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#1 Andrea B.

Andrea B.

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 05:25

The UV Sticky #1:  Intro, Cams, Mods, Lights, Links 2014
by Andrea G. Blum for Nikongear.com

Last Update:  05 February 2014

Note from Editor:
This is a joint effort by the members of Nikongear who hang out in the Invisible Spectrum section. Thanks to everyone there for their suggestions, comments, proofreading, lists, links, measurements, experiments and all round good fellowship.

Please PM <annedi> on Nikongear with any corrections, additions or suggestions.


  • IR = infrared
  • UV = ultraviolet
  • UVIR = ultraviolet and/or infrared
  • <screen-name> = Nikongear member's screen name



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.

While we do have a home on Nikongear (Thank you, Dallas !) and are currently somewhat Nikon-centric, all UV shooters are welcome here. We are united by the mysteries of Ultraviolet, not by such mundane stuff as camera brand ! Your Editor will be happy to add any links or info provided for non-Nikon gear.

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.

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

Most digital cameras have an internal filter that blocks UVIR to varying degrees. In the newest cameras this UVIR-block filter is very strong and must be removed to enable UV photography. Newer cameras also may have a sensor-covering dust shaker mechanism which contains UVIR blocking glass, so this type of dust shaker must be permanently removed during the modification. Some older cameras had weak internal filters and could shoot UVIR without modification - the Nikon D70 being the classic example. A few brave souls modify their camera themselves, but most of us send the camera to a retail modification shop.

During UV modification the internal filter is typically replaced by a clear full-spectrum glass of the same thickness. This is done to protect the underlying, fused Bayer filter & sensor layers and to ensure the correct register distance is maintained for focusing. 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. Fuji did sell some factory-modified full-spectrum models for a time that were aimed at the forensics trade.

An alternate UV modification would be replacement of the UVIR-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.

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 a dim, fuzzy image, but you would not record the amazing 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 way too many exceptions to this general rule. Also note that most UV-capable lenses have a chromatic aberration problem called 'focus shift' to deal with. Fortunately, some of Nikongear's extremely experienced UV shooters have provided us with an extensive list of UV-capable lenses.

See the The UV Sticky #2:  UV Lenses 2014 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 lighten up. 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 The UVIR Filters Sticky 2014 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 !!
Please wear UV-protective goggles when using UV emitting flashes, flashlights, LEDs or lamps.
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 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 great 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 -- in both UV-C scenarios protective skin and eye gear is mandatory.

See the UV Lighting section for more info on UV flashes, flashlights, LEDs and UV protective goggles.
Please let us know of any interesting links you find.

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 as per 2013's reference standard - Wikipedia.

Now some links.

UV Photo Links
Be sure to browse Nikongear's Invisible Spectrum for the latest excellent UVIR photography by our members.


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 UVIR beginners who would like to get started with minimal expense. With an unmodified DSLR, exposures will be longer & 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, in our own Nikongear Classified Ads section, or on Ebay or Amazon.

Note: Although some cameras can be used unmodified for UVIR, any camera will perform better in UVIR if its internal blocking filter is removed.
These lists represent a consensus of opinion from users of these cameras who have provided their observations in Nikongear threads.


  • 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:

  • Must be modified: S3 Pro, S5 Pro
  • Pre-modified by Fuji: S3 Pro-UVIR, IS PRO. Both no longer manufactured, but available used.

When we first started the Stickies, we listed these cams as having UVIR potential, but I don't know if they can be found anymore.

  • DCS 520, 560
  • DCS 620, 620X, 660
  • DCS 720X, 760C

Nikon or Nikon F-Mount with CMOS Sensor
The newer Nikon DSLRs having CMOS sensors must be modified for UV photography because the strength of the internal UVIR blocking filters has been increased. Newer Nikon DSLRs may have a dust shaker mechanism covering the sensor which contains UVIR blocking glass, so this type of dust shaker must 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 UVIR 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.
Warning: Do not convert these Nikon DSLRs: D700, D3, D3S, D3X, D4.
These Nikon DSLRs have an IR-LED self-diagnostic shutter monitor which can produce IR contamination of photos which is particularly damaging to UV photography. The excess IR light from the shutter monitor will show up as a lighter area of flare, smear and discolouration in a UV photo.
You can see the IR shutter monitor for the D3S on this Nikon Flagship Reliability page. Scroll down to Shutter Unit section.

