Intro, Cameras, Mods, Lenses, Lights, Links
by Andrea G. Blum for Nikongear.com
Last Update: 01 August 2012
Note from Editor:
This is a joint effort by the members of Nikongear who hang out in the Invisible Spectrum section. Thanks to everyone there for their suggestions, comments, proofreading, lists, links, measurements, experiments and all round good fellowship.
Please PM <annedi> on Nikongear with any corrections, additions or suggestions.
All links are in underlined italics.
- IR = infrared
- UV = ultraviolet
- UVIR = ultraviolet and/or infrared
- <screen-name> = Nikongear member's screen name
IR Sticky PART1: Intro, Cameras, Mods, Lenses, Lights
- Infrared Photography
- The Camera
- The Lens
- The Filter
- The Light
- IR Photography Links
- IR Photo Links
- IR Cameras
- Nikon or Nikon F-Mount with CCD Sensor
- Nikon or Nikon F-Mount with CMOS Sensor
- Camera Modification
- Retail Modification Shops
- Do-It-Yourself DSLR Conversion
- IR Lenses
- About the IR Lens List
- IR Focus Shift
- Contributors to the IR Lens List
- UV/IR Lenses: with No UV-Vis-IR Focus Shift
- IR Lenses: Nikon Zoom Auto-Focus
- IR Lenses: Nikon Zoom Manual Focus
- IR Lenses: Nikon Prime Auto-Focus
- IR Lenses: Nikon Prime Manual Focus
- IR Lenses: Non-Nikon F-mount
- IR Lenses: Hotspotters
- IR Lens Links
- IR Lightin
- This section is shared by both the UV Sticky and the IR Sticky.
- Link: http://nikongear.com...icky-edition30/
Our purpose for this IR Sticky is to collect some useful information about IR-capable cameras & lenses, filters, IR-lighting and camera modifications. We present it in the form of lists and links so that it can serve both as a guide for beginners and as a useful reference for more experienced users. The IR Sticky is not meant to be exhaustive, but if you think we have left something important out, please do contact the Editor.
While we do have a home on Nikongear, all IR shooters are welcome here regardless of camera brand!
What do you need to make a reflected Infrared photograph ?
- IR-Capable Camera: IR light must be able to reach an IR-sensitive sensor.
- IR-Capable Lens: IR light must be able to pass through the lens elements.
- IR-Pass Filter: Visible & Ultraviolet wavelengths must be blocked.
- IR Light: Sunlight or artificial source.
Taking this from the top....
IR-sensitivity of digital camera sensors is best discussed on a per-camera basis. Actual measurements of a sensor's IR sensitivity are not made available by camera manufacturers. So our knowledge here is gained the hard way - we mod a camera, shoot with it and list it in the IR Sticky if it works well for IR.
See the IR Cameras section for a list of proven IR-capable cameras.
Most digital cameras have an internal filter that blocks IR & UV to varying degrees. In the newest cameras this UVIR-block filter is very strong and must be removed to enable IR photography. Some older cameras had weak internal filters and could shoot UVIR without modification - the Nikon D70 being the classic example. A few brave souls modify their camera themselves, but most of us send the camera to a retail modification shop.
During IR modification the internal filter is typically replaced by an IR-pass filter glass or a clear full-spectrum glass of the same thickness. This is done to protect the underlying, fused Bayer filter & sensor layers and to ensure the correct register distance is maintained for focusing. (Additional internal focusing adjustments might be needed.) Modifying the camera with an internal IR-pass filter permits you to use the viewfinder for framing and focusing. Choosing instead an internal clear glass instead permits the camera to be used with any wavelength of external IR-pass filter, but you probably can no longer use the viewfinder depending on how dark red the filter is.
See the Camera Modification section for some links to retail modification shops and DIY articles.
There's no predicting whether a given lens is IR-capable. Some lens coatings can block IR. Many lenses have a reflection problem in IR called 'hotspot'. However, there are a large number of ordinary lenses which are IR-capable even though most all of them will have a chromatic aberration problem called 'focus shift' which must be dealt with. Fortunately, some of Nikongear's extremely experienced IR shooters have provided us with an extensive list of IR-capable lenses that are hotspot free.
