Infrared and the Leica 12mm

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

Convergence. The first thing I did after receiving the 12mm Leica DG Summilux f/1.4 ASPH lens for testing was head down to McCabe Meadows to shoot some infrared images using my IR-converted (by LifePixel) Lumix G6. I did that for two main reasons:

For whatever reason, and I think Mark agrees with me (shout out if you don’t Mark,) that infrared images shot with wide-angle lenses seems to have more power than those made with longer focal lengths.


By the time I received the lens it was early fall—in Colorado anyway—at about the same time when the Wood Effect was beginning to fade. One of my favorite trees at McCabe Meadows already had a surprising number of leaves that were already turning. If I didn’t shoot it now, later would be too late. This is good advice no matter what kind of photography you do. Don’t think about it, shoot it now.

dead-tree-irThe balance with the 11.82 oz 12mm Summilux on the relatively lightweight (13.75 oz) Lumix G6 was surprisingly good. I later used the lens to photograph cars with the 13.97 oz Olympus E-M10 Mark I and it didn’t feel as balanced, even though I was using Oly’s (3.1 oz) grip. The Leica lens felt more balanced on the Lumix, yet looked awesome on the E-M10.

A word about flare: Not only is noon the best time to shoot infrared photographs but because the sun is directly above, flare is less of a problem. And if you’ve shot an IR converted camera away from prime-time IR hours, you know flare can be a big issue. In that respect the nicely made lens hood Panasonic includes with the lens is not much help and in making these images flare free even at noon-ish MDT, flare kept creeping in and I had to use my hand to shade the front element of the lens for some of these shots.

The other thing this session taught me that as soon as I think I’ve got a handle on the proper exposure for infrared, I discover that I don’t. Don’t count on the camera’s LCD to give you any help. What looks good on the EVF or LCD may not look so good when you open the RAW file. I’m convinced that with this camera (Lumix G6) and this conversion (Enhanced IR) I am going to start shooting a wide (two-stop) bracketed sequence—at least until all the leaves drop off. In case you’re wondering how it all works out, I’ll get back to you with what I find,

If you’d like more details about the Leica DG 12mm Summilux f/1.4 ASPH, you can read more of the technical nitty gritty about in last week’s post. Click here.

My book, The Complete Guide to Digital Infrared Photography is out-of-print but used copies are available from Amazon for less than $5, as I write this. Creative Digital Monochrome Effects has a chapter on IR photography and is available from Amazon with used copies selling for $3, which has to be one of the best book deals out their for what is my personal favorite book.