Understanding 590nm (Goldie) Issues

Understanding And Working With  590nm Infrared…


B+W 090 590nm IR Filter (Super Color or Goldie)

I LIKE shooting with a 590nm B+W 090 (Goldie) filter!  It really is sort of an obsession with me. On my recent trip to Greece, when I shot in Infrared it was ALWAYS with a 590nm filter.  I find that I get really good results when working towards Faux Color images, but yet still get GREAT B&W images.  Sometime I would get lucky enough to get really stunning RAW conversions without even bothering for a Faux or B&W image!  BUT, there are some issues… These issues are not dependent upon camera make and model but rather the infrared band.  All attempts at 590nm and 665nm (to a lesser extent) are subject to the challenges noted below!

I keep almost every type of Infrared filter on hand but for reasons of experience I always seem to go towards the 590nm.  As you can see from the image to the left, the 590nm Goldie filter is a bright red color.  You can understand from the picture that there is a LOT of visible light leakage from this filter which is one of the issues we are going to discuss here today!


Various IR Filter Curves, Look At the 090 For 590nm

There are some minor issues when using a 590nm filter that you must understand in order to overcome.

  • 590nm is firmly in the realm of the visible spectrum creating visible overexposure from 590nm to 700mm.
  • White Balance is ALL important to getting good color and proper exposure.
  • The Camera Histogram is ALWAYS wrong in the Red channel when mixing visible and infrared light.

The first listed issue really is the most important one to understand.  Our camera’s electronics and algorithms are designed with color images in mind.  When we remove the hot mirror (UV/IR Cut Filter)  and attach a dedicated 590nm or 665nm filter OR a clear glass filter (Full Spectrum) and use a 590nm external filter, we are allowing a small amount of visible light from 590nm to 700nm strike the sensor along with the infrared spectrum from 700nm to 1000nm.  Since 590nm is in the deep red area of the visible spectrum the RED channel is overwhelmed with bright red light and the blue & green channels see more of the 700nm and up light.   This tends to confuse the camera computer and while it will display a normal looking histogram (monochrome), if you look at the separate RGB histograms the red is off the edge and way overexposed!  Usually you can overcome this during the RAW conversion process by changing the exposure down 1 or 2 stops in conversion.  Sometimes the overexposure is so bad that you are out of the range of repair during the conversion process.  So I following the following steps to overcome this in camera:

  1. Proper White Balance to equalize the color Channels
  2. Set the camera histogram to separate RGB channels so that I can directly monitor the RED channel
  3. Check the exposure on EVERY shot and dial in the appropriate exposure compensation.  Normally this is around -1 or -2 but some subject matter like lots of leaves will require you to switch to manual exposure  to go – 3 or more!  A cloudy sky will actually force you to add + exposure compensation.  Just take a test shot and check the red channel histogram then make the proper adjustment.
  4. ALWAYS use your lens hood to prevent lens flare as well as to keep contrast up by stopping light from hitting the objective lens at extreme angles.

Here is an example of the red channel being 2 stops more exposed than the blue and green. Remember that for this exposure I had dialed in -.7ev exposure compensation.:


RAW Histogram

Looking at the Histogram you will notice that the red section is a full 2 stops over (shifted right) the other colors!  If I had not set -.7ev in camera this image would be a full stop off the right hand side!  Yes, you can adjust it down during the conversion process but you must agree that better images are properly exposed the first time and not repaired after the face!

Here is the converted RAW image.  It looks great all by itself (rare) and I processed it as such! I also processed as Faux Color and B&W which follows.  As you can see here with the RAW image, it has a much different color scheme and is quite interesting all by itself.  All that was done was to properly White Balance the camera, take the picture, download it to the computer and do the RAW to TIFF conversion either in ACR in Photoshop or like I did using Capture One Ver 6.  Then run come contrast and levels adjustments and save the image as a PSD!  Once in a while you can get some stunning images this way.


