Choosing a Filter

Filter Choices

We currently have 7 filters to pick from. We offer the 720nm standard infrared, 850nm deep infrared, 665nm extra color infrared, 590nm infrared, a full spectrum filter, a two spectrum filter, a Blue-IR NDVI filter, and an H-alpha Astrophotography filter.

The Standard IR Filter (720nm) This is the tried and true classic IR filter. It allows for good color for false color, and good contrast for black and white. This is equivalent to the Hoya R72 and Wratten 89b.

When to use this filter: This filter is good if you are interested in shooting some mild color and black and white. This filter produces the traditional dark blue skies and can also be processed for color. While not as high contrast as the 850nm, people prefer this filter over the 850nm for B+W work, as it allows a little more color for B+W processing.

The Ultra Color filter (590nm) The Ultra Color filter (590nm) lets more visible light in, producing the most vibrant colors. Leaves are golden yellow, and skies are bright blue. B+W contrast is lower than the deeper IR filters.

When to use this filter: This filter is good for vibrant color IR landscapes, allowing the most flexibility in post processing. Also a good choice for portraits. The shallow IR shows less veins than the deeper IR filters while still creating a dreamy look. May not be as sharp as the deeper filters do to increased chromatic aberration.

The Enhanced Color filter (665nm) The Enhanced color filter (720nm) has an effect between the 720nm and 590nm, producing more vibrant colors than the 720nm for pale yellow leaves and brighter blue skies.

When to use this filter: My most used filter, this filter is best suited for processing to a traditional blue sky and white leaves, by desaturating the yellow in the leaves. This produces a look like the 720nm filter, but providing a richer blue that comes out more reliably between different cameras and different shooting conditions. Also a good choice for portraits. The shallow IR shows less veins than the deeper IR filters while still creating a dreamy look. May not be as sharp as the deeper filters do to increased chromatic aberration.

The Deep Black and White filter (850nm) This filter is good for a dedicated black and white IR. The camera and will produce bright whites and pronounced darks. With a custom white balance in camera, the picture is close to pure B+W without any processing.  Equivalent to the Wratten 87c.

When to use this filter: This filter is the best for the highest contrast B+W, closest resembling traditional B+W IR film. Also good for forensics and other applications where the deep IR wavelengths are helpful.

The NDVI Blue IR filter (Blue +IR) Our newest filter transmits both blue and IR, making it ideal for NDVI crop analysis applications, allowing an NDVI to be generated from a single image using the blue and red channels of the image. This filter is also handy for landscape photography, as it produces a similar effect to the 590nm after a channel swap, right out of the camera.

When to use this filter: Good for crop analysis purposes and a false color IR without post processing. Due to the multiple bands the lens has to focus with this filter, the images are less sharp than they can be with the dedicated IR filters.

The Full Spectrum filter (clear glass) makes the camera sensitive to UV, visible, and IR light, allowing switching between various external filters to achieve the desired effect, this allows going between infrared and regular shooting with one camera, however on DSLRs opaque infrared filters will block composition.

The Two Spectrum filter (IR + Visible) makes the camera sensitive to visible and IR light. It works the same way as the full spectrum, while filtering out UV for better color rendition in visible light shooting.

(click the pictures below for higher resolution)

Direct from Camera Channel Swapped Black & White Unprocessed out of camera 
590nm Filter 590CWB (Medium) (Small) 590CWB-FC H (Medium) (Small) 590CWB-BW (Medium) (Small) 590AWB (Medium) (Small)
665nm Filter 665CWB (Medium) (Small) 665CWB-FC H (Medium) (Small) 665CWB-BW (Medium) (Small) 665AWB (Medium) (Small)
720nm Filter 720CWB (Medium) (Small) 720CWB-FC H (Medium) (Small) 720CWB-BW (Medium) (Small) 720AWB (Medium) (Small)
850nm Filter 850CWB H (Medium) (Small) N/A 850CWBRAW (Medium) (Small) 850AWB (Medium) (Small)
Blue IR NDVI BlueIRCWB H (Medium) (Small) BlueIRCWB FC (Medium) (Small) BlueIRCWB BW (Medium) (Small) BlueIRAWB (Medium) (Small)
Full Spectrum Full Spectrum (Medium) (Small) Full Spectrum FC (Medium) (Small) Full Spectrum BW (Medium) (Small) Full Spectrum RAW (Medium) (Small)
Considerations for choosing an infrared filter

The first consideration is deciding if you will shoot color or not. If you plan to shoot only B&W then the 850nm filter is the best choice. If you will shoot even occasional color, then you will need to go with the 720nm filter or below. When choosing between the 590nm, 665nm, and 720nm, the first consideration is your aesthetic preferance. If you like the yellow leaf effect, you would need to go with the 590 or 665nm option. If you would like to shoot regular color shots, with white leaves and blue skies, then the 720nm filter is probably right for you.

Pros and Cons of the 590nm and 665nm filter

With these enhanced color filters, you will have an increased color range to work with. With processing, it is possible to desaturate photos from these two filters to look like the 720nm image. This adds some more flexibility when shooting, and allows for good color results in some shooting situations that would not work so well with the standard 720nm filter. Some cameras don’t have very good color results with the 720nm filter, such as the Nikon 5400 and some Canons Powershots, so the 665nm filter can overcome this effect. Another really nice benefit with these filters is that you can use higher cutoff IR filters over them. For example, with a 665nm conversion you could use a 720nm, 850nm and still take handheld pictures that will look exactly like the higher cutoff filter. You couldn’t use any lower filter though, like the 590nm filter. If the camera you are converting has live view, this is an easy way to take advantage of both the color and B&W aspects of IR.

A downside to these two filters is that they have less contrast for B&W images. Another downside is that cameras will have a harder time setting a white balance with the enhanced color filters. These filters can be more unpredictable, yielding different results depending on camera model and shooting conditions. See our article on How DSLRs and Compacts handle Color. Another thing to watch out for, is that the 590nm and 665nm filter can be a little less sharp than the 720 and 850nm filters. Since they let a wider spectrum of light in, there are more chromatic abberations and a bit softer focus.

Considerations for point and shoot cameras

On most compact cameras the replacement filters need to be very thin and will leak more visible light, so 590, 665, and 720 filters can produce duller color. The 800 and 850 filters will also leak a little visibe light. They will still be monochromatic but they may be red or blue tinged and require processing.

To achieve a good false color effect with the 590 and 665 filters, a custom white balance is crucial. You should not order these filters if your camera does not have a custom WB option. Also, just because your camera has a custom white balance setting, does not guarantee that you can achieve images like above with these filters. Camera white balances were not made to work in infrared, and the camera may not be able to measure a white balance properly leaving you with unexpected results. 590 filters have the most trouble with this.

If your camera does not have a custom white balance option, the 850 filter still work for B&W photography. The 720 filter can still be used to get good false color results even with automatic white balance, although the results are not quite as reliable.

Full Spectrum

The full spectrum, or clear filter, does not have many distinct uses on its own, but rather it gives you the flexibility to switch between different external infrared filters and still shoot handheld. It makes the camera sensitive to visible, infrared, and UV light. See our Full Spectrum article to see when you should consider full spectrum as an option.

Two Spectrum

Two spectrum is our new unique conversion that makes the camera sensitive to visible and infrared light and blocks UV light. If you do not plan to shoot UV, this is the best option and gives better color rendition for visible light photography. See our Two Spectrum article to see when you should consider a two spectrum conversion as an option.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *