Digital Infrared Photography With The Fuji S20 Pro
There's More To Life Than Color Image Files!

Photos © 2004, Joe Farace, All Rights Reserved

"Why not?"--Dayton Allen

Whenever I get a new digital camera from Fuji I run down to the family room and give it the "remote control test." What's that? One of the easiest ways to check if your digicam is infrared capable is to point a TV remote control at the lens and take a picture or look at the image on the LCD panel. If you see a point of light, you're ready to make IR digital images.

The imaging chips in most digital cameras are fitted with an internal infrared cutoff filter that is designed to reduce IR contamination. Many, but not all, consumer digicams let enough IR through to allow for what techies call near infrared photography. With digital IR imaging, if your digicam passes the TV remote test and, like the Fuji FinePix S20 Pro, has a black and white mode, you'll see the infrared effect right before your eyes.

This pseudo panoramic IR image was created from an original Fuji file that was both cropped and "stretched." I stretched it by first increasing the horizontal dimension of the Canvas (Image>Canvas Size) then selecting the image and dragging it sideways using the Free Transform tool (Edit>Free Transform) until it gave the overall photo a "widescreen" look without too much distortion. The original image file was captured at ISO 200 in gray scale mode at f/2.8 and 1/3 sec with the Fuji FinePix S20 Pro mounted on a Joe Farace Signature Edition Tiltall tripod.

Why IR?
The simplest reason for shooting digital infrared is that the technique has the power to transform the mundane into the unforgettable. Everyday scenes that you might walk by and never think of photographing take on a more dramatic look when seen as infrared.

Back in the bad old days of IR film, you needed to use special film and load and unload it in total darkness. To work with IR film you needed special, read expensive--that part hasn't changed--filters and then either process the film yourself or find an ever-dwindling pool of specialty labs to do it for you. When shooting IR film it's more click and hope, but with Fuji's FinePix S20 Pro, black and white IR images can be made in camera--and you'll see the results in its electronic viewfinder before you snap the shutter.

With 6-megapixel resolution from Fuji's exclusive Super CCD chip, image quality from the FinePix S20 Pro can be stunning. This JPEG image file was captured with the Cokin 007 filter at ISO 400. Exposure was 1/7 sec and f/2.8 at 9mm (digital) with camera supported by Tiltall tripod.

You can pull images directly off an xD-Picture Card or CompactFlash Type II, which Fuji specifies as "Microdrive," that fit the camera's dual slots. Fuji provides a 16MB xD-Picture Card with the camera and kindly lent me a 64MB card, and I was able to borrow one of Hitachi's 2GB Microdrives ( so I could take lots of pictures. Why not a 4GB Microdrive? Because it's FAT 32 and the S20 Pro is FAT 16 compatible. (See Sidebar: Get FAT, Like Atkins, page 2.)