Introduction to Infrared Photography

Infrared, or “IR” photography, offers photographers of all abilities and budgets the opportunity to explore a new world – the world of the unseen. Why “unseen”? Because our eyes literally cannot see IR light, as it lies just beyond what is classified as the “visible” spectrum – that which human eyesight can detect. When we take photographs using infrared-equipped film or cameras, we are exposed to the world that can often look very different from that we are accustomed to seeing. Colors, textures, leaves and plants, human skin, and all other manner of objects can reflect IR light in unique and interesting ways, ones that cannot be mimicked with tools such as Photoshop (yes – there are limits to what Photoshop can do!). Like any form of photography or art however, it is a matter of taste. I would strongly urge people to explore the world of IR. As the number of cameras-equipped devices proliferates and the associated technologies improve, IR photography may offer the opportunity for photographers to expand into new arenas and differentiate their offerings from those of others.

Barboursville Vineyards

1) Terminology

For purposes of this article, I will refer to the infrared light spectrum as “near infrared”, or simply, “IR”. Near infrared refers to the spectrum of light just beyond the range humans can detect with their eyesight. This light range is between 700 – 1200 nm (nanometers). Another aspect of the IR spectrum, above near IR, is associated with thermal imaging. Thermal technology was popularized by movies such as, “Patriot Games” and other thrillers, whereby intelligence agencies or military personnel were able to detect villains by measuring their body heat under nighttime conditions. Today’s common digital camera sensors are not able to detect thermal images. Under the right circumstances however, digital cameras can do an excellent job of recording IR.

2) History Of Infrared Photography

The first forays into IR photography, using special film plates, began in the early part of the 20th century. During WWI, IR photography proved extremely valuable, as images using the IR spectrum were not affected as much by atmospheric haze as normal photos. IR images were also able to show stark distinctions between vegetation and buildings, better identifying potential enemy targets such as camouflaged munitions factories and other key sites. Rivers, streams, lakes, and other waterways were depicted in a very dark hue, making them much more obvious.

During the 1930s and 1940s, film makers introduced a variety of infrared sensitive films that attracted both amateur photographers and Hollywood filmmakers. The military extended its use of IR photography as well, as it sought every possible advantage during WWII. During the 1960s, IR photography saw a number of converts, as some of the leading musicians of the day, such as the Grateful Dead and Jimmy Hendrix, popularized its use via their psychedelic album covers. With the advent of the digital camera in the late 1990s, both regular and IR photography were about to change substantially. In addition to professional and amateur photographers, law enforcement officials rely on IR photography to detect forensic evidence not discerned through normal eyesight.

National WWII Memorial

3) IR Light Qualities

Reflected IR light produces a fascinating array of surreal effects. Vegetation appears white or near white. Skin takes on a very milky, smooth texture, although veins close to the skin surface can be accentuated and take on a rather ghoulish appearance. Eyes can appear a bit ghostly with the irises registering very dark tones and the whites of the eye taking on a grayish hue. Black clothing can appear gray or white depending on the fabric. IR light can pass through sunglasses that, to the eye, appear extremely dark or mirror-like (see image below). Blue skies take on a much more dramatic appearance as well.

The other aspect of IR photos is a bit tougher to describe and classify. I have found that there is a certain type of contrast, or what I refer to as “crispness”, rarely seen in normal photography. High contrast B&W images are the closest in nature to IR photography, but even those don’t seem to have the same look and feel as IR images. These effects and others are what provide the magic of IR photography – just about everything looks very different from what you are used to seeing within the visible light spectrum.

IR Light passing through sunglasses

IR light passing through sunglasses and skin smoothing effect

4) IR Photography Options

35mm IR film is still readily available for as little as $11 for roll of 36 prints. It is easy enough to use in your existing SLR, thus enabling you to experiment with IR photography, without committing to anything more than a roll or two of film, and some development costs. Depending on your lab’s capabilities however, you may find that you have to ship the IR film to another lab that has the ability to process it, much as is required for high end B&W film.

Another alternative requires buying a circular IR filter (similar to a UV or circular polarizing filter) that attaches to the front of your camera lens. The IR filter prevents visible light from passing through while only allowing IR light to strike your camera’s sensor. These filters will vary in price depending on the size of the filter and the specific portion of the IR spectrum they address. The main difference between the filters is how colors are rendered (more on this in a bit), but this is primarily a matter of taste. Spending more money on a filter that focuses on a different part of the IR spectrum doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you will like the results more than an IR filter costing much less.

What are the downsides of using an IR filter that attaches to your lens? The primary issue is motion blur. Since your DSLR has an IR blocking filter in front of it, very little, if any, IR light reaches it. The IR filter allows only IR light to reach your sensor while filtering out the visible light. The combination of the IR blocking filter and the IR filter on the front of your lens requires very long exposure times. Since the IR filter is very dark, you also have to focus before attaching the IR filter to your lens.

Belhurst Castle

The specific exposure time will vary based on the specific IR filter used, sensitivity of the camera sensor to IR, the specifics of the DSLR’s blocking filter, and of course, the amount of IR light. When I first experimented with IR photography using my Pentax K10D in 2007, I found that I needed to leave my shutter open for 45-60 seconds on a sunny summer day to get a properly exposed IR photo. That might be fine if you are taking photos of buildings or other inanimate objects, but doesn’t work so well with anything that moves, such as people, animals, leaves, flowers, etc. But if you want to get into IR photography quickly with minimal investment, you could buy an IR filter such as the Hoya R72 for as little as $64 (depending on the filter size required) and determine if it is for you. The R72 is probably the most popular IR filter, since it addresses a broad spectrum of the IR range, is economical, and produces excellent IR images.

The last option is to have a DSLR converted for exclusive IR use. This is more costly, but it produces the best results and offers the most flexibility.

5) DSLRs Converted For Dedicated IR Photography

This option requires the IR blocking filter that sits in front of your DSLR’s sensor to be removed, and substituted with one that allows only IR light to be passed through. It is the equivalent of taking the external IR filter I previously described, and substituting it for the IR blocking filter. What are the benefits to this approach? You can use your DSLR just as you do today, relying on normal exposure values and shutter speeds. Looking over my IR photo metadata, I have found that on a typical sunny day from May through August, at f/8 and ISO 100, I achieved shutter speeds of at least 1/125 and often much higher. No long exposures, no time focusing and then needing to shift your focus mode from AF to manual, no fiddling with IR filters on the front of your lens. Most importantly – no blurred images.

The cons of using a dedicated IR camera are cost, the inability to use the converted camera for anything other than IR photography, and voiding your DSLR’s warranty (gulp!). You have two options relative to converting a DSLR for IR use:

  1. Send it to a reputable IR conversion company
  2. Do it yourself

I would strongly recommend option 1 unless you are comfortable with the following: watching an instructional video, being very comfortable with very small, sensitive electrical components (heavy duty consumers of caffeine can stop here!), disassembling your camera to reach the sensor in a ultra clean environment, removing the IR blocking filter, replacing it with the IR filter obtained from the conversion company, putting your camera back together, and dealing with any trivial issues such as… dust, hairs, and other particles getting in your camera, as well as any operational issues encountered by some aspect of the disassembly/assembly process. While I have seen the instructional video, and corresponded with a number of people that have performed this operation, I would simply say that it is not for the faint of heart!

There are a variety of companies that specialize in infrared conversion services. One of the most well-known is Lifepixel. I used Lifepixel on two occasions and have nothing but praise for the professionalism of their staff and the quality of their work. Lifepixel first converted my Nikon D40X. Two years later, I sent them my D90. I have to admit that I felt quite a bit of trepidation when I first shipped my Nikon D40X to Lifepixel. The D40X was brand new and I didn’t even take a single picture with it before sending it off in a well-padded box. Something did not feel right about sending a brand new camera to someone other than Nikon to disassemble, modify, and in the process, voiding my warranty! Before doing so however, I spoke extensively with Daniel, one of Lifepixels client support representatives. I emailed him with an exhaustive list of questions and concerns. Daniel was extremely patient and thoroughly addressed every issue I raised. Other Lifepixel representatives were just as responsive and helpful. And in nearly 4 years of shooting IR, I can’t point to a single problem with either of the IR-converted DSLRs. One word of caution – whichever company you select for your IR conversion, make sure that you investigate them thoroughly and feel confident in having them modify your DSLR.

6) Capturing IR Images

Since the DSLR has been modified for IR only purposes, you can use it just as you did when photographing images within the visible light spectrum. ISO, shutter speed, and aperture combinations will work in conjunction with one another just as they do with any non-IR DSLR. Matrix metering is always a safe bet with IR, although you may want to experiment with your camera, lens, and lighting conditions to determine if center-weighted metering provides better results in a given situation. My D40x required me to adjust the exposure compensation button at times, dialing up/down by as much as 1.7. Normally, the range of adjustment was smaller – +/- .3 – .7. Although I have the same IR filter on my D90 however, I have noticed that the D90 requires much less adjustment of the exposure compensation. This was likely a result of the D90 and D40X using different camera sensors. It takes a bit of trial and error to understand what a “good” RAW image looks like in your LCD. With time however, you will come to recognize when you have properly exposed an IR image and if you need to adjust the exposure compensation.

7) What About Lenses?

We are trained to believe that the best lenses will produce the best results. However, in the world of IR, the lens that works best in the visible spectrum can be a complete dud in the world of IR. Conversely, lower cost lenses may perform much better than their counterparts. The main flaws with poor IR performing lenses are twofold; producing a hotspot in the center of the image (slightly different exposure and colors than the rest of the image), and being more susceptible to flare. You may minimize the appearance of the hotspot in post processing, but it can take quite a bit of work. And just as with flares associated with the visible light spectrum, IR flares cannot easily be fixed without extensive Photoshop work. Worse, IR flares are harder to detect. When photographing in the visible light spectrum, you can often tell when you are on the verge of introducing a flare based on the angle of the lens relative to the sun. With IR however, you don’t always receive the same visible cue, since you can’t see IR light. Thus it is important to check your LCD as you shoot IR to ensure that you are not introducing flares into your photos, since you cannot trust your eyes.

The best strategy is to use lenses that are known to work well for IR photography. Such knowledge isn’t easy to come across. While you can always find a myriad of quality lens reviews, few, if any, address the issue of IR performance. One such source is Bjorn Rorslett’s site. Roreslett is one of the few that specifically tests lenses for IR use. As you can see from his site, the humble Nikon 18-55mm is an excellent performer compared to some other lenses costing a healthy multiple of its price. Over the years, I have come to rely heavily on my Nikon 16-85mm VR. It rarely comes off my infrared D90, since it provides excellent IR performance, is extremely sharp, and has a very useful zoom range that covers just about anything I would wish to capture. And since I have a variety of lenses and experimented with their IR performance, I can vouch for many of Roreslett’s IR recommendations.

8) Processing IR Images

RAW files afford the most flexibility for post processing IR images, just as they do for photos taken with visible light. The RAW images viewed straight from the camera are not very impressive – dull, pinkish in color, lacking in contrast. RAW images from an infrared DSLR would likely not persuade many people to delve much deeper into this style of photography. The IR image below (Pennsylvania Memorial in Gettysburg, PA) possesses a decent contrast level, but others can appear more bland or “muddied”.

