Digital infrared photography with Better Light large format digital cameras.

Decades ago I did infrared photography with a 35mm camera using the traditional red IR filter. Now I am gradually realizing the potential of CCD digital sensors and digital imaging software to achieve special effects with digital cameras. This has led me to increased interest in large format tri-linear scanners. The BetterLight scan-back is especially adept at accomplishing infrared because you can so easily take off the IR filter. With most other digital cameras you can’t remove their IR filter from the sensor.

Michael Sullivan is a leader in using a BetterLight for digital infrared photography. It is from his white paper on the BetterLight.com website that you can find the most information.

BetterLight large format digital camera test images for printing on the Durst Rho 800 Presto

So Rebekah Corbin-Teich and I took the BetterLight over to the Northern Aegean island of Lemnos (Limnos), off the coast of Greece. It is reachable from Thessaloniki, where FLAAR is consultant to a growing giclee atelier of the Granis brothers.

Traveling internationally with a complete large format digital camera system is a test of everyone’s patience. Airport screeners are clueless, even in Europe. In Amsterdam they were convinced that the battery had easily accessible acid in it and that someone could attack passengers with this acid. This was about the stupidest waste of security that I have heard in recent time. Fortunately the pilot and First Officer of the plane had some brains and realized that Professor Hellmuth, and his battery, was no problem to anyone.

While on the subject of removing the filters from digital cameras

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There is a unique B&W dedicated digital camera now available. This camera has the Bayer Pattern RGB filters removed. This is by no means a replacement whatsoever for using the BetterLight for infrared photography. The BetterLight can do panoramas which can be enlarged to immense sizes. And the BetterLight system can blend an infrared photograph with a full-color photograph to achieve superior results. You can’t do this with most medium format digital backs.

The B&W dedicated digital camera is medium format, not large format, and is a 1-shot CCD not a tri-linear scanning CCD. Actually there is now a second medium format infrared option, Phase One P65+ IR, from Capture Integration.

If you are passionate about B&W photography, you ought to consider them both. But for pure infrared digital photography, and for full-color digital photography, this is what the BetterLight system is really good at accomplishing.

Betterlight-super-6K-HS infradigital photography

And for doing B&W, the BetterLight can also be used, just use Channel Mixer option in Adobe Photoshop. Don’t use digital cameras in black-and-white mode; take the shot in color and transfer it in Adobe Photoshop. And here don’t use the auto mode change to Grayscale. Channel Mixer option is vastly superior.

Infrared possibilities with medium format digital cameras such as Phase One

We are adding a new page on medium format infrared. Just realize that large-format (such as BetterLight) offers unique capabilities, such as Pano/WideVue, not as easy to accomplish with medium format.

Infrared possibilities with adapted Nikon cameras

FLAAR will issue comments on retrofitting Nikon digital cameras for handling infrared later this year.

Infrared possibilities with new Fuji digital cameras

Fuji is the first digital camera company to offer special models for infrared. FLAAR will cover these later this year. We begin first with BetterLight for infrared since this is a sophisticated system with a good reputation and is an exciting digital photography technology to work with.

 

Most recently updated February 13, 2009.
First posted June 12, 2006, Updated July 6, 2006.

 

Gitzo Tele Studex Tripod
Available by october 2008
Gitzo Tele Studex Tripod
Available by octuber 2008
Gitzo Tele Studex Tripod
Available by october 2008
Gitzo Tele Studex Tripod
Available by october 2008
Gitzo Tele Studex Tripod
Available by october 2008

 

Nicholas Hellmuth’s Medium Format Digital Camera Initiative

For over 40 years Nicholas Hellmuth has used Rolleiflex and Hasselblad cameras to record the flora, fauna, and archaeology of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. Now for several years he is extending his medium format experience to digital photography.

Since FLAAR works both in a studio as well as out on location, we are an ideal focus for judging portability. We have experience with large format digital scan backs (the excellent BetterLight) and we also use Nikon and Canon digital cameras. A full-service digital pro should have at least one medium format digital system and should consider large format digital options as well.

Although we started with a Leaf Valeo 22 coupled with a Mamiya 645 AFD body and lenses, we are open to showcasing all bodies as well as other digital backs. Indeed we have tested an Imacon 4-shot back on a Hasselblad H1 body. Then (February 2006 onwards) we are evaluated a MegaVision black-and-white dedicated back for fine art photography. Next we are testing a 33-megapixel Phase One P 30. Since 2008 FLAAR has used a Phase One P25+ (a great way to update an aging Hasselblad ELX body with its excellent Zeiss lenses).

Camera resellers or manufacturers who wish to have their cameras, lenses, and backs included in this initiative are welcome to send their equipment for evaluation.

FLAAR is the de facto source of information because we have been university based, independent, blunt, and we are one of the few review sources that dares to review advertising specs, advertising claims, and advertising hype. We can afford to reveal all the pros and cons because FLAAR is a research institute. Photographers feel they can trust a university research professor who has devoted years to understanding the pros and cons of each aspect of a digital camera system and workflow.

Notice you are not blinded by blinking, flashing, or pesty ads for low-bid camera stores on a FLAAR photography review. I am always amused by a pseudo-review that obviously is simply paid to send you to a camera store.

You can download our colorful FLAAR Reports on our medium format digital camera initiative.

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