See the IR Lenses section for more info on IR-capable lenses, hotspot and focus shift.
There are a wide variety of IR longpass filters and glass available. If you choose a shorter wavelength internal IR-pass filter (675 for example), then you can always use a longer external IR-pass filter (830nm for example) on the lens. But if your internal IR-pass filter is at 830nm, for example, then you can never shoot below that. We have lists of external filters below as well as some references to the glass from which they are made. This should help you choose a modification wavelength or a good external filter.
Please see the separate sticky The UVIR Filters Sticky - Edition 3.0 for extensive filter information.
Most Infrared photography is done in the near Infrared band from about 700-1000nm. So sunlight is your friend when shooting IR outdoors. Indoors, you might want to use regular flash which produces plenty of IR. It is also possible to modify a flash with IR filters.
See the IR Lighting section for more information.
IR Photography Links
To read and learn more about Infrared light and Infrared photography, visit these interesting websites and articles.
- Infrared by Wikipedia.
- Infrared Photography by Wikipedia.
- Digital Infrared Photography Overview by Lloyd L. Chambers.
- Experiments with Digital Infrared Photography by Ross A. Alford.
- ИНФРАКРАСНЫЙ ПЕЙЗАЖ IR info. На русском языке; in Russian.
- Infrared and Ultraviolet Photography by Thierry Lombry. Lots of info and links.
In English or en Français.
- Infrared Photography by Prof. Robin Williams and Gigi Williams.
- Infrared Photography Buzz IR info & beginner's tutorial.
- IR Colour Photography by Dr. Bjørn Rørslett.
- IR Photography by Gisle Hannemyr.
- IR Photography by Enrico Savazzi.
- Khromagery by David Burren.
- On a Different Wavelength: 100 Years of IR Photography by Phil Coomes, BBC.
Be sure to browse Nikongear's Invisible Spectrum for the latest excellent UVIR photography by our members.
- Seoul Infrared by Bob Friedman.
- Infrared Photography by Niek Haak.
- Infrared Images by Michael Moody.
- Infrared Photography by Boentara Prajitno.
- Infrared Photo Gallery by Johannes Go.
- MyMusin.com by Musin Yohan.
- Yudistira Infrared Gallery by S.H. Yudistira. Wedding photos.
Nikon or Nikon F-Mount with CCD Sensor
The older DSLRs listed here have CCD sensors and are considered good candidates for IR shooting. Some of them are IR-capable (or UV-capable) without modification and make good DSLRs for UVIR beginners who would like to get started with minimal expense. With an unmodified DSLR, exposures will be longer & noisier and using the viewfinder is not possible. The listed cameras are no longer manufactured, but can be found as resales in the used section of online retailers, in Nikongear's Classified Ads section, or on Ebay or Amazon.
Note: Although almost every unmodified camera can record some IR if you give it a long enough exposure, any camera will perform better in IR if its internal blocking filter is removed.
The cameras are listed in order of release date - earliest to most recent. It is of course a bit confusing that the model numbers do not correspond to the release sequence. The comments represent a consensus of opinion from users of these cameras who have provided their observations in Nikongear threads.
- D1, D1H, D1X
- D100 Usable unmodified.
- D2H Usable unmodified.
- D70 *Good unmodified. An inexpensive solution for beginners or for casual experimentation.
- D2HS Usable unmodified, but better if modified
because it has a stronger blocking filter than the older D2H.
- D70S *Good unmodified. An inexpensive solution for beginners or for casual experimentation.
- D50 Usable unmodified.
- D200 The D200 must be modified.
- D80 Usable unmodified.
- D40 *Good unmodified.
- D40X The D40X must be modified.
- D60 Usable unmodified.
- S3 Pro, S5 Pro The S3 and S5 should be modified.
- S3 Pro-UVIR, IS PRO Pre-modified by Fuji. No longer manufactured, but available.
- DCS 520, 560
- DCS 620, 620X, 660
- DCS 720X, 760C
The newer DSLRs having CMOS sensors must be modified to use them for IR photography because manufacturers have increased the strength of the internal UVIR blocking filters. However, the great thing about CMOS sensors is that they support Live View. So after modification, if you use Live View to focus your shot you will not have to deal with focus shift.
