Ricoh has announced it is to offer an infrared-sensitive version of its 645Z medium format camera, the 645Z IR. Sadly, the new model is not intended for public consumption, but will be aimed at museums and scientific establishments who will have to sign a usage agreement before they can make a purchase. 

The camera will be made sensitive to infrared by removing the IR-cut filter that sits in front of the sensor. The photographer will then need to fit a filter over the lens to cut visible light according to the requirements of the occasion. With a hot mirror in place the camera will operate as a normal 645Z, but without one the sensor will be able to record wavelengths of up to 1100 nanometers. 

Ricoh says that there is no provision for auto focusing when the camera is working with infrared light as the light focuses at a different distance to visible light, and advises owners to use the magnify function of the live view display on the rear tilting-LCD screen. 

Other than the removal of the IR cut filter the 51.4MP camera will operate in exactly the same way as the normal version – including the scene modes, compatibility with Flucards, wireless control from a smartphone and the ability to shoot HD video. 

Ricoh is offering the Pentax 645Z IR to museums, libraries, government agencies and research institutions for specialist operations, often involving forensic work or recording detail in artworks concealed by layers of paint or faded with time. Shooting with infrared sometimes makes visible what can’t be seen with the human eye. 

The company hasn’t made public the price, but says the camera will be available from 15th January next year.  

For more information see the Ricoh website (Japanese)