots have odd reflection in them.

And on a more ethical note, be careful shooting people. Some fabrics and dyes are transparent to IR, so you might see things you don't want to. You don't get titillating X-ray vision, you just get to see peoples tattoos and under garments as shadows. When shooting people, I generally only shoot head-shots, to avoid this problem. Or a test shot, to make sure I'm not going to violate peoples privacy. It is rather uncomfortable, though. On a positive note, IR makes everyone looks like they have great skin, even if they might be prone to having giant black veins floating ghostly under the surface of their translucent porcelain skin.

I don't mean to sound negative. I'm having a blast, it is, somewhat, like learning photography all over again. Don't send your camera out hoping for a normal DSLR that just shoots IR instead of normal light. Expect a whole new, often frustrating, experience. When you dial it in right, the whole thing is worth it. You get that surreal, other-worldly, beauty that captivates in its strangeness. I'll post some sample shots after this, but I haven't really had a chance to get anything spectacular yet. It is far to hot here to go capture much more than my backyard, and I really haven't had a chance to travel out of town to grab anything interesting.

I'm also sorry for the length, rantiness, and lack of detailed information content, of this post. This is my first attempt at reviewing something, really, so... I also apologize for all typos, errors, and grammar faux pas.

07-08-2014, 01:31 PM   #2
Emperor and Senpai
VoiceOfReason's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Nashville, IN
Posts: 5,397
I had my K-01 full spectrum converted so I know what you mean about relearning some things. I also found some lenses hotspot really bad in IR, like the Tamron 17-50. Still, IR photography is fun! Go do a shoot at a lake when there are a few clouds in the sky, then boost clarity and contrast a little, then save the raw as a jpg, then reopen it and swap the red and blue channels, then flatten the image, then do auto tone and auto contrast. The results are great.
07-08-2014, 01:32 PM   #3
Senior Member
Omestes's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 207
Original Poster
Some example are also on my 500px page, and my Google+ albums.

---------- Post added 07-08-14 at 01:36 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by VoiceOfReason Quote
I had my K-01 full spectrum converted so I know what you mean about relearning some things. I also found some lenses hotspot really bad in IR, like the Tamron 17-50. Still, IR photography is fun! Go do a shoot at a lake when there are a few clouds in the sky, then boost clarity and contrast a little, then save the raw as a jpg, then reopen it and swap the red and blue channels, then flatten the image, then do auto tone and auto contrast. The results are great.
Living in Phoenix, no luck in quickly accessible lakes (or, sadly clouds)... But hopefully this weekends trip to the mountains will change that. I love the color swapping effects.
Attached Images
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K-x  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K-x  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K-x  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K-x  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K-x  Photo 

Last edited by Omestes; 07-08-2014 at 01:39 PM.
07-08-2014, 01:39 PM   #4
Emperor and Senpai
VoiceOfReason's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Nashville, IN
Posts: 5,397
You're going to LOVE it when you get to water. Here's what I get with the color swapping in 720nm IR https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/12-post-your-photos/267373-abstract-lake-720-a.html

07-08-2014, 05:11 PM   #5
Forum Member
Learjet's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Mackay Queensland
Posts: 79
Tamron hotspot, yeah mine does it too in IR.

I have an older full spectrum Nikon that I put all manner of filters on and it's lots of fun.
07-08-2014, 06:25 PM   #6
Senior Member
Omestes's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 207
Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by Learjet Quote
Tamron hotspot, yeah mine does it too in IR.

I have an older full spectrum Nikon that I put all manner of filters on and it's lots of fun.
When I was playing with filters on my EP3, I noticed most M43 lenses had hot spots. The Panasonic 14mm was HORRIBLE, it was about 2 stops in the center.
07-08-2014, 07:09 PM   #7
Emperor and Senpai
VoiceOfReason's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Nashville, IN
Posts: 5,397
The DA 18-135 WR was surprisingly good. No hot spotting at all on me.
07-08-2014, 11:26 PM   #8
Senior Member
Omestes's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 207
Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by VoiceOfReason Quote
The DA 18-135 WR was surprisingly good. No hot spotting at all on me.
So far, all all my lenses only the FA 50 1.7 misbehaves. I haven't gone through them all yet, though. The 55-300 seems fine, the 40 2.8 ltd is fine (even with the hood), the 15 ltd is fine, the odd F 35-70 is fine, the 18-55 WR kit is fine. I'm not sure about about the DA 35 2.4 since I only used it inside, nor am I sure about the FA 100 Macro (it seems okay, but I haven't really run around with it outside yet).

On the Kolari Vision website they have a hotspot chart. The FA 100 Macro is listed as a problem lens there, but then again the FA 50 1.7 isn't... So who knows? I suppose the 50 doesn't really "hot spot" per se, it just flares like crazy.


Last edited by Omestes; 07-09-2014 at 11:19 AM.
07-09-2014, 01:48 AM   #9
Pentaxian
RonHendriks1966's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2009
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 8,714
Looks great.
Reply

Bookmarks
  • Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook
  • Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter
  • Submit Thread to Digg Digg
Tags - Make this thread easier to find by adding keywords to it!
auto, bit, box, camera, contrast, conversion, dslr, experimental, infrared, ir, k-x, kx, lens, light, photography, review, shot, shots
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
For Sale - Sold: Sold: K-7 IR converted 720nm infrared kneebuster Sold Items 4 09-27-2013 09:11 AM
Anyone IR or full spectrum converted the K-01 yet? VoiceOfReason Pentax K-01 2 01-14-2013 08:57 PM
Focusing/framing problems on my IR converted K100ds blackcloudbrew Troubleshooting and Beginner Help 5 09-11-2012 09:04 AM



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 08:27 AM. | See also: NikonForums.com, CanonForums.com part of our network of photo forums!
  • Red (Default)
  • Green
  • Gray
  • Dark
  • Dark Yellow
  • Dark Blue
  • Old Red
  • Old Green
  • Old Gray
  • Dial-Up Style
Hello! It's great to see you back on the forum! Have you considered joining the community?
register
Creating a FREE ACCOUNT takes under a minute, removes ads, and lets you post! [Dismiss]
Top