A while back, I wrote about how I converted my original Sony a7 into an infrared camera. It’s something that to this day, still gives me a lot of joy. Often these days, it’s easy to become surrounded by camera gear that all feels the same, or that delivers the same end-result image as A, B, or C. But infrared is a totally different situation. Nothing ever looks the same. When you change the white balance, you can easily be brought into a completely different world as opposed to just a different kind of lighting with visible spectrum cameras. Combine this with new lenses, and things start to really become even better.
This reminds me of what it’s like to be a camera reviewer. Every camera system is more or less using the same sensors from Sony — the exceptions being Canon and Fujifilm. Their processors are variants of the same as well. Couple this with the fact that most lenses are made by either Cosina, Tamron, Hoya, or Sigma. When this happens, everything just becomes shades of the same. To put it plainly, I’m sure that most people couldn’t tell the difference between a Domino’s pizza slice, Pizza Hut, or Sbarros in a blind taste test. The same goes for the end results, then.
But when you modify your camera to do something like infrared, the game changes quite a bit. You suddenly need to put lens filters on to get the desired look. There’s a lot of work involved that helps you get those photos you want in-camera vs toiling away in post-production.
This is part of why I love picking up old cameras that I haven’t used in a while, and why I keep them around. Every time I pick up my infrared converted Sony camera, I get excited by how cool the images are. I can forgive a lot of the problems then of its age simply because the image quality is so unique.
I feel the same way about my Canon EOS R — it feels so much nicer and smaller than most of Canon’s other full-frame and serious camera bodies.
It’s, again, similar to my Fujifilm X Pro 1 — I have a custom setting on it that makes a film simulation that resembles Kodak Ektachrome. It’s almost like I don’t need to shoot the film instead, then, almost!
Sometimes, those older cameras have a magic about them that we forget about because we’re so blinded by all the new features in later models. In the end, though, it’s all about taking the pictures and focusing on doing that. Many new cameras, however, take away from that. While their intention is to often make it easier for you to shoot, it isn’t always the case.
In truth, all you need is something unique about the camera, a lens, maybe some filters, lighting, and a unique method of taking the photographs. You don’t need to shoot at 120 frames a second to get a great photograph; and you can instead do it with a single frame that stands out. All it takes is to just learn the craft.