I have thought about it for a while and finally I pulled the trigger and got my Olympus E-M1 converted to infrared. You may ask yourself why I did it and the reason is very simple… For my professional work I rely entirely on Sony gear since the E-Mount system fits my style of shooting perfectly and leaves (almost) nothing to be desired. On the other hand for my personal work – mostly in form of street photography – I am still very happy with my Leica Q. That being said the E-M1 hasn’t got any love in the last couple of months. And since I’ve been always fascinated by infrared photography and using filters to get the effect is very impractical, the logic conclusion was to turn the Olympus E-M1 into a dedicated infrared camera to use it more often.
The conversion was done by irrecams.de and my filter of choice is the 700nm one, just to let through a little bit of visible light because I wasn’t sure if I want to shoot black and white only. In the end it turned out that black and white is the way to go for me.
The shooting experience is almost the same as before, but there are a couple of things to keep in mind when taking infrared images. Usually the best time for photography is during golden hour when the light is very beautiful and has a soft quality to it. When shooting infrared it’s totally different and the best time to go out and shoot is when the sunlight is rather harsh. Then there is plenty of infrared light hitting the earth and the effect will be well pronounced producing contrasty and rich images. On the other hand when it’s overcast there is absolutely no point of using an IR camera, because images will look extremely flat und muddy. That is something you will notice very quickly and after a while you know exactly when to bring you IR camera or when better not.
I’ve also noticed that my 17/1.8 became much more prone to flaring. Even if the sun was not directly in the frame I had to deal with some nasty flares. Other lenses show the same effect, so using a lens hood is mandatory.
My camera settings are the same as before and I only changed the JPEG setting to black and white with very high contrast. This is a very good representation of how the final result will look like.
Also my workflow is a little different compared to what I am used to. The RAW files straight out the camera look really terrible and I only apply some minor exposure tweaks in lightroom before the black and white conversion is done in Silver Efex Pro. During my last trip to Korea my Leica Q was in Wetzlar for service, so I brought the E-M1 for some street shooting even though it’s now an infrared camera. The look is very unique and I like it a lot.
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