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The best infrared filter in 2022: create surreal images in color and black & white

Infrared photography: best infrared filter
(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

The best infrared filters can unlock a whole new genre of photography to explore. Infrared shooting is a fascinating discipline – so much so that there are a fair few dedicated infrared cameras for those who want to shoot nothing but. However, if you like a bit more versatility, or just want to try out infrared without fully committing to it, then a filter is a much more cost-effective way to go. That's why we've rounded up the best infrared filters you can buy right now. 

So what is infrared photography? Put simply, it's the art of capturing light and colour beyond what the human eye can see. Our eyes can see a range of colours occupying light wavelengths between about 380 and 750 nanometres (nm). Colours at the low end of that range appear to us as violet, while those at the high-end appear to be a deep red. As such, rays below that spectrum are referred to as "ultraviolet", which those that sit above it are called, yes, "infrared".

Infrared or IR photography therefore lets us capture details that aren't visible to the naked eye. The technique is mainly used for surreal landscapes, allowing the photographer to produce bright white foliage and turn clear blue skies jet black. IR photography can be done in colour or monochrome – all you need is an infrared filter to block out all the visible light, and allow the camera's sensor to only capture the infrared spectrum. 

Infrared filters will appear almost black to our eyes, with maybe a slight red tint. Put one on your lens and you likely won't be able to see a thing through the viewfinder (as visible light is being blocked), so you'll need to compose first, and use a slow shutter speed to give your camera enough time to gather the light required for a scene. 

Examples of black-and-white and color infrared photography (Image credit: Ben Brain/Digital Camera Magazine)
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Types of infrared filter

Just like most photographic filters, such as the best ND filters (opens in new tab) or the best polarisers (opens in new tab), infrared filters come in circle or square formats. Circular filters need to be screwed onto your lens, which is more fiddly, but also more light-tight. Square filters, meanwhile, require a dedicated holder. This makes them easier to slot on and off, but adds to the expense. If you go with circular, double-check you get the right thread size for your lens. Measured in mm, this value should be easy to check, either by looking at the front of your lens or just googling it.

We've included a mix of all types, sizes and strengths of infrared filters in our guide, so let's take a look at what's out there!

Best infrared filter in 2022

(Image credit: Hoya)
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1. Hoya R72

The best infrared filter overall blending value and performance

Specifications

Type: Circular
Sizes available: 46-95mm
Blocks visible light up to: 720nm

Reasons to buy

+
Great value
+
Good results
+
Nice sharpness

Reasons to avoid

-
No complaints at this price

The Hoya R72 is one of the most popular infrared filters around. It's a circular type, available in various thread sizes from 46mm all the way up to 95mm, so it's going to fit the majority of lenses, and it's constructed in a high-quality milled aluminium. It's black in appearance, with a slight red tint when held up to the light.

Solidly blocking out light with a wavelength below 720nm (which is where the filter's name comes from), the Hoya R72 is able to transmit the entire infrared spectrum of 760-860nm, giving you a vivid infrared effect. Its light transmission levels in this spectrum are 95%, which means you'll see good levels of detail and won't have to leave the shutter open for half a year just to get useable results. It works really well for colour or black and white infrared images, which is why it gets our pick as the best infrared filter for the majority of users. 

(Image credit: B+W)
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2. B+W 093 IR filter 830

Best for black and white infrared and restricts light up to 830nm

Specifications

Type: Circular
Sizes available: 37-95mm
Blocks visible light up to: 830nm

Reasons to buy

+
Filters out the entire visible spectrum
+
Great for high contrast mono images

Reasons to avoid

-
Only for mono IR photography
-
Greatly increased exposure times

For the purists among us, the B+W 093 IR filter 830 provides an extreme filtration effect for mono IR photography only. It appears completely black to the naked eye, with no red tint visible even when held to the light, because it blocks visible light all the way up to 830nm. This means you can shoot "pure" infrared in mono, and will get the kind of bright whites and deep blacks that the genre is known for. Of course, this means your camera is going to be exposing for a long time to gather enough light, so be prepared for some long shutter speed times. One of the best tripods (opens in new tab) is going to be a must here.

(Image credit: Cokin)
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3. Cokin Z007 Infrared 720 (89B)

Available in a range of sizes and a solid option if you use a filter holder

Specifications

Type: Square
Sizes available: 67mm, 84mm and 100mm
Blocks visible light up to: 720nm

Reasons to buy

+
Available in a variety of sizes
+
Resin construction

Reasons to avoid

-
Potential light leak
-
Pretty expensive

Constructed from resin, the Cokin Z007 Infrared 720 (89B) comes in a range of sizes, and is also compatible with Cokin's filter holder system that allows multiple filters to be used simultaneously. This system also makes it easy to slip the filter out for composition, and then in when it's time to take the shot. It blocks out visible light up to 720nm, making it a good choice for mono and false colour infrared photography. The only thing that might be a potential issue is the fact that the filter system doesn't feature a gasket to stop light leaks, so it's possible that light will get behind the filter and cause ghost images through reflections. 

