Very addictive this infra red photography lark.

After having fun with my little IR converted Nikon I decided there were a few things that would distinctly improve my shooting experience. One was higher resolution files, the second was better focus accuracy, and the third was being able to see exactly what I was shooting. This is why I hit upon the rather risky idea of converting my Sony a7 to a full spectrum camera.

I went for full spectrum as opposed to dedicated infrared as I had hopes of still being able to use the camera for normal light shooting and maybe trying ultra violet light shooting too. To do this I dipped into the realms of astrophotography and got myself a - hard to find - Nikon F to Sony FE lens mount adaptor that incorporated a slot-in filter holder. Which simply meant I could use any of My Nikon lenses and only have to buy one filter to shoot infra red. The same for visible light just slot in a UV/IR cut filter ad shoot away. this system also makes it quicker to change lenses as you don't have to screw and unscrew filters.

The nifty Opto-Long lens adapterThis enables me to use interchangeable 48mm filters I can quickly swap between wavelengths.

So, onto converting the camera. To do this you simply remove the UV/IR filters (also called a hot mirror) from the front of the sensor. Not too tricky you may think - and it isn't - apart from the fact that Sony seem to have built the entire camera around the sensor. Meaning you start disassembling from the back and keep stripping away the layers and circuit boards until you end up at the sensor (which is at the front!).

Here's a time lapse vid of the two hour mission to strip and rebuild it.

I do hope I can put it all back...This perhaps gives an insight into how many bits you have to break the camera down into to get at the sensor. However what it doesn't show is all the really delicate ribbon cables you have to unplug.

Anyhow, with the operation successful, I took it out to Cumbria to shoot a few test shots.

Cows on the Moooon20mm lens shot with a 850nm infra red filter

In conclusion I have to say I am very pleased with it. I always liked the Sony a7 as a high-quality, flexible, do everything camera that is ideal for travel. Now it can shoot infra red too it really does make it a do-everything camera. Sure enough the external UV/IR cut filter leaves a slight colour cast, that needs to be corrected in post-processing, but I don't generally shoot in colour much so it doesn't really bother me. Being able to see the infra red image in the electronic viewfinder is absolutely fabulous as is being able to reliably nail focus.

Does stripping the filters from the sensor have a detrimental effect on the images? Well nothing obvious to me. I know that changing the sensor stack height changes the way the light hits the sensor (less refraction probably) and can lead to image smearing, however I've shot so far with my Nikon mount 20mm Voigtlander lens and the Nikon 50mm AF-D and have no noticeable issues. I'm no pixel peeper, and if you are you'd probably never take a screwdriver to your camera anyway. However I did - and it's fun!