Infrared Micro 43 Update

Early shot testing out my newly converted Infrared GX1
Early shot testing out my newly converted Infrared GX1

Firstly, let me say Happy New Year to everyone. I hope it’s a great year for you.

Now, if you have been following this blog for a little while you might be aware that I recently purchased a second Panasonic Lumix GX1 body so I could send my old camera for conversion to Infrared. Over the festive season I received the converted camera. Unfortunately it’s been a frustrating period due the weather here being terrible. Most of the UK has been suffering severe flooding and even where it hasn’t flooded, the rain has continued relentlessly.

Last Sunday there was a short break in the rain (although the clouds didn’t really part for more than a few minutes) and I found myself out in the Peak District with my new camera. The weather really wasn’t conducive to shooting infrared but I gave it a go because I was desperate to try out the camera. The results were quite interesting and I noticed a few things that I hadn’t previously been aware of:

  • When shooting Infrared the dynamic range of the camera seems huge. I could shoot without using any ND Graduated filters. The same shot with my unconverted GX1 needed at least a 0.6 ND Grad to balance the exposure with the sky. I did try using a ND Graduated filter with the Infrared camera but it made absolutely no difference to the exposure or histogram. This sort of makes sense but I haven’t quite got my head around it.
  • The autofocus worked to some degree. To be honest I had expected it not to work at all so that was a nice surprise.  The focus wasn’t however as accurate as I want so I will need to switch to manual focus. If you are old enough to remember film cameras you might be aware of an Infrared mark on your lenses which shows the infinity point of focus when using Infrared film. This is because IR light has a different point of focus and I haven’t yet worked out how I’m going to address this.
  • The depth of field appears less with the Infrared camera. Again I can’t get my head around why but my usual trick of shooting at f/7.1 and focussing on the near foreground just didn’t cut it. I will need to experiment more.
  • I was shooting with the camera set to RAW and JPG in Mono. The Mono JPG’s looked OK but I think a true conversion from RAW will be best. Looking at the RAW images they display the usual Red shift with most of the data being in the red channel and little in the blue and green. I need to work out the best approach to converting RAW files to produce the typical infrared look I am after.
  • Relying on the cameras auto exposure resulted in an underexposed histogram during shooting. It was possible to push this by 1-2 stops without the histogram becoming clipped and this produced quite nice in camera JPG’s. I’m not however sure this technique produced good RAW files for conversion so more experimentation is required.
  • My 14-45mm lens appeared to suffer from quite a bit of barrel distortion on the infrared camera that wasn’t previously present or is present on my other GX1. My 45-200 lens doesn’t seem to suffer and the 9-18 Olympus lens only shows limited distortion at the widest end. I need to work out the best approach for dealing with this

So, in summary, I have a lot more experimentation to achieve the results I was hoping for but the early indications are good. I now need the weather to improve so that I can use the camera properly.

10 thoughts on “Infrared Micro 43 Update

      1. Thanks for the New Year wish. I asked about the vignetting as I was curious to see if this was a side effect of the infra red conversion.

  1. Hi Robin. Regarding focusing, since you will be focusing using live view on the GX1 you shouldn’t need to make any focus correction for infrared. The infrared mark on lenses from the film days is there for SLR focusing, where you are focusing using visible light but exposing in the infrared. Since the live view is showing you exactly what the sensor sees, your manual focus should be spot on without any correction (although admittedly I haven’t tested this myself!). That’s one thing to tick off your list!

    1. I would have agreed with you Ed but the focussing is definately out. I can adjust it slightly using the manual focus and its much better than just the autofocus. I have however noticed tonight that the spot focus seems to be more accurate. I have also found out the company who did the conversion set up 2 custom whit balance profiles (they never told me) that look quite interesting. I’m off to the beach at weekend so will play some more and see wha happens.

  2. May we ask who you used for the conversion (and, if possible, the cost though I realize there may an issue of exchange, being in the US as I am)?

    Just got my GX1, looking at getting a spare body and did considerable infra-red both with film and a Canon 10D, using an R72 filter.


    1. I used ACS here in the UK. It was quite expensive at GBP250. At the moment Im not convinced it was worth it but Iam having lots of fun. I also have a 720 filter on the way as I want to compare results and try the filter with my LX5. There are better conversion options if you live in the US to my mind. I almost sent mine to lifepixel but had heard horror stories about duty payable on receipt so I opted for the more costly UK option.

      1. Hi Robin,
        Can you please let me have the details of where you obtained your 720 filter from & the size you purchased for your LX5.
        Many thanks

      2. Hi Paul,
        I just did a search on ebay for an IR filter and purchased a cheap 720. This attaches to the filter tube I have screwed onto my LX5 which has a 52mm filter thread. By luck this is also the same size thread as my Micro 43 lenses.

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