I was curious to see how sensitive my DCS 560 is to infrared and whether I could produce infrared photographs. The older DCS 460 I used to own tended to make everything look very pink, but I never really tried any intentional infrared photography with it because (a) the camera didn't have a screen, and working out a table of exposure and focus settings would have been long-winded and (b) I don't have a fast wide angle Nikon lens. I do however have an Olympus 24mm f/2.8, which is sharp at f/2.8, and on my DCS 560 it's about 31mm, which is still wide. Not amazingly fast but then again neither am I. So I bought a 49mm 760nm infrared filter and go to work, la:
In general at f/2.8 and ISO 80, in bright sunshine the exposure times were 1/10, 1/15. Higher ISO values are decent but tend to record what must be amplifier noise at the right edge of the frame. I had a surprisingly high number of sharp images at 1/15, I assume because the DCS 560 is so massive that it dampens vibrations. As far as I could tell there was no advantage to closing the viewfinder blind. In practice I held the camera up to my face, even though the viewfinder was too dark to see through, because I could stabilise the camera more effectively that way. It was chimp-city otherwise. The DCS 560's histogram seems to have a natural "expose to the right" bias and so images that looked underexposed on the screen were in actual fact not. I used to hate Stereolab - too snobby - but in retrospect, and now that they have split up and are no longer a threat, I quite enjoy some of their music. Can't stand the band.
Oh yes, the Olympus 24mm is a relic of the OM era and infrared infinity focus is at the left edge of the 6ft mark, at least with my adapter and camera and lens. With visible light infinity focus is at the ledge edge of the infinity mark.
If I stick a hot mirror filter in front of the infrared filter the result is much darker, which is obvious in retrospect, although it's nice to know that the hot mirror filter actually does something. Having said that, even in bright sunshine I find that the DCS 560's colours are generally good even without any filter at all, except for the occasional burst of flare around the edges of bright lights. Interesting to compare it with the sample images in DPReview's review of the DCS 760; they seemed to use a lot of sharpening and must have been output from Kodak's software.
I used a custom white balance taken from the grass. If I whack up the saturation, the ground turns green and the sky turns red, but the colours are blotchy and horrible. My Fuji S2 can produce better colour infrared images, with longer exposures, but it's nice to have a camera that can do this hand-held.
The big problem is noticeable vertical banding. I don't know if this is because of poor sensitivity to red, or if it's a consequence of the way that the camera reads data from the sensor. It's obvious in the following image (although horizontal, because the image is in portrait orientation):
If only there was a really good ≤20mm ≤f/2.0 lens that is sharp at f/2.0 and costs less than £1,000, assuming such a lens exists. But then again it would be cheaper to have e.g. a Canon 1000D modified by Lifepixel, in which case speed would be less of an issue.
My next idea will be to experiment on a human subject. I have an Olympus 50mm f/1.4. I need to work out the correct focus settings for a couple of metres, and I need to find someone who will stand a precise distance from me. Preferably someone who radiates infrared, or reflects it. The Human Torch would be a good subject.
Otherwise the DCS 560 is pretty good. The images interpolate up to 48mb without looking awful although I can't imagine many photo libraries would be too happy to see shots taken with the camera in the twenty-first century.