I've received a number of inquiries about the infrared capabilities of the Panasonic DMC-FZ28, prompted no doubt by the inclusion of an infrared panorama in one of my posting of pictures from this camera.
Does the FZ28 have infrared capabilities? Yes. And no.
Infrared light lies just below the visible spectrum, somewhere between red light and heat radiation. Infrared light is not visible to the naked eye. The image sensors in cameras like the FZ28 are very sensitive to infrared. To fix this, the manufacturers place a filter in front of the sensor that blocks most of the infrared light.
To shoot infrared with this type of camera, you have to use a filter (like the Hoya R72) that blocks everything but the infrared. It's easy to see how the combination of the infrared-only filter in front of the lens, combined with the no-infrared filter in front of the camera's sensor leaves you with very little light for taking pictures. At 100 ISO, even in daylight, I had to use a tripod.
As you can see, there is a way to take infrared pictures with a camera like the DMC-FZ28. At 100 ISO, in direct sunlight, you'll be using a shutter speed of about one second. You can bump up the ISO as high as 3200, which will get you up to about 1/30 second, but with a terrific loss of quality.
I forgot to mention that the Hoya R72 filter costs about $50, depending on size.
If you're really serious about infrared photography, there are two other routes you can take. One is to buy a digital camera that has been modified for infrared photography by having the infrared-blocking filter removed from the camera. You can find these through your favorite search engine.
The other route is to buy a Sony camera with Nightshot capability. In these cameras, there is a mechanical switch that flips the infrared-blocking filter out of the way. Some of the Sony H series cameras have this capability. I still have my old Sony DSC-F707, which I use for infrared work. I'll be writing more about this in a future post.
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