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Guidelines for Choosing Color vs Infrared

The serious (or one with a Sherpa) shooter will carry both color and infrared cameras. One each of the same model is helpful, since lenses and accessories can be interchanged. The Canon EOS 5D is perfect for this duty, albeit expensive. A less expensive alternative is your choice of DSLR, together with a camera like the Fuji F30-IR.

Below are some guidelines for choosing color or infrared. Keep in mind that it’s a “feel” thing, and the individual scene may cry out for one or the other, depending on your artistic vision.

  1. When lighting is harsh or unpleasant, choose infrared. Beautiful images often result in such lighting. Harsh mid-day sunlight works very nicely in infrared (but overcast light can also work well!).
  2. When the color itself defines the scene or moment, shoot color.
  3. If the scene is mainly about structure or form, infrared can often be a better choice, as color and lighting will only distract.
  4. When contrast is very high, such as strongly backlit subjects, consider infrared; often infrared yields a lower contrast and manageable rendering (within the camera’s dynamic range).

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Diglloyd Infrared Photography covers cameras and lenses for infrared photography.

The coverage explains all the issues involved in shooting in infrared, which do not change. It is not a review of any particular camera or lens, though many examples are included.

  • Guidance on workflow for infrared, including black and white and channel swapping for false-color images.
  • How infrared renders, and why certain spectral cutoffs matter: false color vs black and white.
  • Image quality issues to be on the lookout for in infrared.
  • Numerous lens evaluations in infrared.

View an overview of infrared as well as filter spectral transmission plus examples from an optimal lens.


One of the many striking Norwegian roadside sculptures—IR grayscale

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