Newer Nikon DSLRs having a shutter monitor - D7000/D7100, D600, D800/E - are convertible. Apparently their shutter monitor is of such a design that it causes no IR contamination.

Modified Nikon CMOS cameras which have been successfully used by Nikongear members for UV.
If your camera is not listed here, please contact the Sticky editor.

  • Nikon D2X - Modified.
  • Nikon D300 - Modified.
  • Nikon D3200 - Modified.
  • Nikon D7000 - Modified.
  • Nikon D600 - Modified.

Other DSLR or non-DSLR
If a Nikongear member mentions a non-Nikon DSLR or a point-and-shoot that they have successfully used for UV photography, then we will list it here.
Note: Panasonic Lumix mirrorless cams are known for their excellent video capability. That carries over to UV video too.
Note: As noted previously, any dust shaker mechanism placed over the sensor which contains UVIR blocking glass will be permanently removed during a modification.

  • Nikon Coolpix 5400 - Modified.
  • Olympus E-410 - Modified.
  • Panasonic Lumix G1 - Modified.
  • Panasonic Lumix G2 - Modified.
  • Panasonic Lumix GF1 - Modified.
  • Panasonic Lumix GH1 - Modified.
  • Panasonic Lumix GH2 - Modified.
  • Pentax K10D - Modified.
  • Pentax K5 - Modified.
  • Sony A100 - Modified.
  • Sony Nex-3 - Modified.

Nikongear is not affiliated with any online retail camera UVIR conversion shops or any DIY conversion site. Links are provided here *for your information only*. Please post a question or do a search in the Invisible Spectrum section to find out NG members' most recent experiences with conversions. Keep in mind that when you modify a DSLR, 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 Nikon a D700, D3, D3S, D3X, D4. See above.
Reminder:  Any sensor-covering UVIR-blocking glass dust shaker mechanism will be removed permanently. See above.

Retail Conversion Shops: USA
Kolari Vision
Kolari Vision offers IR and full spectrum mods and other services.

  • In addition to complete conversion services, Kolari offers a partial DIY service: You remove your sensor pack and send it to them. They will install an IR filter in a clean room and return the senwor to you for your reinstallation in yoru camera.
  • No filter transmission charts offered, but there is lots of info & tutorials.
  • Kolari Vision warns about the unsuitability of the D700/D3/D3S/D3X/D4 for conversion. Link: http://kolarivision....ionservice.html

Life Pixel Digital Infrared Conversion
Life Pixel offers IR, UV and full spectrum mods.

  • Filter transmission charts available along with lots of other info & tutorials.
  • 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.

MaxMax (LDP LLC)
MaxMax offers IR and full spectrum mods.
They post no warnings about the unsuitability of D700/D3/D3S/D3X/D4 for conversion.
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.

Here is some information about UV lighting options.

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 two other options.

  • Nichia 365nm UV-LED Lamp/Flash Kit
    Developed by Dr. Klaus Schmitt <kds315>, 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).
  • McGizmo Haiku 365nm UV-LED Flashlight
    Made by Don McLeish, this flashlight uses a high grade 365nm Nichia LED and has a titanium case. A 385nm Nichia version can also be ordered.

UV Flash
Many inexensive flashes such as the Metz 45CT or Sunpak 622 can be modified to work for UV photography. We give a link to some Vivitar flash mods below.

UV Studio Lights
Studio lights can be used with by removing the UV-blocking front glass and fitting them with uncoated Xenon tubes.

Please remember the Health & Safety reminder presented at the beginning of this Sticky !! Here is a repeat.

Is UV Light Dangerous? Short Answer: YES !!
Please wear UV-protective goggles when using UV emitting flashes, flashlights, LEDs or lamps.
Please wear UV-protective sunglasses outdoors.

The following links do not constitute an endorsement of the products but serve only to give you an idea of what is available.

Andrea B.

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