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#1 Andrea B.

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Posted 22 March 2013 - 18:43

Sticky :: UV Photography: Cams, Mods, Lights, Links
by Andrea G. Blum
for UltravioletPhotography.com

Last Update: 12 April 2018
Added info about internal IR-Led shutter monitor contamination.

Sticky List:
<> Sticky :: UV-Capable Lenses <>
<> Sticky :: UV Induced Visible Fluorescence <>
<> Sticky :: UV/IR Books <>
<> Sticky :: UV Photography: Cams, Mods, Lights, Links <>
<> Sticky :: UV/Vis/IR Filters <>
<> Sticky :: White Balance in UV/IR Photography <>

Post Search Tags:
Conical Cells Filters Fluorescence Infrared Insect Vision LWIR Multispectral SWIR
UV Camera UV Lens UV Lighting UV Portrait White Balance


Note from Editor:
This Sticky began as a joint effort by the members of various forums who enjoy UV/IR photography. Thanks to everyone for their suggestions, comments, proofreading, lists, links, measurements, experiments and all round good fellowship.

Please PM Andrea B. on UltravioletPhotography.com with any corrections, additions or suggestions.
Or write to rudbeckia <at> ultravioletphotography <dot> com.

Abbreviations:
  • IR = infrared
  • UV = ultraviolet
  • UV/IR = ultraviolet and/or infrared
[UltravioletPhotography.com does not endorse any specific products as a website. We simply offer reports, reviews and gear lists for your further investigation. Any opinions in such reports/reviews/lists belong solely to the poster writing them. UltravioletPhotography.com as a website receives no compensation or income from any source.]





INTRODUCTION
Our purpose for this UV Sticky is to collect some useful information about UV-capable cameras & lenses, filters, UV-lighting and camera modifications. We present it in the form of lists and links so that it can serve both as a guide for beginners and a useful reference for more experienced users. The UV Sticky is not meant to be exhaustive, but if you think we have left something important out, please do contact the Editor.


ULTRAVIOLET PHOTOGRAPHY
What do you need to make a reflected Ultraviolet photograph ?
  • UV-Capable Camera: UV light must be able to reach a UV-sensitive sensor.
  • UV-Capable Lens: UV light must be able to pass through the lens elements.
  • UV-Pass Filter: Visible & Infrared wavelengths must be blocked.
  • UV Lighting: Sunlight or artificial UV illumination is necessary.
  • UV Eye Protection: UV light is harmful!
Keep in mind that UV photography is not easy because you will be using your camera and lens gear outside the Visible range for which it was designed. There is a big learning curve.

Taking this from the top....

The Camera

UV-sensitivity of digital camera sensors is best discussed on a per-camera basis. Actual measurements of a sensor's UV sensitivity are not made available by camera manufacturers. So our knowledge here is gained the hard way - we mod a camera, shoot with it and list it in the UV Sticky if it works well for UV.

Some older cameras had weak internal UV/IR-block filters and could shoot UV/IR without modification - the Nikon D70 being the classic example. But in the newest cameras this UV/IR-block filter is very strong and must be removed to enable UV photography. If the camera also has a seperate anti-aliasing filter, that must be removed as well. Newer cameras may have a sensor-covering dust shaker mechanism which contains UV/IR blocking glass, so this type of dust shaker must be permanently removed during the modification.

Experimentation and sensor construction both indicate that the practical limits of UV photography with DSLRs from which all internal filters have been removed does not go beyond 300nm. This is partly because there is a fused glass layer (or possibly some other kind of coating) over the sensor pack to protect actual sensor elements such as the Bayer array or the microlenses.

See the UV Cameras section for a list of proven UV-capable cameras.

A few brave souls modify their camera themselves, but most of us send the camera to a retail modification shop. During UV modification the sensor is fitted with a clear full-spectrum glass of the same thickness as the removed internal filter. This is done primarily to ensure the correct register distance is maintained for focusing but also to protect the underlying sensor pack. With a full-spectrum mod, you still need an external UV-pass filter to block the Visible & IR wavelengths when making a UV photo. However, a full-spectrum mod does allow you to use other external filters to shoot Visible or IR photos.

