Infrared photography is not something that needs to be limited to larger format cameras. All a submini enthusiast needs is a camera that is impervious to infrared light (IR light can pass through some plastic models), and an infrared filter.

The biggest obstacle is the IR filter. Many authors suggest using a red (25A) filter. The problem with this approach is that you only get a partial IR effect. IR film is sensitive to visible light, as well as infrared light. In fact, it is much more sensitive to visible light than to IR light. As a result, even with a red filter, you get a half-IR, half-visible light result. For the true IR impact, you need a full IR filter -- there are many types and they come with weird designations, such as 89, 94 and 87C.

These special IR filters are very hard to find (usually a special order), are very expensive, and are impossible to obtain in the smaller thread sizes that many subminis use. To make matters worse, many subminis, do not use a circular threaded filter, but rather some proprietary snap-on or slip-on filter.

Fortunately, you can make an IR filter very inexpensively to fit on just about any submini. There are a couple of approaches that you can use. First, if your camera uses threaded filters, just stack a red (25A) and a green (X1) filter together. You may already have these filters. If not, they are inexpensive and available in a plethora of sizes. The red filter blocks the visible green and blue, but not the infrared. The green filter blocks the visible red, but not the infrared. The end result is that only the IR gets to the film -- on the cheap!

If your camera lens lacks a thread, or has an impossible to find super-small thread, try this approach. Get a spare UV or 1A filter for your camera. Get a gelatin IR (87 or 87C) or red/green pair from your camera shop. You can sometimes find these in the "discount bin". Cut them to the size of your filter and glue or tape them to the back.

Run tests to get the best exposure time. A good starting point is ISO 25 with the red-green combination filter or an 87 filter -- for a sunlit object. Some submini cameras with built-in meters allow the filters to cover the meter. In this way the meter can automatically compensate for the filter factor. This may work with your meter, but you better double-check the exposures just to make sure.

Here are some additional points:

IR film is available in 35mm stock (individual cassettes and long rolls), but not 16mm. If you have a film slitter, you are all set. Keep in mind that the film has an extra thick base, so you'll go through razor blades faster than normal.

When you load your cassettes, make sure you do it in complete darkness. And only load and unload the film from the camera in complete darkness. Also, keep the unexposed and exposed cassettes in a light-tight box, since IR light can easily pass through the felt of the film cassette.

Give it a try; the result are startling.

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