Note: To use Live View successfully in UV or IR, you must have sufficient UV or IR light.
There are 5 Nikon DSLRs having CMOS sensors that also have a self-diagnostic shutter monitor which uses an IR LED timing light: the D700, D3, D3X, D3S and D7000. The first 4 are not currently recommended for IR (or UV) conversion because the IR LED can produce IR contamination in photos when the cameras IR-cut filter (ICF) is removed. Shooting at base ISO and keeping exposures short mitigates the IR contamination, but many shooting scenarios do not allow this. It is possible that you will not notice the IR contamination as much for cameras using an internal IR-pass filter >= 830nm, but we have not yet seen a definitive example. In an IR photo excess IR light from the shutter monitor will show up as a lighter area of flare or smear.
15 Aug 2011: Update on D7000 Conversion
LifePixel has found that the IR shutter monitor in the D7000 has a higher IR wavelength which does not contaminate photos, so the D7000 can be successfully modified. We do not yet have any tests of this model on Nikongear, but it looks promising.
You can see the IR shutter monitor for the D3S on this page (scroll down): Nikon Flagship Reliability.
Modified Nikon CMOS cameras - not having IR shutter monitors - which have been successfully used by Nikongear members for IR. If your camera is not listed here, please contact the Sticky editor.
- D2X - Modified.
- D90 - Modified.
- D300 - Modified.
- D300S - Modified.
- D5100 - Modified.
- D3100 - Modified.
Nikongear is not affiliated with any online retail camera UVIR modification shops or any DIY conversion site. Links are provided here *for your information only*. Please post a question or do a search in the Invisible Spectrum section to find out NG members' most recent experiences with modification. Keep in mind that when you modify a DSLR, you are voiding the original warranty.
Please Note: The Nikon D700, D3, D3S and D3X camera bodies are not currently recommended for modification because of their IR shutter monitor. See above in the section: Nikon or Nikon F-Mount with CMOS Sensor.
Retail Modification Shops
- David MacQ's Conversions
David converts the D70, D70S, or D200 for IR or full spectrum.
- Life Pixel Digital Infrared Conversion
Life Pixel offers IR and full spectrum mods.
Life Pixel warns about the unsuitability of the D700/D3/D3S/D3X for conversion.
This warning is under the table in the answer to Question 1 on the FAQ page: http://www.lifepixel...rared/faq.html.
- Advanced Camera Services
ACS offers IR and full spectrum mods.
- MaxMax (LDP LLC)
MaxMax offers IR and full spectrum mods.
- D200-DIY IR-Conversion
Again, an IR mod is shown, but you will see how to get inside your D200.
- Life Pixel's Do It Yourself Digital Infrared Camera Modification Tutorials
The DIY techniques shown here would also work for a full spectrum clear filter mod.
About the IR Lens List
For a lens to be on the IR Sticky Lens List, it must have at least one Nikongear member who has either used it or tested it to confirm that the lens is IR-capable in some portion of the IR bandwidth.
- IR-Capability ?
The amount of IR-capability of the lenses on this list varies.
We have tried to list some lenses that do not show hotspotting in IR
or have only minor hotspotting at certain apertures or magnifications.
Investigate before purchase!
- F-Mount ?
A few lenses on this list may not have Nikon F-mounts.
Modification of the lens mount and the use of focusing helicoids and/or bellows
may be necessary for use on a Nikon camera body.
Investigate before purchase!
- IR-Focus Shift?
Most of the lenses listed below experience some degree of the IR-Visible focus shift discussed below.
Lenses without such focus shift are noted.
Investigate before purchase!
A hotspot is a washed out, bright spot in the center of a photo caused by a combination of reflections from the lens elements, its IR-reflective parts, the camera sensor and IR-reflective parts in the camera mirror chamber. Check for IR-reflective internal or external materials of your lens, filter mounts and step rings by IR-photographing them. Sometimes just the presence of a filter will cause a hotspot - especially when shooting into the light source. Hotspotting may even vary by sample across a particular lens type. If you suspect that a focus distance window on the side of lens is causing hotspots or flare because of light leak, simply tape it over. So, please remember that hotspots in IR may not be caused just by the lens alone -- but possibly by the combination of camera + lens + filter + light conditions.