Converted RAW but NOT Channel Swapped

Following is a Faux Color Post Processed image using the following steps:


  • Taking the picture I adjusted the exposure compensation to -.7ev to keep the red channel under control and not blow out the sky.  I also set the White balance using a BRNO neutral WB lens cap.
  • After moving the image to the computer via Downloader PRO (see recent post) and RAW processing with  Capture One V5 where I added a little contrast and clarity, I opened the image in CS5.
  • I cropped for my master library size (8.5×12.5) and ran the Khromagery Faux Color Action (down load on the right).  In the Master Color Channel I simply increased the Saturation which brought out the blue sky & water and the yellow plants.  I then choose the Cyan and Red channel adjustments and made sure to adjust the HUE to where I liked it.
  • The ABOVE Cyan adjustment is important, I hate sky’s and water looking blue-green, so I always adjust the Cyan HUE to go to normal blue!
  • I then flattened the Adjustment Layers.
  • Next I ran NIK Software’s Viveza (a Photoshop plug in) and simply made point selections of the color I wished to modify, ran up the structure to bring out detail and adjusted the brightness.  I did this to all of the color areas I needed to like the water surface, the yellow plants and the blue sky. I also selected the warm colored wood of the Trunk and the rocks in the foreground and removed color saturation forcing them to be B&W!
  • Again flatten the image.
  • Save as a PSD file

Faux Color Post Processed (Swap Red & Blue Channels)

Here then is the screen shot showing the equalized histogram for the Faux Color image. See how they are all pretty much in line in terms of exposure?  This is what we are striving to accomplish!


Faux Color Histogram

And lastly the same image processed in B&W by taking the Faux Color image (above) and running it through NIK Software’s Silver EFX Pro using the High Structure Filter:


B&W Post Processing

As you can see, this is one of those rare images that produce great photographs in all 3 formats!  All of this from the 590nm (Goldie) filter.  You can see why I like this spectrum so much!  If you have any questions please drop me a line.



55 comments on “Understanding 590nm (Goldie) Issues

  1. Hi Mark,
    I’m thinking of converting my Olympus E-M5 to IR and I’m not sure if I should convert it to full spectrum or to 590nm. I was wondering if I convert it to 590nm can I use a 720nm or any other filter on the lens and still get the correct effect of each filter as if I used it on full spectrum converted camera?

  2. Hi Mark,

    If I buy an Olympus E-M5 converted to 590nm can I also put a 720nm or 665nm filters (one at a time) on my lens and get the same effect as on a full spectrum converted camera?

  3. B+W make both regular and multicoated versions of their filters – is the multicoated version worth twice the price? Which type (MC or non-MC) do you use?

    Thanks for all the great info!

  4. Mark, a long time lurker here, enjoying your articles very much.
    Now I got myself a 590nm converted Canon 40D.
    What is the best WB that I should set in the camera in order to get that goldie effect (after swapping color channels, of course). Is that a grey card or green grass?

    Also, what WB adjustments do you do in post-processing? I remember that RAW files come out red no matter what WB had been used while shooting…
    Do you cool the WB? If yes, how? Photoshop limits its WB to 2000K…

    Too many questions, I know… 😉

    Thank you!!!

    • Igal, you do a custom WB on green grass or leaves. The images on the camera LCD should be kind of a bronze sky and a monochromatic with blueish tint on the leaves! I do not do any WB adjustment in post as long as your raw converter can handle your files. Adobe ACR sometimes has issues with IR WB temperatures. I do ALL of my raw conversions in Capture One which can handle the IR WB.

  5. If you were to convert a camera do you suggest converting to full spectrum or replacing the IR blocking glass w/590nm filter or other?

    • Susanne, the full spectrum conversion is the best but most costly as you must buy the various IR external filters for each lens plus the camera must be a live view camera or mirror less.

  6. Hi…

    One question about the filter B+W 090

    factor 5x or 8x ?

    which to choose?

    I have panasonic g1 converted for two spectrum, by kolari vision

    best regards

  7. Hi…

    One question about the filter B+W 091:

    factor 5x or 8x ?

    which to choose?

    I have panasonic g1 converted for two spectrum, by kolari vision

    best regards

  8. Another question about WB.
    I have a D7100 converted to plain glass. Do I WB with the 090 filter in place? That would be similar to doing a WB with a Goldie converted camera, correct?

      • So I’ve been trying to WB my LifePixel converted full spectrum D7100 with no success (B+W 090 filter attached). Grass, gray card, white card, different exposures (using A and M mode) – all over. All my attempts at setting a PRE result in that dreaded no good display. So instead, I have a white balance/color balance card that has shades of gray, as well as colors (green too). I’ve been making an exposure of that in the same light as my subject (with WB set at 2500K), and then bringing both files into ACR or CNX2 and using the gray or green on the color card to generate a WB. This seems to work. Do you see any pitfalls with this approach?

      • No, this is a good workaround. In ACR adjust your WB down to around 2400K and than add some green tint looking at the sky for a bronze cast and the leaves for a monochromatic, slightly blue tint!

