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Infragram convertible cameras

26 Sep 02:21 22,929 views | Last edited by cfastie 27 days ago
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A page listing cameras which can be converted for near-infrared, and requests for photos/documentation of cameras to be converted.

Excellent

Cameras which are easy to convert and work well:

Mobius ActionCam The Mobius is very easy to open, and it's very easy to expose the IR block filter. But the filter is glued on and must be broken into shards to remove. This camera works well with a red filter, and a custom white balance

Canon

Canons usually convert easily and are a favorite:

  • Canon A480 - Almost the same as the A490, but watch out for the springs!
  • Canon A490 or A495 (see conversion on YouTube) or below (~$50, 10 megapixel).
  • Canon A2200 A lightweight (135 g) camera with features typical for small PowerShots. The buttons on the back of the camera have an internal button pad with a ribbon cable. Note how that ribbon cable is threaded around things before you move those things. It's easy to reassemble things wrong so that the ribbon cable is torn.
  • Canon A1200: This might be the easiest to convert of the 10 Powershot models I have tried. So easy I opened it up 10 different times to adjust the focus just right.
  • Canon A1300. Virtually the same procedure as with the A2200 above.
  • Canon A800 It was really straight forward like the other cameras.
  • Canon A810: ([Here's an instructable specific to the A810] (http://www.instructables.com/id/Infrared-Camera-Mod/)): The IR block filter removal went smoothly and was successful even though I had never opened up a camera before. Its 16 megapixels is more than you really need.
  • Canon A2500. Straight forward like the other cameras. Only you need to flip the LCD (which is held by a piece of tape). Behind the LCD there are 4 screw you need to loose. The rest is simple.
  • Canon S4000 IS [edit: There is no Powershot with this model name] - The camera is very tightly built but not hard to open and convert, and works well with Rosco #74 filters.
  • Canon S95. A high-end model with f/2, 28 mm (equiv) lens, 1/1.7" CCD sensor, DIGIC 4 processor, and aluminum body. Weight is 195 g. A very easy conversion to do. Seven identical screws remove the rear shell, and removing just one internal screw allows the LCD to be lifted up exposing the sensor. It's tricky to learn how to release the metal tabs holding the LCD in place. The LCD is attached by two ribbon cables, so I propped it vertically with tape while working:
    S95Convert-512-7.jpg
    The sensor plate is held away from the lens with three springs (which can fall out), so mark the screws before unscrewing and count the turns so you know how to return them to the same position. The IR block filter measured 10.2 x 8.4 mm. After the sensor plate and the one screw holding the LCD in place has been replaced, the camera can be powered on to take photos to check focus. This is important because I had to adjust the sensor screws several times to get good focus again, and only one screw must be removed to access the sensor screws between tests.
  • Canon S100. A high-end model with f/2, 24 mm (equiv) lens, 1/1.7" CMOS sensor, GPS, and DIGIC 5 processor (most Powershots on this list have none of these features). Body is aluminum and weight is 198 g. The general construction of this camera is very similar to that of the S95. A very easy conversion to do. Seven identical screws remove the rear shell, and removing just one internal screw and a slim metal band allows the LCD to be lifted up exposing the sensor. It's tricky to learn how to release the metal tabs holding the LCD in place. The LCD is attached by two ribbon cables, and to protect them I propped the LCD vertically with tape while working:
    S100Convert-513-10.jpg
    .
    The CMOS sensor plate is large compared to CCD cameras, and has hard glue not only on the three screws but in two other places. The internal IR block filter is held in place under a rubber gasket and is easily replaced with polyester or gelatin. There are no springs under the sensor plate. The IR block filter measured 10.2 x 8.4 mm.
  • Canon Elph 130IS - see this fantastic tutorial video on converting a Canon Elph 130IS camera by Dennis Baldwin
  • list cameras here

    Edit this page to help complete it!

Generic brand mini-cameras

These typically have 720p or 1080p sensors and sometimes come with waterproof cases.

  • several examples here have been very easy conversions, but have not worked well for infrablue photos, due to the blue channel leaking infrared light. We're currently looking for cameras with better characteristics.

Webcams


Acceptable

Cameras which can be converted although it may not be ideal (please state why!)