RAW IR photo prior to post processing

What gives it this pinkish tone? A number of factors influence the look of the RAW IR image – the specific DSLR sensor used, the IR filter installed on the DSLR by the IR conversion company, and software algorithms used for white balance top the list. IR images actually have no color to them, but your DSLR’s sensor has to assign something to the red, green, and blue sensors associated with the Bayer pattern. While each camera’s IR images will appear slightly different than those of others, most modern DSLRs will produce a RAW file that looks somewhat similar to the image above.

I process my IR images in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, using a preset that serves as a good starting point for adjusting the white balance, tone, contrast, sharpening, etc. The most important of these settings is the white balance, which I set to a temperature of 2100 and a tint of -72. The resultant image looks like the one below. Now the image is shaping up and looks much better than the sea of pink from the original RAW file. Warning: Changing the white balance settings of IR images can result in some drastic psychedelic experiences!

After Lightroom adjustments

I then import the image above into Adobe Photoshop CS5, where I have created a few actions that swap the red and blue channels to varying degrees. I am partial to a series of actions that result in a mixture of blue and yellow colors. How did I arrive at these settings? Pure experimentation… When I find a particular look that I like, I quickly create a Photoshop action while I have all the settings in plain view and can recall the associated steps. Sometimes I will reduce the color saturation depending on what I am attempting to achieve and/or the nature of the image in question. Other times, I will change the hue of a given color. Again, since IR does not contain any real colors, those that you see are the result of a myriad of factors that will vary from camera to camera. Thus my Lightroom presets and Photoshop actions might produce somewhat different results if applied to photos taken with your specific IR converted camera make and model.

Below is the final version, after some additional processing, noise reduction, and sharpening:

Final Version

9) Summary

IR photography opens up exciting new worlds for photographers to explore, particularly considering the flexibility that IR converted DSLRs provide. This article is merely an introduction to the various issues and considerations associated with IR. If you would like to understand more about this subject, drop me a note below, and I will be sure to cover additional aspects of IR photography in future articles.


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Avatar of Bob Vishneski About Bob Vishneski

Bob Vishneski works in the media software industry and is an avid photographer. He has held management and technical positions during his career in such areas as computer manufacturing, imaging software and document management systems, enterprise systems development, and consulting. Bob rediscovered his love for photography in 2007, after picking up a Pentax K10D and realized that his background in the computer industry could prove useful in the age of digital photography. When he is not focusing on the challenges of the software development industry, he spends time traveling with his wife, Tanya, and family, golfing, and honing his photography and Photoshop skills. He is a member of the Pittsburgh chapter of the American Society of Media Photographers. Bob and his family reside in the Pittsburgh area. His work can be found at 500px.

Comments

  1. 1
    ) Karen

    Thank you for putting this article on IR up. I have a converted Nikon Coolpix 5400 that I like to play around with and use PSE 9. I haven’t really gotten the finished images that I want so I would look forward to more articles regarding post processing.

  2. 2
    ) Sid

    Great article! I had heard about IR photography but never really knew how it was done. This article says it all :D Next item on my wishlist – IR Filter :P

  3. 3
    ) Ryan

    Nice article. I had the opportunity to use a friend’s IR filter on my camera. But I had to use a shutter speed of around 2 minutes to get the right exposure. Is there an IR filter that can do this with a quicker shutter speed?

    • Ryan,
      Unfortunately, I suspect the answer is “no”. I don’t know which filter you used, but the IR blocking filter within your friend’s digital camera is doing its job – screening out nearly all of the IR light. As I pointed out, long exposures are routine when using an IR filter on a normal camera.
      Bob

  4. Very well written article. IR always fascinated me but I had no idea how to go about it. This is a good comprehensive starting point.

    • Muddasir,
      Thanks for the feedback. Indeed, there is more to know, but as with any discipline, the 80/20 rule applies. I often pride myself on knowing just enough to be dangerous, but never forget how little I know as well! :)
      Bob

  5. 8
    ) Karol

    I have full spectrum converted Canon Powershot G9 with 720 nm “noname” infrared filter. Its good choose for starting with infrared photography.
    My work:
    http://www.roebuck.sk/2011/05/hrinova-infrared/
    http://www.roebuck.sk/2010/12/mesto-a-architektura-v-infrafotografii/

    • Karol,
      You have some wonderful shots on your site. Thanks for sharing. Indeed there are a variety of ways to get into IR. Some of the higher end point-n-shoot cameras offer solid value for delving into IR photography, while minimizing your investment.
      Bob

  6. Excellent article. Thank you for sharing it in such a concise way.
    If you do write future articles on this, will you be making your actions available?
    ow yes… using an IR filter over a mid to hi range Canon digital camera doesn’t work well at all. They have a real good IR filter inside.. 8o(

    thanks again
    regards
    Andy Schmitt
    Head of Photography
    Peters Valley Craft Center
    http://www.petersvalley.org

    • Andy,
      I will likely producing future articles and perhaps an ebook on IR. Indeed, the IR filters in today’s DSLRs make IR photography a real challenge, unless you have your camera modified.
      Bob

  7. 11
    ) Charlie

    Fascinating article, a great eye opener. What is the approximate cost of converting a dslr body to IR? And can anybody recommend a European firm to do this? Thanks again for the great article.

    • Charlie,
      Thank you for commenting. Conversions can range between $250-$350. You can do it yourself, but I consider it a bit of a risky venture. You may come to another conclusion. I don’t know of any European firms, but if you drop Lifepixel and email, I am sure that they will recommend someone competent in Europe.
      Bob

      • I know this reply is 1 1/2 yrs after your comment, but I thought it worthwhile sharing. At the KolariVision web site they have a list of cameras and models that they are not able to convert to IR. If your camera is not on the list, send it in and they will convert it for $99 and return it postage free. So, I sent in my Kodak Z1015 and now have a dedicated IR camera, which I am eager to try out. There is a slight hitch, however. I am supposed to adjustt the white balance to a green target. When accessing the WB through the Menu, only four options are available: Auto, Daylight, Tungsten, and Fluorescent. Which should I choose? Thanks for your posting and reply.

        • Stanley,
          Since each sensor reacts to infrared light differently, you may have to experiment a bit. Adjusting the white balance to a green target requires your camera to support creating a Custom White Balance setting. Some cameras can do this, but some can’t.
          I did a quick search on your camera and didn’t see the capability for creating a Custom White Balance setting, but I may be mistaken. You may be better off with Auto WB in this case, and deal with it in Photoshop. I use a gray card to meter my IR shots so I can give Lightroom a good starting point. I usually end up with a Temperature of 2000 and Tint of -115, but this is highly dependent on the specific sensor and infrared filter combination. These settings may indeed be different for various combinations of IR filters and sensors. My photos all look pink in Lightroom until I do a Color Swap as you can see in the photos above.
          Hope this helps a bit.
          Bob

  8. 12
    ) Ron Benson

    Do you know what’s the cut-off frequency of the required low pass filter? Just curious. In machine vision systems, we often use filters, band-pass especially. Very narrow ones (10 nanometer wide) sometimes. You can get fun results out of these ones. I use one of these this week on a large scale test this week. I selected the visible “notch” so that it allows light in in a spectrum section where carbon has no emission ray. This allows me to discriminate red hot carbon (that appears black to the camera eye) from molten metal (which appears white)

    • Ron,
      The Hoya 72, one of the most popular, is at 720 nm. Others in the Wratten series start higher – in the high 700s or low 800s. Still others start within the upper end of the visible light spectrum, somewhere in the high 600s. I looked over all of them at Lifepixe.com, and thought the standard filter seemed to offer the most flexibility. But again, it really is a matter of taste vs. anything objective.
      Bob

  9. 16
    ) Dave Leadingham

    Any advice for doing editing in PSE 10? Can’t afford to but LR or CS5 right now. I’ve been playing around in PSE, but not able to get close to the results I see when people use CS4 or 5.

  10. Dave,
    You need a channel mixer to get the proper effects. There are apparently some plugins for Elements. Here’s one that I found. You may be able to find others as well.
    Bob
    http://simplephotoshop.com/elementsplus/index.htm

  11. 18
    ) Don Toothman

    Wonderful article. Very inspiring. Regarding using filters on unconverted DSLRs, I understand the issue of requiring very long exposures to register enough IR light. For me, though, a long exposure, even a several minute exposure, is not a major drawback, for what I’ll likely be shooting with IR. Motion blur would only be a problem for me on windy days when including trees/ foliage in the picture. Will there be a significant compromise in quality using a D700 (which I supposed has a strong IR blocking filter) with the Hoya R72 and a very long exposure vs. a D700 with the IR blocking filter removed, assuming a stable subject? Most of my photography centers around travel, typically by motorcycle or bicycle. Since I always carry a tripod anyway, I’d hope that just adding the Hoya could get me 75% there, without having to carry a 2nd body dedicated to IR only.

    • Don,
      Thank you. If you can afford the set-up time and your subjects aren’t moving the R72 on the D700 would probably work quite well. I can’t comment on how the D700′s IR blocking filter works relative to others, but my general understanding is that over the years, these IR blocking filters have gotten stronger (block more – not less – light than earlier generations of DSLRs).
      My Pentax K10D and R72 needed at least 45-60 seconds on a bright summer day to capture a decently exposed IR image. As such, it didn’t lend itself to anything spontaneous and/or that had even the slightest bit of movement.
      Since much of IR’s beauty is associated with photography plants and trees, I often found that I had movement in many of my photos.
      You might want to consider a lower-end Nikon DSLR such as the D40X and a conversion by Lifepixel.com if you find that you really enjoy IR photography.
      Bob

      • 20
        ) Don Toothman

        Thanks, Bob. Very helpful. I’ve got a D100 and D200 body in the closet collecting dust. Any insight into which of these would work best for conversion? Since it sounds like there are some lens-camera combos that work better than others for IR, the lenses I’d be using for either of these cameras are the DX 12-24 f/4 and 18-200 f/3.5-5.6, or FX 24-70 f/2.8, 16-35 f/4, or 14-24 f/2.8. Bjorn Rorslett indicates that the 12-24 is a mixed bag, but doesn’t break down his 1-5 rating with regards to the D100 or D200, and he hasn’t IR rated the other lenses that I mention. Now if you have all that information in your head you are a wizard!