An alternate UV modification would be replacement of the UV/IR-block filter with an actual UV-pass filter which would permit use of the camera's viewfinder. We are beginning to see this mod offered by retail mod shops, but the UV-pass filter choice is limited.

See the Camera Modification section for some links to retail modification shops and DIY articles.

The Lens

There's no predicting whether a given lens is UV-capable if it was not specifically designed for UV shooting. Sometimes with a very long exposure an ordinary lens might leak enough near-UV to produce an image, but it likely would not record the fine surface details that UV can reveal. The most we can say generally about UV-capable lenses is that they tend to have uncoated elements, little or no element cement, a small number of elements and, ideally, at least one quartz or fluoride element. However, we must also say that there are quite a number of exceptions to this general rule. Do note that most UV-capable lenses have an axial chromatic aberration problem called 'focus shift' to deal with. Fortunately, some extremely experienced UV shooters have provided us with an extensive list of UV-capable lenses.

See the Sticky :: UV-Capable Lenses for more info on UV-capable lenses, diffraction and focus shift.

The Filter

Nothing ruins a UV photograph more than the dreaded IR contamination which can wipe out the details of a flower's UV signature or cause UV dark areas to wash out. A good UV-pass filter that blocks Visible and Infrared wavelengths is a necessity if you want to claim that you are truly shooting UV. The Baader-U sets the standard for UV-pass filters. But because you might also be using your full-spectrum mod for Visible, IR or multiple-spectral shooting, we have information about other types of filters, too.

Please see the separate Sticky :: UV/Vis/IR Filter for extensive filter information.

The Lighting

To make a photograph, you gotta have light. To make a UV photograph, you gotta have UV light. Sure, there is always the Sun. But what do you do if you are shooting UV indoors ? Or, in the extreme case, what do you do if you are shooting UV in Norway in the middle of winter when the UV index is at zero ?? Well, you pop on some UV-blocking eye protection, fire up your source of artificial UV illumination and shoot away. We have a few suggestions about what works well.

See the UV Lighting section for more information.

The Eye Protection
Now, an important Health & Safety reminder:

Is UV Light Dangerous ? Short Answer: YES !!
It is MANDATORY to wear UV-protective goggles when using UV emitting flashes, flashlights, LEDs or lamps.
And please wear UV-protective sunglasses outdoors.


Ultraviolet light is typically broken up into long, medium and short wavebands.
  • UV-A: 320–400nm = long wave.
  • UV-B: 290–320nm = medium wave.
  • UV-C: 100–290nm = short wave.
The UV that reaches us from sunlight is mostly UV-A (~95%) and a little UV-B. Overexposure to the UV in sunlight or UV from UV-flashes, UV-strobes, UV-bulbs or UV-LEDs can cause cumulative skin and eye damage leading to skin cancers, melanoma, corneal sunburn, cataracts and macular degeneration. The shorter the wavelengths, the more damaging the UV. UV photographs are made in the UV-A band. Wrap around sports goggles that block UV are good as UV-protective eyewear for UV photography. You can also find UV-protective goggles at safety or lab supply stores. You will likely not encounter any UV-C except in a science laboratory or in the context of germicidal lamps. UV-C is far too dangerous for UV photography usage.

See the UV Lighting section for more info on UV flashes, flashlights, LEDs and UV protective goggles.

.
UV Photography Links
To read and learn more about Ultraviolet light and Ultraviolet photography, visit these interesting websites and articles. Some of them have links to other UV information.

First the basics from the Internet's reference standard - Wikipedia. Now some links presented in alphabetical order. .
UV Photo Links .
UV CAMERAS
The UV Stickies were begun by Nikon users so there are a lot of Nikon comments. That, however, is simply historical accident. We are happy to add any comments received about any camera being successfully used for Ultraviolet photography.

