Your digital camera may already be IR-ready. All you need is the right filter.
March 25, 2008
Is your digital camera capable of infrared (IR) capture? Point a TV remote control at the lens, push a button, and take a picture or look at the image on the LCD panel.
If you see a point of light, you’re ready to make IR digital images…but this test is not infallible. The only bulletproof digital infrared test is to stick an IR filter in front of your camera and make a test shot.
Which IR filter is best for you?
Filters are engineered to kick in at a certain levels and can cut part of this spectrum off. This is why results vary depending on the filter’s design. For most of my filtered digital IR images I use Hoya’s RM72 filter because it is affordable and works great. In smaller sizes, such as 52mm, the Hoya R72 costs around $40, making it a bargain for digital infrared photography.
Cokin offers a 89B filter that’s available in A, P, X-Pro and Z-Pro sizes. When using the Cokin modular filters in their holder visible light can leak in from the sides and pollute the IR image. Instead of a holder I use my fingers and hold the filter flat against the front of the lens. The camera will be on a tripod anyway because the optical density of all IR filters causes long exposure times.
This was just one of a few images I was able to make before the wind picked up and wiped the reflection from the lake. Photo was made with a Pentax K100D and Singh-Ray I-Ray Infrared Filter with an exposure of one second at f/9.5 and ISO 800. ©2006 Joe Farace
Fans of premium filters from B+W and Heliopan will have to spend a more but not too much more because most IR filters are by their nature expensive. The Singh-Ray I-Ray Infrared Filter is a totally opaque filter that eliminates all visible light and transmits more than 90% of the near-infrared electromagnetic wavelengths between 700 and 1100 nanometers. Price for a 52mm filter is around $160.
This image was made in the early afternoon near the entrance to Arches National Park. The trees are coniferous pines so the infrared effect on the trees is not as great as it might have been but I like the look nevertheless. Photo was made with a Pentax K100D and Singh-Ray I-Ray Infrared Filter with an exposure of 0.7 sec at f/9.5 and ISO 800. ©2006 Joe Farace
Joe Farace, co-founder of the League of Infrared Photographers, is the author of “The Complete Guide to Digital Infrared Photography” published by Lark Books (ISBN 1579907725.) It’s available in all the best bookstores as well as Amazon.com.