Another New(ish) Camera

    This one is to replace my Sony NEX-F3 which I had had converted to IR (see previous post). Why? Because much as I loved it, I was finding the absence of a viewfinder quite an inconvenience in bright light conditions, which of course is when infrared is at its best. So I sold my converted NEX-F3 and acquired a used Sony A6000 – both transactions on e-bay. The A6000 was then converted by Alan Burch to full spectrum. I am very happy with the result. The A6000 is a silver one so I won’t pick it up by mistake thinking its my A6300 which is good, and it only had 600 shutter actuations – it looks like new.

    The camera came with a Sony 16-50 power zoom – its a sort of pancake lens. I was going to sell that, until I discovered that it has good IR properties in as much as it doesn’t exhibit much of a hot spot. So that is staying on the camera for the time being and we will see if I can get used to a power zoom; my initial reactions is that it is hard to fine tune the zoom as it overshoots constantly – perhaps that is operator error!

    Finally, I got hold of an STC clip-in 720nm filter for the A6000 from Cyclops Optics in Hong Kong. It’s really small and sits directly in front of the sensor and is held in place by the back of the lens. This way I can use any IR tolerant lens on the camera without having to worry about having a screw on filter of the correct size available. It arrived a few days ago and I have fired off a few test shots but nothing serious – the weather has been too dull to check it out properly.

    The image above was taken in February just after I got the A6000 with a conventional R72 filter on the lens – its a panorama of four images and is the river Otter where it enters the sea at Budleigh Salterton.

    My New Camera

    Actually it’s my oldest camera…… but it’s been modified to take infrared images. I sent it to Alan Burch on the Isle of Wight, who specialises in making full spectrum camera conversions. I had still got my old NEX-F3 camera lying around after having failed to sell it on e-bay some time ago: they fetch virtually nothing. It dawned on me that it would make the perfect camera to convert, basically because it is a mirrorless camera and it was mine! Mirrorless cameras are good subjects for conversion because they have an electronic viewfinder and live view – you can read all about it on Alan’s excellent website.

    So I sent off my NEX-F3 for a full spectrum conversion and Alan had it back to me within a few days all ready to go with the right settings already dialed in to the menu. I purchased an R72 filter in the correct size for my Sony 16-70mm lens (55mm dia); the R72 gives good results for black and white images which was what I was looking for. You can see some of the images I have made in my INFRARED MONO gallery. By having a full spectrum conversion as opposed to one at a specific wave length, I have the option of using other filters for other IR effects.

    I am very pleased with the results though I should say that a lot of post processing is required to get the required tonal range.

    The one snag to the NEX-F3 is that it has no viewfinder – only the live view screen at the back. Sony made an accessory viewfinder for this model but they are as rare as hens’ teeth and mighty pricey. IR photography is at its best under bright blue sky conditions which is where a viewfinder earns its keep. I have the screen turned up to maximum brightness and even then it is sometimes difficult to see exactly what the composition is. I am thinking about getting hold of an A6000 for conversion as I am hooked on IR photography. I also need to decide what lens to use. At the moment my 16-70 is shared between the F3 and my A6300 so there is a lot of lens/camera-body swapping and the inevitable dirty sensor problem. So I need a lens that I can leave on the F3….. to be decided!

    Focus Stacking with a Raspberry Pi – Experimentation with 10x Microscope Objective

    Cluster fly proboscis
    Cluster fly proboscis

    My Nikon CFI Plan 10x 0.25 ∞/- WD 10.5 infinity microscope objective arrived a few days ago from the USA. I had first seen this lens on Johan J. Ingles-Le Nobel’s excellent Extreme Macro site and had been watching out for one on e-bay for a long time. While it was in transit I acquired on e-bay the necessary adapter rings to enable it to fit onto my Minolta 200 mm lens which is required to deliver the 10x magnification.

    The CFI Plan 10x 0.25 ∞/- is a lovely little lens. The dof, at 8.5 microns, is getting near to the limit of my focus-stacker but I have managed to produce a reasonable test image with it. If push comes to shove I can do a 2 micron focus increment which is one cycle of the stepper motor. The critical factors at this magnification seem to be vibration of the camera even though in my focus stacker system it is stationary; it means tiptoeing round the house while the focus stacker is busy stacking. Dust and contamination on the sensor is the other big issue, which now really shows up in spades. I had done a wet clean of the sensor a few weeks ago but that was the first one for several years and I think the sensor needs one more go at least, as the last clean has not done nearly a good enough job.

    The photograph above is the proboscis of a cluster fly – 197 images at 8 micron increments stacked and re-touched in Zerene Stacker and post-processed in Lightroom, Photoshop and Topaz Detail,  The proboscis is about 0.25 mm in diameter to give you an idea of the scale. The image required a lot of cleaning in Photoshop to remove the worst of the streaks and blobs caused by sensor contamination. None of these streaks and blobs show up in normal photography!

    Over the next few weeks it is my intention to carry out a series of tests with this microscope objective to establish the optimum focus increment and ideal aperture setting for the 200mm lens. I am suspecting that f8, which is what I determined was the optimum aperture for reversed enlarger lenses, may not be the best aperture for the Nikon CFI Plan 10x 0.25 ∞/- and that something wider open may be required. We will see. I will post the results when I have them.


What’s it all about?

Here are my jottings about my photographic projects and activities. I have been working on a focus stacking macro photography rig. There are quite a few posts about that. In addition I write about other photographic activities as and when!


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