Infrared Filter versus Converted Camera

Image made with a Canon 40D converted to infrared. Murrisk Abbey, County Mayo, Ireland

I got a chance to use a friend’s infrared camera on a recent trip to Ireland. One big difference between a modified camera and using an infrared filter stands out.  The modified camera still works like a camera with auto focus, fast shutter speed, etc.

There’s no way I could photograph hand-held with an infrared filter.  The filter is very dense so it’s completely black.  That means a long shutter speed every time with the camera on a tripod.  That also means there’s no auto focus.

To take a photo with an IR filter, we have to pre-focus, screw in the filter, turn off auto focus, shoot and then experiment with the exposure until it’s right. Often the exposure is 4 or 8 minutes!

An advantage of the IR filter, though, is I can use it on any camera I own.   I can also  share the filter with other photographers.  The filter is small so it takes up little weight in my camera bag.  These are all positives.

Yet, the joy of picking up the infrared camera, taking a photo, and moving on was sheer delight. IR photograph was just like regular photography.

The gallery below contains images taken with an infrared filter. All exposures are 8-minutes long.

Compare the above with these images taken in an infrared converted camera. I’m using a Canon 40D converted to infrared.

Notice the difference? What do you think?