        • Don,
          I would go with the D200 for conversion. One of the best lenses is… surprise – the very sharp 18-55mm kit lens! I would pick up one of these used for $50 or so if you don’t have one. I rarely take my 16-85mm VR off my converted D90. It is perhaps the optimal lens for IR, with a great range and excellent IR performance.
          Bob

          P.S. Any wizardry points for this? ;) http://www.jim-kramer.com/IR-Lenses.htm

  12. 22
    ) Radovan Adamisin

    I was looking for article like yours on internet for a while and here it is. Last year I bought FUJIFILM IS PRo camera which is UV/IR camera from NY store fore great price and was thinking to sell it but after I sell mine D700 and waiting for new D800 I decide to give a shot and in same time I found this page and UV/IR so I gave a chance to my new camera. I would like to ask you if there is any book about Uv/IR photography. I would like to learn more about it. I have already some Nikon lenses what I can use but can you help me? I have 50mm 1.4 AFS,24-70, 70-200 VR II,105 VR micro, 135 DC f/2 and also I have some older Asi manual lenses: 55mm 1.2 SC, 50mm1.4,28mm 2.8 ,200 F4. Is it better to use manual lenses or AF???
    one more question. I have Adobe LR3, but don’t have photoshop . Is there any other way to make photo as yours with all color changes???
    I purchased also UV/IR cat filter so I can use camera for normal photography . DO you thing it would be wasting UV/IR camera, or should I get rather any non UV/IR camera ???
    thanks for help
    Rado

    • Rado,

      Thanks for writing. I am in the process of outlining ideas for an infrared ebook that will be available on this site. With respect to the lenses, the links I have to Kramer’s or Rorslett’s sites are the best I have found for identifying lenses that work well or not so well for IR use. Just remember that the cost of a lens has absolutely nothing to do with its IR performance. I would recommend looking for your lenses in the two sites above. I would recommend AF lenses, but that is just a personal preference. As long as the lens performs well for IR use, it is fair game. One of the best and cheapest lenses for IR use is the humble 18-55mm (VR or non-VR). It can be found for $50 used in some cases. And since many IR shots are taken at higher aperture values (I almost always have mine on f/8), this lens will produce very sharp photos.

      Unfortunately, LR won’t allow you to do much with an IR image apart from basic white balance, some sharpening, contrast, etc., since it does not have a Channel Mixer. You can pick up Photoshop Elements 10 and use one of the plugins listed above (comment 17). The Channel Mixer is key to enabling you to exploit the false colors of IR photos. Without it, you can merely adjust your photos in a monochromatic manner. I haven’t used the plugin listed so can’t vouch for its usefulness for this purpose. http://simplephotoshop.com/elementsplus/index.htm

      I always recommend a dedicated IR camera, since converting a regular camera for IR use via filters can be a real chore. It is fine for one or two shots, but if you are walking around without a tripod and a lot of time on your hands, you will quickly realize that this approach doesn’t work so well.

      Hope this helps.
      Bob

  13. 24
    ) Beto

    Bob, you just gave me a solution on what to do with my Nikon D80: IR!
    I own it for already for 5 or 6 years and decided to upgrade to the D7000….
    Do you think the D80 will work fine as a IR-dedicated??

    Thanks and best regards,
    Beto

    • Beto,
      There are many great IR photos taken with converted D80s. I have a converted D90, and like my previous D40X, it works great.
      Bob

  14. 26
    ) Tom

    Firstly – great article – especially where you show how the image changes with a few LR and PS changes.

    I’m trying to decide on a camera at the moment to have a LifePixel filter installed, looking between D90, D300, D300s and D700 … do you have any knowledge or thoughts which of these may be best?

    Also, for interest – which of the LifePixel filters did you select to get the above look?

    Cheers
    Tom

    • 27
      ) Bob

      Tom.
      Thank you. I have had a D40X and D90 converted thus far. Both took great infrared photos. I don’t believe you will notice huge differences between the cameras you mentioned relative to the quality of the infrared photos they capture. Great IR shots are almost always taken on extremely sunny days at a camera’s lowest ISO level, unless you are shooting a sports or wildlife scene. Thus high ISO differences between the camera models you listed don’t come into play. I almost always have my lenses at f/8 as well, thus maximizing the capability of the lens.
      Dynamic range relative to IR is hard for me to judge. Since IR light is on a different spectrum, I don’t believe the traditional dynamic range advantages of a D700 would apply in the IR world. There are some scenes that my eye tells me would be horrible in regular light (areas of great contrast between light and shadows), that turn out very uniform in IR.
      So most of the differences between the camera models you listed don’t have as much meaning in an IR world. I would recommend going with a D90, and put the money you save toward a Nikon 16-85mm VR lens, perhaps the only lens you need on an IR camera.
      I always recommend a “standard” filter. There is enough ability to modify the output in Photoshop to achieve different colors. IMHO, some of the other filters look over the top and I have yet to see any output that I could not mimic by changing contrast, curves, color hue, or the Channel Mixer.
      Good luck and show us some of your pics when you get your camera!
      Bob

      • 31
        ) Tom

        Thanks for your reply Bob, I’ve decided to go with the D90 … in regards to the LifePixel site they list getting the camera calibrated in either Live View or to a particular lens. The lens they mention is the 18-70DX lens, however am thinking of taking your advice and going with the 16-85.

        Did you send them this lens for calibration, or did you get them to do the universal calibration and use the live view mode instead?

        Looking forward to learning a new style of photography!

        • Tom,
          Good choice. The 18-70mm DX is not a great IR lens. I mentioned that both my and Bjorn’s testing show it to be prone to a sometimes very noticeable hot spot in the center of the photo. I sent my 16-85mm VR lens and D90 to Lifepixel. Send us a link with some of your photos.
          Good Luck!
          Bob

  15. 28
    ) georgios

    Hello there,very beutifull article and helpfull

    i have a question ,if you can answer.
    i own a d3000 and a d3100 i use an IR filter of 950nm even on a bright sunny day i need to have exposures of 4-5 minutes in orde to ger a decent photo.
    even then,i get a lot of noise,and i havent managed to settle on a proper iso or WB number.

    • Georgios,
      The IR filter you are using is cutting out quite a bit of light, even quite a bit of available infrared light spectrum. This combined with the specific IR blocking filter on the D3000 and D3100 is likely why you are seeing such longer exposures.
      You could try a Hoya R72 filter that allows more of the IR light spectrum to come through, but I can’t say for certain how much it will cut down on your exposure times. I have seen some comments on the web that show that exposure times can be significantly reduced by switching to IR filters that allow more of the infrared light spectrum to come through.
      My two cents would be to sell your 950 and try an R72. If that doesn’t work, you might want to consider picking up a used D40, D40X, D80, etc. and having it converted by LifePixel.
      Thanks for writing.
      Bob

  16. 33
    ) Shawn

    Hello, Lovely Blog you have here. I enjoyed reading it.

    I would like to know more about using IR film and SLR’s. What do I need exactly for my SLR? Just the film and a place that can process it? Or do I need a IR filter also?

    Thanks again!

    • Thanks, Shawn. You just need to pick up some infrared film. You probably won’t be able to process it locally. Check with Ritz Camera if you have one nearby. They can likely have it processed for you, but will not be able to handle it in their onsite lab.
      Bob

  17. D 90 and Hoya 72 attaches works well with IR? Thanks!

    • Gerson,
      Absolutely. It is a matter of the exposure times associated with the Hoya 72. If you take pictures of vegetation, you better hope there is no wind blowing.
      Bob

  18. Thanks for your reply Bob. I have great times with IR photography with my Sony H2 and a Hoya r72. You can see my IR at http://500px.com/GersonLeite. Let’s see how D 90 works ;)
    Wonderful article, congratulations!
    Gerson

  19. Gerson,
    Thank you. Many of my IR shots on 500px were taken with my D90. The others were taken with my D40X.
    You have some very nice photos on your 500px page. Look forward to seeing more.
    Bob

  20. 39
    ) Karol

    My first photos from Sony NEX-5 Full Spectrum, lens Sony E 18-55, 720 and 600 nm filters. Postprocessing Lightroom 4. The camera works great.

  21. 40
    ) Karol

    http://www.roebuck.sk/2012/07/sony-nex-5-infrared-prve-zabery/
    My first pictures from Sony NEX-5 Full Spectrum, lens Sony E 18-55, 720 and 600 nm infrared filters. The camera works great.

    • Karol,
      These photos are stunning! Excellent job. Thanks for sharing with us. What shutter speeds were required?
      Bob

      • 42
        ) Karol

        I shooting in sunny day in Shutter priority (S), ISO 200, aperture from F8 to F14, shutter speed from 1/60 to 1/200 s. Exosure correction +1EV. Pictures is clear, minimum noise.

        • Karol,
          Interesting shutter speeds. To get such photos would require significantly longer shutter speeds on a Pentax or Nikon as the infrared blocking filter is pretty strong. The infrared blocking filter on the Sony must be very weak, which works out well for IR use.
          Bob

          • 44
            ) Karol

            This camera is modet to infrared. I let cut filter to remove (40€).

        • 45
          ) Radovan Adamisin

          som rad ze som tu nasiel aj nejakeho rodaka z SK….super foto, ja som sa zacal zaujimat o IR fotografiu ked som si pred rokom kupil Fuji IS PRO- co je original IR camera, ale je dost tazko najst nieco o tom….mas nejake zdroje kde by som to mohol pozriet?

          • 46
            ) Karol

            Dokoca som ani nezaregistroval, ze taky fotak je.

    • 47
      ) Karol

      Gallery updated. New pictures from my city.

  22. 48
    ) Tina

    Hi Bob,
    Thanks for the info on IR. I have been looking into a conversion for awhile and I am thinking of using my old Nikon D3. Do you think it would make a good IR camera?

    • Tina,
      You are quite welcome. The D3? I am sure it would do a fine job with IR. Just make sure you determine which lenses work best for IR. I have some links in the article that may help.
      Bob

  23. 50
    ) Barbie

    Hi there, I bought a Nikon d3200 this week. Its my first nice dSLR. I’m very interested in infrared photography but don’t currently have the money to modify the intererior of the camera. I do have a tripod and once I learn the camera better and shutter speeds etc, I would like to start with the filter option. How do I know if a filter is comptatible with my camera? Thanks!

  24. 51
    ) PRADEEP SWAIN

    Dear sir,
    as per your advice Hoya R72 filter can produce pictures you have shown above. Excellent pictures no doubt about that. But I have two questions and hope you will answer me.

    Question 1 -L ots of cheap costs brands are available in market like Neewer ir720. If I use this type of filter then is there any chance of compromising with the quality of photographs. I mean to say that will I get a similar quality photographs like you have shown?

    Question2 – And another question is sir, in ir photography is there any possibility of damaging the camera sensor or any vital parts of camera?
    Thanks and regards,
    PRADEEP

  25. Pradeep,

    I have never used the Neewer filter. For $7-$10 bucks, it may be worth a try. Sometimes you get lucky and find a lower cost product that rivals the performance of the more expensive alternatives. Chances are, however, that some compromises were made in the optical quality of this filter, and it may not perform as well as the Hoyas and other higher quality models.

    If that is the case, it would be most visible in:
    1. A head-to-head comparison of the resolution of the images
    2. The filter’s ability to restrict the visible light range uniformly
    3. The filter’s ability to allow IR light to pass to the sensor uniformly

    If you give the filter a whirl, let us know what you think. I did a quick search and found some positive feedback regarding the Neewer IR filter, but I didn’t see any head-to-head comparisons that would lead me to believe it would perform as good as some of the more popular brands.

    Bob

  26. 53
    ) Allen

    Dear Bob:

    First, let me join in the chorus of praise for your excellent, concise introduction to infrared photography and your advise to readers about equipment and software. One aspect you don’t seem to cover is converting four-thirds cameras like Panasonic Lumix or Olympus EP/EPL mirrorless digital cameras to IR use. LifePixel makes special (and very positive) mention of this option. I will be traveling to Machu Picchu in October and I think it would make for some awesome infrared shots. I’ll also be carrying my Canon 7D, numerous Canon lenses and filters, monopod, etc. as I travel along the “Sacred Valley of the Inca” and ascend Wayna Picchu (which overlooks Machu Picchu), so the idea of carrying a smaller, four-thirds camera for my IR photos is especially appealing. Right now, I thinking of purchasing a used Olympus E-P2 or PEN E-PL2 camera and having LifePixel convert it to IR use. Any thoughts or suggestions?

