For years, my Sony a7 original has sat in a camera bag, staring me in the face, barely getting any use. Sure, it still has great image quality. But my Sony a7r III is a much better workhorse overall. One day, a friend told me I should convert it to Infrared, and that’s the start of how Kolari Vision gave my original Sony a7 new life. Most folks simply sell their old camera bodies, but it makes sense to keep them around as product testers. And in this case, I’m really glad I did so.
A while back Kolari Vision purchased a sponsored email with us. Kolari did the conversion for us free of charge for this Essentials post but, for transparency, this post isn’t sponsored. They also provided us with other filters as well. This doesn’t affect the way we report, though. And more of this can be analyzed in our Editorial Policies which detail our journalistic ethics.
I asked Kolari Vision to do a conversion of my Sony a7 that makes images look like Aerochrome or Ektachrome IR. They told me I needed to do a full spectrum conversion, use their IRChrome filter, and also make a few in-camera tweaks to get my photos to look that way. Essentially, it’s a matter of changing the white balance, but the real magic happens when the IRChrome filter is attached. Without it, the entire scene just looks red. I can white balance all I want, but it will continue to look like a glass of V8 is right in front of the lens.
What the IRChrome filter does is render colors. Greens can be turned into shades of pink, orange, red, or purple depending on how I white balance the scene. All the while, the rest of the world looks fairly normal. (Lots of folks think NYC doesn’t have a lot of green space, but they just don’t know where to go.)
The science behind it all is cool, but I’m not going to bore you with that.
Undoing What I was Taught
This began to undo the years of what I’d been taught about exposing for infrared. I was always told I need to bring a tripod with me: that’s wrong. I was told that the best infrared photos are done in black and white: that’s also wrong. For years, we’ve featured a ton of infrared projects by wonderful photographers like you. Jonas Daley made wonderful infrared photos in the desert. Fernando Sciotto made artistic and gorgeous infrared portraits. And Roland Kramer had the time of his life exploring the world during the pandemic with his infrared converted camera. These photographers and the interviews we’ve done with them inspired me to try this form of photography.
And Kolari Vision also sent me a bunch of other filters, like ones that go over the sensor to return it back to normal. Then they have NDs that also go over the sensor instead of over the lens.
Seeing in a New Way With the Kolari Vision IR Conversion
Ask yourself this: can you look at a green forest and render it immediately in your mind as a pink one? What would that take? And how close is your creative vision to what the camera gives you? This is a challenge for sure. You can make edits in post-production, but the fun isn’t there. The fun of using the Kolari Vision conversion process is by using the Live View Setting effect mode and seeing what’s rendered right in front of you. Playing around with the white balance to see how pine trees shift to pink or how oak leaves shift to orange is quite fun. Contrasting it all with the background of the city also creates fascinating images I’d never seen before. Little things being adjusted such as the exposure make this really something worth playing with. Indeed, this is the most fun I’ve had with a camera in a long time.
So why would you get the Kolari Vision conversion? Maybe you’ve got a second camera and want to give it new life. This basically gives you a new product and helps you create photos that your clients and followers would not have otherwise. Better yet, thanks to the Live View preview setting effect, you can easily see what you’re going to capture. Perhaps most fascinating is what you get when the lights start to get very dim even during the dusk hours. But, you’ll likely make the most of this conversion during the daytime though.
If you’re going on a vacation, a hike, photographing landscapes, or just want to try photographing in a completely different way, I can’t recommend the Kolari Vision process enough.
Essentials is a series featuring products we’re currently lusting over in quick, easy-to-digest posts.