The Colour Quest (IV) – Infrared Photography With The Pentax Q

My favourite camera of the moment (and possibly ever) is the dinky yet divine Pentax Q.

It’s one of few cameras where I can set up the black and white (b/w) in camera and get results I want straight off the memory card, with zero post processing.

This maximises my time out with the camera, which for me is what photography is all about, not then spending as much time (or more!) scanning, processing and tweaking your images when you get home.

This customisability with b/w is why I’ve been exploring some of the Q’s other colour options too, as part of my ongoing Colour Quest.


The Q then, has a wealth of colour and image options.

First via the Custom Image (CI) menu, then through Digital Filters (DF). You can leave either of these off, or use them together in any combination.

(There are further options via the Scene mode on the main dial, or via Smart Effects on the Quick Dial, but let’s leave those for another day.)

So perhaps you might want the Vibrant colour look from the CI menu, combined with the Toy Camera DF, to over saturate the images, like a cheap film camera.

Maybe another day you fancy Bleach Bypass from the CI menu, then removing colour even further using the Extract Colour DF, to make your images feel bleakly apocalyptic.

Or like me, you might choose b/w in the CI menu, and high contrast in the DF menu, to give you the kind of moody monochromes you favour.


The Q is incredibly versatile, like a dozen cameras (or more) in one.

Yet it never feels overwhelming, thanks to the, in my view, intelligent design and layout of the menus and options.

Anyway, back to this thread.

Also within each CI option there are further adjustments.

With the b/w mode, you can then add a colour filter, emulating the practice of actually screwing a colour filter on the end of your lens when shooting b/w, to enhance contrast, give more depth to skies and so on.

Amongst the standard range of colour filters like yellow, orange and blue, there’s also an Infrared (IR) filter option.


I’ve seen IR film images before, but never shot them myself.

It’s not something I would want every photograph I look at to feature, but it’s an interesting and dramatic effect I enjoy from time to time.

I’m not going to suggest the Pentax Q perfectly emulates the look of IR film. Nor do I care.

I’ve just found it’s an intriguing look to play around with, and further evidence I believe of how much fun the Pentax designers wanted Q photographers to have with these little cameras.

What using this setting also does is add considerable extra grain/noise. Which seems to suit the overall look too, and is something I never mind in digital images.


The photographs in this post were all made with the Pentax Q with b/w mode, and the IR filter selected.

See what you think.

Have you experimented with Infrared photography – either with film or via digital means? 

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

Thanks for looking.

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14 thoughts on “The Colour Quest (IV) – Infrared Photography With The Pentax Q”

  1. Awesome set of photos here, Dan. I haven’t tried any infra red film but I did do a series of color infra red in digital format a number of years back. The images were fun and unrealistic.

      1. Oh geez Dan that was so long ago. I’ll have to go back and look at my files. As I recall it involved some sort of curves adjustment reversed on a digital file.

  2. What a cool camera! Can one do spot metering with it too? How small an aperture can it achieve, f/22? Your descriptions of all the options make me want to pick it to function as a light meter for my large format work.

  3. looking at the pictures – can you see lost of detail in the clouds (blown out highlights) in the first picture? or is it only my compute screen?

    same on the picture with church roof – in clouds…

    or is it on purpose?

    1. Hi Pavel, yes, as you’ve now realised, this whole post is about experimenting with infra red settings in the Pentax Q. The clue is in the title. ; )

      1. yes, but you know i was looking at the picture and cloud looks horrible 🙂

    1. Well, the point of the experiment, and this post, was to try something different with the little Pentax Q. I like the look of its infra red setting and intend to experiment with it more. My aim wasn’t to get perfectly exposed skies or clouds. I was deliberately going for a different look, further from a natural reality.

  4. I picked up a spare Pentax Q body for not so much and managed to DIY convert it to full spectrum to do actual IR photos and video. No need for complex disassembly. just a sharp hobby knife to cut some plastic from the front. Pentax forums for how to do it if curious. No need to send it out to specialist to get one converted.

    I’m using it with my far focussing 07 shield mount lens 😉

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