[Review] Hoya R72 Infrared Filter

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THE OVERVIEW

Website : Hoya R72 Infrared Filter
Get from eBay : Click Here
Disclaimer : Fat affiliate link above, read my disclosure message here
Price : USD 38 to USD 110 (Depending on filter size)

Build
Solid build, excellent optical quality.
Usefulness 
Offers a different perspective.
Value 
Decently priced.
Average
An all-round interesting filter.

SCIENCE IS COMING

Brace yourselves, science is coming. Sorry folks, but we need a few boring paragraphs to explain to those who are new to infrared photography. I am not too bright in physics, so don’t burn me if I don’t get things 100% right. I shall try to put this in as simple as possible.

Let’s dive into light, and there’s more than meets the eyes. Visible light (what we can see), in geek terms, are within the 400 nm to 700 nm range of the electromagnetic spectrum. Beyond that, are the “invisible light range” of Infra-red (IR), micro-wave and radio waves. Super brains, feel free to read more on Wikipedia.

The visible light range (source : Wikipedia)

WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF THE UNSEEN

Ever wondered how the world in IR looks like? It seems that modern cameras are actually capable of capturing light in the IR range, so much that camera makers have to build a filter into cameras to block out IR. So before you dive into IR photography, do check if your camera is capable… or have a camera with the internal IR filter removed permanently.

So this Hoya filter, the R72 is related to IR. But what does it do exactly, apart from sounding very sci-fi? The R72, blocks out all light below 720 nm. Which means, it only allows light in the near IR spectrum and beyond to pass.

If you are still not sure how IR Photography looks like, do check out this Infrared Photography pool on Flickr, an interesting look into the world of the unseen. In particular, I love the surreal feel that IR Photography offers.

ALTERNATIVES

Hoya is actually on the more expensive end for IR filters. But there are plenty of alternatives from Neewer, Zomei, Opteka, and Fotga. You can find many of these IR filters on eBay. Being a rather good Japanese fan, I stuck with Hoya. Feel free to call me a weeb, but Hoya is one of the better optics maker out there.

IMPRESSIONS

I got my Hoya online, and it came in a very uninteresting plastic case. On the first look, the R72 feels like a piece of dark 15 stops ND filter. Looking through it, reveals a piece of dark red glass. On the outdoors, it became even clearer of what it does – cuts off visible light, of course. Yes, our eyes are capable of catching some near IR, so you will still see something through the filter.

The Hoya R72 and cheap plastic case
Profile at 7 mm

The ring is made of metal, and profile is at 7mm. Pretty slim, and there should not be a problem with vignetting. Overall the filter feels very solid and has good optics. All seems good with the R72, except for the rather cheapo plastic case. It’s made in Japan too, if it matters to you.

NOT A MIRACLE FILTER

A fair word of warning though, the R72 is not a miracle filter. There are some “conditions” to make it work well.

  • Your camera needs to be able to shoot into the IR range. That is, your camera needs to have a good enough sensor. Please also take note that some cameras have a built-in filter to block out IR light, which is why some people have modified their cameras to remove that internal IR filter.
  • The R72 needs plenty of IR light to work (captain obvious). Outdoors during the day is the best time with plenty of IR light.

WORKING WITH THE R72

This is yet another clumsy filter to work with. This filter only allows IR light to pass, so the best time of day to go out? Noon. You will pretty much be under the sun while shooting with this filter.

Now this piece of red glass works in a way like the 10 stops ND filter, once you put it on, you can’t see anything. So before shooting, mount your camera on a tripod, adjust your composition and focus, then switch to manual focus mode.

Since the R72 technically blocks out everything under 720 nm, even the UV lights, I remove my UV filter before mounting the R72; The UV filter is as good as useless when you have the R72 on. Well, less filters, less vignetting.

Once you have the R72 attached, it’s pretty much shooting blind. Can’t totally trust the metering in the camera, and you don’t know how things are going to turn out. It’s all trial-and-error, shoot, chimp and review.

HEAVY ON POST PROCESSING

As you might expect, photos taken with the R72 have a deep red color cast. The photos are pretty much useless straight out of camera, so expect a lot of Photoshop work. You have to get rid of that red color cast, do your color adjustments and the “usual” touch-ups. But the results of the hard work is a rewarding beautiful surreal photo.

The real world is too boring? Peek into the unseen.

CONCLUSION

The Hoya R72 is what I call a “daylight filter”, probably useless at night. Technically, it still works at night, but it will require an insane amount of artificial IR light. Still, this is one very special filter that allows you to have a peek into the invisible world.

Post processing is the only downside of it. But with a very unique photo at the end of the day, it is well worth all the effort. I will definitely recommend this filter to those who are looking for “alternate photography”.

P.S. There are probably cheaper alternatives, but the R72 has so far served me well. Plus, with Hoya, it is “quality assured”. Made in Japan, sorry for being a weeb.

THE GOOD

  • Offers an alternate way of photography
  • Good optics, solid build

THE BAD

  • Clumsy to use, not your conventional filter
  • Needs a camera capable of IR photography
  • Needs some post processing work

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