I have been a fan of infrared photography for a while now (largely thanks to Bob Vishneski’s amazing infrared work), but I have not had a chance to explore that side of photography yet. After I bought the D810 to replace the D800E, I first thought about selling the D800E. But seeing how much the D800E was going for on eBay and other sites, I decided to keep it and convert it to an infrared camera instead. After some research and a few email exchanges with Bob on who he recommends, I picked the folks at Kolari Vision, who effortlessly converted my D800E to an IR camera. I did not want a full IR B&W conversion, so I opted for the thinner 720nm filter that allows some colors to come through. Have not experimented yet, as it is really cold and snowy outside, but there is some great news for our readers – my future lens reviews will now include infrared ratings and hot spot reports! So if you already enjoy infrared photography or want to start exploring it (I highly would recommend reading Bob’s excellent introduction to infrared photography article), then you will find the IR section of the reviews particularly helpful!
Although I am not currently planning to measure lens sharpness with the infrared-converted D800E (focusing seems to be particularly difficult with IR filter in front of the sensor in Live View mode), I will be doing some tests to see how lenses perform at different apertures and provide examples of hot spots, if I find them. Here is a good example of hot spots visible on the new Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G (captured at f/5.6 and f/16 – move the slider to see both):
Hot spots can be very painful to deal with, making some lenses more desirable than others for infrared photography. In some cases, cheaper is actually better for IR, as expensive lenses with high-end coating and optical corrections can exhibit such hot spots. In the case of the 20mm f/1.8G, seems like that lens will do OK for IR at large apertures, but when stopped down to f/5.6 and smaller, it might show hot spots as seen above. Please keep in mind that the above images have been exaggerated to reveal the hot spot (I dialed -85 in Blacks in Lightroom). The effect is not extreme but will be visible if you make contrast and black level adjustments.
I know that some will say that full-frame is overkill for infrared. Yes, that’s certainly true for most situations. However, I decided to go this route mostly for testing reasons.