Digital Infrared - Your Options

This article is very much by way of an introduction to infrared camera options. No doubt subsequent articles will go into greater detail. Essentially, this is a heads-up on what you can do if you are interested in Digital Infrared photography, but don’t know where to start.

The first thing to know is that most digital cameras have an infrared blocker built in to ensure that no infrared light gets to the sensor. So you have to deal with that first.

Basically, you have three options:

1. Buy a special filter for your existing digital camera and expect very long exposure times
2. Buy an almost antique digital camera which has poor infrared screening AND a special filter and expect long exposure times (from 1/60th down to 1 second)
3. Have your camera converted to remove the infrared blocker. You may either have this replaced with an infrared filter (to block out normal light) OR buy a seperate filter as above. Option 3 has the advantage of providing significantly faster shutter speeds.

Some modern digital cameras may not have this infrared blocker but I am not aware of any particular makes or models at this time.

I will attempt to discuss these three options (and any others that come up) in seperate writings. Suffice to say:

The first option is the cheapest and probably costs about US$30 but exposure times can be prohibitive – e.g. 30seconds.

The second option usually gives you limited resolution and the equiptment may have or may develop faults due to it’s age. But the Nikon Coolpix 950 is a good example of such a camera. 2mp but producing some nice IR unmodified but using a Hoya R72 filter.

The third option will cost about US$250 and not all cameras can be modified. I use a Canon Powershot S80 which does a great job (though it does not support RAW). Having a camera modified will give you the largest amount of flexibility.

So that’s your introduction to Digital Infrared camera options.

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