    Thanks again for your excellent info.

    Yours – Allen

    • Allen,
      Thanks so much for the feedback. Glad you received some value from the article. Indeed much has changed in the last few years on the infrared front. The choices available were far less when I first converted a Nikon D40X. In fact, I had thought to convert my Pentax K10D, but quickly discovered that no one would perform the conversion. That helped cement my growing notion that Nikon might be a better brand for my needs.
      Lifepixel converts quite a few more camera models today than it did in 2008. As such, you have many more options. I don’t have any experience with the Olympus models you mentioned, but I am sure my friends at LIfepixel can steer you toward some that have had their cameras converted as wells some photos that show off their capabilities.
      Let me know if/when you have your conversion done. I always enjoy seeing the IR work of others, and particularly how different camera models handle IR images. Mention my name to Lifepixel if you have an opportunity.
      Bob

    • Allen:

      Let us know what your camera choices were and your results at Machu Picchu.

      I will be going in a few months.

      Since my Nikon D50 lacks the resolution of newer and higher end models, I compensate by shooting overlapping images. I was able to print a 60 x 30″ fairly detailed image of the Western Wall in Israel with this camera — must have taken about 35 images and photomerged them.

      One of these days, I will bump up to a newer camera, but then I’m shooting more for art than for photorealism. Hence, some of my images become paintings. Oh well . . .

      Joe

      • 111
        ) Allen

        Hi Joe (and Bob):

        Thanks for contacting and sorry for the delay in reply (Bob: I apologize for the loong delay in getting back to you and thanking you for your advice).

        As regards my camera choice and experience working in infrared, ultimately, I decided to buy a used Canon Powershot G11 (from B&H Photo) and have it converted by Life Pixel to “standard IR filter” (all my cameras are Canon, including a Canon Powershot G12, which I use as a back-up/night-time city life camera, and the ease of adjusting to a new mode via a camera I’m already familiar with figured prominently in my decision).

        Nice to read that you’ll soon be visiting Machu Picchu. My first use of the infrared camera was in Peru, but my photos of Machu Picchu were, on the whole, fairly lackluster. The days were cloudy (with one of them a day of continous drizzle and mist). Obviously not the best of conditions for infrared photography. (Subsequent infrared photos taken at the sand dunes of Ica, Peru were much more satisfying.)

        Frankly, even if the weather is ideal, it’s very difficult to get a shot of Machu Picchu that is 1. distinctly different from those you see in guide books or promotional brochures, and 2. is as devoid of people as those you see in guide books or promotional brochures. Even though Peru has begun limitiing the number of tourists per day who can visit the site, there’s still a large number of people waiting to get in when the gate opens at 7am (probably the best way to avoid that is to approach Machu Picchu via the Inca Trail, but that involves a very arduous 2-4 day hike). By 9am the tour buses begin arriving, and it is nearly impossible to get a shot of the ruins w/o large groups of people – most of them clad in orange parkas – getting in the way. And forget about getting that “magic hour” shot; the park rangers begin herding visitors out long before sunset. So, how do photographers get those wonderous photos of Machu Picchu w/o people? Probably through “special arrangements” with the Peruvian authorities.

        Back to the infrared camera. I had better luck on subsequent visits to New Orleans and Panama, especially at the cemetaries in New Orleans, where the combination of bright cloudless skies, granite tombstones and low-hanging boughs of leafy trees made for some magical shots. I haven’t posted them on my website yet (www.aekphoto.com) and I’m not linked to Facebook or other “social media,” so I can’t share them at present. But Life Pixel did an excellent conversion with fast turnaround time, and the Canon Powershot G11 did its job.

        So, once again, I apologize for the delay in getting back to you. Have a great time in Peru; much to see and much to do there, with many gracious people to meet.

        Yours,

        Allen

        • Thanks for the heads up on Machu Picchu as tour site.

          I don’t mind people in my fotos — actually like them doing unexpected things. Here is a Blurb book of mine dedicated to IR when I went to Lisbon and various cities in Spain: Iberia Infrared.

          http://www.blurb.com/b/3632582-iberia-infrared

          Joe

  27. 55
    ) Brian Merry

    Hi Bob,

    I hope is well with you. I recently picked up my D800e. Do you think I can use it for IR photography if I just put an IR filter on the front since it has the anti-aliasing filter removed on the sensor?

    • Brian,
      You can indeed use something like a Hoya R72 infrared filter attached to one of your lenses. From what I understand however, the IR cut filter (blocks IR light) on the D800 is very strong. In effect, you will be attaching a filter that only allows IR light through the lens, where it will have to pass through the IR cut filter designed to block it. The net effect will likely be very long exposure times. Unfortunately, some of the most interesting subjects to include in IR photos are vegetation, which unless there is absolutely no wind, will be blurry due the long exposure times.
      The IR conversion process removes the IR cut filter and installs the equivalent of the Hoya R72 inside the camera to only allow IR light to reach the sensor.
      You may want to borrow an IR filter or potentially buy a cheap one on ebay and try it before investing in a Hoya R72 or other quality brand. This may save you the trouble of finding out that you invested a good chunk of change only to find out that the long exposure times render the IR filter useless. I had a Pentax K10D, which had a very strong IR cut filter. With my Hoya R72, I experienced exposure times of 45-75 seconds on a bright sunny day in July. It was also impossible to focus with the IR filter on, so I had to focus first, and then screw on the Hoya R72. This experience helped drive me toward having lifepixel.com modify a brand new D40X, which I purchased solely for IR use.
      Good luck and let me know how your D800E IR testing goes. Did you test your D800E’s focus accuracy yet?
      Bob

      • 57
        ) Brian Merry

        Hi Bob,

        Thanks for the reply,

        I haven’t tested the focusing yet but I found it to be hunting a lot in practice when I had a 2x tele-convertor on my 80-200mm 2.8. It was almost useless in lower contrast backgrounds that usually gave it no problems without the tele-convertor. I’m looking forward to Nikon finally figuring this out and coming out with a firmware upgrade.

        I shot with it at a dimly lit wedding reception venue two days after I got it and found it to be significantly better than my D700 that my wife was using at the same time. We eventually gave up with the D700 and I just shot with the the D800e. It obviously has some focusing problems when I try to push the limits but I think it’s an improvement over the D700.

        Also, I forgot where you sent me to find the focus testing procedure. Could you remind me please?

        I’ll try the IR filter before I buy one. If it is too much of a pain I’ll stick with my original plan and convert my D300 to IR instead of selling it.

        Thanks

        Brian

        • Brian,
          My 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII and TC 2.0 III combo is amazing sharp and fast focusing, even in less than ideal light – http://500px.com/photo/11072121.
          Here’s the link to the testing process: http://photographylife.com/how-to-quickly-test-your-dslr-for-autofocus-issues
          Can’t hurt to test an IR filter on the D800E before committing to one. I found the Hoya R72 to be of little practical use on my K10D. I suspect it may not be much better on the D800E, but will interested in your confirmation of its performance.
          If you really want to get into IR, the conversion process is the way to go. Recognize this scene? :)
          http://500px.com/photo/13676893
          Bob

          • OK,

            I know I’m not going to want to wait around for 45 seconds or so every time I take an IR photograph. The D300 is heading to lifepixel.

            You did a great job editing them. It was great to meet you. I sincerely hope we cross paths again.

            Take care,
            Brian

        • Brian,
          I just recalled that I still have my Hoya R72 IR filter. If we get some sunny weather in the next few days, I will attach it to one of my lenses (67mm thread), and see what it does on my D800. This should give you some indication of the exposure times and IR quality on your D800. Not sure your lack of an anti-aliasing filter will change the results.
          Bob

  28. 61
    ) SVRK Prabhakar

    Can you please tell if there is any way to shoot IR without modifying the camera? Such as using IR allowing filter attachments etc? Any suggested name for it? Thanks in advance,

    • 62
      ) SVRK Prabhakar

      Sorry, I got it from the article itself.

  29. Hi, Bob.

    A photo taken with my new converted Nikon D 5100 by Life Pixel: http://500px.com/photo/14956319 I hope you enjoy.

    • Gerson,
      I liked that one quite a bit. Nice job!
      Bob

      • Thanks, Bob.
        Your opinion is very important for me.

  30. 66
    ) Jack

    Great introduction, have a look at my infrared motion time-lapse test: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lt7wrmqC_Mw

    • Jack,
      Very nice work! Where did you purchase the rail system?
      Bob

      • 68
        ) Jack

        Thanks a lot Bob. I am preparing some new tests (actually I just shot them today :) and as soon as they will be ready I will post them here so you can let me know your thoughts about them. The rail system is a Glidetrack Hybrid HD, it’s really good, believe me, otherwise I wouldn’t use it. You can find that and maybe cheaper versions at this website: http://www.glidetrack.com

        Nice to meet you Bob, speak later!

        • Thanks for the info, Jack. It is pricey but looks to be well made. Please send updates as you make new videos. Great stuff!
          Bob

          • 70
            ) Jack

            There are less expensive versions on that site… I use the Hybrid just because I meanly make videos… and that one is specifically for videos… but the others are great for time-lapses. I am looking forward to show you some new test in infrared colour (not beautiful as your…) :) subscribe to my Youtube channel if you want… so you will see everything I do…. http://www.youtube.com/user/AvantgardePicturesMG

          • 71
            ) Jack

            Hey Bob this is a first little test of color correction http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5v8Vc7LoCAM more coming soon.

            • Jack,
              Very nice. I have to hit the IR circuit soon. I have been spending far too much time with my D800!
              Bob

  31. 73
    ) Jack

    Ah thanks a lot. IR is great and the new time lapse I have made is simple great. I will publish it this Saturday on my Youtube channel. You will love it… it is shot in Wimbledon Park. I will also upload a color corrected version of the same but on the next week… IR photography offer a universe of variations… so I am still experimenting. Speak later Bob.

    Jack

  32. Jack,
    Do you shoot time lapse in RAW or JPEG? I have found that processing IR shots is far better in RAW.
    Bob

    • 75
      ) Jack

      I use RAW if I am taking pictures, but if I make a time-lapse I am forced to shoot in JPEG, because it burns to much space both on the card and later on the Hard Drive. But these are only tests I am making with my old D100… when I will have the budget for I will buy a D600 and convert it for IR photography only! :)

  33. 76
    ) Jack

    Hey Bob, check out the new time-lapse sequence and let me know your thoughts: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHsMsb6XL4E

    • Nice work, Jack. How many photos did it take to put this together?
      Bob

  34. 78
    ) Jack

    Roughly 190 each shot, while aI am new on the IR world I am making time-lapses since when I was younger… if you want to spend 15 minutes of your time I would suggest you to watch one of my oldest short films “Paranoico” http://www.giacomomantovani.com/films/paranoico.html Especially at the very end it is full of time lapses in Venice. Take care Bob, and thanks once more.

    Jack

  35. 79
    ) Jack

    Hey Bob, how are you? Have a look at this wonderful video we have made in Wimbledon Common yesterday: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pasyLqGMXw

    Let me know what do you think about it. I hope you will love it.

