Introduction: Cheap Infrared Photography

About: I'm a physiotherapist with a great passion for science, bricolage, DIY, photography and first of all astronomy. In the last years i started to approach to Arduino, Makers and this comunity.I wanna realize watc…


Annoyed by normal world? By the normal photography? Do you desire something new? Well...welcome in Wonderland...

First of all i underlinde that this instructable is a collateral project and option of another Big One Instructables:

Action Cam Hacking

And is also is direct son. Why? Because if you wanna open a new window on the world you need to hack something:

  • A DSRL CAMERA: great results but a lot of risks and is not cheap... and the hack is really complicated.
  • A Compact Camera: Mid level results but maybe more difficult hack,for some model it could be impossible.
  • A web cam: Maybe really simple hack but the results are really bad and you need a Laptop with practical.
  • AN ACTION CAM:We got it! The Action Cam now are cheap, hack them is simple, gives good results and if you mess something is fixable or waste away few money.

But now a step after another... before the hack...


Because really open to you a new window on the world, where the vegetation is white, the fog doesn't exist, the clouds are different and man in the middle of the forest become like a black priest in the snow.

Infrared photography can be Black and White and also false colour, but is a really peculiar form of Art.

Step 1: What You Need.

  1. Cheap Action CAm
  2. Follow my other instructable: Action Cam Hacking.
  3. Old EXPOSED AND PROCESSED color negative film...the cuts...
  4. Facultative: IR Pass Filter of 850nm.
  5. A CCTV M12 0,5mm pitch lens of your choice...i suggest the 12mm and the 25mm...and also the 50mm :D

"Ehy,"Action Cam Hacking" seems to be really hard and long...MHhhh" Trust me dude, Hack your action cam will open to you the doors of the Video,Photo Making, Nature, Night, Universe...

Step 2: What Is Infrared Light?

Well, infrared light is always front of your eyes but you can't see it. Why? Because our eyes hasn't the right sensor for see this light. Infrareds are just below the visible red, with a lenght wave from 750nm until 1650nm. Inside this window we have diffent type of IR, like the FIR known as the THERMAL EMISSION. No, we will not see the thermal emission of the body, even if, if you will try to shot an hot body, it will be sure WHITE, due to is high IR emission.

But that your believe or not, ANY KIND OF DIGITAL IMAGING DEVICES , is capable to see them.

So why with your smartphone or DSLR camera you don't see them?

That's because EVERY DIGITAL IMAGING DEVICES has an INFRARED/UV Cut Filter built in the sensor or in the lenses. Otherwise our photo will be blurry and with the colors all shifted! (see pictures)

Step 3: How Is IR Photography?


Is DIFFERENT, is not a normal black and white, the contrast is higher, the landscape is different vs a norml B/W photo.

It can be black and white

It can be false color with post production

Things Appear and Disappear

Could be analitical: you can see under the skin, trought the fog, the water...

Step 4: Hack Your Action Cam


  1. Is reversable
  2. The IR "vision" is on demand.
  3. You need to invest time and few money.
  4. YOU DON'T NEED TO FOLLOW THE PART ABOUT THE IR/UV Cut Filter...we don't need it here.

Now is time to follow this instructables for hack your action cam...a one phrase summary? You will unlock and remove the stock lens, for put an after market lens without IR Cut Filter.

So, follow this Instructable:

Action Cam Hacking

Step 5: Is Done? Not Yet...

Well, now you have an hacked action cam, a new cctv lens without IR Cut Filter...

Can i done IR Photograpy? Try it and you will obtain a weird picture with shifted colors...WHY? Because the sensor is receving al the visible spectrum + Ultraviolets + Infrareds...a MESS :D

Also because, you will see, IR has a different focal plane vs the visible is kinda impossibile to focus a picture without the IR Cut Filter.

We need to pass only the IR Light...with a IR PASS FILTER: is a special filter that let pass only the IR light over a specific lenght of wave.


We have 2 way.


  1. Take your old negative exposed film
  2. Take only the blackest part.
  3. Take at least 4-5 pieces
  4. Stack them
  5. Enclosed a fortune filter.


  1. Search on Ebay or Amazon or on Google: IR Pass Filter.
  2. Find the right diameter you want.
  3. Buy it.

An IR Pass Filter of 22mm cost around 10$.

"What lenght?" Whell you can buy IR PASS filter over 750nm - over 850nm or over 910nm. It means that you will cut the light under the number reported on the filter. With the 750 you may take a few of visible RED LIGHT.. The pictures will be different.

Step 7: White Balance

The dominant color you will obtain in the raw picture, is linked to the white balance...

Sunny Mode = Violet (1st picture)

Tungsten Mode = Blue (2nd picture)

Fluorescent Mode = Purple (3rd picture)


I did some test and with MY CAM, it seems that nothing change...maybe "Tungsten" is a little brighter than "Sunny", look by your self (the B/W pictures follow the same order of the RAW pictures). Personally i set always SUNNY, because is more easy to do a correct focus...


Don't worry, we will edit it later..

Step 8: Focusing

Well the IR light is under the RED ok? But is also farther... Maybe you don't know, but also the visible light has different focal planes: if we can focus different kind of light in the same point is only because the lenses are builded for correct this phenomena called CHROMATIC ABERRATION. So you can't focus without the IR Pass Filter. With IR light is more pronunciated so we need:

  1. Put the IR Pass Filter
  2. THEN focus.

The the last 2 pictures you can se the difference with and whithout the IR pass filter: the first was been focused, then i removed the filter and is all blurry, because the visible light can reach the sensor but is not focused like the IR part.

Step 9: Take a Shot!

  1. Make the composition.
  2. Take your filter.
  3. Put it in the front of the lens.
  4. NOW YOU CAN FOCUS, not before, remember...
  5. SHOT!

"DAMN YOU but is all violet!!You cheat us!" Is step...

Step 10: Post Production

  1. Open your "violet" picture on a image editor (Photoshop, GIMP)
  2. "Desaturate" the image or convert it on "B/W".
  3. Open "levels" and "stretch" the image. Use also "auto levels"
  4. Adjust the contrast or crop it.
  5. Done, you have a standar B/W IR picture.

What is Black? What White?

Is easy: the digital imaging teach us that where is no signal it will be black (0), where is signal is white (1). So in IR Photography:

White: the object has an IR emission (is damn hot) or reflects all the IR light. Plants and Trees reflects all the IR light but the bark no...some plants reflects more, someone less...and someone absorbe all.

Black: the object absorbe the IR light, no emission, is damn cold.

Step 11: DIY IR Pass Filter Vs Glass IR Pass Filter

The Cheap version works but is not sharp...the glass one is more sharper and cuts better the visible light. Keep on mind that with the DIY Filter, you overlay 3,4,5 the light will be deflected. Anyway, for start, the DIY is perfect...

Step 12: ENJOY!

Unleashed your fantasy but first of all take pictures of everything and enjoy the difference from our world and the IR World!

Don't be afraid to take picture with low cloud: Infrared light pass anyway! A lot of things will be clear

Did you liked my work? VOTE ME!

Photography Contest 2017

Participated in the
Photography Contest 2017