  9. A WB question. What if you have no green grass? For example, shooting in a desert location. What do I use for WB then? Or when there is snow (I used a freshly fallen white snowbank and that seemed to work – in bright sunlight)

  10. Hey Mark, after shooting with a 590nM converted D70 and using Niksoft Capture NX2 for WB correction ive just bought a Panasonic G5 and had it converted to Full Spectrum. In the past ive tried using DNG profiles but found NX2 gave a better result. Now i dont have that option so am going back to DNG profiles. Do you have to create one for each filter you use? I have a Hoya R72 and have just bought the 090 after reading this thread.

  11. I’m glad I read your tutorial. I have had no problem with the 665nm and the 830nm I’m using, but the new 590nm gets me very yellow/brownish dull results in overcast skies. I’m going to try your suggestions re WB on grass. Never heard that. I was using a grey card, a Vivicap or my hand, and that works for the other filters, but not the 590nm. It is a Rocolax and maybe there is a quality difference?
    My other filters are Spencers and they work well. Just wonder if you have used them and if you know what glass they are using.
    Using a Lumix GX1 FS conversion.

  12. Hi, good site very helpful. Im new to ir and am keen to explore it further but cant seem to find a 090 goldie filter could recommend somewhere? any help greatly appreciated ta

  13. Good evening,

    For the full spectrum conversion, can you still use a 720nm or 830nm infrared filters by hand. In other words, will I still have to use long exposure times? What about live view. When I’ve used a non-converted camera, I couldn’t use the live view with a 720nm filter in front of my lens.

    Thank you for your time in advance.


    • Yes, IF the camera has had the Full Spectrum conversion, you can still use the 720nm and 830nm filters by hand. The 830 will be 2 or 3 stops slower but still good enough to hand hold (Compare it to using a polarizing filter).

  14. I’m looking to buy this very same filter and embark on infrared photography route but having problem finding one. If I look on Amazon for BW 090 filter, they have the items but lacks item description for me to confirm if that’s the right thing. http://www.schneiderkreuznach.com/pdf/filter/bw_filter_programm_e.pdf doesn’t list such filter, nor does https://www.schneideroptics.com/ecommerce/CatalogSubCategoryDisplay.aspx?CID=1685

    If you would happen to know the explanation for the numbering (090, 099, etc..), that would help in figuring out what is the item I need.


    • No, the B+W 090 (Red) was initially a B&W filter for enhancing the sky. BUT… It passes everything above 590nm up to 1000nm! It is what is being installed inside of your converted 590nm camera systems.

      UNDERSTAND… This filter will NOT give you 590nm IR on a NON CONVERTED or a CONVERTED camera other than the Full Spectrum conversion! If you are thinking of trying this filter on a normal camera and hoping to get 590nm infrared then it will NOT work. YOU MUST HAVE a Full Spectrum conversion then by placing this on the lens you will have a 590nm IR system, or a B+W 091 on the lens will give you a 630nm IR system and so on!

      Look on the filters tab across the top of this blog for more info. Do NOT select any of the drop down filters, only the tab itself and a listing will come up!

      • I recently got my hands on a Fujifilm IS Pro, I’m sure you know which camera is that.
        From your big BUT I guess it means it’ll do the job just fine, with spectrum higher than 590nm.
        Reason why I go after 590nm is because of this
        I assume they also use the same filter as to whoever you said install inside the converted 590nm camera systems.
        Just curious, what’s the difference between 090 goldie and 090 red? Any reason why it doesn’t appear on B+W product catalogue?
        And if the difference is big enough, where can I get the goldie?

      • No, you misunderstand! The 090 IS 590nm!! It is just a dual use filter, both for IR and B&W but it was initially designed for B&W! It is not in the B+W catalog because its use as a 590nm IR filter is very new and the catalog has not changed in years!

        The B+W 090 IS THE GOLDIE!!

        Are you going to have spencers convert your camera? With DSLR’s it is very important that the internal filter be a precise thickness as to not effect the cameras ability to focus properly!

      • Thanks for correcting me. I’ll go and get the filter from Amazon then.
        I’m not going to get my camera converted, it’s already is a full spectrum camera. The Fujifilm IS Pro is a variant of the S5 Pro, but it doesn’t have a hot mirror filter and is capable of capturing full spectrum out of the box.
        It’s usually not on sale through normal retailers, and even if it is, it’s usually for 1k$+. Adorama had them for limited stock last xmas for 600$ a piece and I got mine there.