IR Focus Shift
Focus shift between the Visible & Infrared wavebands in a lens is a form of axial chromatic aberration that occurs because shorter, higher frequency Visible lightwaves refract more in typical optical glass than do longer, lower frequency Infrared lightwaves. Such wavelength-induced focus shift is a topic of particular interest in IR photography when using a camera that has no Live View. The first step is to focus the lens in Visible light before mounting the dark IR-pass filter. After mounting the filter you might have to adjust your initial focus if the lens has not been designed to bring the IR rays to the Visible plane of convergence. However, if your lens is designed to correct for aberration between the IR & Visible wavebands, then the original Visible focus will still be good when shooting through the the dark IR-pass filter.
It is interesting to note here that if you are using a IR-capable camera with Live View under sufficient IR illumination, then IR focus shift is no longer a worry.Diffraction
In photography, diffraction is the spread of light waves caused by their passage through a lens aperture. The narrower the aperture, the more the diffraction. In UVIR photography, a key fact to note is that longer wavelengths spread more at a given aperture than shorter wavelengths.
So, for example, if you make a Visible light photo with a sensor & lens combo that begins to show diffraction blur past f/8, then you will have to open up your lens to f/5.6 (or larger) to shoot a sharp IR version of the same photo. But on the UV side, you could stop down to f/11 (or smaller) and still stay sharp. The rule of thumb is there is approximately a 1-2 stop aperture variation around the diffraction limit of a given sensor & lens combo.
When diffraction is recorded by a digital sensor, it shows up as a loss of sharpness in an image.Contributors to the IR Lens List
- annedi = Andrea Blum
- anon = Anonymous
- brianc1959 = Brian Caldwell
- Danijel = Danijel Vrgoc
- Erik Lund = Erik Lund
- easeavey7 = Eric Seavey
- kds315 = Klaus Schmitt
- nfoto = Bjørn Rørslett
- oojala = Oskar Ojala
- scottnilsson = Scott Nilsson
- shane = Shane Elen
These lenses have no focus shift between UV, Visible or IR wavelengths.
Lens info for each brand includes: Focal Length & Speed, Description, User/Mount/Filter and Remarks, if any.
- 85mm f4.5 Ultra Achromatic Takumar. /kds315/M42/49mm
No longer manufactured.
- 60mm f4.0 Apo Macro. /nfoto/F/52mm
Currently manufactured. Color corrected for 310-1100nmm.
Hotspots at high magnification can be controlled via extension tubes.
Jenoptic Optical Systems, Inc.
- 120mm f4.5 Macro UV-IR Apo. /brianc1959/?/
Currently manufactured. For medium format.
Color corrected for 325-1100nm.
- 10-24mm f3.5-4.5G AF-S DX. /nfoto/F/
- 14-24mm f2.8G AF-S. /anon/F/
- 16-85mm f3.5-5.6G AF-S DX VR. /nfoto/F/
- 17-35mm f2.8D AF-S. /nfoto/F/
- 18-55mm f3.5-5.6GII AF-S non-VR. /nfoto/F/ Best used on a modified camera because it is easily upset when adding a front IR filter after a pre-focus.
- 18-105mm f3.5-5.6G AF-S DX VR. /nfoto, annedi/F/
- 18-200mm f3.5-5.6G AF-S DX VR. /nfoto/F/
- 20-35mm f2.8D AF. /Erik Lund/F/
- 24-70mm f2.8G AF-S. /nfoto/F/
- 28-300mm f3.5-5.6G AF-S VR. /nfoto/F/
- 35-70mm f2.8D AF. /nfoto/F/
- 70-180mm f4.5-5.6D AF Micro-Nikkor. /nfoto/F/
- 70-300mm f4.5-5.6G AF-S VR. /nfoto/F/ Best with 89B or R-72 filter.
- 200-400mm f4.0G AF-S VR. /nfoto/F/
- 25-50mm f4.0 AI & AI-S. /nfoto/F/ Hotspot only if facing main light source.
