Friday, May 27, 2011

DIY IR Camera Hack

So, you bought a new camera!
Or, your mom just gave you her crappy old point-and-shoot!
Or, you've been waiting to try an IR conversion for a long time and want to know how to do it!

Then this step-by-step tutorial is for you...
WATCH and learn the basic process to convert my Canon digital ELPH into a high-power IR shootin' machine.

  • This is super easy: find/remove IR filter, replace with visible light filter
  • 42% chance you'll break camera irreparably, make sure you don't care about it
  • Mild mechanical aptitude required.  If you've ever built a computer or fixed a small appliance, you're fine.  If you haven't, send your camera to me (I'll provide un-guaranteed work for a fee).
  • NEVER FORCE ANYTHING!  See bullet point #2.
  • Tiny Phillips screw-driver (if you don't know what Phillips means, send your camera to me)
  • Tweezers
  • Canned-air (blow dust out of camera at every step)
STEP 1:  
Clean your space.  Those screws are easy to lose.  I use a magnet to hold the screws

STEP 2:  
Remove housing screws.  If the housing won't come off, double check screws (especially under labels/decals etc.)

STEP 3:  
Carefully remove housing.  There are probably tabs holding things in place, use tweezers to release.

Remove LCD screen.
  • screw
  • power connector (tweezers to gently pull out of socket)
  • tabs (gently pry w/ tweezers)
  • fold LCD out of the way (it's still connected by the "data" wire to the camera electronics)
STEP 5:  
Remove sensor screws.  keep these separate from housing screws, they're probably different

STEP 6:  
Access IR/UV cutoff filter.  Remove with tweezers

Re-assemble camera - make sure you don't have left-over parts

STEP 8:  
Epoxy mount retaining ring
  • If you have a slow epoxy, extend the lens then remove the battery so it stays extended.  If it retracts before the epoxy sets, it'll ruin your alignment efforts.
  • I ordered my parts from  If your lens is less than 1" across the longest dimension, the easiest part is #SM1M05. For a shorter barrel, you can order #SM1T1 and 2x of #SM1RR.
  • The cheapest lens is from, part #NT43-948.  This is a good plastic longpass filter which cuts out visible light and transmits light with wavelength longer than ~720nm.  They have glass filters too, but those are more expensive.  
  • Also good to note, a ND (neutral density) filter USUALLY is designed to cut light intensity only in the visible spectrum, so you can use that as a poor man's IR-pass filter.
STEP 9:  
Attach filter to lens barrel

STEP 10:  
REJOICE!  and take a few photos.

Let me know how it works out for you!

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