Infrared vs. Standard Black & White

Infrared Test Shots from Joshua Tree NP

Visitors to my gallery often ask about the otherworldly lighting effects they notice in my Infrared Trees Collection. So, to demonstrate the differences, I recently made some test shots during my recent visit to Joshua Tree National Park.  I photographed several scenes from the same vantage point in both infrared and full color raw.  I converted the color raw file to monochrome to see how it compared to the infrared exposure. Check these out and be sure to scroll all the way down to see what the original scenes looked like in color.

All photos were made with my Sony Nex-7 which has had its sensor converted to full-spectrum capture. The full-spectrum conversion, done by LifePixel, allows me to use one camera to capture both full color raw and infrared digital files. I highly recommend Lifepixel’s  website for a wealth of useful information about digital infrared photography.
The original color capture versions can be seen at the bottom of this post.

Click on any of these to see an enlarged view.

color converted to grayscale

Black & white converted from color digital file.

infrared converted to grayscale

Full-spectrum Sony sensor. Lens filtered with Hoya 72R


Black & white converted from color digital file.


Full-spectrum Sony sensor. Lens filtered with Hoya 72R

Fallen Branch, Barker Dam - color mono

Black & white converted from color digital file.

Fallen Branch, Barker Dam - Infrared

Full-spectrum Sony sensor. Lens filtered with Hoya 72R

And, in case you were wondering what the scenes looked like before converting the files:


Color digital files used to make the black and white photos











6 comments on “Infrared vs. Standard Black & White

  1. Nice work! When you say LifePixel converted your Sony to a “full spectrum” sensor, do you mean you got the lowest level filter (more of the visible spectrum than the others)? Did you use the 72R filter on that Sony to further enhance the effect of the infrared conversion? What does the 72R do? Thank you, Marty.

    • Kenn-
      Since the sensor in my Sony (and for that matter, nearly all digital cameras) is sensitive to an extended spectrum from UV through visible through near Infrared “light”, the manufacturers cover the sensor with what is communal called a hot-filter (kinda light greenish in color) This filter blocks UV and Near-IR from hitting the sensor. A technician removes it from the sensor. Then you buy a circular “hot filter” and perhaps a 72R to control the light that hits your sensor. You control it all from the front of your lens, thus making your full spectrum camera capable of photographing either in full color or near-IR!

      • I see. You have the internal filter that comes with the camera removed, but not replaced with one of Lifepixel’s own infrared filters (like I did). Then you just either put the external “hot filter” on your lens if you want “normal” color, or the 72R if you want infrared. What a great, flexible idea! I committed the camera to infrared by having them install one of their IR filters to replace the hot-filter.

        • Yes. That’s how I did my first conversion. I had the 72R installed inside the camera so it was dedicated to IR. I like the versatility of the full-spectrum approach better, but it can be costly if you have lots of different-sized lenses to filter.

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