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Last year I had PhotoFair regular John Chu convert an original EOS M into infrared for me. The old original M cameras are quite reasonable on the used market and frankly it makes for a great conversion. The original M cameras converted to IR shouldn’t be more than $300-$350 and it has a decent 18mp sensor and it is AF. There are others as well, I routimely see IR converted older Canons and Nikons with 18mp sensors and often these are in the $200-$300 range. I did the 650nm conversion on mine and can use heavier filters for the wide range of IR options. Although the color work with infrared is kind of fun what with all the wacky colors, I really like the classic black and white infrared look as well as using the color infrared and pulling back 90% of the color for a subtle quasi black and white look.

The images below were taken with the camera and no IR filter. Just the 650nm infrared sensor conversion. Without any filter or Photoshop work there is this demonic looking orange hue over everything. That can be great when you want to create a post apocalyptic sense to a scene, but not so much useful for other applications. You can use Photoshop to flip the red and blue values with the channel mixer and create crazy neon blue skies instead of the ominous demon sky effect. Just search you tube and you will find a few short videos about how to do this. The third image is monochrome with all the color taken out.

Monochromatic Infrared has always been my favorite although I have seen some photographers produce amazing color infrared, I have never been that good at color IR. Monochrome IR has a deep rich tone with its own ominous vibe as the leafy greens go stark white. On a camera that has a wide spectrum of 650nm or lower you can use classic Infrared filters to block out longer wavelengths up to 960nm. This will result in black and white only image but the tones are very deep. There are 720nm, 750nm, 800nm, 860nm, 900nm, 960nm and more. Results may vary. Remember that the human eye cannot see through these longer wavelength filters as they block out all light except the wavelengths at or longer than the filter’s rating and the human eye cannot see IR wavelengths. Your converted camera’s sensor CAN however. If you use a converted DSLR you will not see anything through the viewfinder when using the deeper IR filters. The filter will appear opaque and look more like a lens cap. The DSLR user should use the live view function when using IR filters. Of course converted mirrorless cameras work perfectly and can see right through the filters.

The B/W monochromatic infrared in itself can be a cool effect but what I really like to do is use the same no filter approach to generate a soft black and white image with a hint of color. The two images below were done no filter just the 650nm conversion and the originals have that heavy orange crust. Sometimes it looks great but often dialing back the orange and red saturation a bit or even the overall saturation maybe 50% or so offers a soft warm glow to the images that can be quite nice. Using the channel mixer can allow other soft tones whether blues or others. Portraits can offer very pleasing skin tones but the hair and eyes might get weird, depending on conditions. With the low cost of older Canon Rebel cameras and the older APS/c Nikon bodies IR conversions can be affordable.

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Last month at PhotoFair in Newark, CA I managed to come home with more cool stuff. I bought a Voightländer Ultron 28/2 in Leica M Mount. I bought a beat up old FD 200/2.8 IF to play with , and I bought a Canon G7x Mark II. Then as if that were not enough, I wandered into Pro Photo Supply in Portland and they had a used Canon RF 35/1.8 IS. Since I didn’t have a single native lens for my EOS R I figured, yeah, gotta have that. But I wasn’t finished, I took the long way home through St Johns in North Portland and said hello to the gang at Blue Moon Camera and they had a LensBaby Velvet 56/1.6 used. Holy cow, this is getting out of hand.

The Velvet 56mm is Lensbaby’s take on soft focus, I love soft focus lenses, but I have hit you all up a little heavy on the soft side of imaging, so I’ll refrain for now, and write that up later in the year. I’ll say the RF 35 is outstanding, love that lens but I’ll be yacking it up another day.

