Take infrared photos on a tight budget
PhotoPlus : The Canon Magazine|August 2020
Take infrared photos on a tight budget
Dan Mold shows you how to use a cheap infrared filter to create out-of-this world monochromatic images
Dan Mold


Capture a ghostly mono infrared pic

Time needed

30 minutes

Skill level


Kit needed

• Tripod

• Infrared filter


Not all infrared filters are made equal, with some models letting in more or less infrared light. Look out for the Nanometer value (NM), as a filter with a value of 720nm will let in infrared types A, B and C, while a filter with a value of 1600nm will block out type A, only permitting types B and C in to hit the camera sensor and producing different results.

The human eye has the ability to see an extraordinary amount of colour and detail, but the world that we see everyday is only part of the wavelength spectrum. Just outside of the visible light range is ultraviolet at one end and infrared at the other side.

We can’t see infrared light, but I can show you how to take a picture with it. You’ll need a DSLR or mirrorless camera and an infrared filter that screws into the front filter thread of your lens. This will ensure that only infrared light is coming through the lens and hitting your camera’s sensor, with all other lightwaves blocked out. Cheap models can be picked up online for around £20, just make sure you get one that fits the filter thread of your lens. This is commonly stated on the barrel of the lens or inside the lens cap.

Most modern digital camera sensors, however, have a filter on top of the sensor to virtually cut out all but a mere trickle of infrared light. This means you’ll need to use a very long exposure, generally around three to six minutes, to get a usable photograph that is bright enough.


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August 2020