Tutorial: Make your camera infrared sensitive.

I haven’t been very active so far this year, but I found something last week that was really interesting.  I found out that you can modify your camera so that it picks up infrared light. (NOTE: this will not work on film cameras. A similar modification can be made, but you need to use IR sensitive film for it to work.)

DISCLAIMER: this tutorial was designed for a point-and-shoot camera. If you have a DSLR that you wish to do this on, look in the external links section at the end. I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE if you destroy your camera because you don’t know how things work and break something. ALWAYS remove the battery and SD card. The only way to make your camera normal again is to put the IR filter back into the camera. If you lose the filter, this modification is irrevocable. Even as is, it is extremely difficult to reinstall the filter so if you don’t want to take the chance of permanently modifying your camera, you can buy an IR lens filter.

You probably know that humans can only see light waves between roughly 350nm and 720nm. That means we can’t see ultraviolet (UV) light, or infrared (IR) light. Cameras can see both of those, plus our visual range. On a camera, as you probably know, there is a lens, and then behind the lens there is an image sensor, either of CMOS type or CCD. What you probably don’t know, is that over the image sensor (which looks similar to a mirror) there is a red tinted piece of plastic or glass that filters infrared light so that the images look like what we see with our eyes. Let’s look at an illustration so this makes more sense:
camera internals

Now, looking at that, in order to make your camera see IR, do this!

I recommend using a magnetic tipped screwdriver because the screws are really tiny.

Remove the back of your camera. Then you should see the LCD display sitting in some sort of tray. Lift the screen out of the tray. Undo the screws that hold the tray. Now you should see a little metal plate with a couple of screws holding down down a gold colored (most likely) piece of foil material. That is the connector which transfers the image information to the display and SD card. After undoing the screws, carefully lift up one side of the connector. In the middle you should see something that looks like a small mirror with a piece of red polarized glass over it. Remove the red glass, and be sure to get all of the rubber seals that hold it on (on most cameras there are one or two). SAVE THE GLASS because if you ever want to make it normal again you have to have that. Put your camera back together, and you should have IR or near IR photography.

IR photos require a longer exposure, so if your camera normally takes a 1/60 second exposure, it will probably do about 1/20. In good lighting there will not be a noticeable difference, however.

In order to use it as night vision, you will need an IR flashlight or other IR emitter. You will not be able to see the light, but the camera can. DO NOT look into the light for more than a second or two. While you cannot see it, it is still very bright and can damage your eyes just like a bright LED flashlight can.

Thanks for visiting my site and be sure to follow! Look for infrared photographs coming later today or tomorrow!

-The Editor.

External Links:
Original instructions I found online:

DSLR version:


One response to “Tutorial: Make your camera infrared sensitive.

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