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lenses for infrared digital photography


  • most camera lenses are not designed for optimal optical transmission of infrared wavelengths and many will produce pronounced central hotspots in the photos as well as loss of acutance (sharpness), loss of contrast and sometimes excessive flare. In addition, lens coatings might make a significant difference in the quantity (and possibly quality) of IR light that makes it to the sensor.
  • lenses will almost always produce a hotspot to some degree in IR, especially wide angle lenses with newer coatings
  • hotspots often become more pronounced at smaller apertures eg. f/5.6-16
  • the hotspot can appear worse when processed as a colour image. For example if your foliage is yellow and your sky is blue, the hotspot can show up as yellow in the clouds (where it would otherwise be blue or grey). Once you notice this issue it's hard to ignore it and even harder to fix than a b&w image.
  • if you get your camera converted to IR ask them to ensure infinity focus with your widest angle lens is achieved as a small increase in sensor to lens flange distance can make this lenses impossible to use
  • diffraction will start to impair IR image detail at apertures smaller than f/2.8 on Micro Four Thirds and at f/4-5.6 on full frame cameras so f/2.8-4 is probably the sweet spot for DOF and detail whilst minimising hotspots on MFTs and f/5.6-8 on full frame

Lenses and good IR performance

Sony FE full frame

  • Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 performs well
  • Sony/Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 prime is good
  • Sony 100-400mm f/4-5.6 GM performs well as long as don't use the 1.4x teleconverter
  • Sony Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA - excellent!
  • Mitakon Zhongyi Speedmaster FE 50mm f/0.95
  • Samyang 85mm f/1.4
  • but following are poor:
    • Sony G Master FE 24-70 f/2.8
    • Sony FE 24-240mm is adequate albeit not perfect for IR
    • Zeiss Batis FE 25mm f/2 (hotspots start around f2-f4)
    • Sony FE 24-105mm f4

Canon EF mount

  • Canon TSE 17mm f/4L
  • Canon TSE 90mm f/2.8
  • Canon EF 135mm f/2.8
  • BUT not:
    • Canon TSE 45mm f/2.8
    • Sigma 35mm f/1.4 (hotspot especially prominent from f/4 onwards)1)


  • Fujinon XF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 performs well at every focal length in its range for infrared
  • Fuji XF 18-135mm is great

Micro Four Thirds

  • Olympus 7-14mm f/4 ED 4/3 lens
  • Olympus 8mm f/3.5 Fisheye ED 4/3 lens
  • Olympus 12mm f/2
  • Olympus 12-100 f/4 Pro
  • Panasonic 14/2.5
  • Panasonic 14-45/3.5-5.6
  • Olympus mZD 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II R
  • Sigma 19mm f/2.8 Art
  • Olympus OM 24mm f/2.8
  • Olympus OM 35mm f/2.8
  • Olympus OM 135mm f/2.8
  • Olympus 50mm f/1.4 OM F.Zuiko
  • Panasonic Leica D Summilux 25 mm f/1.4 4/3 (the MFT version is NOT good)
  • Olympus 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 ED SWD 4/3
  • BUT poor performers are:
    • Olympus 7-14 f/2.8 Pro
    • Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO can produce a central hotspot but otherwise is a reasonable lens
    • Olympus 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ED 4/3
    • Olympus OM 28mm f/3.5
    • Olympus OM 50mm f/1.4 (except the F.Zuiko)
    • Olympus 50mm f/2 ED Macro 4/3
    • Olympus 45mm f/1.8
    • Olympus 75mm f/1.8 ED Lens (hotspot starts to be obvious at f/2.8 and severe by f/5.6)
photo/ir_lenses.txt · Last modified: 2022/04/30 15:50 by gary1

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