  • Canon A590. An old model (2008) with lots of features appropriate for aerial photography (shutter priority, manual focus, filter mounting bracket, 8 MP, 2 AA, $30 on ebay). Four ribbon cables must be unplugged (one of them is a real challenge to connect again), and 17 screws must be removed to reach the sensor. So it is not the easiest conversion to do, but the photos are pretty sharp with no filter replacing the removed IR cut filter or with a Wratten 25A gel or Wratten 87 polyester filter installed. The sensor is held in place by springs, so mark the three final screws before unscrewing them so you can screw them back in the same number of rotations. The IR cut filter is 8 x 9 x 0.36 mm. The ninth hardest of the 10 Powershot models I have tried to convert. Four for four success rate.
  • Canon A2300. A very lightweight (125 g) camera with typical features for small, recent PowerShots (16 MP, 28–140 mm f/2.8 lens, NB-11L battery, 1/2.3" CCD sensor). Opening the camera to replace the IR block filter suffers from the same problems as the Canon A4000 (and apparently the A2400). Both the front and back of the case must be removed and the top button assembly must be loosened, so the camera gets mostly disassembled. The LCD is stuck on with a hidden adhesive pad, so you have to blindly pry it up from the end opposite its ribbon cable.There is a metal plate between the LCD and the sensor which must be removed. In order to access one of the screws, one ribbon cable (to the flash) must be disconnected (it has a latch and is easy to reconnect). Six external and nine internal screws must be removed to access the three screws holding the sensor plate. There are no springs under the sensor plate. It took me four hours, and is probably the eighth hardest of the 10 PowerShot models I have tried to convert. After replacing the filter and most of the internal screws, the camera can be powered on to take photos to check focus (for distant subjects as in aerial work). The three sensor screws can be accessed for adjustment by lifting the LCD and without removing any screws, so focus can be checked repeatedly until it is acceptable, and then the camera can be reassembled.
  • Canon A4000. A very nice lightweight (145 g) camera with 16 MP, 28-224mm (equiv) zoom, DIGIC 4 processor, and an NB-11L battery pack. Both the front and back of the case must be removed and the top button assembly must be loosened, so the camera gets mostly disassembled. One ribbon cable (to the flash) must be disconnected (it has a latch and is easy to reconnect). There are 17 screws of four different sizes to remove and some of them were extremely tight. The LCD is stuck on with a hidden adhesive pad, so you have to blindly pry it up from the end opposite its ribbon cable. The IR cut filter is 8 x 9 x 0.36 mm. The seventh hardest of the 10 Powershot models I have tried to convert. The third time I opened one up, I almost finished in one hour. The A2300 and A2400 is similar but others have had a hard time with the A2400 because additional ribbon cables came unplugged accidentally (see below).
  • Olympus FE-4020 - Very easy to convert to infrablue. A major plus: no ribbon cables had to be removed like in the Canons. However infrablue photos don't work because there is no option to create a custom white balance.

Smartphones

Extra difficult, but could be very exciting to have a smartphone that can do this!

Difficult cameras to convert

  • Canon Powershot SX120 IS: This camera has full manual controls and a 360 mm (eqiv.) zoom lens. The goal was to take infrablue Gigapans. One ribbon cable must be unplugged, but it's pretty easy. Twenty-five screws must be accessed from the outside or back, as usual, but two deep internal screws must be accessed from the front, so the entire camera must be disassembled (31 screws total). The IR block filter is under a plate which is attached to the front of the sensor with two screws. While removing the filter, it touched the sensor. The reassembled camera worked fine, but there was a blotch where the sensor is damaged (see image). So I bought a new sensor ($13 ebay), but after three adjustments (one hour each) the focus was still unacceptable. It would be hard to install a film or polyester filter instead of the IR block filter -- it would not stay in place unless you glue it first. The hardest of the 10 Powershot models I have tried to convert.
    SX120convert.jpg
    Guide to most of the screws to get to the IR block filter in a Canon SX120. Note damage to sensor (photo taken by reassembled camera).
  • Canon PowerShot A2400: conversion tutorial here - very difficult one due to the ribbon cables coming unclamped repeatedly; some have reported only a 66% success rate. This camera is constructed just like the A4000 which was listed above under "acceptable."
  • Canon Digital Rebel (various, external site, very involved)
  • list cameras here

    Edit this page to help complete it!

Requests

Cameras which have not yet been converted -- if you've done it, please move it up!

  • BOSCAM HD19
  • Samsung NV24HD I have one of these (several years old) that I plan on trying to convert when my kit comes! It has a very sharp lens and decent sensor so hoping it all goes well! If anyone else has tried a conversion with this camera please post about it!

Videos

This video, listed above, shows the removal of a filter on a Canon A495, but then shows a film negative filter taped to the front. For Infragram conversions, we recommend you put the Infragram filter inside the camera -- exactly where the IR-block filter used to be.

Focus

Some people report blurry photos after installing a new filter. Some of these people have been able to fix this by adjusting the screws which hold the sensor down. It's possible that the rubber gasket under the sensor has been shifted and has prevented the sensor from properly screwing in. In some cameras the sensor is held a particular distance from the lens by springs, so the screws must be turned in exactly the same amount as they were at the factory. Marking the screw positions before unscrewing them and counting the turns during removal can help return them to the proper position. Camera models that are easy to disassemble can be opened repeatedly to make adjustments to those screws, and some cameras allow access to those screws without doing the complete disassembly.

After conversion to NIR, a camera will generally produce slightly blurrier photos. This is usually due to the filter material (film, plastic, or gel) which is inferior to glass as an optical element. In addition, infrared light is refracted by the lens less than visible light, which cameras are designed to focus. When a new filter replaces the IR block filter, that filter usually transmits less light, so exposures have to be longer, ISO has to be higher, or the aperture has to be wider. All three of these things can make photos less sharp, and finding a compromise among them is important. If you critically examine the resolution of a photo from a converted camera, be sure to compare it with photos from that camera before it was converted. The inexpensive cameras that are commonly converted often exhibit surprisingly soft focus around the edges when the subject is far away. This effect should not be blamed on the conversion.

Read more about this and peoples' solutions here: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!searchin/plots-infrared/blurry/plots-infrared/cqX3zqfzes8/LPGeGuCMwuQJ and here: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/grassrootsmapping/wjQd2Twq_pY, and here:http://publiclab.org/notes/cfastie/11-07-2013/focus-on-filters#comments.

Spots

If a speck of dust adheres to the sensor while it is exposed, a spot will appear on photos. This spot is often inconspicuous unless a clear surface or sky is the background. To check for spots after a conversion, take several photos of the sky and look for a blurry spot. To avoid spots, use canned air to remove dust before exposing the sensor and just before replacing it. Check the surface of the sensor for specks just before replacing it.

Canon Elph 130IS

Video by Dennis Baldwin


Tags: near-infrared-camera conversion filter infragram parent:infragram