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How I process/Wie ich verarbeite

During my conversion work, I found that the Nikon D70 is particularly good for Aerochrome emulations using the Green filter (Hoya X1) and Orange (Tiffen 15). Why this is so, however, I do not know. I wonder if it has to do with the high IR sensitivity? Maybe. Sometimes the differences between cameras baffle me. So does the fact that some lenses work better with certain cameras than with others. For example, the 28-85mm (link) works well with the D70, but not at all with the D7200. The 18-70mm (link), which I also recently tested, basically works well with both cameras, but better with the D70. In my eyes, this standard zoom is the best general lens for a full spectrum D70.

Anyway. In this bilingual post I want to briefly show how I generate Aerochrome images with a D70. From left to right, you can see the processing in the following series of images.

D70 Aerochrome

Left: the image with auto white balance.

Middle: With white balance in Adobe Raw. Came up with values 2750 for temperature and 66 for tint. Then I chose “Landscape” as the preset, because it made the tint a little darker and bluer.

Right: The final image in Photoshop. First I took care of the IR contamination in the Channel Mixer. In the red channel 120 for red and -20 for blue, in the green channel 120 for green and -20 for blue. Press OK. Now swap the channels in two new steps. That means: In the red channel 0 at red and 100 at blue, in the blue channel 100 at red and 0 at blue. Press OK. Then in the green channel 0 at green and 100 at blue, in the blue channel 100 at green and 0 at blue. Press OK.


Während meiner Umrüstungsarbeiten habe ich herausgefunden, dass die Nikon D70 besonders gut geeignet ist für Aerochrome-Emulationen mittels des Grünfilters (Hoya X1) und Orange (Tiffen 15). Warum das so ist, weiss ich jedoch nicht. Ob es mit der hohen IR-Empfindlichkeit zu tun hat? Vielleicht. Manchmal stellen mich die Unterschiede zwischen den Kameras vor Rätsel. Ebenso der Umstand, dass einige Objektive mit bestimmten Kameras besser funktionieren als mit anderen. Zum Beispiel funktioniert das 28-85mm (Link) mit der D70 gut, mit der D7200 jedoch so gar nicht. Das 18-70mm (Link), das ich jüngst ebenfalls testete, funktioniert grundsätzlich mit beiden Kameras gut, jedoch besser mit der D70. In meinen Augen ist dieses Standardzoom das beste Allgemein-Objektiv für eine Vollspektrum-D70.

Wie auch immer. In diesem zweisprachigen Post möchte ich kurz zeigen, wie ich mit einer D70 Aerochrome-Bilder generiere. Von links nach rechts sieht man in der Bildreihe oben die Verarbeitung.

Links: das Bild mit Auto-Weissabgleich.

Mitte: Mit Weissabgleich in Adobe Raw. Kam auf die Werte 2750 für Temperatur und 66 für Tönung. Danach wählte ich “Landschaft” als Preset, weil die Tönung so noch ein wenig dunkler und blauer wurde.

Rechts: Das finale Bild in Photoshop. Als erstes sorgte ich mich im Kanalmixer um die IR-Kontamination. Im Rotkanal 120 bei Rot und -20 bei Blau, im Grünkanal 120 bei Grün und -20 bei Blau. OK drücken. Nun die Kanäle in zwei neuen Schritten tauschen. Das heisst: Im Rotkanal 0 bei Rot und 100 bei Blau, im Blaukanal 100 bei Rot und 0 bei Blau. OK drücken. Anschliessend im Grünkanal 0 bei Grün und 100 bei Blau, im Blaukanal 100 bei Grün und 0 bei Blau. OK drücken.


Converting a camera to IR: What to consider

Nikon D70

Converting a camera to IR or full spectrum is exhausting, but also very satisfying. I like making something new out of something old and giving it my own touch.

I’ve learned a few things and also had to pay some lesson money. Here are some conclusions from the Nikon D70 project. I will probably go into more detail on some of them in future posts.

Time, patience, a steady hand and above all a tidy, clean workplace are essential for the project.

I followed this guide from Life Pixel (link).

1. on the subject of unscrewing the camera housing: find a suitable screwdriver, otherwise the screws will be mangled, making the whole thing an extremely time-consuming and nerve-wracking procedure. Put the loosened screws in a safe place and remember which one came from where, because they have different lengths.

2. the most tedious part of converting the Nikon D70 to IR was the two ribbon cables that you have to remove in order to take off the LCD panel and get to the sensor board. If the camera doesn’t work after reassembly, a card error is displayed, or the display goes haywire, it’s probably due to mishandling of these delicate cables, which can snap fairly quickly. The tricky part is getting them back into their holders properly during reassembly. The key here is to be patient and not panic. Steady. A toothpick or otherwise a thin, soft (!) tool can help “thread” the cables into their holders, which give little slack.

3. removing the IR cut filter is rather easy, but please take care that it doesn’t fall on the sensor and damage it when removing it (it needs some pressure with your fingernails to make it pop out). So it is best to turn it upside down so that it simply falls to the floor (or onto the table) guided by gravity.

4. be sure to test the camera before you put all the screws back in when reassembling. Quickly put in the battery and memory card, see if the display works, and make sure it can take photos and save them. If it doesn’t (which is likely at first), check the ribbon cables. See if they are inserted all the way.

