When we heard recently that the Sony HandyCams with NightShot technology could shoot through light clothing and bathing suits in indoor light and sunlight, we decided Videomaker better investigate. NightShot technology allows the camcorder's CCD to capture light in the infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Infrared light is energy in wavelengths just below the visible spectrum, it's really more heat then light. When you shoot infrared photography or video, unless you use an invisible infrared light source (like the Sony Laser Link [TM]), you are capturing the heat given off by objects. Plants, animals and people appear lighter then normal because of the heat they give off.
When you shoot a person with an infrared sensitive device you will see the heat given off by the person's body. This is the same way that police helicopters (if so equipped) can locate a subject in the dark by finding the person's bright shape in the darkness. Because the light source (heat) is emanating from the subject, and not reflected off of it (as with visible light), the edges are soft and show little detail.
We attempted to recreate the rumors using a Sony CCD-TRV65 Hi8 camcorder with NightShot. We asked a model to wear a sheer outfit, and we turned all the lights in the room up, as the rumors said to do. We tried using the NightShot mode without the Laser Link [TM] infrared light source, and then with it. We also tried shooting through a dark red lens filter. We made the same tests in the sunlight. We had no luck with any of the tests. We were never able to shoot through clothing, or even see the heat outline of the body through clothing.
It appears that the rumors of being able to shoot video through people's clothing are greatly exaggerated. Videomaker Magazine has seen no evidence that this rumor is true. We will, however, continue to test this technology. Next, we will try shooting through a true infrared lens filter (one that blocks all light but infrared) and see what happens.