Infrared Filter Options
At this time, we have seven infrared filters to choose from for your conversion: 550nm, 590nm, 665nm, 720nm, 850nm, Blue IR/NDVI, and full spectrum. Depending on your color preference and shooting style, you may prefer one wavelength over another. Read on to discover more about each option, or see the chart below for a full visual comparison.
550nm ir filter
Inspired by false color IR film, the 550nm ir filter can produce deep blue skies and pink or crimson reds, making for striking landscapes.
When to use this filter: Like the 590nm but with a twist, this filter is excellent for producing attention-grabbing landscapes. It’s also a surprisingly good choice for infrared portraits since it maintains more neutral skin tones than the 590nm ir filter without exposing veins and still providing striking false color, but not as good as our IR Chrome. This filter requires post-processing and a full spectrum converted camera.
590nm ir filter
The 590nm infrared filter can produce vibrant false colors while allowing for flexibility in post-processing.
When to use this filter: Typically used to produce golden-yellow foliage and bright blue skies. This filter requires post-processing and is compatible with a full spectrum camera or a lower cutoff IR converted camera.
665nm ir filter
665nm is the sweet spot between 590nm and 720nm, producing vibrant false colors with good black and white contrast.
When to use this filter: Typically used to produce light yellow leaves or the classic white IR look with blue skies. This filter requires post-processing and is compatible with a full spectrum or a lower cutoff IR converted camera.
720nm (Standard Infrared Filter)
This is the tried-and-true classic IR filter. It allows for some great blue sky false color and provides great contrast and dynamic range 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. This filter requires post-processing and is compatible with a full spectrum camera or a lower cutoff IR converted camera. This filter can also be used with stock cameras with a long exposure.
850nm (Black and White Infrared Filter)
This filter is suitable for a dedicated black and white infrared camera. It 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, resembling traditional B&W IR film. Also good for forensics and other applications where the deep IR wavelengths are helpful. This filter is compatible with a full spectrum camera or a lower cutoff IR converted camera. This filter can also be used with some stock cameras with a long exposure.
The NDVI Blue IR filter (Blue + IR)
This filter transmits both blue and IR, making it ideal for NDVI crop analysis applications. It allows an NDVI to be generated from a single image using the blue and red channels of the image.
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)
Full spectrum 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, opaque infrared filters block composition on DSLRs without a live view function.
Custom White Balance
Black & White
Blue IR NDVI
IR Chrome Lite
Considerations for choosing an infrared filter
The first thing to consider is whether you will shoot color or not.
If you plan to shoot only B&W, then the 850nm filter is the best choice. If you plan to shoot color even occasionally, you should go with the 720nm ir filter or below.
When choosing between 590nm, 665nm, and 720nm, the first consideration is your aesthetic preference. If you like the yellow leaf effect, you should choose the 590nm or 665nm option. If you want to shoot regular color shots with white leaves and blue skies, then the 720nm ir filter is probably right for you.
Pros and Cons of the 590nm and 665nm ir 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 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 Canon PowerShots, but the 665nm filter can overcome this.
Another nice benefit of these filters is that you can use higher cutoff IR filters over them.
For example, with a 665nm conversion, you could use a 720nm or 850nm and still take handheld pictures that will look exactly like the higher cutoff filter.
However, you couldn’t use a lower filter, 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.
These filters can be more unpredictable, yielding different results depending on the camera model and shooting conditions.
Cameras will also have a harder time setting a white balance with the enhanced color filters.
Another thing to watch out for is that the 590nm and 665nm filters can be a little less sharp than the 720nm and 850nm filters. Since they let in a broader light spectrum, there are more chromatic aberrations and a bit softer focus.
Considerations for point-and-shoot cameras
The replacement filters on most compact cameras need to be very thin and leak more visible light, so 590nm, 665nm, and 720nm filters can produce duller color.
The 850nm filter will also leak a little visible light. They will still be monochromatic but may be red or blue-tinged and require processing.
A custom white balance is crucial to achieving a good false color effect with the 590nm and 665nm filters. You should only order these filters if your camera has a custom white balance option.
Keep in mind that just because your camera has a custom white balance setting does not guarantee that you can achieve images like those 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 correctly, leaving you with unexpected results. 590nm filters have the most trouble with this.
If your camera does not have a custom white balance option, the 850nm filter still works for B&W photography. The 720nm filter can still be used to get good false color results even with auto white balance, although the results are not quite as reliable.
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.