    Take care.

    • Jack,
      Very nice! It looks like you were in the water for some. Were you?
      Bob

      • 81
        ) Jack

        Ahah thanks a lot mate! :)

  36. 82
    ) Rich

    Bob,
    Wonderful write up. I have a Lifepixel converted Nikon D70 using their 810 nm cut off filter. I have been pre-setting WB on green grass to get white trees. I am very interested in the channel swapping method mentioned in your article. You also mention a possible forthcoming e-book. I would be most interested in it as right now I am just getting what I call “Ansel Adams” type B&W images and would like to incorporate blue sky as you have done in your examples in this article if that is possible with my setup.

    • Rich,
      Thanks for writing. The channel swapping method is an important part of the post-processing. Without it, you are somewhat limited with respect to the appearance of your IR photos, unless you have some of the filters that enable more visible light to be captured. At 810nm, no visible light is being let through, thus you may not be able to draw any of the usual color distinctions you see in photos taken with a 720nm filter (or Hoya 72) or another filter that lets in additional visible light. I would be curious to see one of your images run through a channel mixer as well to see what is possible. Do you have the full version of Photoshop? Elements didn’t have a channel mixer upon my last check, but Adobe does continue to add additional Photoshop features to it with each new release. If you don’t have Photoshop, feel free to email a RAW file to me and I will give it a whirl.
      Bob

  37. 84
    ) Mark

    Bob,
    Great article! Awesome to find so much information about IR in one place, thank you. I have a super color converted D80 that I had done by LifePixel about 6-8 months ago. I feel I have already outgrown the capability of this camera and I am thinking of converting a D7000. The main reasons on the D80 are, the size of the screen (its like a postage stamp!), the noise levels even at ISO 100 are unacceptable in most situations, the sensor doesn’t award you with the best print sizes, and finally, the fact that is has no live view. My main cameras are a D700 (concert/low light), and a D800 (models/fashion). I am aware of the white balance issue with using a newer Nikon, as I have spoken to Daniel at LifePixel a few times about this. I have so much fun and passion to keep getting better with IR that I have an itch to upgrade for my reasons above. As a previous owner of both a D90 and a D7000, I know both are a HUGE upgrade from a D80, and the price point right now is only $50 between the two (body only). Do you think a D7000 and its fantastic sensor would be a good choice?
    Thanks for your time Bob…
    ~Mark

  38. 85
    ) Joe

    How do you get color in an IR?! . Each time I shoot pass IR 720nm filter, photos turn to b&w

    • Joe,
      A 720mm filter allows a slight bit of visual light in, so you are able to exploit this in post processing software such as Photoshop.
      Bob

  39. Adobe has decided to give away the entire creative suite from CS2… now you don’t need elements anymore… Of course, you can’t upgrade from this but what the heck…
    http://www.diyphotography.net/download-adobe-cs2-for-free

  40. 89
    ) Dale Spencer

    Hi Bob, very informative article, superb pictures. I am thinking of having my D90 converted, do you mind me asking which filter you had fitted for these shots. I live in the U.K. so was considering Advanced Camera Services who offer 720nm and 830nm conversions. I believe they can also fit filters in the 600 range. Also do you really need to have the lens calibrated or something (18-55VR)
    Regards,
    Dale

    • Dale,
      I use the 720nm. I like this filter since it captures a bit of visible light and enables you to create multi-color photos. The 830 cuts out all visible light reducing you to B&W shots (or toned). The 600nn range allows more visible light in at the expense of some of the IR light & effects. The images produced with the 600nm filter look a bit gaudy to me, but as with anything, it is a matter of taste.
      The conversion companies suggest you send in the lens you intend to use. I use a 16-85mm Vr with mine. I did send the lens in with the camera. In retrospect, I could have done it myself with a few test shots and tweak the focus via the D90′s lens adjustment capability. Since many of my IR shots are landscape shots taken at f/8 – f/11, fine tune adjustments are not critical.
      I haven’t looked at my D90 to see if the lens has an adjustment factor, but will do so when I have a chance.
      Bob

      • 91
        ) Dale Spencer

        Thanks for the info Bob, I’ll let you know how I get on.
        Dale.

  41. 92
    ) Ryan

    Sir Bob,

    I have my D90, and i want try the IR Photo…what kind of IR Filter suite for D90 without converting my cam?

    • Ryan,
      Various manufacturers such as B+W, Hoya, Lee, Tiffen, and no-name brands. There are probably 10 steps in a range between 590mm and 88nm. The main differences relate to how much visible light they let in vs. infrared light. The more visible light (lower nm numbers), the less infrared light, but more vibrant colors. The more infrared light, the more accentuated infrared effects (whiteness of leaves and other vegetation). It is really a matter of taste. B&H photo has a variety of these filters available to you.
      Lifepixel.com has a good comparison of the effects from each filter: http://www.lifepixel.com/infrared-filters-choices
      Bob

      • Ryan,
        One more note – putting one of these filters in front of your D90 will require long exposures. Most likely you will need 45 – 120 seconds or so, even on bright sunny days. This will rule out days when the wind is blowing or any moving subjects.
        Bob

        • 96
          ) Ryan

          thanks sir Bob for the input…

  42. Bob:

    I’ve been using digital IR since 2007 with a converted Nikon D50. I found your article spot on and it will save me time explaining the intricacies and wonder of IR imaging. It is a different avenue into capturing the world around us — so I do carry two cameras when I travel.

    I’ve published a Blurb book using IR sourced images: Iberia Infrared.

    We have a core number of individuals using IR in San Diego and it is great to share and exhibit together — some are members of PAG (www.photoartsgroup.org ) and some are members of DAG (www.digitalartguild.com ).

    I will be heading off to Machu Picchu and Galapagos and will carry along my somewhat bulky D50 in addition to a wonderful pocket Samsung. All of these go into Photoshop to draw out the sense of the image.

    Joe

  43. 99
    ) Jesse

    Hey bob, thanks for the great article. I’ve been reading a bunch of info on iR for a bit now and have finally decided to get a camera and send it to life pixel. I can get a Nikon d3100 for like 200 bucks and ams just wondering if it would be ideal or not? It seems like it would be and that it had live view but it would be nice to have a more knowledgable second opinion before I pulled the trigger on it tomorrow. Thanks!!

    • Jesse,
      The D3100, D3200, D5100, and D5200 are all great cameras for IR – great resolution, solid dynamic range, and economical. You can’t go wrong with any of them. Please remember to let lifepixel know that I sent you their way – bvishneski@msn.com.
      Thanks and let me know how it turns out for you.
      Bob

      • 101
        ) Jesse

        Thanks for the quick response bob. I kinda figured it would be a good choice but its good to have some reassuring advice too. I’ll definitely let life pixel know you sent me and pass on some pics when I get some. It’s going to be a great compliment to my D600! Take care!!

      • LifePixel does good work. You can also call and speak directly to them about any unresolved questions. For example, I have a zoom but they point out that they optimize the conversion to a specific focal length — generally 70 mm as I recall. I don’t care as much as someone who is fastidious about these things since I like the unanticipated when going into Photoshop and manipulating the image.

        The LifePixel website has some excellent tutorials. On this point, LifePixel says: “Infrared focus marks on SLR lenses — The video explains how infrared light focuses differently with lenses intended for visible light photography and how the focus shifts a different amount depending on the lens and focal length.”

  44. Hi, Bob!

    I would like to know if the System Zone works well in Ir photography.
    Thanks.

    • Gerson,
      You can certainly use the Zone System concept in IR. You would have to correct the white balance first, since RAW files with auto white balance produces images that are a mixture of red and pink. NIK’s Silver EFEX software actually has a 10 segment zone system that shows each of the photo’s areas that map to the 10 classifications from black to white.
      Post processing software makes the notion of adjusting exposure much easier than it was in Adams’ days!
      Bob

  45. 106
    ) Matthew

    Hi,

    Very informative article and I like the step by step instructions how to turn the pink image into the contrasting images.

    I bought myself a Hoya filter and attached it to my trusty Canon EOS 500D at the weekend and – in spite of some bitterly freezing winds over lake Geneva – I managed to get some “red” shots that I couldn’t wait to take home and convert. But I was firstly disappointed to see many of them ( including the b&w ) had a fuzzy white sploge in the middle of them, which I don’t get otherwise – I thought there might be something on the lens but it seems to be something to do with my IR exposure. Do you have any ideas what that might be? Appreciate it’s a very general question, but I was wondering if this is a known phenomena with IR photos and, if so, the best way to rectify it. My second problem is that I don’t have the right software to switch the colour channels, but just getting rid of the splodge would be good enough for me at the moment …

    Thank you, Matthew

    • Matthew,
      It is either lens flare or a hot spot. With visible light, you can usually spot lens flare as you are framing your subject. With IR, however, it is not so obvious unless you are checking your viewfinder.
      Some lenses are great for IR and some exhibit hot spots – lighter portions (look like your photo has been “bleached” in the area) that lack contrast and color. There is no correlation between the amount of money spent on a lens and its ability to take good IR shots. Some cheap Nikon lenses are great, such as the venerable 18-55mm. Others such as the noted 24-70mm f/2.8 are not as good for IR, despite the 18X price differential.
      Which lens did you use?
      Bob

      • 108
        ) Matthew

        Hi Bob, thanks for your reply and explanation. Now I have a name for the effect I can do some more research on it. I use a Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX DC Macro and this lens seems to be identified as a “poor performer” ( http://www.kolarivision.com/lenshotspot.html ) so I guess it was always down to chance that my lens was going to work well for IR. Shame, though – I waited ages for the Hoya filter to be delivered and originally I had ordered the wrong size for my other lens ( which would have worked ok )

        I don’t suppose there is any fix for it other than getting a different lens? I read that I can perhaps get rid of it with a higher aperture ( although I was right up to the limit on the previous experiments ) or with a lens hood.

        Matthew

        • Matthew,
          Looks like you are right. I found another site that lists your Sigma as one that will produce hot spots as well. Unfortunately, the only answer is getting another lens. The good news is that the entry level Canon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 EF-S for ~$100 or so on ebay, just like Nikon’s entry level 18-55mm lens, is a superb IR lens.
          Bob

          • 110
            ) Matthew

            Thanks Bob, I will check those out. The IR effects are breath-taking and I think it will be worth the investment in the end. Happy shooting, Matthew

  46. Hey Bob,

    I like coming back to your article every so often. Helps me stay grounded in IR. I bought a 40D Canon used and had it converted in January. Include link to my first shoot(s) below. I had it liveview calibrated with the Super Blue filter (I hate spending time in PS if I don’t have to). Love the look but didn’t realize that the 40D liveview is manual focus. Proved for some exasperating experiences in 12 degree weather. Let me know what you think.

    http://www.mikewicksphoto.com/p660725960

    • Michael,
      Glad it has proved helpful to you. 12 degrees? Yikes! Now that is dedication! You have some stunning photos here. What a stunning area of the country. It seems well-suited to show off the characteristics of IR light.
      I am having Lifepixel convert a D7100 for me this week. I have opted for the Enhanced Color Filter, which provides a bit more color than the standard filter.
      Thanks for writing.
      Bob

  47. 115
    ) Radovan

    Hi,Bob
    Did you try Nikon 18-300 on your IR camera? Just bought lens and wanna know what do you think. How it compare to 16-85? And also what kind a filter for lens that will not afect IR compatibility. Already have UV/IR cut filter for it so it can be used for regular photography.
    Thank you
    Radovan

    • Radovan,
      I have been considering the 55-300mm and 18-300mm lenses for IR. I haven’t been able to confirm their suitability for IR, however. If and when I do, I may consider one of them. I sold my 55-200mm, which was a very good IR lens. The 16-85mm is one of the best, if not the best, IR lens made by Nikon. The 18-55mm is also a very good choice. It is extremely sharp and handles IR light better than most of Nikon’s better lenses combined. You should buy a lens hood for the 18-55mm (or any other lens), since flare will likely be an issue.
      I didn’t quite understand your UV/IR cut filter question. Polarizers can be used with IR converted cameras.
      Bob

      • 119
        ) Radovan

        Bob,
        I know 16-85 and 18-55 are best for IR. I was houping that you have any experience with 18-300. Bought lens because the range 18-300 is very good. About that UV/IR cut filter. It wasn’t question, it is only that I already have fillter and my Fuji IS PRO can be turn into Fuji S5 when filter is on. It is kinda like having two cameras in one. It is my walk arround camera 18-300mm range is great also can change IR to regular DX in just second by taking off filter or on,second reason for this lens was price. 300 off is bargain I think.
        If you have chance to try 18-300, please let me know what do you think. Thanke you for all yours information you sharring with us.
        Thanks.

