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White balance for NDVI cameras

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White balance can be critical to getting good results with infrared converted cameras.

Images using a red filter should look roughly like the "GOOD" example below -- vegetation should appear generally pastel blue (for blue filters, see this page). An incorrectly white-balanced image such as the "BAD" example below may appear with an overall reddish tint.



Follow these activities to learn how to set white balance properly, or add your own if there's one missing. For Canon cameras, see the steps listed below:

Activities should include a materials list, costs and a step-by-step guide to construction with photos. Learn what makes a good activity here.


There's been a great deal of research on the best white balance for Infragram use; browse some of it here:

Title Author Updated Likes Comments
AWB_Gains for PiNoIRCamera V2 (Red Filter) @kauemv2 over 4 years ago 2
Change the white balance (or other configuration) on a Mobius camera @warren almost 6 years ago 0
Plant Health NDVI -White Balance @Claytonb about 7 years ago 4
Question: Infragram point & shoot image @ino over 7 years ago 2
How do I set a custum white balance of the NoIR modulo cam? @LaPa almost 8 years ago 25
do the work exactly @bruno about 8 years ago 1
Modified MOBIUS with PL red filter @RQ-05 over 8 years ago 8
White balancing a 4 channel RAW image? @Fi156 over 8 years ago 4
Mobius NDVI @cfastie over 9 years ago 29
Mobius white balance @cfastie over 9 years ago 2
NIR and white balance @cfastie over 9 years ago 1
White balance for all @cfastie almost 10 years ago 6
Infrared behavior of A810 @cfastie about 10 years ago 4
HORNWORMS @cfastie about 10 years ago 6
White balancing a Canon camera for Infragram photography @warren about 10 years ago 12
Infrablue minutiae @cfastie about 10 years ago 1
Balancing act @cfastie about 10 years ago 0
I Got the InfraBlues - CMOS White Balance Work-around @geobduffy about 10 years ago 0
White balance @cfastie over 10 years ago 0
Rosco! @cfastie over 10 years ago 9
Superblue @cfastie over 10 years ago 31
White balance and NIR photography @nedhorning almost 11 years ago 15


Ask or help answer questions about white balance here!

Mobius/Infragram Point & Shoot

Mobius Action Cams require a custom config file; here are instructions for using it to set the required custom white balance here


Many Canon Powershots allow custom white balance. This option is sometimes available only when the camera is in Program Mode, not an auto mode or auto preset.

To custom white balance a Powershot (after removal of the internal IR block filter and with a red or blue filter in place):

  1. Press "Func Set" (Function Set).
  2. Scroll (up or down) to the white balance icon.
  3. Scroll (left or right) to the custom white balance icon.
  4. A message will display indicating which button to press to set a custom white balance.
  5. Point the camera at a surface that is either blue or red and fill the frame with that color. A medium rich blue (between sky blue and navy blue) works well with many of the common blue filters that have been tested (see below). Ideally the blue surface should be in the shade but under a clear blue sky. A bright red surface works with red filters. For red filters the red surface should be in direct sunlight.
  6. Press the designated button.
  7. Press Func Set to return to camera mode.

When custom white balance is done properly, photos of healthy foliage (in sun or shade) appear orangey yellow (with blue filter), or turquoise (with red filter). When custom white balance is not done properly, infrablue photos of plants appear gray. When custom white balance is not done, infrablue photos appear pink.


A blue origami paper that has worked well for white balancing a CCD Powershot with Rosco #74, #2007, and #2008 filters.

More testing is needed to determine the best white balance process for different combinations of cameras and filters. Not all blue or red surfaces will reflect the same proportion of visible and infrared light, so some colors will work better than others. Add your observations here or at the infrared forum:!forum/plots-infrared