Although many unmodified cameras can record some UV if you give them a very long exposure, any camera will perform better in UV if its internal blocking filter is removed. Newer DSLRs and mirrorless cameras must be converted to use them for IR photography because manufacturers have increased the strength of the internal UV/IR blocking filters. Many cameras also have a dust shaker mechanism covering the sensor which contains UV/IR blocking glass, so this type of dust shaker may be permanently removed during the modification.

If you choose an internal UV filter for your conversion, you will have both the viewfinder and Live View available for focusing. If you have decided on a full spectrum conversion in order to be able to make use of external UV filters, then in sufficient UV light you can use Live View to focus your UV shots while wide open and then stop down to shoot. Very nice when it can be done! A UV-LED torch can be useful to shine on close subjects for UV focusing via Live View.

Here is a short list of converted cameras which have been successfully used for Ultraviolet photography. If your camera is not listed here, please contact the Sticky editor. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it will make the point that we have a wide range of choices across the various digital DSLR and mirrorless cameras from which to choose. Please also see: Cameras for UV: Pros & Cons of Various Choices
  • Canon 20D, 40D, M, 5D
  • Nikon D2X, D300, D3200, D7000, D600
  • Olympus E-410, OM-D EM-5, Pen E-PM1, Pen E-PM2
  • Panasonic Lumix G1, G2, GF1, GH1, GH2, GH3, G5
    The Lumix G line is particularly good for UV video.
  • Pentax K10D, K5
  • Sony A100, NEX-3, NEX-5N, NEX-6
.
Warning about cameras having internal IR-LED shutter monitor!
[updated 12 April 2018]
  • Nikon D700, D3, D3S, D3X, D4, D4S and D750
  • Sony a7-II, a7R-II, a7S-II and a7-III, a7R-III and a9
  • Panasonic GH3, GH4, GH5 and GX7, GX8 and G85, GX85 and GX9, GM1
Do not convert these DSLRs or mirrorless cameras because they all have an IR-LED self-diagnostic shutter monitor which produces IR contamination of photos. The excess IR light from the shutter monitor will show up as a lighter area of flare, smear and discolouration in a photo. An exposure with high ISO and short exposure time might mitigate the IR contamination, but many shooting scenarios do not allow this.

Note 1: Some newer Nikon DSLRs having a shutter monitor - for example, D7000/D7100, D600, D800/E - are convertible. Apparently their shutter monitor IR-Led has a wavelength (short-wave IR perhaps?) which causes no IR contamination. You can see what an IR shutter monitor looks like for the Nikon D3S on this Nikon Flagship Reliability page. Scroll down to the Shutter Unit section.

Note 2: Finally we note that the UV/IR photographer (and good techie!) Nick Spiker has swapped out an offending IR-Led in his camera and replaced it with a SWIR-Led and detector which does not contaminate. Very, very cool! Currently this service is not yet offered by the retail conversion shops, but I would expect it to eventually be available. Here is a link which briefly mentions this IR-Led swap: https://www.nickspik...dak-aerochrome/


OLD Nikon or Nikon F-Mount with CCD Sensor
The older DSLRs listed here have CCD sensors and are considered good candidates for UV shooting. Some of them are UV-capable (or IR-capable) without modification and make good DSLRs for UV/IR beginners who would like to get started with minimal expense. Just be aware that with an unmodified DSLR, exposures will be longer and noisier and using the viewfinder is not possible. The listed cameras are no longer manufactured, but can be found as resales in the used section of online retailers, on Ebay or Amazon or in For Sale sections of various photography forums.

