Infrared images with the Leica M8

Infrared photography is a really interesting subject. Infrared light can transform everyday images to something special, it has a unique look and can produce great images. Modern cameras have a very strong IR filter, so shooting infrared images can lead to very long exposure times which is not always was the photographer was looking for. You can always remove the IR filter from the sensor but then you end up with a specialty camera that can only do infrared.

When the Leica M8 camera was introduced, there was soon evident that it had a very weak IR filter which lead to undesired effects (i.e. black clothes turned to magenta). While this was considered as a fault in design, it made it easy shoot infrared images even without a tripod. Just add a filter like the B+W 092 or the Hoya R72 on the lens and you are ready to shoot infrared.

I can easily shoot handheld during a sunny day at speed of 1/30 for example and ISO 320 (higher ISO’s are not good in image quality terms), which makes it an awesome infrared camera. I usually use the Voigtlander Skopar 21mm f4 and the Elmarit 28mm f2.8 for infrared photos, both produce great results.

Focusing when shooting infrared is not achieved at the same spot as with normal images. New lenses do not have the infrared focus mark so what I usually do is focus and then move the focus tab towards left so that the focused distance is at the f4 mark index at the depth of field scale of the lens. Or for landscapes I just shoot with apertures of f8 and f16 for example so everything is in focus (in this case of course a tripod is required).

Below are three infrared images taken with the Leica M8 and B+W 092 filter.

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(c)2011 Konstantinos Besios. All Rights Reserved.

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4 Responses to Infrared images with the Leica M8

  1. Terence says:

    Beautiful images, just got myself a Voigtlander 21 mm f4 and an infrared filter for my M8 and as soon as the sun shows must give it a go. Any chance you can give me ideas on your workflow for post processing ……

    • kbesios says:

      The 21mm Skopar is a fantastic lens, great value for money. About the workflow, I always shoot RAW, correct the exposure and contrast if needed , and add a little bit of sharpness (not much since the M8 files are already razor sharp). That’s the good thing with the M8 and infrared filter, it produces good infrared images straight out of the camera.

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