Can Smartphone Cameras Take Infrared Photos? This question arises because smartphone cameras have come a long way in recent years. 

Smartphones today have advanced lenses – telephoto, periscope, sophisticated sensors like depth camera, and intelligent processing in the form of computational photography. Their cameras can now capture stunning photos and videos that rival dedicated digital cameras. 

But one type of photography that smartphone cameras generally can’t handle is infrared photography. So, let’s ponder the question and find out – can smartphone cameras take infrared photos?

Can Smartphone Cameras Take Infrared Photos?

The short answer is no. Smartphones cannot capture true infrared (IR) images using the rear camera. This is because most smartphone cameras use filters to block IR light.

But some smartphones may have a “night vision” or “IR camera” mode that simulates IR imaging by using the phone’s flash and software processing to enhance low-light images.

How To Take Infrared Photos with a Smartphone?

While typical smartphone cameras lack native infrared capabilities, you can manipulate a smartphone into capturing pseudo-infrared shots or convert a smartphone for improvised infrared photography. Here are a few methods:

1. Use an Infrared Filter

Lens-mounted infrared filters, aka R72 filters, block visible light while allowing infrared wavelengths to pass through to the camera sensor. Attaching an infrared filter to your smartphone’s lens transforms it into a quasi-infrared camera. Filters come in various sizes like 52mm, 58mm etc. so you’ll need an adapter or case with the appropriate filter threading size for your phone.

2. Remove the IR Filter

Smartphone image sensors can actually detect some infrared wavelengths but have an “IR cut filter” to block it and capture normal visible light photos. Professionally removing this internal IR blocking filter modifies the camera to be ultra-sensitive to infrared. However, this makes the camera unable to take regular photos afterwards.

3. Use an Infrared Photo App

Apps like IR Pixel lend simulated infrared effects to photos. While not true infrared photography, their algorithms can process standard smartphone photos into striking black-and-white or colored infrared-esque looking images. Useful for infrared style effects.

4. Convert Your Old Phone

Converting an older or secondary smartphone into a dedicated infrared camera is a DIY project that frees up your main phone for normal usage. It involves removing the IR filter behind the lens which is not for the faint of heart. The result however is a smartphone you can use specifically for infrared photography experiments.


In summary, taking infrared photographs with current unaltered smartphone cameras is not possible. But using external infrared filters or apps provides a simple way to dabble in the infrared world and captures images with an interesting infrared-like aesthetic.

For the adventurous, converting old phones into IR shooters unlocks hyper-affordable infrared cams for tinkering. Perhaps as the demand grows, mainstream smartphone makers will unleash specialty infrared models to the masses in future.

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