• Ed Dozier

Infrared Photography and the Nikon D500

Updated: Aug 8

How does the D500 stack up shooting infrared? The last pair of Nikon cameras I evaluated shooting infrared were big disappointments: the D7100 and the D610. They had terrible internal reflections that would ruin most infrared shots, which requires use of the DK-5 viewfinder eyepiece blocker to avoid this problem. A link to those results (and the good D7000 results) are here. The D500, on the other hand, is excellent shooting infrared. Ironically, this camera has a built-in eyepiece shutter, although it is probably only needed to help with exposure measurement accuracy on a tripod.

I use a Hoya R72 filter for infrared shooting. Something I consider to be very ironic: probably one of my best lenses for shooting infrared is the lowly 18-55 kit zoom (I’m using a VR model). Most other lenses I have tried that shoot wide angle either have a nasty hot spot in the middle or aren’t as sharp. I pretty much park the lens at 18mm; if it went wider, then I’d zoom wider. Here’s the best site I know for evaluating which lenses work for infrared, and also for the f-stop range that works. Even my 24-70mm f/2.8 VR 'E' zoom is crap for infrared.

As a little side-note, many lenses perform fine with infrared until you stop them down too far. Up through f/8, they may be fine, but then start to exhibit the central hot spot. My Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D, for instance is okay until about f/8.

Nikon seems to try pretty hard to keep people from shooting infrared. The D500 image sensor filter screens out IR very effectively, and exposure times are pretty outrageous. This totally precludes using a direct-measure, pre-set manual white balance (which by the way works perfectly fine on older cameras like the D50 and D60).

My open-shade shots are made in the vicinity of ISO 100, f/8, 30 seconds. When you add in long exposure noise reduction, you literally need a lot of time on your hands to do this kind of photography.

I like to manually set a gray point by selecting a rectangular picture area (in Nikon Capture NX2, it’s called a ‘marquee sample’) followed by severe hue-shifting. When I use something like Photoshop, then I typically perform a red-blue channel swap instead of the hue-shift. There are plenty of web articles on this topic.

Enough talk. Let’s see some actual D500 results.