Digital Infrared Photography With The Fuji S20 Pro; There's More To Life Than Color Image Files! Page 3

For most of the images here, I used Hoya's Infrared (R72) filter. In smaller sizes, such as 55mm, the Hoya R72 costs less than $38, making it a bargain for infrared photography. On the other hand, if you need a 72mm, expect to shell out almost $245! Why the difference? Who knows? As I was starting this project, Cokin introduced their James Bond 007 filter that's available in A, P, X-Pro, and their new Z-Pro (100mm sizes). This is an implementation of the 87B infrared filter that was previously only available as a gel. Price differential between the smaller A size and supersized X-Pro Cokin filters are similar to Hoya's, albeit not as extreme.

Does the kind of IR filter you use make a difference? Purists tell me it does but after minimal and identical tweaking in Photoshop CS, the difference between these two JPEG images is slight. There "might" be a more noticeable disparity if I had shot them as raw.

Some cognoscenti have disdain for the 87B, feeling it lets too much visible light in, contaminating the IR image. My own experience with the Cokin 007 is that when used with the FinePix S20 Pro it produced excellent IR images. For more filter alternatives, see the accompanying chart.

Licensed To Thrill
Much like a real camera, the FinePix S20 Pro has all the regular shooting modes including TV, AV, Programmed, and Manual. With the two filters I used (and even for filterless general photography), I found all of these modes to be consistent and accurate. Purists might want to play with the Exposure Compensation controls, which involves pushing a button and turning a knob, that increases exposure slightly to get perfect, out-of-the-box exposures, but I don't mind using Photoshop CS' Levels (Image>Adjustments>Levels) to tweak
overall exposure.

This is what Fuji's FinePix S20 Pro sees in color at an abandoned farm that has become part of a state highway's right-of-way.

The same image with a Hoya Infrared R72 filter in front of the lens. My preferred way of capturing black and white images is to set the camera to black and white mode and accurately preview the final image, but this is only possible when shooting JPEGs.

The same thing with a Hoya Infrared R72 filter in front of the lens with the Fuji FinePix S20 Pro set to black and white mode. IR saturation isn't what it might be earlier in the day..

My IR shooting technique with the FinePix S20 Pro was simple; so simple you might call it point-and-shoot infrared. You're gonna need a sturdy tripod and I used the Joe Farace Signature Edition Tiltall, and sometimes a now-discontinued Gitzo Safari (it's green) monopod. No matter what kind of IR filter you use, they are dark and hand holdable shots (except at ISO 1600 and 1 megapixel) are usually not possible. When shooting on a support, I would pick exposure modes based on environmental conditions. Windy days called for TV (shutter priority mode). On a nice day, I just used P (for Program). After composing the image, I would hold the filter in front of the lens and wait for the image in the EVF to settle down and compensate for the filter. You will see the IR effect directly in the viewfinder. Let the camera focus through the filter; if you focus first then use the filter, nothing happens. Most of the time I shot in black and white mode so I could preview the final image, but sometimes I shot raw (more later).

Barr Lake State Park is near the Denver International Airport so contrails are a common site. Since time of day has much to do with IR saturation, this series of images were made in the late morning. Exposure was 1/5 sec and f/2.8 at 7.8mm (digital) with camera supported by Tiltall tripod.

This bridge leads from the Nature Center at Barr Lake State Park into their wetlands preserve. With IR, the mood of this photograph is different than a straight color image might be. The JPEG file was captured at ISO 200. Exposure was 1/5 sec and f/2.8 at 9mm (digital).

Box Score: Number of times I dropped the Hoya filter: 2; Number of times I dropped the Cokin filter: 1: Number of times I got my fingers in front of the lens: Lots.

Just For Pros?
Based on its name and Fuji's positioning it for use by wedding photographers, you might think that you need to be a professional to use the FinePix S20 Pro. Not so. With 6-megapixel resolution from Fuji's Super CCD chip, image quality can be stunning. The camera's build quality is appropriate for its $799 price tag.

The FinePix S20 Pro uses readily available AA batteries instead of maddeningly proprietary, always running out of power at the worst possible moment rechargeables that many pro digital cameras use. That didn't mean that the FinePix S20 Pro didn't chew through that set of AAs that's packed with the camera in no time. First, I must confess: "My name is Joe and I am an unrepentant chimper." So I probably used the 1.8" LCD preview screen more than the average bear, to mix my animal metaphors.