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How-to's

Using a Full Spectrum Camera – Part I

Jon Nadelberg (jnadelberg)


Keywords: nikon, camera, dslr, filter, infrared, ir, theory, how, to, ultraviolet, uv, vl, visible, light, spectrum, wavelengths, adobe, photoshop, wratten, tiffen, bw, hoya, kolarivision, maxmax, lifepixel, nanometers, kodak, jnadelberg

With so many advances being made in DSLR technology, it is often the case that you might have an old camera or two that are sitting around and have been superseded by the latest models.  While many people turn one of their older cameras into a backup, another thing that people like to do is turn their older cameras into an infrared camera.  One of the options you can choose when you do your conversion is to allow your Nikon camera to be “full spectrum.”  This allows your camera to be able to capture ultraviolet (UV), visible light (VL), and infrared (IR) images. 

In this series, we’ll be discussing how to use a full spectrum camera, what it can do, and how to manipulate light to change the look of your images.  We’ll also discuss some of the other options you have when converting your camera, and why you may want to choose one of them over going full spectrum. 

It Is Not Full Spectrum

Calling a converted camera that can record UV, IR, and VL images “full spectrum” is a misnomer, since light is only a part of the electromagnetic spectrum and not the full (electromagnetic) spectrum. It ranges from gamma rays to radio waves, as shown in figure 1.

Figure 1. The full electromagnetic spectrum, showing the tiny sliver that is visible light.

 

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4 comments

Jon Nadelberg (jnadelberg) on February 10, 2016

Ribbon awarded for his multiple contributions to the Articles section

For astrophotgraphy, check out Spencers with the link in the story. Alternatively, you can go wide spectrum and then just get a visible + h-alpha filter. That's located on this part of their page: http://www.spencerscamera.com/store/store_product_detail.cfm?Product_ID=231&Category_ID=11&Sub_Category_ID=38

MICHAEL F KING SR. (mfksr1) on February 10, 2016

I HAVE BEEN LOOKING TO CONVERT MY OLDER D200 FOR ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY BUT COULD NOT FIND THE EXACT COMPANY. GREAT INFORMATION ON THESE COMPANIES AND THE SPECTRUM (NANOMETERS) OF CERTAIN LIGHT. THE ONLY TIME I USED UV WAS WAY BACK IN THE FILM DAYS. THANKS AND LOOK FORWARD TO READING ALL THE INFORMATION YOU HAVE..

Jon Nadelberg (jnadelberg) on February 9, 2016

Ribbon awarded for his multiple contributions to the Articles section

If you just want to do IR B&W, then all you need to do is get yourself a 720nm filter and go for it. You will need longer exposure times, to do it, but as I show in this article, it works. If you're willing to have some noise in your photo, you can bump your ISO up high and have shorter exposure time, allowing for hand held IR photographs. You would use live view on a d800 for that, but the screen would likely be very dark, so a live view hood might be worth using in that case.

Richard Walliker (richardd300) on February 6, 2016

Thanks Jon, a very interesting and informative article. I've been using an R72 for a while now on my D800E and it works well for B&W IR images. More folks should have a try as it's an affordable way to create IR images. Richard

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