        • Radovan,
          I will let you know if I have the opportunity to test the 18-300. I usually find the longer focal lengths of less use since much of my subject matter is associated with landscapes, buildings, etc. As such, the lower focal lengths get a lot more usage.
          Bob

          • 121
            ) Radovan

            Hi Bob,
            One more question what kind a protection filter is best for lens used with IR camera?
            Thanks
            Radovan

            • Radovan,
              I use Hoya or Nikon clear filters. Occasionally, I will also use a Hoya, Nikon or Marumi polarizing filter.
              Bob

  48. 116
    ) Matt

    Hi. Firstly, I’m glad I found this site. Great information and tips. Quick question on the post processing. You said you start to process your images in Adobe Lightroom and then bring it to Photoshop to finish. Is there a reason for this? Can you use Lightroom to finish a picture because that’s the program I use and if you can’t fully process an IR image in Lightroom, it’s kind of a deal breaker, as I don’t have Adobe Photoshop. Thanks.

    • Thanks, Matt. I use Photoshop because it has the Channel Mixer, a feature that, as of yet, is not mimicked in other post processing software. This allows you to introduce and change the colors associated with your IR images. You can’t accomplish this in Lightroom. The best you can do is convert your images to B&W and add a tone in Lightroom. As an example, you can’t process shots like this just using the white balance tool in Lightroom: http://500px.com/photo/25361051
      Bob

  49. Having read this I believed it was very informative. I appreciate you finding the time and
    effort to put this information together. I once again find myself
    personally spending a lot of time both reading and posting comments.
    But so what, it was still worthwhile!

  50. 124
    ) Barry Gow

    Infrared and liveview on the D90

    I have a problem with very low light levels reaching the sensor and the desire to use liveview to monitor the location of the subject. A Nikon D90 has been converted for infrared use. The subject, invisible behind a barrier impenetrable to light withinin the visible spectrum, is a metal component that can be illuminated by a infrared light emitting diode (940 nm) . The itemcan be photographed using 8 seconds exposure with maximum sensitivity setting.
    Is there a camera setting which would allow me to take/display sequential shots with that shutter speed allowing me to follow the movement of the light source somewhat like one moves a torch to find something? Such an application would be similar to using a video camera and CCTV for the same purpose except that the display would be refreshed every 8 seconds.

    • Barry,
      Not sure if I totally understand your question, but here goes:
      What is this barrier? I assume it has to be some form of glass similar to a filter that allows some light forms in and not others?
      AF-C will track your subject, but I normally think of that as fast moving items and very short exposure times, not a light source and long exposures. The only thing I would suggest is to attempt to experiment with AF-C and understand how it functions with longer exposure times and if it will change its focus after 8 seconds and track the subject. I suspect with the long exposure times, the answer is “no.”
      The other idea would be to simply focus manually with a high f-stop so you get more depth of field (and everything is in focus) and then use an intervalometer to take photos every 8 seconds. Wish I could be of more help. Let me know if and how you solve this one.
      Bob

  51. 126
    ) Barry Gow

    Dear Bob
    Thank you for engaging my problem. The barrier is the sclera of the eyeball though which 940nm IR penetrates. I am using the D90 body only because the optics are provided by a Fundus camera which is a bit like a telescope that focuses on the retina.

    Barry

    • Barry,
      That is very interesting application of IR photography. That Fundus Camera is quite a machine! Just out of curiosity, how did you determine the level of sensitivity of the eye’s sclera to IR? I suspect the answer is “cadavers.” I would be curious as to the nature of your efforts. Perhaps because the movie is currently playing on some of the movie channels, “Terminator” is coming to mind… ;) Please drop me an email if you are able to share the details of these experiments.
      What I suggested may work, but you would have experiment to determine what the D90 focused on after each exposure.
      Bob

  52. 128
    ) Barry Gow

    Hi Bob
    You are correct. The eyes I used were obtained post mortem and had been fixed in formalin. I tried IR at lower wavelengths but 940nm did the trick. Also I used a CoolSnap camera which if you Google will find that its manufacturer, Photometrics, makes a range of high performance cameras for scientific applications. The reason I became interested in DSLR’s was that their field of view was greater than my CoolSnap but unfortunately they don’t have the sensitivity. They are also cheaper. Thank you for your interest and suggestions.
    Barry

    • Barry,
      Well that is probably the most unique application of IR I have heard thus far. Thanks for sharing.
      Bob

  53. 130
    ) Barry Gow

    Thank you Bob
    One cant always make silk purse out of a sow’s ear but attempting to can be fun.
    Barry

  54. 131
    ) Barry Gow

    Sensitivity of Nikon D90 after IR conversion
    I am using a D90 (see earlier posts) to capture images from objects emitting low levels of IR at 940nm.
    The camera body was purchased as used and had been IR converted which probably means, as I was told by some one in the camera store where it was taken for conversion, the existing internal filters were replaced by one passing wavelengths longer than 720nm. Since I am using monochromatic light at 940nm this does not concern me particularly. However, I am currently in a dispute with a colleague who feels that the camera should be more sensitive than it is . He is of the opinion that something has been placed in front of the sensor which is diminishing its sensitivity at 940nm. I can not think of any IR conversion that would deprecate the sensitivity to IR but is there something I don’t know apart from just exactly what was done to the camera?
    Barry

    • Barry,

      The infrared conversion process takes the IR cut or blocking filter out and inserts a variation of the external filters you screw on the lens in front of the camera’s sensor. Each camera sensor will vary in regards to its sensitivity to IR. I suspect most are fairly on par with each other in the middle of the near IR range – 700-1200, but as you move toward the ends of the near IR spectrum, I suspect that you may find much more variation per sensor. Exposure times also start increasing as you move toward the higher end of the infrared spectrum, even with converted cameras.

      I don’t know why your colleague would expect a DSLR made for visible light to be a stellar performer for infrared. I consider it a great bonus that you can even take IR or ultra violet photos with a DSLR for a relatively small conversion fee or the cost of an external IR filter. You might want to pick up a very cheap IR converted point and shoot and see how well it handles IR light. Apart from chatting with people on the net regarding specific camera models and their experience with IR filters, I don’t know how you could pre-judge the IR sensitivity of a given camera model’s sensor. This is because camera manufacturers are likely not publishing such information since their products are not designed for this purpose.

      You might want to reach out to Canon or Nikon and share your concerns. Given your research-oriented special application, they might be willing to share their un-filtered metrics on IR sensitivity on a model-by-model basis. Perhaps they might even donate one to you in exchange for some publicity. Just a thought. ;)

      There are indeed other specialized cameras that are more sensitive to both ultra violet and forms of IR light, but you won’t find one for $1,000 or less!

      Bob

  55. 133
    ) Barry Gow

    Many thanks, Bob, for your insight and suggestions. I’ll stay in touch.
    I just looked at your gallery which I truly enjoyed but sadly was reminded of my limited skills in the photographic domain.
    Barry

  56. Barry,
    You are quite welcome. At every turn, I realize just how much I don’t know. We are all learning!
    Bob

  57. Thanks a lot for Information.

  58. 136
    ) John

    So I’m getting frustrated with my new infrared filter. I ordered the Polaroid IR720 for use with my D7000 and it arrived today. And while it’s very sensitive apparently (at f8 I can get away with mere seconds of exposure) I can’t for the life of me get results anywhere near how I want, such as on this blog and the typical “false color”. Green leaves are black, not white, even after setting white balance on them, and when I do the typical red/blue channel swap in CS6 all I get is a blue image instead of the red one that I can’t fix any better. Unfortunately I don’t know if it’s the filter itself since I don’t have a Hoya to compare it to, but any suggestions? In bright light outdoors I can see through the filter, albeit being a very dark red, and my camera is able to auto focus no problem with the filter on.

  59. 137
    ) Thanushian Jegatheeswaran

    Hi!
    I have nikon d5200.
    Can i take ir photos in my camera without convert it.
    If i convert it to ir,can i take regular photos as present.
    I have tried ir photo in my camera(i didn’t convert to ir still)but i can’t get the colour of sky.its
    Please give me a solution.

    • Thanushian,
      You need Photoshop’s Channel Mixer to perform such a color change. If you search on “infared channel Mixer color swap,” you will the instructions. Once you convert a camera for IR, you can only take IR photos with it, since, depending on the filter, it will filter out most of the vible light.
      Bob

    • 139
      ) Radovan

      Hi Thanushian, I have IR camera Fujifilm IS PRO and with UV/IR Cut filter it works as normal camera. So after you convert yours to IR it can be used as normal camera but you will need to buy
      UV/IR CUT filter.

  60. 140
    ) Roebuck
    • 141
      ) Radovan

      Celkom dobre pohlad na Bratislavu cez IR. Vidim ze aj na SK su fanusikovia IR photography. Skusal si aj farebne verzie?

      • 142
        ) Roebuck

        Farba ma v IR fotografii vobec nezaujima. Pri 720nm je fotka skor monochromaticka a len tazko sa da miesanim kanalov nieco zaujimavejsieho dosiahnut. Na to su dobre slabsie filtre.

  61. 143
    ) Brian C. Copeland

    Beautiful photography. Thank you for the interesting and informative article!

  62. I finally published my series of infrared imagery from my latest travels to
    Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley, Pisac, Lago Titikaka, La Paz, Quito and the
    Galapagos. I wanted a short title so I called it ‘Andes Infrared’ – altho’ the
    Galapagos is not in the Andes but in an Andean country.

    You might also quibble about my extravagant treatment of IR, but I was having
    fun pushing the limits of post-processing in PS.

    You don’t need to buy the book to see the images.

    The preview of ‘Andes Infrared’ at Blurb.com should be open for a complete view
    of the images and text. If there are any problems, let me know.

    http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/invited/3579358/adb2340fd35f5463f7ae415cb3e76f3cc\
    0b1dd66?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=bookstore-share

    Comments welcome.