Nikon DSLRs (old):
  • Usable unmodified: D1, D1H, D1X, D100, D2H, D50, D60, D80.
  • Usable unmodifed, but better if modded: D2HS.
  • Good unmodified: D70, D70S, D40.
  • Must be modified: D40x, D200
Fujifilm Finepix (old):
  • Must be modified: S3 Pro, S5 Pro
  • Pre-modified by Fuji: S3 Pro-UVIR, IS PRO. Both no longer manufactured, but available used.
Kodak (old):
When we first started the Stickies, we listed these cams as having UV/IR potential, but I don't know if they can be found anymore.
  • DCS 520, 560
  • DCS 620, 620X, 660
  • DCS 720X, 760C
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CAMERA MODIFICATION
UltravioletPhotography is not affiliated with any online retail camera UV/IR conversion shops or any DIY conversion site. Links are provided here *for your information only*. Please post a question or do a search to find out members' most recent experiences with conversions. Keep in mind that when you modify a digital camera, you are voiding the original warranty.

If a retail conversion shop is not mentioned here, then it is because we have no positive feedback about it.

Reminder: Do not convert certain camera bodies from the list above.
Reminder: Any sensor-covering UV/IR-blocking glass dust shaker mechanism might be removed permanently.
Reminder: The practical limit of UV photography with a modified DSLR or mirrorless camera is thought to be 300nm.

Here is an interesting write-up about camera conversion by Dr. Enrico Savazzi: Filter Packs and Replacement Windows

Retail Conversion Shops: USA
Your Editor has had successful conversions from all three of these vendors.

MaxMax (LDP LLC)
MaxMax offers IR, UV, full spectrum, and UV-monochrome conversion. MaxMax has a 6000 square foot conversion facility in New Jersey with a Class100 clean bench.
Editor's Note: MaxMax is the best for clean, dust-free conversions in my experience.
  • Cameras
  • Filters
  • MaxMax is the only conversion shop offering removal of the Bayer filtration in order to produce a monochrome UV camera which becomes 6 times more sensitive to UV without its Bayer filter.
  • Other UV/IR related products: light sources, phosphors & inks, detectors.
  • MaxMax FAQ & EDU.
  • Filter transmission charts available and many sample photos.
  • They post no warnings about the unsuitability of Nikon D700/D3/D3S/D3X/D4 for conversion so be sure to ask before converting one of these bodies.
Kolari Vision
Kolari Vision offers IR and full spectrum mods and other services.. Life Pixel Digital Infrared Conversion
Life Pixel offers IR, UV and full spectrum mods.
  • Filter transmission charts available along with lots of other info.
  • Do-It-Yourself tutorials available.
  • Life Pixel warns about the unsuitability of the D700/D3/D3S/D3X/D4 for conversion.
    Goto the LifePixel FAQ Page, click on the first Question (Which digital cameras do you modify....) and then scroll down to see the Warning by the *a token.
  • Lots of Tutorials and extensive IR Primer in addition to the FAQ page.
.
Retail Conversion Shops: Europe

Advanced Camera Services Norfolk, England
ACS offers IR, UV and full spectrum mods.
  • No filter transmission charts offered.
  • They post no warnings about the unsuitability of D700/D3/D3S/D3X/D4 for conversion.
Optic Makario Germany
Optic Makario offers IR, UV and full spectrum mods.
  • No fiter transmission charts offered.
  • They post no warnings about the unsuitability of D700/D3/D3S/D3X/D4 for conversion.
.
UV LIGHTING
Is UV Light Dangerous ? Short Answer: YES !!
It is MANDATORY to wear UV-protective goggles when using UV emitting flashes, bulbs, flashlights, LEDs or lamps. See next section: UV Eye Protection

Do be sure to look through our tagged UV lighting posts on UVP : UV Lighting

A nice survey article is found here covering many UV torches and flashes as well as other topics:
Lighting for UV Macro by Johan J. Ingles-Le Nobel


UV LED
UV-Led torches are easy to use for UV-induced Visible Fluorescence photography. When used for general reflected UV photography, please be aware that current UV-Leds are somewhat narrow-band and thus tend to produce a near monochrome false colour image.

We note here that UV LED flashlights bought on Ebay or Amazon might not be powerful enough for reflected UV photography. Be sure to examine the specs.