5. concerning dust on the sensor. These nasty little spots can be a real pain. And since IR/false color photography often has focus problems, you have to shoot at a large f-stop (11 and up) with most lenses, which means the annoying spots become even more visible. Of course, since you’re exposing the sensor when you’re converting a camera to IR, a lot of dust can get on it. First of all, make sure that the environment is relatively wind-free and dust-free. Secondly, it is advisable to have the following three utensils ready: A rubber bellows (you can also get it in the pharmacy) to “blow” the sensor, a kit with special wiping sticks (link) to free the sensor from particularly stubborn particles. At first, just try with the bellows: flip up the mirror, hold the camera upside down and blow into it, wait a bit. If it still has dust, run the vacuum cleaner and hold the suction tube under the camera while blowing in with the bellows. Be careful: don’t vacuum too close, don’t vacuum too hard. If that’s still not enough, then gently run the wiping sticks over the sensor. Always use only once, then throw away. Repeat the procedure if necessary and combine until the images come out clean.

6. converting a camera to IR is one thing, the restoration, so that the camera feels good, is another. Especially the Nikon D70 is known for the fact that after some time material comes off the handle and the whole thing becomes sticky. Here’s what has worked for me: Grab a bottle of vodka or something else neutral high-proof alcoholic, a rag and a kitchen sponge and get to work. Wet the rag with some vodka and run it over the sticky areas. Follow up with a proper rub down with the kitchen sponge. Then wipe again with the vodka cloth. Repeat several times until the stickiness disappears. In the end, clean everything with a damp (water) rag, and generally be careful not to use too much liquid and avoid holes and cracks et cetera as much as possible.

As you can see, professionally converting a camera to IR is not that easy. But if in the end everything fits and you have an IR/full spectrum camera in your hands that works, takes clean pictures and feels good, that is very satisfying.

By the way, the pictures above were taken with the converted Nikon D70 (with standard lens 18-70mm). With Aerochrome look.

Self-converted Nikon D70: let’s paint it red!

Custom Nikon D70

Most cameras cannot be easily converted to full spectrum/IR. This is actually only very easy with the Sigma DSLRs. With the vast majority of Nikons and Canons (and also other brands) it is very difficult. But there is one exception: the Nikon D70. Even there, removing the IR cut filter is not as easy as with Sigma, but the process is quite simple with this model (link). I have therefore started to convert Nikon D70 cameras myself and will probably offer this service in the future.

For a long time, the Nikon D70 was my favorite IR camera. This certainly has to do with the fact that they were my first IR cameras. But I’m also won over by the grainy images it produces, and its general handling. The resulting megapixels were the only reason I switched to Nikon D3200 and eventually Nikon D7100.

But recently I was looking at the print of one of my photos – the duck picture, which is also on the home page in the slide show – and realized how good the D70’s images are despite its 6 megapixels. They are fantastic, enough for large-format art prints, and more than enough for magazines or books. The sensor is simply very good, and depending on the lens, results in ultra-sharp images where you zoom in 200 percent and think you’re looking at 100 percent.

Building IR cameras is simply fun. But what would a custom camera be without custom paint? My girlfriend Sabrina has now given my first self-converted camera a matching paint job. Red because this camera has been equipped with the Aerochrome look. I will offer complete packages, consisting of a full spectrum Nikon D70, an IR sensitive lens as well as filters. Depending on the style, only polyester filters (that are placed behind the lens) or a combination of polyester and glass filters are used.

I think it came out very nicely.

Custom Nikon D70

Custom Nikon D70

A new obsession: Blue trees!

As I probably once alluded to, I am looking for a false color IR style that will produce blue trees.

I have tried many things. For a long time it seemed that the combination of Hoya Green X1 (a real secret weapon for IR photographers) and Tiffen Yellow 8 would be promising. The tones in the vegetation are pretty, but too reddish. A change to more blue is too costly and thus not optimal for me.

Green water

I then tested other combinations. I picked up a “Swatchbook” from Lee Filters (link). This is something like a Swiss Army knife for false color photography fans. The catalog covers the entire range of filters from Lee, is very inexpensive and is wonderful for finding out new IR styles.

Of particular promise here were the somewhat more obscure yellows, browns, and oranges that have names like “Ald Gold” or “Urban Sodium.” After extensive clicking with all sorts of variants, I came across the one that was best suited in my eyes: Deep Amber (link), which is a thinner yellow tone.

Together with Hoya X1 resulted in photos characterized by cyan-blue skies and purple vegetation. Since the purple is closer to blue than the pale magenta of the 8/X1 combo, the change to blue was relatively easy. What was unfavorable for me was the magenta coloring of yellows. Therefore, a little shifting was necessary here as well.

Blue trees

So I did the following: In the Raw Converter minus 50 at the Purple tones in the Color Mixer, then in the Channel Mixer at Green a change (Red 50 and Green 50). That’s all.

The only problem is that this seems to work so well only with my Tokina 11-16mm lens (link). It is so that this lens filters out more IR light than other lenses. Thus, the sceneries become more “natural” and the IR-absorbing objects become thinner.

Here is the setup:

Blue trees

Color explosion

I love moss-covered trees. They radiate mystery and grace. There is an almost magical hidden place near where I live where moss reigns. There, below a gigantic rock wall, you will find a small pond, surrounded by hills full of man-sized stones that have fallen over the centuries, dead wood and moss-covered firs and trees. In winter the sun never shines there, and the rest of the year only for a few hours a day. I’ve always had trouble teasing IR light out of these moss artworks. I tried everything: 720nm, 590nm and so on. Never did I get satisfactory colors. With the orange-green combination it’s different. The color variation is quite breathtaking especially in the third photo…

I’ll have to return to this spot soon.

Color explosion

Color explosion

Color explosion