Using Filters for Infrared Photography

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

Since last week’s post about infrared photography, several readers have asked me about the specific filters that i use for digital IR capture. For today’s post, I’ve based the prices/links shown on using 52mm filer with larger filters costing more (sometimes lots more) and smaller ones costing less (but sometimes not so less.) Keep in mind that you can use filter step-up rings allowing you to use larger filters on smaller lenses and they are often very inexpensive. My cheap 58mm>52mm step-up rings only cost five bucks.

Here are my favorite infrared filters in no particular order:

Hoya’s R72 Infrared filter ($36.84) is nearly opaque and blocks all visible light up to 720 nanometers, enabling you to capture light that’s not normally visible. This filter is constructed from high-quality optical glass and is set into an aluminum ring to provide rigidity and prevent jamming. Its filter factor varies depending on the ISO and atmospheric conditions and more often than not you may want to shoot in Manual mode. But this is true of all these filters so don’t hold it against this most affordable filter.

Cokin’s A007 Infrared is the equivalent of a Wratten 89B filter. The A-sized modular filter costs $41.09 as I wrote this but that’s because it may be discontinued. Like all Cokin filters, its available in larger (and more expensive) sizes. My advice: Don’t use it in a Cokin holder. Instead use your fingers to hold it against the front of the lens to minimize light pollution seeping in from the sides that might occur when used in a Cokin holder.

Singh-Ray’s I-Ray is probably the best IR filter I’ve ever used but you have to pay for that perfection. A 52mm filter costs $160, so if you buy this filter you’re making a serious commitment to digital infrared photography. It transmits more than 90% of near-infrared light between 700 and 1100 nanometers while blocking virtually all visible and UV light, so you’re going to need a tripod and higher than normal ISO settings.



My book, The Complete Guide to Digital Infrared Photography is out-of-print but used copies are available from Amazon for less than six bucks, as I write this. Creative Digital Monochrome Effects has a chapter on IR photography and is available from Amazon with used copies selling for less that $4. You can buy’em both for the price of a Starbucks Caffè Latte.