Shooting Digital Infrared Photos

We covered the basics of Infrared photography and shooting with infrared film awhile back and as a follow up I wanted to go over how to shoot infrared images with a DSLR. You can read our previous article here: How to do infrared photography.

Today I am going to focus on how your digital camera can shoot infrared images. The sensor in digital cameras is actually by default sensitive to infrared light, which would interfere with many aspects of getting a good “normal” image for people. To improve image quality most digital cameras put in infrared filters to block infrared light from reaching the sensor. One way to get infrared images with your DSLR is to remove the infrared blocker that is in front of the sensor and replace it with a filter that removes visible light. This filter is behind the mirror, so the camera can be used normally just as you always had. Metering works but is not always accurate because of the difference between visible and infrared reflection. There are tutorials on how to remove the infrared blocker from your camera and replace it with a filter, I have never tried this myself and would be a little bit weary of doing it unless it was an older backup camera (with expensive equipment I would rather pay a little more and trust an expert to do it). To see a step by step guide on replacing a Canon 30d to infrared check out this persons guide: Canon 30d infrared. I know there are many companies that can do IR conversions for you, if you have a great company you have used please share with us in the comments below.

Once you have the IR blocker removed and a new filter put in place to block visible light your camera is now a fully dedicated infrared camera. Depending on the type of filter you put in place of the infrared blocker you will
get different results in camera. Some filters will allow more color to pass through and give you a color infrared image and other filter types will allow less color through and give you only a black and white infrared image. To see some of the different types of filters that Life Pixel has available with the conversions they do, check out this page:

utopia, originally uploaded by Trazy.

If you don’t want to convert your digital camera to shoot with infrared you can try to Photoshop the image to get the same type of feel and effect. Honestly I have never felt happy with my Photoshop results unless I spend a huge amount of time on each image making changes. The tones are always so different that I have never been able to create an action that would work well for different scenes so each image has to be adjusted in detail manually and can take a lot of time. If you really want to get into digital infrared going with a digital SLR conversion to IR is probably the best bet.

Have a great weekend!

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Author: Mark

Mark is a fine art wedding and portrait photographer from Northern California. He has been passionate about photography since childhood and started his studio 12 years ago to bring a fresh style of photography to the wedding and portrait world.

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1 Comment

  1. Camera conversion is mainly to allow ‘point and shoot’ infrared photography. Creating ‘fake’ IR in Photoshop is alot of unnecessary trouble. Those that prefer to not convert their camera can purchase a filter such as a Hoya RM72 infrared filter. You use it on an IR sensitive camera with an adapter or the appropriate size on your lens. Currently this is the method I’ve used for all my infrared photography (Nikon D40 + 58mm Hoya RM72) during the last few years. The only real difference is exposure times. The results are the same. You can see my IR photography on my website:


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