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Infra Red Film and Shooting Advice



I'm quite facinated with this film and would like to give it a try but have absolutely no idea where to start

What film?
What equipment required?
How to meter for exposure?
How to focus / depth of field?
What are the basics you need to know?
Developing infrared film, etc

Any books or good, easy websites also welcome.

Thanks in advance,



There is far to much to pass on in a short answer, but I`ll try. I have been doing this for years.
Kodak makes high speed infrared film only once per year in Feb or Mar. Buy early in spring and get the fresh batch that expires the next year. only has a 12 month life in the frig. I suggest B& H in New York City or any reputable high volumn dealer.
M bodies are best as the ir filter is visually opague. Set your M-6 meter to asa100 and meter right through the filter. Don`t forget to meter a mid tone and a tree that has foliage that turns white is not a mid tone. You can also put a 089b gell over the cell of a clip-on meter if you use m2,3,4,p. Again asa 1000-mid tone
I use B+w 092 and 093 or you can cut a kodak 089b gell and put it behind a uv or skylight filter.
You can also use a Leicaflex, SL, or Sl2. Any R series body is also useable, but you must cover the pressure plate with black tape as the dimples will show as a waffle pattern on your best shot- I know. You will also have to shoot from a tripod, removing the opague filter to compose or usr a optical finder in the hot shoe.
All the refles bodies are difficult to laod in the dark, but it can be done.
As far as focus goes, Ihave tried almost every leica lens except the apo ones and I use the same technique. First focus, note the distance on the scale, focus closer until that distance noted is opposite 5.6 on the right hand side of the debth of field scale as seen from the rear of the camera. This has never failed me. If you elect to use a red filter, the infrared effects will be less (wood effect) and the focus may be different. Other films may also be different. This is why Leica does not currently provide a infrared focus mark on their lens. When they did long ago, the ir mark was near 5.6 on the right side. 90 mm colapsable comes to mind. I really like 135 f4.5 and 90 elmar f4 for tele shots. Shorter lenses all seem to be equal.
Shoot a roll in the spring, about 6 frames bracket per subject and record the exposures. After processing you will find the proper exposure for sunlight, now quit bracketing. It is the same just like any other film. You can now go back to the scene and adjust the asa setting so you get the proper exposure by meter and you will never bracket again. Just remember to use proper meter technique like any other film
This answer is getting far to long, but I have tries to cover leica specific practices I use.
Start trying to get your filters now, as the wait may be long.
Ilford sfx 200 is nice, but the ir effects are not as great, but they are adequate if you use bw 092 or 089b gell asa 400 on the meter i think. b+w 093 will record nothing on sfx. Mac0 820 is very nice, but slow. Some place equavelent to a asa3 or 6 speed film. Effects are similar to Kodak, but less grain and halation.
For more generalized information, do a
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search on infrared phototography. Also follow the links on each sight. There are lots of sights out there with many portfolios.
Best of luck. The learning curve is tough and can be expensive, but the results are worth it.


Thanks Ron for the very helpful advice, I'm starting to make progress on that learning curve!


Just to clarify a few things:

System: I do use an M-system (Leica M7)

Filters: I looked under infrared filters on B&H website and didn't find any made by Leica. I did see a B+W Dark Red 092 (89B) filter and a Black 093 (87C) filter. Which one do you recommend?

Metering: so basically with the Kodak High Speed Infrared film, if using one of above filters I simply set to 100 ASA and meter as usual through the lens? Does this hold the same for their colour slide high speed film?

Loading film: do I really need to load and unload in COMPLETE darkness?

Airport X-Ray machines: I have my lab here I'm used to dealing with in France. Problem is I plan to shoot in New York next week and was hoping to have film developed here in France. Can I pass film through an X-Ray machine? Can film container be opened (in standard interior lighting)?

Focus: I like your tip! So basically if I'm using a 50mm lens for ex&le, and I focus at 2 meters, I would turn the lens so that the 2 meters would line up with the f/5.6 marker, in other words as if I were focusing at something at about 1.7 meters.

Kind regards,



I live in Minnesota and it get vey cold in the winter should I have my camera winterize to photograph in extreme cold weather outside? Walter Griffin > type your text here! >


System: m-7 should work well
Filter: buy the 092 first choice. 093 will only improve ir effects 10% more with two stop exposure penalty and only works with kodak ir. 25 and 29 reds show very little ir effects. Iwould not bother, but some people like them.
Metering: thats 1000 (thousand asa) not 100. reason is the cell is overly sensitive to ir and was not designed for this application. My pentax digital spot meter works the same way as do my mr4 clip on meters. Summer sun should yield 1/250 @5.6 with 092 and 1/60 @5.6 with 093
Subjects in shadow in the summer require only one stop more than sun. Seems the ir goes right through the clouds. Never used color ir.
Loading: I always load in my darkroom before I leave. For travel Iwould purchase a changing bag used normally for putting film in film holders for large format photography. I have heard some are not ir proof through. Mine is, but I don`t know the brand. It was purchased used. Alturnative would be to go into a bar, sit in a booth, and cover the camera with my coat. Keep the changing bag clean!!! Keep it a plastic bag when not in use. Kodak and Maco both say complete darkness, but I think an almost Reasonalbly dim room would work. Lack of antihalation backing might cause light hitting the exposed leader to expose whole roll and the felt light trap is not ir secure. Take your pick of explanations.
x-ray; never traveled with film. ASFAIK this is no more sensitive than any other 400 film. What are you going to do if some security person wants to see the film visually? I would buy it there either process in New York or Fed ex it home. Thats what the pros do. If it were regular film , I`d reload into the plastic cassets and just smuggle them on the plane in a coat pocket.
Focus: I believe you understand. For infiniy pictures, put the infinity mark at 5.6 so the lens is focused at 5 meters or so for visable light. If you list your lenses, I`ll let you know if I have tried them. I have tried most including the cv wides.
Websites: any trouble?

Walter Griffin: Don`t have the lubricants removed from you camera. Leicas will work down to zero deg f. Keep it under your coat except when using it. Wind slowly to avoid static discharge. Wrap it in a coat b/4 bringing it inside. Let it warm up 4 hours to avoid condensation. Buy a softie from Tom Ahbramson so you can operate the shutter with gloves on. Tom is a real mechanic!


Many thanks Ron for taking the time here, a real help.

Will certainly give it a go, will just have to see where I can get negs developed in Westchester, NY where I'll be next week.

Kind regards,



Well-Known Member
Walter, Re: Winterizing.

I lived in the midwest (including Minnesota) and northeast. I have used manual cameras outside in 0 degree weather a long enough time to affect the camera. The camera didn't lock up, but the first curtain slowed up so much that I got about a 1/4 inch wide photo instead of full frame. I checked into winterizing, and then found it involved stripping the camera of lubricants so it would function. The downside is it will shorten the life of the camera, and obviously may affect the accuracy of the speeds.

So I keep the camera warm (under my jacket, or in the car) until shooting. If outside, I return the camera under my jacket to keep it warm. However, you will run into difficulties bringing the camera inside as condensation will form making it difficult to shoot anymore. I also avoid changing lenses.

These points should cover a manual camera. If you are using a battery dependent camera, you need to consider spare batteries you keep warm, as when batteries get cold, they weaken.

Lubricant technologies have come a long way since the 1970's, when I checked. I wonder if anyone has had experience with synthetic oils/greases that don't solidify in the cold!