Today I want to talk about the Canon G7X Mark II. I have liked this camera since Canon first introduced the Mark I way back in 2014. Some of you may remember I wrote up the Canon S110 a few years back on this blog, check that out here. That is a great camera and I love how small it is, truly pocket able. The G7X is that camera’s big brother, but what I like is that it is only a little “bigger.”  As far as true pocket size goes, the S110 will fit in your pants pocket, even jeans, the G7X although just a tad bigger, it is a little bit on each dimension and that pushes it out of the jeans front pocket for most people.

That said, the G7X is notably smaller than my old G9 which had a slower lens and a smaller sensor. The S110 has been my go to little camera. It has tiny size, a respectable 5x zoom range with a 35mm equivalent focal range of 24-120mm and a super bright f/2 on the wide end but a pokey slow 5.9 on the tele end. The S120 is a smidge faster at 1.8-5.4. I switched to the S110 from the G9 because it was smaller, faster and wider (G9 had more tele) and I was using it for size and convenience. The G9 had one feature I miss in the S110 and the modern G line and that is the optical viewfinder. Sometimes I just want to look through viewfinder. Some of the G line now has EVF but they add bulk to the body. If I bought a G5X the camera gets dangerously close in size to my M5 which is an infinitely better camera. So that is the dilemma with small cameras, you have to make trade offs.

I have been secretly Jonesing for the G7X and the G7X Mark II for a long while. Why? Because it is essentially everything the S110 is, and I have been shooting that S110 now for 7 years! Clearly I like it, right? Anyway but it has a much larger sensor and the tele end of the lens is still very fast. The G7X trades a little heft and bulk for lens speed and sensor size, oh and about double the price.

Lately the S110 has been relegated to use in my real estate business as a high pole camera. That is I mount it up on a 25 foot tall pole to get over view shots of homes. The M series cameras have replaced the S110 for my weekend fun shots due mostly to the better image quality. But the G7X Mark II has excellent image quality. I just didn’t want to shell out $700 for one. That is where PhotoFair comes in. I found a used one in great shape for a very good price about half the price of a new one. I told myself, “jeez, you don’t see them used much, I better buy it.”

Compared to the S110 the G7X has a sensor more than twice the size! It has a higher pixel count too, but still has a huge edge in noise and low light performance. I like to shoot with available light. This is especially true with compact cameras and built in crappy flashes. The S110 with its small 1/1.7″ sensor is still better than any cell phone but the monster size 1″ sensor in the G7X performs very well, it is nearly as big as 4/3 cameras! I would have been even happier if they left the pixel count at 12.2 mp like the S110 rather than the 20.1 as that would yield even better low light performance. But the extra pixels allow for cropping if need be so I guess that is cool.

Near as I can tell the 1″ sensors are the largest sensor you can get away with and still have a camera that is thin and flat when closed. Larger sensors require larger focal length lenses and that adds weight and bulk. I did not want a camera that was as big as my M5 otherwise, I’ll shoot the M5. This Canon G7X Mark II delivers just what I need for those random shots when I am out walking the dog or out at the beach, etc. Other than all the advantages I just went over, the G7X also has a rear screen that can flip up for overhead angle shots, or flip out for waist level shots, and even flip 180° to become a selfie cam!

Another advantage to larger sensors and their inevitable larger lenses is shallow depth of field. The S110’s effective 24-120mm lens is actually a 5.2-26mm. It is pretty hard to throw a background out of focus with a 26mm lens. The larger 1″ sensor in the G7X uses a 8.8-36.8mm zoom which is an effective 24-100mm. Comparatively the 36.8mm/2.8 will deliver much better shallow depth of field than the 26mm/5.9. I want to make it clear that both the S110 or S120 and this G7X are wonderful cameras. The S series is going to be about half the price, so keep that in mind. If you can swing the extra coin, the G7X is worth every penny. Take a look at the snapshot I took of my lovely wife in the car after dinner last weekend. Yes, I did apply a soften effect in Light Room, I don’t want to be murdered in my sleep.

I can say this camera will be handy.

Carron in the Car, Canon G7X ISO 400 36.8mm 1/125th sec @ f2.8

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