Here are some examples of the category. We are happy to add other examples used successfully by members.
  • Hoplite365 UV-Led Flashlight
    This filtered torch emits between 360-370nm with less than 1 lux of visible light, 370mW, uses the Nichia 365nm NCSU033B chip, and is waterproof.
  • Nichia 365nm UV-LED Lamp/Flash Kit
    Developed by Dr. Klaus Schmitt, this UV lighting kit uses a high grade Nichia LED and comes with a filter, condenser and power controller which is adjustable between 0-100%. Three versions are available: the Nichia 365nm 1-dice chip, the Nichia 365nm 4-dice chip (NC4U133) or the Nichia 385nm 4-dice chip (NC4U134).
Xenon Arc versus Mercury Vapor: Which Is Better for UV Illumination?
From member Dr. Enrico Savazzi we have the following.

In UV the mercury vapor emits mostly a line around 312 nm and a (usually higher) peak at 365 nm. There is a weaker line at 334 nm. Aside from these three lines, not much else of the Hg emission spectrum is directly useful for UV imaging unless the tube is coated with phosphors excited by the 254/312 lines to emit other UV wavelengths. Typically mercury vapor tubes are coated to transmit only UVA around the 365 nm line.

Xenon arc amps emit a much more continuous UV spectrum. So this is the lamp type which would be most useful for UV imaging.

UV Lamp
The Blak-Ray longwave UV lamp is one example of a mercury vapor lamp which can be used for UV and UVIVF photography. The first four links are from the manufacturer's website. The 5th link contains spectral charts, links to photos and additional information about the Blak-Ray. http://www.ultraviol...vf-photography/
The Osram lamp is typically sold for reptile cages. Its link contains a spectral chart and also a quartz xenon emission chart.

Beware of high heat from both lamps. This can be destructive to living photographic subjects. UV Flash
Many inexensive Xenon flashes such can be modified to work for UV photography. We give a link to some Vivitar flash mods below as an example. The typical modification requires removal of the UV-blocking filter over the uncoated flashtube followed by replacement with a UV-pass filter (which may or may not also pass Visible or Infrared light).

Read more about Xenon flash here: A Guide to Selecting Lamps

Some flashes require external battery packs. For some flashes, it is not easy to make use of filters. Be sure to check the sync voltage requirements. You might need to use the flash off of the hotshoe in order not to fry it.

This is neither an exhaustive list nor an endorsement of the items - just a few examples to illustrate the category. And don't forget look through our tagged UV lighting posts on UVP: UV Lighting.
Those posts will provide many other examples of UV flashes and lamps. UV Studio Lights
Some studio lights can be modified and made UV-capable by removing the UV-blocking front glass and fitting them with uncoated Xenon tubes. The Broncolor and UVP Blak-Ray lamps listed below are used by UltravioletPhotography.com members.

This is neither an exhaustive list nor an endorsement of the items - just a couple of links to illustrate the category. .
UV EYE PROTECTION
...and we repeat....
Is UV Light Dangerous ? Short Answer: YES !!
It is MANDATORY to wear UV-protective goggles when using UV emitting flashes, bulbs, flashlights, LEDs or lamps. And please wear UV-protective sunglasses outdoors.

The UV that reaches us from sunlight is mostly UV-A (~95%) and a little UV-B. Overexposure to sunlight can cause cumulative skin and eye damage leading to skin cancers, melanoma, corneal sunburn, cataracts and macular degeneration. The shorter the wavelengths, the more damaging the UV. UV photographs are made in the UV-A band. Wrap around sports goggles that block UV are good as UV-protective eyewear for UV photography. You can also find UV-protective goggles at safety or lab supply stores.
You will likely not encounter any UV-C except in a science laboratory or in the context of germicidal lamps. UV-C is far too dangerous to use for UV photography.

The following links do not constitute an endorsement of the products but serve only to give you an idea of what is available. </dot></at>
Andrea G. Blum
Often found hanging out with flowers & bees.