UV Photography is possible using Nikon D1

Dandelion in UV by a digital camera
© Bjørn Rørslett/NN

This shot of a dandelion floral head proves conclusively that the spectral sensitivity of Nikon D1 extends into the UV range. The image was acquired using a Hoya U-360 bandpass filter and UV-Nikkor 105 mm f/4.5 lens on my D1. Ambient light was excluded and only a SB-140 UV flash equipped with a UV "black" filter" was used to expose this image. So, only UV radiation in the range 300-400 nm could possibly reach the CCD chip of D1*.

The well-known UV patterns of the dandelion flower are distinctly present in the digital image. The outer petals stand out nearly white due to their enhanced UV reflectivity. In contrast, the central area of the floral head absorbs UV and thus is rendered very dark. This "bull's eye" pattern helps insects locate the flowers in the field, and steers them towards the rewarding nectar-producing parts of the flower.

I have presented this shot in b/w because as of yet**, I haven't been able to get colours of digital UV images matching those I obtain using RTP film. The important issue here is however that identical UV patterns result, whether film or digital imaging is used.

For an updated review of digital UV and IR photography, click here.

* IR contamination of the UV image still might occur to some extent, but would only lower image contrast because IR rendition of a dandelion flower is monotonous all over the flower head (tested with Wratten 87/87C IR filters and EIR film)

** See my digital UV and IR article for tips as to how similar colours to film can be achieved

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Last Update 1 October, 2002