- 28-45mm f4.5 AI. /nfoto/F/ Set up shots carefully to avoid picking up ghosts & flare.
- 35-70mm f3.5 AI-S. /nfoto/F/ Both 62mm and 72mm filter thread OK.
- 36-72mm f3.5 Series E. /nfoto/F/
- 43-86mm f3.5 AI. /nfoto/F/ Models having serial numbers > 774xxx.
- 75-150mm f3.5 Series E. /nfoto/F/
- 180-600mm f/8.0 ED. /nfoto/F/ Negligible or no focus shift.
- 200-600mm f9.5 AI-S. /nfoto/F/
- 10.5mm f2.8G AF DX Fisheye-Nikkor. nfoto/F/
- 14mm f2.8D AF. /nfoto/F/
- 18mm f2.8D AF. /Eric Lund/F/
- 20mm f2.8D AF. /nfoto/
- 50mm f1.8D AF. /nfoto/F/ See Bjørn Rørslett's caveats.
- 80mm f2.8 AF. /nfoto/F/
- 85mm f1.4D AF. /nfoto/F/
- 85mm f1.8D AF. /oojala/F/
- 85mm f3.5G AF-S DX. Micro-Nikkor. /nfoto/F/
- 105mm f2.8G AF-S VR. Micro-Nikkor. /nfoto/F/
- 200mm f2.0G AF-S VR. /nfoto/F/
- 300mm f2.8D AF-S. /nfoto/F/
- 300mm f4.0D AF-S. /nfoto/F/
- 600mm f4.0D AF-S II. /Danijel/F/
- 600mm f4.0D AF-S VR. /Danijel/F/
- 1200mm f/11 ED-IF. /nfoto/F/ Negligible or no focus shift.
- 15mm f5.6 QD.C pre-AI. /nfoto/F/Corner fall-off.
- 20mm f2.8 AI-S. /nfoto, anon/F/
- 20mm f3.5 AI-S. 52mm & 72 filter thread. /nfoto, anon/F/
- 20mm f4.0 AI. /nfoto/F/See B. Rørslett's caveats.
- 28mm f2.0 AI. /nfoto/F/See B. Rørslett's caveats. AI-S version not recc.
- 28mm f3.5 AI. /oojala/F/
- 28mm f3.5 K. /nfoto, anon/F/Non-K versions also good, but K is superior.
- 35mm f2.0 O pre-AI, AI & AI-S. /nfoto/F/
- 35mm f2.0 AI-S. /nfoto/F/
- 45mm f2.8 GN. /nfoto/F/
- 45mm f2.8 AI-P. /nfoto, annedi/F/
- 50mm f1.2 AI. /nfoto/F/
- 50mm f1.8 AI-S. /nfoto, Fenwoodian/F/
- 50mm f2.0 pre-AI & AI. /nfoto/F/
- 50mm f2.8 EL-Nikkor. /nfoto/M39/40.5mm
- 55mm f3.5 AI. /Shane/F/
- 58mm f1.2 AI Noct-Nikkor. /nfoto/F/
- 63mm f3.5 EL-Nikkor. /Danijel/M39/40.5mm
- 85mm f2.8D PC Micro-Nikkor. /nfoto/F/
- 85mm f1.4 AI-S. /nfoto/F/
- 85mm f2.0 AI & AI-S. /nfoto/F/
- 105mm f1.8 AI-S. /nfoto/F/
- 105mm f2.5 AI. /nfoto/F/
- 105mm f2.5 P.C Gauss Type. /nfoto/F/
- 105mm f4.0 Bellows-Nikkor. /nfoto/F/Focusing only possible with bellows.
- 105mm f4.0 Micro-Nikkor. /nfoto/F/
- 135mm f2.8 Q pre-AI. /nfoto/F/
- 135mm f3.5 AI-S. /nfoto/F/?/Sharp, just a small focus shift, no hot spots.
- 200mm f2.0 AI & AI-S. /nfoto/F/
- 200mm f4.0 AI-S Micro-Nikkor. /nfoto/F/
- 200mm f4.0 Q pre-AI & AI-modified. /nfoto/F/
- 300mm f4.5 AI-S ED-IF. /nfoto/F/ See B. Rørslett's caveats. Non-IF version not reccommended.
