How to take infrared photos with a DSLR camera

Written by nick rider
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How to take infrared photos with a DSLR camera
(camera image by Yury Shirokov from

Although almost all digital cameras are capable of recording the near-infrared spectrum, most cameras are equipped with a filter on the CCD chip which blocks infrared light. To take infrared photos with a DSLR camera, this filter should be removed. If you do not want to permanently alter your DSLR, it is possible to use an IR lens filter to block all light with the exception of the near-infrared spectrum. Your exposure times are greatly increased, however, so you'll need a tripod to steady the camera.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • DSLR camera
  • Infrared filter (either on the chip or on the lens)
  • Tripod

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  1. 1

    Attach an infrared filter to the camera lens. A popular choice is the standard R72 IR filter. You'll have to compose your shot through the viewfinder rather than your camera's LCD screen, because most visible light will be blocked.

  2. 2

    Attach your DSLR to the tripod and compose your shot. Open your camera's aperture to the widest setting and select the appropriate shutter speed. Depending on the strength of the sunlight, your shutter speed may be anywhere from 1/30 of a second to a full second.

  3. 3

    Focus the camera to infrared specifications. Most lenses have a special IR mark that is slightly to the side of the regular focus mark. This adjusts the lens's focus to account for the longer infrared wavelength. Consult your lens manual for more information.

  4. 4

    Take the picture. Depending on the type of infrared filter used, you may need to perform some minor post-processing of the image to get it the way you want.

Tips and warnings

  • Make sure that you don't move the camera during the long exposure period. It will blur the image.
  • As a general rule, do not aim your camera lens directly at the sun, with or without an IR filter in place. This may damage the camera's sensitive CCD chip.

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