Skip to content

Pure infrared (IR) pictures (850 nm) on Nikon D800? Yes, we can!

Some time ago I doubted IR shooting could work on D800, having tested my single (!) wavelength filters. Just to be sure, I got a cheap 850 nm filter and tested it on my D800 today: and it worked!


The reason being, every wavelength above 850 nm goes through this filter, while single wavelengths in the IR spectrum are too weak to be detected.


Pictures can be converted to black and white only, no blue skies, due to complete absence of red green and blue. Here below the procedure how to work with pure infrared pictures on D800:

White balance: take a picture of grass only and use it as white balance, or just leave the AWB on, anyway you cannot play with colors at this wavelengths.

Focusing the subject: choose film mode live view, max aperture, max ISO, shortest time, press AF-ON or equivalent until you focus – it will not work in cloudy dark days. Without autofocusing through the IR filter, focus cannot be sharp due the different length of IR wave and visible light waves.

Autofocus: turn it off, once focus is setup

Aperture: choose the soft spot of your lens to increase sharpness, as IR pictures are already quite softy

ISO: the lowest the better, around 400-1600 it works good

Time: not longer than 15 secs or in the center of the 50 mm f/1.4G a light spot will appear – although it looks like it depends on the light source location

Finder: close the light path or any light will generate stripes on your picture

Shooting mode: 2 secs delay to avoid vibrations

Tripod: necessary


Enjoy pure IR shooting with your D800! Notice the dramatic difference in light emission of same subjects in the sun or shadow by comparing picture 1 and 4…


… and also, large leaf trees look like reflecting more IR than needles of pine trees (figure 2 and 3)


Posted by lorenzoborghi on May 29, 2013
9 Comments Post a comment
  1. 05/29/2013

    I am falling in love with that Nikon; although the talent of the photographer is notable. D800 is too expensive for me; but I am thinking in the cheaper D5100, also with good reviews. Thank a lot for sharing.

    • 05/29/2013

      Thank you. Indeed the 5100 looks like a very good camera, I just never tried it. Just make your mind on FX or DX sensor. If you go for low light photography, choose FX on DX, the latter for sure a winner for sport or fast subjects. I shifted to FX and I think I will not go back.

      artborghi – sent from my phone

      • 06/12/2013

        Thanks for the advice. I will take it in account; although here in Florida we have a lot of light almost all the year. Have a hug.

  2. 05/30/2013

    Reblogueó esto en My Portfolio.

  3. 10/3/2013
    Holly Gale

    Love what you did. I tried this but my pics have white dots through out the picture (for anything 15sec or more. I used the Nikon D800e. Can you give me advice on what to do to correct this. Holly from Canada.

    • 10/3/2013

      Which ISO do you set? Do you have high ISO noise reduction on or off?

      • 10/6/2013
        Holly Gale

        Thank you for your response. Yes, I needed to dig a little deeper into my cameras’ settings and I found I wasn’t using distortion correction or high noise reduction. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction:) Holly

  4. 07/23/2014

    hi, I used my Nikon d800, tamron 24-70mm, filter 720, there was a hot spot in the middle of the
    picture, settings awb, iso 100, f5,20 sec, picture was red, how did you correct it in photoshop cs6,
    it was a sunny day,thankyou for any help you can give,stefan

    • 07/24/2014

      HI Stefan, the hot spot in the middle is lens dependent. With Nikon lenses I do not have this problem. Try with shorter exposure times, higher ISO and higher f values, it might help. Shoot it directly in b&w or convert it later in photoshop.


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: