Custom White BalanceHere at Kolari, we expect one thing from Canon when it comes to setting a white balance for infrared photography: perfection. No matter what filter, no matter what lighting conditions, Canon cameras set a spot on custom white balance every single time. The EOS R was no different. From 550nm to 850nm, Canon’s first full-frame mirrorless stuck to its roots kept its appetite for infrared light. Whether your filter is for color IR (590nm, Left), pure infrared (850nm, right), or somewhere in between (720nm, center), the Canon EOS R will set a perfect custom white balance right in camera, ready for a channel swap. However, if you’re shooting in RAW, Adobe and Skylum software will undo your custom WB settings upon import. This import reset occurs with most models out there, so you’ll still need to use a custom camera profile to process RAW files. Surprisingly, this did not happen with the Nikon Z7 even though that model can only set a white balance with the 720nm and 850nm filters.
The Sweet Science (of Color)Whether Canon’s beloved color science translates into the IR spectrum is probably not for me to say, as I am ever so slightly red/green colorblind, but this section will allow you to decide for yourself. I took each photo in the section below on the same day in identical lighting conditions with a custom white balance. I then applied a standard red/blue channel swap and Auto-Tone function for contrast on Photoshop. The images are compressed for web display. (For the 550nm filter, I applied a layered red/blue+green/blue channel swap as our friend David Hochleitner explains in his article on 550nm processing.)
The 550nm is looking a little pale here, though the colors seem correct. We’re finding the 550nm filter is generally more finicky, as one would expect from such a mix of wavelengths. It is more definitely more challenging to use with the new mirrorless cameras than the other filters, but its worth the results if you’re willing to spend more time in processing.
The exact shades of blue and gold that we look for from the 590nm filter. A perfect starting point for deeper editing.
This is the perfect midpoint between 590nm and 720nm. The EOS R nails it with a textbook example.
Tried and true, 720nm perfection as we expected.
Last but not least, the 850nm. This is for all you Ansels and Sabastiaos out there.
Artifacts and Issues
Sensor LinesSensor lines, like the ones we found in images from the Nikon Z7, have been a problem for Canon mirrorless systems in the past. The EOS M3, for example, will show groups of horizontal lines running across the frame after the camera is converted to infrared. The Z7 had them evenly distributed top to bottom, though they only showed themselves very subtly and in isolated places in the image. From what I’ve searched thus far, the EOS R seems to be in the clear. This patch of Sky from the 720nm IR sample shot (before channel-swap) is what most of the image looks like when zoomed way in and with contrast pushed to relative extremes.
The noise looks random and evenly distributed with no lines to be seen. Seems like the EOS R dodged this bullet when the Z7 and A7R III couldn’t.
Internal Shutter Monitoring IR LEDThis test can be a total dealbreaker for those looking to shoot long exposures and astrophotography in infrared. Last time, the Nikon Z7 passed with a perfect black frame, free of any light leaks or fogginess. If you’d like to read more about this issue and some of the models that have it, check out the corresponding section of our Nikon Z7 Infrared Photography Review. Now, without further adieu, the Canon EOS R at ISO 25,600 with a shutter speed of 30 seconds, lens cap on, inside a bag inside a closed drawer
Squeaky clean. Both Nikon and Canon beat out recent Sony models in this regard.
Kit Lens Hot-Spot TestHow does the lens that ships with the EOS R perform in infrared?
Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens
Just like the Nikon Z Kit lens, the Canon RF kits lens has a hot-spot starting around f/8-f/11. Not great, but definitely not terrible. This lens will still be perfectly usable for many infrared photographers.
What about using the electronic shutter mode, does the IR LED still work in that case?
Sadly that does not solve the issue.
Now that the EOS RP is out, I was hoping you will do the same test on this second member of the R family from Canon.
Is it possible for you to sell 3rd party drop-in filters for the Drop-In Filter Mount Adapter? I think it would be amazing to have an EOS R converted to full-spectrum or two-spectrum, and then use different IR drop-in filters for different wavelengths with different lenses.
So this means the Canon Eos R after full spectrum conversion by you is suitable for long exposure astrophotography?
I ask, because you don’t include it in your list of cameras you convert for astrophotography.
Thanks for helping me with my confusion
The R definitely is great for Astrophotography, but that would require a full-spectrum conversion. We do not support the Astro-specific H-alpha conversion for the R. You would need a full-spectrum converted R with lens filters or clip-in filters for designated Astro shooting.
I found the rf 24-105 to have a significant hot spot especially when shooting bright scenes, like in snow. I switched to the ef 24-70 w/adapter, problem solved.
Hi. Nice article. Regarding the rf 24-105 lens, I found it to have a significant hot spot, noticeable (and sometimes uncorrectable in post) in many shots. I then tested the ef 24-70 w/adapter on the R and found it to be significantly better (while not perfect, the hot spot was not noticeable in most shots or just needed a slight burn in post). I hope this helps someone, I was quite disappointed with the rf 24-105 for IR shooting. Sold it as I do a lot of IR shooting.
Just to clarify, it is the 24-70 f/4, I have read the f/2.8 version is not good. Also, I shoot a lot of small aperture stuff and the hot spot really showed up with rf 24-105, the 24-70 f/4 was much better (again, not perfect tho, is any lens?)
Similar finding for me – notable hot spot in the sky.
Most of my EF lenses (with adapter) work fine, though, including the EF 24-105 4L II, so I think this may have to do with the proximity of the rear element to the sensor.