Infra Red with a digital camera?

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by gerry_rosen, Jan 1, 2012.

  1. If this is the wrong forum I apologize in advance but I didn't see another that would be applicable. I did a lot of ahooting with HIE in my film days and would like to get back into infra red without the expense of having a camera converted and without having to dedicate a camera. Is it possible to just put an IR filter on s digital camera? I'm familiar with the focusing, viewing and exposure problems but I have no idea how a cmos sensor would react to not having visible light.
    Has anyone tried this? and if so what were your results?
  2. Short answer is yes.
    However, there are some catches. Most modern digital cameras have a built-in IR filter so IR picture taking requires LOOOONG exposures.
    Here are some places to start - not all up-to-date, but still useful:
    Here are some results on a Canon EOS dSLR with a IR filter (top as shot. middle>B&W. bottom-fooling around)
  3. Do not expect a great deal of success. Digital sensors have a filter over them to block out the IR and UV. The conversions remove this filter and place a filter over the sensor that blocks out normal light. The filters can allow angstrom specific areas or broad spectrum IR. Placing a filter over the lens of a regular digital camera would pretty much block all of the light to the sensor.
    I cannot remember anyone talking about UV photography with regular digital cameras.
  4. UV photography would be difficult with a digital sensor. The natural sensitivity is on the IR end of the spectrum. It takes some special doping to get blue sensitivity. Digital is the opposite of film in this respect where the natural sensitivity of silver halide is in on the UV end and it requires spectral sensitizing dyes to get sensitivity across the visible spectrum and into the IR region.
  5. Who raised the issue of UV? - the OP asked about IR
    IR works, as I said, fine except that long exposures are necessary to get through the built in IR mirror. All it takes is a filter and a tripod. Obviously, if you do a lot of this sort of thing or want shorter exposures, then the IR filter on the sensor can be removed by a number of people who specialize in this conversion. There was, as I recall, a model of the EOS 20D from Canon for astronomers that came IR sensitive.
    One (some?) of the older 'bridge' type Sonys was sensitive into the IR. There were titters, so to speak, - not tweets- about some body details showing through clothing....
  6. Hi JDM,
    I brought up the mention of the UV but only as a side note.
    Your pictures were interesting. Was the red one outputted as a JPG?
    I have a Canon 10D that was converted. With my pictures I have found I have the red images when they are shot as a JPG and run out through the Canon software. Here is where it gets interesting. If I shoot in RAW and output through the Canon software to TIF, I get an image that is largely yellows, green, and cyan/blues. If I open the image in Adobe RAW with CS5, I get a beautiful sepia toned image. I am enjoying the variations available to me through the software conversions. Here are two versions of the same image for comparison.
  7. Photo 2
  8. Thanks very much. I've had a point and shoot conversion, a Nikon 5400, that produced very nice IR until it died and I liked the results very much. I'm now trying to see if I can get away with carrying a filter and viewfinder instead of a whole camera. You've given a place to start looking.
  9. Thanks very much. I've had a point and shoot conversion, a Nikon 5400, that produced very nice IR until it died and I liked the results very much. I'm now trying to see if I can get away with carrying a filter and viewfinder instead of a whole camera. You've given a place to start looking.
  10. Some of the people who do the conversions are selling the cameras too on Ebay. Just search Infrared Camera or IR camera to see what models are on offer. You might find something that looks appealing for the price. It sure is addictive.
  11. Yes, you can. I tried with Canon 40D camera wit 50mm. lens + Hoya dark Filter (I forgot the number). One example is here:
  12. Before I went back to film, I had some success with IR using a Nikon D100.
  13. "Is it possible to just put an IR filter on s digital camera?" Yes, but the practicality of the results will depend on the camera. The infrared blocking filter in my modern 5D MkII is far too strong for this - the exposures are thirty seconds or more at ISO 1600 in bright daylight - but I used to have an old Kodak DCS 560 that could take hand-held exposures with a filter. The trick was to take several shots at different focus points until you work out infinity, and then stop down a little bit. Older cameras - Fuji S2, Olympus E-20 era - have thinner filters. The obvious problem is that you're stuck with infinity shots of landscapes, and by Gum you're going to get bored with the standard shot of trees next to a lake with clouds. At least, I *hope* you're going to get bored. Otherwise you'll bore other people, with hundreds of interchangeable photographs of trees next to a lake with clouds. That's been done, you know? By other people. With access to taller trees, a nicer lake, bigger clouds. Than you. EDIT: This wasn't personally aimed at one of the posters above, by the way: I scrolled past the other messages and ignored them. And lo and behold, an image of trees next to a lake with clouds. It's *the* cliche of infrared photography, because the trees are bright, the lake makes the ground look dark thus contrasting with the trees, and the clouds prevent the sky from being a solid black shape. Back to the original post... But the thing is, if you're going to buy an older camera, you might as well get it converted. A second-hand 10D or something similar plus conversion and you have something far more flexible that you can always sell on eventually. E.g. if all goes well with's attachments the photo below should be of the lovely Hannah Ashlea, shot with such a setup, which wouldn't have been practical otherwise (short of measuring out the distance with a tape measure).
  14. I have a B&W 87C filter, which blocks visible light while passing infrared. It works reasonably well on a Nikon D100, which has fairly weak IR blocking filter, allowing daylight exposures of 1/100 at f/5.6. The same filter on my D2h requires 1/15 second at f/5.6. I'd hoped for better, since the D2h is over-sensitive to IR, causing brown, purple blacks and green shadows in incandescent light. Since the filter blocks visible light, you can't use the viewfinder, autoexposure or auto focusing.
    The best solution is to have the IR filter over the sensor replaced with an IR-pass filter. There are several companies which offer this conversion for about $500. The viewfinder remains fully functional, and the focus point can be offset to compensate for lower IR refraction in the lens. Exposure is roughly 1 stop slower than the meter reading. I've considered this conversion for my otherwise obsolete D2h, but it's not on my short list.
    If you get tired of clouds, trees and water, there's always girls in summer dresses.
  15. I've considered the same D2H IR conversion Edward mentioned, but at this point I'm not sure it's worth the risk since my D2H has developed some late-life reliability problems. You can get a pseudo-IR b&w effect with the unmodified D2H by converting to monochrome and using mostly the red channel. It's an interesting effect for some portraits.
    Unfortunately the factory stock D2H is excessively sensitive only to near-IR, which only serves to make it annoying for color photography under mixed lighting, but not in an interesting way: greenish-brown skin under some artificial light, or pinkish under other artificial light; magenta tinted black fabric.
    Bjorn Rorslett has some other tips for IR (and UV, if you're interested) on his excellent website.
    Some older compact digicams were fairly well suited to IR as well. Several years ago, before IR conversions of dSLRs were available, IR fans touted certain Olympus digicams as being suitable for IR photography. Haven't tried my older C-3040Z yet for IR but might give it a try soon.
  16. Mathew, yes my example was just a jpg on a Canon 20D with the IR filter on.
    Actually, it was just a test shot in early spring when I got the R72 filter to try it out. The wind was blowing the new leaves around (blurring some). I toyed with conversions to B&W and other things. It would take me some time to get back to how I got the bottom image.
  17. So long as you can live with long shutter speeds (30 seconds in bright sunlight), an infrared filter (like the Hoya R72) will work just fine to create both black and white and color infrared images. Info at these two links:
  18. THIS has been a fun thread.
    Ashley: I love that image. I really like that albino porcelain look to the skin and have a couple images that really turned me on to IR portraits. Adding red eyes gives them a vampire look. At least the teenagers like it :) One thing that is unique to IR is skin defects such as scars, or red blemishes like acne,just do not register in the image.
    JDM: I am just guessing but I suspect the JPG versions that come out red may be just recorded on the red channel only. I could be wrong too. This is why I have chosen to only shoot in RAW and posted the two different versions that occured from the different conversion softwares.
    One thing I noticed about film IR images posted here is they have a higher contrast value. I like the dark blacks look so am looking to trying that out this year. I recently recieved an original Rollei IR filter for my K4B. I have yet to look into what films are available but am hopeful it will go well.
    It is nice to see other images from people who are also exploring this area of photography. I hope to be doing some other studies this year of people and objects.
  19. I first tried it with my Canon s20 and normally got a one second shutter speed using 100 ISO in bright sunlight. Then continued with my Nikon 5700 with similar exposures. I have always used AF to focus and assume that AF works with whatever light it gets, visible or IR.
    When I got my Panasonic FZ20 I found it was not very responsive to getting IR, I guess the filter in the camera was too strong. I have always used a Wratten 87 equivalent filter and not a deep red which in my book is not IR.
    So I guess the answer to your question is "it depends' on the camera.
    PS. I just tried it with my Pany G3 and with 800 ISO got a 4 second exposure at f/5.6 in bright overcast lighting [ 1/2000 with my regular lens] So my impression is than my Panasonics are NBG for IR and happy my 'vintage' Nikon 5700 is still working well :)
    The often mentioned test for cameras with live view was to look at your TV remote and if you could see a bright signal from it, it was worth proceeding to buy the expensive IR filter. I get a very weak signal with my Pany's.

Share This Page