Most digital photography systems use one kind of infrared filter for tungsten lights and another kind of infrared filter for outdoor sunlight.

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Special filters are needed for digital photography

This filter should come with your camera (we are speaking of professional cameras).This filter may be slightly bluish in color (not red; red infrared filters are for conventional black-and-white film, not for digital cameras).

Do you need a special lens for digital photography? Yes and no, check out the index of this web site under lenses or under Schneider digital lenses. We tested a Schneider digital lens and were surprised by the results. Michael Collette also tested digital lenses and was equally disappointed. But you do need an apochromatic lens if you intend to do large format digital photography.

Infrared photography of outdoor scenes is something that many photographers try once or twice and then abandon it. The leaves all turn white, sky turns black (as well as much detail elsewhere). Infrared is not seriously a means to do normal architectural photography, unless you want that arty crafty look.

But for detecting when Maya vases have been fraudulently repainted to hype their price, then infrared can be useful. Digital cameras such as the Decode are highly sensitive to part of the range of infrared. If you leave the digital filter off then you get an infrared photo.

For infrared photography with film, you need a red filter on your lens.

The use of infrared and other techniques to bring out lost detail has been most carefully documented by a recent project recording the Maya murals of Bonampak, Chiapas, Mexico. An article in a recent issue of Archaeology magazine gives the details (published by the Archaeological Institute of America, available in most good libraries). The equipment used there, however, is not the normal equipment which a typical photographer would have available on their own.

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Site updated December 30, 1997; links added July 10 1999, links added Mar. 2002, Redesigned January 2004

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