    Best,

    Joe Nalven

  63. 145
    ) matthew

    hi i currently have a c2020z i love it but im craving more for my ir stuff now im going to get a camera converted but trying to choose is hard im disabled and in a wheelchair and i am thinking a camera with a rotating screen could be helpful for me so i can get some low down shots and other types of shots like when people get down on one knee that kind of hight so being able to look down at the screen to compose the shot but i’d like if this makes sense to be able to see the shots and have the kind of bright whites i get from my c2020z sooc with live view i like the idea of a lumix g2 or g3 i was thinking a d3200 but im not sure the wb is able to be sorted in camera to get the pre shot view im looking for i currently have a d300 but dont really want to convert that what was you thoughts on those 3 cameras

    • Matt,
      I would opt for the Nikon D3200 if I was making the decision. After a bit of practice, you can judge how well a photo came out by looking at your LCD – even if the image is a bit pinkish. I am not familiar with the Lumix G2 or G3 lens compatibility for IR, but I am sure you can speak with each of the IR conversion companies to find out what their experience has been with these models.
      Bob

  64. 147
    ) John Adams

    Hi Bob,

    I noticed your reference in several of your replies to a future e-mail article about IR photography you planned to write. Have had had the chance to do this yet and, if so, how would I go about sourcing it? I’ve never toyed with IR photography but was turned on to it by your IR pictures in your recent article about cemetery photography. I have a Hoya IR filter coming for my D700 and plan to start there. If all goes well, I will look at picking up an IR converted camera like your D90. Thanks for opening a new door in photography for me. Lola got me started in food photography with one of her articles and now you’ve done the same with IR photography.

    • John,
      Glad to hear that you got the IR bug! I have been working on the book for some time, but like many projects I undertake, I underestimate the time needed and the distractions (e.g. “life stuff”) that often arise.
      Will let you know when I get it wrapped up.
      Bob

  65. 149
    ) Ezequiel

    Hello, first of all I want to say sorry for mi bad english, I´m from Argentina. I want to ask if with mi nikon d300 or nikon d700 with a hoya ir filter can I take ir photos. thanks and regards

    • Ezequiel,
      Absolutely. You may need to allow for long exposures, however, and thus using a tripod will be a must. The IR blocking filters have gotten stronger with time. I would expect exposure times in the 20-60 second range based on the light and aperture used.
      Bob

      • 151
        ) Ezequiel

        thanks Bob, very kind of you. At the moment with exposures in 20 seconds with mi nikon D700, in the middle of the picture I can see a white spot. on the other hand, with the d300 I Couldnt get excelent results. Is this my mistake or is it because the sensor of the camera is not the best for this type of photography?
        Regards

        • Ezequiel,
          You likely have a lens that is prone to “hot spots.” The DSLR’s sensor should not be an issue. The lens, however, can make a big difference. Please see Nasim’s lens ratings to determine how your specific lens handles IR light.
          Bob

  66. One might ask what digital IR would add to (or subtract) from a portrait. That was part of my formulation for a collection of images.

    I put up a website – http://www.lilithimage.com – under a pseudonym (Jose Izquierdo). Many of the images are digital IR. Not all, but many.

    The concept was about the female image as embodied by Lilith – the woman in the Garden of Eden before Eve. The one who found it too boring and left. The rest is the imagination of whichever and whatever gender affiliation you decide upon.

    The digital IR should be obvious.

    Requires Flash Player and you should keep the sound on.

    Joe Nalven

    • Very interesting, Joe. Thanks for sharing. Most people take on a rather macabre appearance in IR. Skin can be milky smooth, but the darkness of veins can make some limbs look like maps of LA. I wasn’t familiar with the Lilith myth. You gave me something to investigate;)
      Bob

  67. I recently posted an article about the San Diego Jean Isaacs Dance Company’s Trolley Dances. I went to the tryouts in anticipation of the actual performances in late September and early October.

    The article incorporates a variety of image making (digital infrared, visible light, camera oil painting app, video) to capture a variety of perspectives of motion, dance and the context of a tryout.

    Most of the images are digital IR – with all of them taken in Photoshop for post-processing.

    http://pickedrawpeeled.blogspot.com/

    If you are in San Diego at the time of the actual performances, try to make them. Worth seeing, experiencing and photographing.

    Joe

  68. 156
    ) Paul

    I’ve just taken up photograph over the past couple of months and it’s turned into an addiction….

    After reading your article ‘Introduction to Infrared Photography’ I manage to buy an IR converted Nikon D50. Although not the best image quality it seemed a good starting point and fair play the camera has work faultlessly.

    All was going well until I tried to back engineer your post production with LR and PS. How do you manage the colour range between the blue of the sky and the mid tone colours of the trees and buildings?

    You give a hint in your article which is strait forward, but it’s the delicate colour tones which are hard to get right.

    Can you give me any more tips to get on with before my eyes give up.

    • Paul:

      Here are some thoughts. I also have a converted Nikon D50 by LifePixel. I use a zoom and realize that there are distortion effects when I go out of the optimal 70 mm focal length. Also, if I want a more exacting image, I do multiple overlapping images and do photomerge in PS. And I remember the words of a friend that IR loves the brightness of the midday sun. I sometimes resort to post processing fixes but then I am drifting off into painterly images rather than photorealistic ones.

      I hope my suggestions open a conversation along different lines of approaches to the kind of image we want and those that are possible.

      Joe

      • 159
        ) Paul

        Many thanks, it’s on my list to try HDR and multiple exposure in IR, when eventually the sun comes out (UK Summer time!!).

        I’ve not had too many problems with lens distortion or sun flare, I’ve tried most from a Sigma 10mm up to a Nikon 300mm, although having said that each lens has had its own quirkiness. Having a good set of lens petal hoods has also helped, but all in all most of the pictures have come out OK.

        It’s the post production that I would like to get a grip with, joining NAPP has been a great help. But it’s just getting that image from my head and onto the paper that’s the problem, which is the same with most people I would suspect.

  69. How about taking up satellite IR imagery. Recent news Sara Parcak illuminates the wonders of IR in archaeology — from outer space.

    http://www.uab.edu/news/latest/item/1287-uab-professor-discovers-lost-pyramids-other-antiquities-in-egypt

    Sanjay Gupta, in an interview, suggested that this was like ultrasound for doctors — that is, not having to do invasive surgery to get a picture of body functioning. Here too she is getting a great picture of ancient Egyptian settlements without invasive digs.

    Joe

  70. 160
    ) Mutat

    Hello,

    I enjoyed your article on IR photography but have a question. My histogram looks very underexposed when I do 2-minute exposures with the Hoya filter. Should I disregaard that and simply process my photos in Lightroom? I have a d3100.

    Thanks!

  71. 161
    ) Mutat

    The histogram is usually a single line right in the middle, so I would like to know how you treat that in post. Do you still tweak the shadows and highlights, or blacks and whites? Or do you simply adjust the temp and tint before converting to monohrome?

  72. How about an experiment? Send several of us an “original” image (whatever was taken and not processed in any way) and let us do our own work flow (and document what we are doing) and we can compare end products by sending them to you for posting (or whatever).

    In this way, we can see what happens with a processed image that began with a histogram view of X or Y or Z.

    Joe Nalven

  73. 163
    ) Mutat

    Joe, that would be awesome. Should I upload a RAW file on a gosting service?

  74. 164
    ) Patricia

    Hi Bob, What a fabulous article. so, I’m about to send my D90 and 18-200 DX lens off to LifePixel. I talked with them at length yesterday as you suggested. However, I’m still a bit perplexed at which filter to have in my camera. I am probably what would be termed an advanced amateur. I use Lightroom well and photoshop when required (not great at photoshop). My question to you: What filter (s) do you have Lifepixel install into your camera and why. For instance, the “tree and lake” photo above. Was this image taken using the “super blue” filter? Enhanced IR? Standard IR? What would your recommendation be for an enthusiast photographer on her first foray into IR. I will have a dedicated lens (the 18-200) My gut is saying “enhanced color” or “standard”. What filter are you most happy with. I love your work. I would like to “channel IR Bob” : )

    Thanks, Patricia

    PS: how’s that book coming along?

    • 165
      ) Patricia

      Or…..are you just amazing with post processing so the filter doesn’t matter? This thread is so informative–both the author and the knowledgable participants. Thanks! Patricia

      • Patricia,

        Glad you found the article helpful. The photos were taken with Lifepixel’s 720mm IR filter. Depending on the conditions and subject, you can coax a fair degree of colors out of some shots, by experimenting with the white balance and the Channel Swapping settings.

        In a subsequent article, I described my experience with the 665nm filter. http://photographylife.com/nikon-d7100-infrared-conversion

        I would strongly recommend the 720nm filter. The other filters are a bit more specialized and give you some varying results, as I outline in the article. Once you master the 720nm filter, you can then determine if you want to experiment with the others. I have the 720nm and 850nm filter cameras from Kolari Vision.

        You may not want to “channel IR Bob” – it can be a dangerous place for your mind! :)

        Bob

        • 169
          ) Patricia

          Thanks Bob, I was leaning towards the 665nm filter as I wanted to make sure I could get some color in my photos, but the type of color you are getting with your 720nm filter is exactly what I am looking for. So, that’s what I will get from Lifepixel. I’ll make sure to tell them “Bob sent me”

          And, I think “channeling IR Bob” is just a great place for my mind.

          Thanks SO much!

          Patricia

          • Patricia,
            Be careful with the 665nm filter – for all the reasons I listed in the article. I would strongly recommend touching base with Kolari Vision before settling on an IR conversion vendor. They are top notch!
            Bob

  75. hi Bob….. Fantastic article. I had heard and seen some pictures taken with the infrared filter but never knew how to take them or process them. This article tells a lot. I have two bodies : 60D and 7D and I use both for my wildlife photography as I need to have different lens on them ready for a shot.

    I would like to go for a new body and I am thinking to go for a pre used one so that it is not ver expensive as well. Could you tell me :
    a. Which body I should look for so that I can then have it converted to use on infrared only.
    b. Is Canon 24mm prime and/or Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 suitable for infrared photography.

    On receipt of your advice I will go ahead further and then go for the Hoya filter as well.

    Looking forward to hear from you soon. Thanks and Regards

    Hussain Nalwala

    • Hussain,
      Any of the modern day DSLRs from Nikon or Canon will work just fine. IR conversions companies often don’t deal with the other brands, however, since they don’t get enough of them to justify the expertise, parts, etc.
      Nasim covers IR performance in his lens reviews and I have some links above to some other sites that address the issue above. I have a list of sites that I will also add to this thread, once I find it.
      Bear in mind that some very expensive and legendary lenses used for visible light can be real dogs when it comes to IR. And cheaper lenses can be stellar performers. You need to investigate each lens, and hopefully see some results that verify the lens’ IR performance.
      Bob

  76. 171
    ) Leann

    Thank you for the article, it really helps in deciding which filter to have installed (for me, the 720nm).

    I do have have a few questions, though, on the camera choice. I think maybe I’ve over-read into the pros and cons on many differing sites and forums, the info overload has me a bit confused. I shoot DSLR and was looking to pick up a second body so I can utilize my current lenses.

