I am new to the photography world and own a Canon 600D, I quite like some of the infra-red shots I've looked at. Is there a special lens required or does the camera need to be modified by other means such as mirrors/sensors?

Forgive me but I lack the technical knowledge of the workings of my kit at the moment. I've also only just taken delivery of my only lens - an 18-55mm EF-S II.


  • \$\begingroup\$ See the top answer to this question: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/912/… \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 12:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ if you really want to try it infra-red photography here is a DIY on how to remove the IR filter but my advice would be not to do so. You will most likely void the camera warranty. lifepixel.com/tutorials/infrared-diy-tutorials/canon-t3i \$\endgroup\$
    – fluf
    Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 12:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @fluf seems really dangerous :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Paolo
    Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 16:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ElendilTheTall top answer to that question is dead wrong IMO! \$\endgroup\$
    – Matt Grum
    Commented Mar 8, 2012 at 13:20
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ There was a best but it has been discontinued. Fuji used to make an ultra-zoom which recorded both IR and UV and this let you preview your shots exactly as they will come out, which is not possible with other systems. Maybe you can search used camera stores for a Fuji IS-1. \$\endgroup\$
    – Itai
    Commented Mar 8, 2012 at 14:08

3 Answers 3


The best way to shoot IR is with a modified camera, that way you are free to handhold your shots, compose through the viewfinder and focus with AF/liveview. However this requires the infraref filter to be removed and replaced with a visible light blocking filter. You are looking at $300 or so for the conversion, and it's permanent.

However there is a very easy way to dabble with IR without the cost or risk of modifying your camera! By placing a visible light blocking filter (erroneously referred to as an infra-red filter) over the lens you only allow IR lens into the camera. However due to the Camera's own infra-red blocking filter very little of the light gets through. So you need to use a long exposure (30 seconds or so) and a tripod.

You also have the problem of not being able to see through the lens with the filter on (the filter blocks visible light after all!) so you have to keep taking it off to focus and compose. Focus will be slightly off as IR focusses at a slightly different distance so you need to be aware of that (bracket your focus or stop down for more depth of field). You'll have to set the exposure by trial and error also.

The advantage compared to film however, is that you get instant results and your failures don't cost you anything so you are free to fine tune the settings as much as you like.

  • \$\begingroup\$ You can do the conversion yourself for about ~$90 if you're handy. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fake Name
    Commented Mar 10, 2012 at 7:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ i find that most people think they're handy while not actually being handy \$\endgroup\$
    – Andrei G
    Commented Mar 10, 2012 at 8:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ I know (but I don't know the details) that you can get a replacement IR filter to place in front of the mirror of the camera. That makes it easy to remove when doing IR photography, and put back, when doing normal photography. However, this does not work with EF-S lenses, as are physically closer to the mirror than EF lenses. \$\endgroup\$
    – Pete
    Commented Mar 12, 2012 at 8:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure (I don't use Canon gear) but I think converting a camera to shoot IR is changing the current filter that blocks IR to another that doesn't, so I guess if it's done right you should use any lens. Again, this is just an opinion \$\endgroup\$
    – t3mujin
    Commented May 18, 2012 at 16:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Pete I've not heard of this product, but apart from only needing one size it still has all the problems of a front mounted filter, in that it blocks visible light from reaching the viewfinder, prevents autofocus and dramatically increases exposure times. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matt Grum
    Commented May 18, 2012 at 21:02

I don't think there is a best way to shoot IR! There are just different ways of doing it.

You could send your camera and have the IR filter removed. If you are just experimenting with IR photography DO NOT go this road. Only if you are serious about IR send in your camera or remove the filter your self.


You could buy Hoya RM-72 filter. Screw it on your lens and shoot away.

Few things to consider:

  • You must take custom white balance reading before you take IR photo
  • Because IR filters are dark, you will have issues with auto focus, try focusing first, then placing camera or lens on manual focus, then pop the filter on. Make sure you don't move the camera or the lens focusing ring.
  • Your exposure should not be affected because the camera is metering trough the lens, and with added filter it will compensate for loss of light. To do this more accurately:
    • Use hand held light meter, and compensate or increase
      the exposure based on how many stops of light
      was blocked by the filter.
  • I would also look into buying tripod.

That should get you started. If you're interested in more about IR photography.

Please note that not all cameras can capture IR light even using the filter, to see if your camera can handle IR, see my previous link.

Best of luck,


If I were you I wouldn't remove the anti IR filter from the matrix. I own a D80 which has such a filter, like the Canon 600D, which makes impossible to make IR photos. Nevertheless If you look for a camera previous generation, there is high chance that this 'feature' is missing.

At the time I was looking for a suitable camera, I choose Nikon D70, which is pretty much the best choice from the Nikon with no IR filter and used the camera mainly for such photography.

You also may look for an analog camera and IR film if you want just to test it.

I will strongly recommend you not to remove the filter of your main camera, since that will drag the quality down during normal photography. This is an option only when you decide to use that camera only for IR photography. If you still do consider such an option maybe is best to try service similar to http://www.lifepixel.com where they can convert the camera for you.


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