- 400mm f3.5 AI & AI-S. /nfoto/F/
- 400mm f5.6 AIS. /FenwoodianF/
- 500mm f4.0 P AI-P & AI-S. /nfoto/F/
- 300mm f5.6 Ultra Achromatic Takumar. /kds315/M42 Designed for Vis-IR, but also transmits UV with focus shift.
- 25mm f2.8 Distagon T* ZF-IR. /nfoto/F/ IR-dedicated.
- 50mm f1.4 Planar T* ZF-IR. /Shane/F/ IR-dedicated.
- 85mm f1.8 Planar T* ZF-IR. /nfoto/F/ IR-dedicated.
- 20mm f3.5 ?? /Fenwoodian/F/
- 180mm f4.0 APO-Lanthar. /nfoto/F/
- 105mm f2.5 Macro. /RKPhotog/F/
- 85mm f1.4 Aspherical IF. /nfoto/F/
- 105mm f2.8 EX DG Macro. /easeavey7/F/
- 18-50mm f3.5-5.6 DC. /easeavey7/F/
- 300mm f4.0 Apo-Macro /RKPhotog/F/ Focus shift compensation tricky because of short focus throw.
- 90mm f2.8 Di 1:1 Macro SP AF. /nfoto, RKPhotog/F/ MF version hotspots @f8.
Please remember: Hotspots in IR may not be caused just by the lens alone, but by the combination of camera + lens + filter + light conditions. So the inclusion of a lens in this list does not automatically mean that it is useless for IR -- only that some Nikongear member has rejected it for their IR photography. You may find that a lens listed here works well for you -- or not. This list is by no means exhaustive. Remarks are basically as reported.
- 10.5mm f? D Fisheye AF Hotspots on converted D2X. OK on some cameras.
- 24-70 f2.8G AFS Sometimes works wonders in IR; sometimes it fails badly.
Check for light leak through focus distance window.
- 24mm f1.4G AFS Guaranteed IR hot-spotter.
- 28-85mm f3.5-4.5 AF At f16.
- 35mm f1.4G AFS Hotspots badly in IR.
- 35mm f1.4 AIS Hotspots on converted D2X, especially with filters.
- 35mm f1.8 Strong hotspot.
- 35mm f? Series E Faint hotspot @f16 infinity.
- 60mm f2.8G AFS Micro-Nikkor Huge hotspot problem in IR.
- 50mm f? Series E
- 55mm f3.5P Micro-Nikkor Produces a hotspot. Later versions do not.
- 70-210mm f4.0 AF At f11 or smaller at some focal lengths.
- 17-35mm f2.8-4.0 Slight hotspot, but still usable.
- 90mm f? MF Had hotspots on both my Fuji & Nikon cameras.
- 12-24mm f4 If you like hotspots, this Tokina is very good at that!
- All You Ever Wanted to Know about Digital UV and IR Photography This classic reference article by NG member Dr. Bjørn Rørslett <nfoto> contains IR lens info.
- Diglloyd Guide to Digital Infrared Photography This guide (subscription only) by NG member Lloyd Chambers <lloyd> contains information about the IR capabilities of a multitude of Nikon and Canon lenses.
- Lens Survey and Subjective Evaluation
This survey by NG member Dr. Bjørn Rørslett <nfoto> contains UVIR ratings for some lenses.
- Macrolens Collection Database: Special Lenses
This extensive compliation by NG member Dr. Klaus Schmitt <kds315> contains UVIR lens info.
- Nikon Lens Specifications
This excellent set of specs by NG member Roland Vink <rvink> covers all Nikon lenses.
We haven't yet heard of anyone using an IR LED flashlight for close-up IR photography. Please let us know the results if you experiment with that. The typical on-board flash will provide enough IR light for most IR photography.
Here are a few links to IR lighting options.
- Nikon SB14 Speedlight Modified for UVIR by Shane Elen <shane>.
- Nikon SB140 UV-IR Speedlight No longer manufactured and difficult to find as a resale.
- Vivitar 283/285/285HV Flash Modified for UVIR by Shane Elen <shane>.