How-To: Mod a Point-and-Shoot for Infrared Photography

Photography & Video
How-To: Mod a Point-and-Shoot for Infrared Photography

Digital camera sensors are typically sensitive to infrared light, but camera manufacturers install a infrared cut-off filter to block these wavelengths. If you have an old Canon point and shoot camera and want to try out infrared photography, Matthew Petroff has posted a guide to modding a Canon PowerShot SD400 for this technique. The process involves carefully disassembling the camera, removing the infrared cut-off filter and installing a visible light cut-off filter, which is simply a piece of fully exposed, developed color negative film. If seeing a camera in pieces makes you wince and you just want to take a look at the resulting photographs, here are a couple before & after shots Matthew took:

14 thoughts on “How-To: Mod a Point-and-Shoot for Infrared Photography

  1. Anonymous says:

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  2. matthew epler says:

    Nice find, Matt!

  3. Jake Spurlock says:

    I would love to try this…

  4. Robert Menes says:

    I wonder if I can do this to my PowerShot A560?

  5. Creators Pixels says:

    Did this with my old Canon A95 a while back.  Only I left out a visible light filter.  However the infrared filter glass must affect focusing because it don’t like to auto focus right.  I can get it to manual focus but its not real easy anymore.  Does pick up infrared though!  And nice that you can see it on the LCD live.  Just do it on a camera you won’t miss!

  6. Anonymous says:

    What wavelengths does this modified camera see?  I have an infrared camera for my work (energy auditing) that sees 7.5 to 15 µm.  Visible light is .4 to .7 µm.  There’s a lot of territory in between. 

  7. Anonymous says:

    A better solution is to use unexposed but developed slide film.  Slide film is formulated to be efficient at passing heat through the slide instead of retaining it, even if the slide is fully “black”.  Just think about it:  when a slide is in a slide projector, it’s a few inches away from a several thousand degree heat source.  It has to pass that heat through or else it will melt.  But it has to block light in the blacks or else it can’t form the image properly.

    As to how to get unexposed but developed slide film, just send in a roll to your favorite slide film processor with instructions that you want it developed but not cut.

    My experiments with slide film showed that I only needed one layer of it to cut out nearly all visible light.  I don’t remember what brand of slide film I used though, your milage may vary.

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Matt Richardson is a San Francisco-based creative technologist and Contributing Editor at MAKE. He’s the co-author of Getting Started with Raspberry Pi and the author of Getting Started with BeagleBone.

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