    In reading up on a number of Nikon bodies, there seems to be differing opinions on the performance of a D90 in comparison to a D40/D70 (D90 not as sharp as D40?). Ditto on the D200, there seems to be a lot of negative and positive on this one as well,(not suited for IR, D70 better) it was my first choice but now I’m having second thoughts on it. From what I’ve been reading, it seems the ‘live view’ is a must in order to compose and focus with a DSLR, and opinion is varying wildly on suitable bodies. Help!

    That info lead me back to the P&S cameras as a ‘handheld’ alternative, but what you gain in Mp you lose in the smaller sensor and grainier pics for printing. I really do prefer the DSLR for those reasons.

    What I’m hoping to do is primarily handheld work that will produce sharp enlargements as well, as someone who shoots in IR what would you recommend?

    • Leann,
      I have had the D40X and D90. I can’t understand why anyone believes the D90 is inferior to the D40 or D40X. I, and many others, have taken many good IR shots over the years.
      I would always go with a more modern DSLR when possible. I never use Live View for composing photos. I have zoomed in quite a bit to my photos and found them to be very sharp.
      As I indicated, my only mistake with the D7100 was choosing the wrong filter for my needs. The 720 nm filter is a much better choice for most of us than the 665 nm and 590 nm filters, that are much more finicky.
      Bob

      • 173
        ) Leann

        Thank you for the advice!

        In forums I’ve been reading people say “the D40/50/70′s have weaker IR hot mirrors unlike all newer dslr’s”, therefore, they’re better suited as the D90 is slower and has an increased exposure time. The next article says you need ‘live view’ to compose and focus, good to know this isn’t necessary, I rarely use ‘live view’ on my D7100 unless I’m at an awkward angle – most often hovering over rocks at the base of a waterfall!

        Thought of the D200, then found this -> http://www.naturfotograf.com/D200_rev05IR.html

        Lol, my heads been spinning trying to decipher all the info out there, so I when I found your blog, I was relieved! I checked out a D90 yesterday and had pretty much made up my mind on it then found more last night on Dpreview that made me pause again. (ref link below)

        http://www.flickr.com/groups/nikon_d90_users/discuss/72157608133575084/

        I have to agree the 720nm is the best for my needs as well, I had been gravitating towards the 665nm, but with the type of photography I do (LOTS of cemetery, urban abandonment), the 720nm will better suit me. I also like the atmospheric tone of Simon Marsden.

        Again, thank you for the advice on the D90 – your informed and experienced opinion means a great deal to me!

        • Leann,
          Of course, I am discussing DLSRS that are being converted specifically for IR use. The 665 nm filter can provide some interesting results, but can require quite a bit of tinkering to get consistent results.
          Bob

          • 175
            ) Leann

            About the filter- that’s what I get from your blog as well, having read the D7100 conversion article. It sounds like the converted D90 with a 720nm filter will be best suited for what I want to do, I’m still somewhat old-school and learning everything PS/LR/PSE, but looking forward to what I can do with IR!

            • Leann,
              Please feel free to email me if you have questions/issues. I have quite a few hours of post-processing of IR images under my belt and learned a few tricks. :)
              Bob

  77. 177
    ) Paul

    Hei Bob
    Excellent write up which llowed me to get started on IR. Seems like the combo D7100 and 16-85 is a combo winner here.
    Was just wondering one thing though: since I am equipped already with Nikon FF equipment, I could use my 24-120 f4 and buy a nikon d600 for conversion, which would cost me about the same as buying the combo mentionned above. Any feed back you might have on the d600 – 24-120 combo?
    (I am also into astrophoto, so I am planning to have a full spectrum modification done and place a 720nm on the lens while using live view for the composition anf focus when I want to switch to IR.

    • Paul,
      I have seen a few notes regarding the 24-120mm f/4 VR lens as being a good lens for IR, but haven’t used it myself. I am sure the D600 would be great for IR photography. Touch base with Kolari Vision regarding their services and your plans. They are very helpful and may also give you some tips regarding the full spectrum conversion.
      Bob

  78. Hi Bob
    I have a D80 with a 710nm Filter and .It is the first of my IR-Bodys.
    No problem with white-ballance.My D300 is converted with a 665nm filter.
    No chance for WB even it was not converted.But the flexibility in colors,i like
    more than the 710nm.i got a 28-300.It is perfect. No hot-spot at all settings and apartures.
    Thanks for your greate article
    Klaus

    • Klaus,
      Thanks for sharing your IR configuration. Glad you found the article helpful. I haven’t tried my 28-300mm on my IR cameras, since my 16-85mm is almost always enough for any IR scenes. As I posted in the article discussing my D7100 conversion, the 665 nm filter can indeed provide some very interesting results. I happen to like the 720 nm filter better. As with most things, IR filters and resultant colors are purely a matter of taste.
      Bob

  79. 183
    ) Roy Townsend

    Thanks for the extensive info. I have a Canon 400D & 60D but notice most of the posts are for nikons. I am interested in IR but don’t want to spend too much so am considering the point & shoot Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ19 from Kolarivision.

    Any advice/comment/experience?
    Thanks.
    Roy.

    • Roy,
      If you want to keep your budget low but still have a dedicated IR camera that can take IR shots using regular shutter speeds, there are a variety of point and shoot cameras that can fit the bill. Obviously smaller sensors are a bit more noisy than their larger brethren, but they are a great way to get into IR at a low price point.
      Bob

      • 185
        ) Roy Townsend

        Thanks for that.
        As you say a good starting point.
        Roy.

  80. Hi Bob,
    interesting write up,
    i have recently purchased a full spectrum factory converted fuji camera, one that law enforcement use for forensics.
    The raw images do not have the red colour shift being a full spectrum, have you experience with a camera of this nature?

    I am trying to find more information on what light will work best with it, and what effects can be made, but being mainly made for official use, it seems bait cloak and dagger to find information online.

    Thanks

    Lee

    • Lee,
      I have done a bit of investigation on full spectrum conversion and considered it for a time. The thought of needing all the external filters, however, was not very practical. I also found that information on such cameras and using them was a lacking. I wish I could direct you to some of the sites I found, but I don’t believe I saved them. Some Google and Bing searches should get you to a few that might also link to others.
      Bob

  81. 187
    ) Colin McIntosh

    Bob,

    I use a non-VR, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 G on my trusty D80 fitted with a Kolari 720nm internal IR filter. The combination works pretty well for me but I crave a single lens solution that is both wider has a bit more reach. The 16-85mm VR seems to be the way to go. Have you any direct comparisons between these two lenses when put to IR use> Is the 16-85mm significantly sharper than the 18-55mm on your IR cameras?

    Thanks,

    Colin

    • Colin,
      I can’t say that I have noticed the 16-85mm being any sharper than the 18-55mm for IR use. I haven’t done a detailed study of the two, but both deliver very sharp IR pics.
      Bob

  82. 190
    ) glenn eroa

    Hello Bob,
    Very informative and interesting information about IR photography and I will be putting on my wishlist a Hoya R72 for my Canon EFS 18-55mm. The comments portion was very well handled and explained.. Two thumbs-up for my clear understanding.. However , I have 3 questions to ask..

    1. With the constant usage of this IR filters will it not damage or affect my camera sensor in the long run?
    2. I have a Canon EFS 10-22mm , UWA lens, will it not create any issues like “hot spots.” or any distortion of whatsoever using IR filter?
    3. Will there be any issue if I use this IR filter for a step-up ring say, 58mm to 77 mm so that I can use also with my other lens?

    Thanks ,
    Glenn

    • Glen,
      Thank you for the feedback. Here’s my take on your questions:
      1. Not that I can find any evidence of. I and many others have had dedicated IR cameras for years and they seem to perform just as well at the end of their life as at the beginning.
      2. The 10-22 EF-S USM gets good marks for IR. The non-USM version has notable hotspots.
      3. I don’t believe there are issues with step-up rings, although I can’t verify it from my own experience. There is some chance that the material/coating of the step-up ring may reflect IR light differently than the coating on the inside of the lens, however. Once we get a sunny day in Pittsburgh, I will try it out with one of my step-up rings.
      Bob

  83. 192
    ) glenn eroa

    Bob,
    Thanks a lot for the immediate reply and everything is well clarified. Have read positive reviews about the Hoya R72 and off I go to procure one…and try IR photography.. Cheers!

    Glenn

  84. One camera manufacturer that should be of interest to IR enthusiasts is Sigma whose DSLRs all have easily removed hot mirrors, except for the first model (SD9). Also, with the earlier models (SD10, SD14) there are many utilities available for manipulating the raw (X3F) data with no Bayer de-mosaicing required. However, this otherwise helpful article makes no mention of Sigma at all.

    Ted

    • Ted,
      One of the issues with many IR articles is that they tend to become outdated due to focusing on specific camera models that change over time. Although I mentioned my experience with the D40X and D90, I chose not to make this an article regarding IR camera selection.
      While the SD10 and SD14 were indeed good cameras for IR, they are pretty long in the tooth and their lens choices are limited. There are many other newer, low-cost, higher megapixel DSLRs from Nikon and Canon that would likely capture much more detail and supported by a much broader array of lens choices, which are also compatible with their non-IR converted DSLRs.
      One of the reasons I switched from Pentax to Nikon was due to the fact that no IR conversion company would convert a Pentax camera at the time. I didn’t want to be wedded to two different DSLR systems and be required to purchase duplicate lenses. I suggest selecting a single manufacturer for both visual and IR photography so you can leverage you investment in lenses.
      Bob

      • 195
        ) Ted xpatUSA

        Bob,

        Thank you for your quick response and helpful suggestion.

  85. 196
    ) Enric

    Hi,
    I am planning to take my first try on IR. I will use Rollei film on a Yashica FX-3 (probably with the 28mm) and a Hoya 720 filter.
    I was reading up and down through internet and cannot get an idea of how to start! I understand I will need to bracket the speed on my first roll to find the right settings, but at least I would need an idea of what would be the innitial speed… Let’s say the ISO does not matter since the metering would not work anyway, if I choose a sunny day next to the Mediterranean sea, with medium f8, what could be a possible speed? I rode any anser from 1/500 to 60 seconds… I am very confused. Any help?

    Thxs!
    Enric

    • Enric,
      That’s a tough one. I have no easy way of telling you what combination of shutter speed and aperture to use given this film.
      Most people with film cameras use infrared film. Is there some reason you would not use IR film, such as this one? http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/419443-REG/Rollei_8104001_1_Infrared_120mm_Black_and.html
      Bob

      • 198
        ) Enric

        Ups! Sorry my mistake!
        The film I am planing to use is Agfa Infrared B&W 400S (ISO 400/27º) produced by Mako Photo Products in Germany.
        Any suggestion for this one?

        Thxs!

        • Enric,
          I wish I could be of more help, but I have only shot digital IR. I suggest doing some digging on the net to find the number of stops you might need to take into account to get the right exposure. I found a link that may help, but I am sure there are more you can find with a bit of work.
          http://film-mama.com/2014/02/12/shooting-infrared-film-with-gretchen-willis/
          Bob

          • 200
            ) Enric

            Bob,
            Many thanks for your quick answers. The link you gave me seems to me the most clear information I have found up to now… So I would go ahead and give a try with this instructions on the next sunny weekend I would have.

            Thxs!
            Enric

            • Enric,
              Glad it helped. Let me know how it goes.
              Bob

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