  15. Just had my Nikon D100 converted to full spectrum and also bought the B+W 590 filter. One word. Awesome!…and all because of your articles:-)
    Thanks a lot for giving us the insight in this wonderful world of photography.

    Petter Amundsen
    Bergen, Norway

  16. Hi! First i have to say: really great post, thank you.
    May I ask how you set the custom white balance? Do you use green grass for it? I have the same 590nm filter as you have. If i use the Khromagery Faux Color Action the sky looks great, but the grass is too white, even if i change the “chroma” at the end of your action. if i do the same with your sample (above) picture it looks great.
    The grass in your “Converted RAW but NOT Channel Swapped Picture” looks more green/grey, mine is almost white. So like i said, i’m just curious how you set your custom white balance. Thanks 😉

    • Peter, I set the WB on green grass in the light. It sounds to me like your images are a little over exposed hence the bright white grass. Look at the histogram in photoshop (not the camera) and look at the red channel. Is it off to the right? If so that is the issue. Sometimes I expose for the bright white bloom in the grass myself to generate a greater “wood” effect. If you like you can email me a smaller version of the converted image that has NOT been edited and I will give it a go….!

      • Hey Mark,

        after reading you article a second time a few weeks later and trying out some of the techniques I found out that I have the same issues with the wihte balance. In your article you state:

        “I also set the White balance using a BRNO neutral WB lens cap.” but in you comment you are saying you do the WB towards the green gras.

        And what are you thoughts on these WB lens caps in gernal? Is it worth buying one?

        Best regards

      • I found that about 1/2 of the time the camera would have a hard time getting the WB thru the lens cap due to reduced light intensity. I eventually quit using them and just do the WB on green leaves or grass now unless I am shooting with a 047B filter then I do the wb on the blue sky!

  17. Hi,

    I bought myself a B+W 092 IR filter for my Canon 67mm lenses: 70-200mm 4.0 L IS and 100mm macro 2.8 L IS but I can t seem to get much result out of them. As body I use a Canon 7D. I managed a few nice B&W shots but of course 092 doesn t allow any faux colors anymore and it was just too hard to get the 590 nm filter in Europe… Anyway,maybe you have some suggestions how to use this filter in the right way to get the best results?

    2nd question. I decided to buy a new body 550 D soon: Goldie IR converted…but there is also something called Goldie IR Pro. Any idea about the differences? Also I would love to understand the difference with Full IR. I often notice that the Goldie IR results in oversaturated fake colors and a specially too artificial result , call it kitsch (unless you like paintbrush for example 🙂 Can you still manage to get colors with Full IR? Opposite question: Is it easy to desaturate IR shots and still to come out with a good result… would love to know which IR converted body I should order… hope you can help me…

    • If your 7D is NOT converted to a full time IR camera you will NOT be able to get Faux Color images. The 092 is going to give you good B&W but that is all. Tell me about your camera is it converted or just a standard canon body? As far as 590nm filter, just get a standard 024 or 025 B&W red filter and you will have it!

      The 550 as a goldie sounds great. I have NOT heard about the Pro version. Who is going to do the conversion for you? I will take a look at it. Yes goldie can give super saturated results but simply remove saturation to your liking. Full IR is considered 800nm and above. Standard IR is 720nm and it will give a little room to do some Faux work. I use mainly a 620nm filter 091 and produce both great Faux color as well as B&W by running it through Nik’s Silver EFX pro.

      i think that the Olympus E-PL1 makes the best IR system out there. I have friends who have converted it to 590nm but mine is Full Spectrum.

  18. Hi, thanks for the great article. I love the way you write and your personal insight is refreshing.

    I purchased your suggested above filter, and waiting for it to arrive. Currently I use an r72, and have been tackling trying to set the white balance. I hear, “point it at full green grass with the filter on and set a custom wb that way.” Okay, did that. I was told the picture on the LCD should now be in monochrome tone and nicely visible on screen. Nope, mine is still red!! I adjust the wb in RAW for now, but I want to set this up the right way for this #090 red filter when I get it since you said it creates problems. Please help me do this the right way!

  19. Pingback: Where can I purchase a 665nm (Enhanced Colour) Infrared Filter?

  20. Mark

    Awesome post! Technically just right for I think all skill levels. Images aren’t to shabby either. Keep em coming

    Dave Lindey

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s