The best infrared lens filter
For photographers who want to move beyond the standard full-color photograph, most cameras have digital filters, which is software that adds special effects.
But when you want to truly stand out from the crowd with your photos, you'll want to try an infrared lens filter. The infrared (IR) lens filter allows your camera to measure infrared light in the scene, blocking most visible light, creating stunning photographs of everyday subjects.
This guide will help you find an infrared filter that's right for your camera lenses. Our favorite is the Hoya 58mm Infrared Filter, as it has excellent build quality to enhance your photos.
Considerations when choosing infrared lens filters
The primary consideration when shopping for an IR filter is to find one that's compatible with your lenses. An IR filter is a round, thin piece of glass, surrounded by a metal frame. A higher-quality filter will have a brass frame, while an inexpensive filter will have an aluminum frame.
The majority of infrared filters screw onto the inside edge of the front of the lens. This means you need a filter that is the same diameter as your lens.
Finding a compatible lens
Understand that lenses on simple cameras, such as point-and-shoot cameras or smartphone cameras, are not made to accept an IR filter. You will need an advanced interchangeable lens camera to accept an IR lens, such as a mirrorless or DSLR camera.
To find the diameter size for your interchangeable lens, look on the front edge of the lens. You should see a diameter symbol printed on the lens, which looks like an O with a diagonal slash through it. Next to this symbol, you should see a number that is the diameter of the lens in millimeters. Match this number to the millimeter measurement of the IR filter you purchase.
Once you have the correct diameter size of lens filter to match your camera's lens, you then can select just how much visible light you want to block. Even subtle changes in the type of light the filter blocks will greatly change the look of your IR photographs.
The filter will have a numerical measurement in nanometers (nm). The filter blocks all light wavelengths below the listed number.
Blocks some visible light
An infrared filter that has a measurement between 550nm and 665nm will block the majority of visible light. But it allows all infrared light through.
This filter is best for photographing people. It doesn't create as much contrast as a more restrictive filter.
Blocks most visible light
An IR filter with a measurement between 665nm and 720nm will block the majority of visible light, leaving primarily infrared light.
These filters allow a tiny bit of red visible light through, which gives these types of infrared photographs a beautiful tint of red.
Blocks some IR light
With a measurement of 720nm to 950nm in the filter, it will block some infrared light, along with the visible light. This removes the majority of color from the photo, leaving a highly contrasted black and white image.
You can find IR filters that cost anywhere from $20 to $100. The price depends on build quality. Clear filter glass and higher-quality materials in the frames carry a higher cost than cheap materials.
Q. Does the infrared filter affect how you can use the camera?
A. Because you cannot focus with the IR filter on the lens, you'll have to pre-focus on the scene before attaching the filter. You will want to use a tripod too, because the shutter must remain open for several seconds.
Q. What makes infrared photos so interesting?
A. The IR filter changes the look of everyday items quite a bit versus what's found in a full-color photo. Do a Google search for IR photos to see some examples and the possibilities.
Infrared lens filters we recommend
Best of the best: Hoya's 58mm Infrared Filter
Our take: When you want the highest-quality infrared filter for your photos, this model is an excellent choice.
What we like: Has a design that should last a long time. Filters light up to 720 nm, which should meet the needs of most photographers.
What we dislike: Pricier than other IR filters. Instructions aren't all that clear.
Best bang for your buck: Green.L's IR Glass Infrared Filter
Our take: Not the highest-quality IR filter on the market, but it has a versatile design with a reasonable price point.
What we like: Has many different options available, so you can find the perfect model.
What we dislike: Fit is inconsistent from lens to lens. Threads consist of an aluminum alloy.
Choice 3: ICE's Infrared Filter
Our take: Good all-around IR filter, but it clearly outperforms other filters when shooting with a wide-angle lens.
What we like: Has a double-threaded frame, so you can attach other filters to this one.
What we dislike: Build quality in the filter glass may not quite match some other infrared filters.
Kyle Schurman is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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