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Sigma Aerochrome: The first steps

With Sigma cameras it is possible to mimic the look of the legendary and now rare Kodak color infrared film Aerochrome, which was initially designed in the 1940s by the U.S. military for reconnaissance and camouflage detection. It works because Sigma cameras have a special sensor, which captures and maps the light differently than the ones produced by other manufacturers. For details see Wikipedia (link).

I use the DSLR camera Sigma SD14. With this model it is important to use a green filter in addition, otherwise it won’t work. With other Sigma cameras (non-DSLR) it is possible to get the Sigma Aerochrome color scheme without a green filter. With those cameras it is enough to remove the IR-cut filter. A Canadian photographer named Gary Radford has achieved some beautiful shots without a green filter (link).

So I use a full-spectrum SD14, a 50mm lens, a green filter from Hoya (X1) and a polarizer for the contrasts.

I adjust the photos with the Raw Converter of Adobe Photoshop (CS5). In addition to the usual adjustments such as contrast, sharpness and brightness, I mainly change the numbers in the section camera calibration. That must be because otherwise the photos will have a green and the reds a magenta tint.

To get the Sigma Aerochrome look I change the values ​​as follows:

Depths: 0
Primary values ​​Red: +75, +25
Primary values ​​Green: +50, 0
Primary values ​​Blue: -80, 0

I set the color temperature to 5000, the color tone to 0. During the shooting, I had set the white balance to fluorescent (about 4000K).

The image above was made with these calibrations.

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