(Image credit: Lee Filters)
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4. LEE 87 IR

Affordable option for square filter systems, but polyester not glass

Specifications

Type: Square
Sizes available: 100 x 100mm
Blocks visible light up to: 720nm

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable for a LEE filter

Reasons to avoid

-
Thin, polyester construction
-
Requires a separate mount
-
Potential light leakage

While most infrared filters are circular in design, that’s not much good if you’ve bought into a square filter system. The good news is that there’s a couple of options out there and the LEE 87 IR is one of them. However, unlike LEE’s resin filters, the polyester construction is substantially thinner so you will need to invest in a LEE polyester filter mount as well. Once mounted in the holder, it’ll work with the LEE 100 filter system and other 100mm filter holder systems (opens in new tab) like Formatt-Hitech (other sizes are available). The LEE 87 IR infrared filter blocks out visible light up to 730nm for true infrared photography, but you will need to be aware of potential light leaks from the filter's thin construction.

(Image credit: Kenko)
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5. Kenko PRO1D R72

A modern infrared filter that features some nice little details

Specifications

Type: Circular
Sizes available: 52-77mm
Blocks visible light up to: 720nm

Reasons to buy

+
Low profile frame for reduced vignetting,
+
Multi-coated design

Reasons to avoid

-
Not available in larger filter sizes

The PRO1D R72 from Kenko is one of the newer infrared filters out there, having been developed in the mid-2000s (a lot of other filters can trace their heritage back to the days of infrared film). This filter includes a black-painted frame that’s designed to cut down reflection in the glass, while there’s a knurled front that makes attachment that bit easier. Blocking out visible light up to 720nm, the Kenko PRO1D R72 features a multi-coated finish to reduce ghosting, while the low profile cuts down vignetting in your images. However, with a maximum filter size of 77mm, those with larger front elements will have to look elsewhere.

(Image credit: Kood)
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6. Kood R720

A good budget option for those wanting to try infrared photography

Specifications

Type: Circular
Sizes available: 49-86mm
Blocks visible light up to: 720nm

Reasons to buy

+
Great value
+
Aluminium frame
+
Blocks visible light

Reasons to avoid

-
Quality not the same as rivals
-
Not available in USA

The Kood R720 is a great value option for those wanting to dip their toe in the world of infrared photography before splurging out on better kit, though not so widely available in some territories, this circular filter isn’t available in quite the wide variety of filter thread sizes that some rivals offer, but the key ones are covered and with a 77mm R720 costing just £20 / $25, the overall outlay is low. Like the Hoya R72, the Kood R720 blocks out visible light up to 720nm, so you can potentially get some decent false color and mono infrared images. While you shouldn't expect it to beat more expensive rivals, you can’t quibble at the price. 

(Image credit: B+W)
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7. B+W 092 IR filter 695

Only blocking light up to 650nm, one of the weaker IR filters out there

Specifications

Type: Circular
Sizes available: 37-95mm
Blocks visible light up to: 650nm

Reasons to buy

+
Wide range of filter sizes
+
Punchy false color results

Reasons to avoid

-
Blocks visible light only up to 650nm
-
Expensive

B+W produces two infrared circular filters and the 092 is the weaker of the two (check out the B+W 093 IR filter 830 further up the page). Available in an incredibly wide range of filter sizes all the way down to just 37mm, the 092 has a deep purple-red tint when held up to a light source. Unlike a lot of other IR filters, the B+W 092 IR filter 695 blocks visible light only up to 650nm, so you’re not going to get ‘true’ invisible infrared results thanks to the extra visible light sneaking in. This can lead to some pretty extreme false color images, while mono images won’t have quite that same distinctive look.

How we test infrared filters

We look at a number of different factors when testing an infrared filter's suitability for our buying guides. We check the spectrum of visible light that the filters blocks, measured in nanometres (nm), as this will tell us how strong the infrared effect is going to be. We also look at how versatile the filter is – how many thread sizes it comes in, which in layman's terms means how many lenses it's going to fit. We look at what coatings have been added to help light transmission, and also assess the quality of the filter's construction to see how well it will stand up to long-term use. 

Read more:
Infrared filter tips and tricks (opens in new tab)
215 best landscape tips (opens in new tab)
Best filter holders (opens in new tab)
10 things you need to know about camera filters (opens in new tab)

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For nearly two decades Sebastian's work has been published internationally. Originally specialising in Equestrianism, his visuals have been used by the leading names in the equestrian industry such as The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), The Jockey Club, Horse & Hound and many more for various advertising campaigns, books and pre/post-event highlights.


He is a Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts, holds a Foundation Degree in Equitation Science and is a Master of Arts in Publishing.  He is member of Nikon NPS and has been a Nikon user since the film days using a Nikon F5 and saw the digital transition with Nikon's D series cameras and is still to this day the youngest member to be elected in to BEWA, The British Equestrian Writers' Association. 


He is familiar with and shows great interest in medium and large format photography with products by Phase One, Hasselblad, Alpa and Sinar and has used many cinema cameras from the likes of Sony, RED, ARRI and everything in between. His work covers the genres of Equestrian, Landscape, Abstract or Nature and combines nearly two decades of experience to offer exclusive limited-edition prints to the international stage from his film & digital photography.