How to convert to a full-spectrum camera

Written by michelle boardman
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How to convert to a full-spectrum camera
Infrared photographs typically photograph foliage with a radiating, whitish hue. (landscape in infrared mode image by Mladenov from Fotolia.com)

A growing trend in the field of digital photography is to convert cameras to photograph wavelengths of light beyond the visible spectrum. Allowing UV and infrared light to be photographed has applications in the forensic photography, astrophotography, paranormal activity, vegetative stress, and home inspection fields. Besides these applications, a full-spectrum converted camera provides photographers with a range of experimental artistic possibilities. Conversions can be outsourced to camera conversion providers or done yourself by removing the camera's internal infrared blocking filter.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Replacement clear glass
  • Digital camera
  • Soldering equipment
  • Clean air laboratory
  • Fine-tipped tweezers
  • Anti-static gloves
  • Grounded wrist strap
  • Grounded floor mat
  • Micro screwdrivers

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Instructions

    Sending your Camera to a Conversion Company

  1. 1

    Decide if you want to perform the conversion yourself. If you do not have access to a clean air laboratory environment, if you are working with an expensive, newer camera model, or if you are not familiar with or accustomed to working with electronics, then you should consider hiring a conversion company to perform the conversion. MaxMax, Red Laboratories and Precision Camera are a few of the companies who offer conversion services.

    How to convert to a full-spectrum camera
    Conversion companies offer the experience, laboratory standards and the equipment to perform conversions. (scientist professor working in the laboratory image by Canakris from Fotolia.com)
  2. 2

    Research your camera model and the particular challenges, equipment and steps required for converting it to a full-spectrum camera. If the conversion requires skills beyond your expertise, then consider sending the camera to an experienced conversion company.

    How to convert to a full-spectrum camera
    If you camera model requires skills like soldering, and you do not have soldering experience or equipment, then consider outsourcing the conversion. (soldering image by Bube from Fotolia.com)
  3. 3

    Package and ship your camera to the conversion company. Follow the company's instructions for packaging and including the proper information about the conversion you want performed. Make note of your camera's serial number to ensure you receive the same camera that you sent.

    How to convert to a full-spectrum camera
    Provide at least 3 inches of padding around all sides of your camera. (background styrofoam peanut image by robert mobley from Fotolia.com)

    Performing the Conversion Yourself

  1. 1

    If you decide to perform the conversion yourself, then research specifications and technical documents on your camera model.

    How to convert to a full-spectrum camera
    Practice with obsolete parts cameras. (slr camera image by leafy from Fotolia.com)
  2. 2

    Obtain a piece of clear glass to replace the camera's internal infrared-blocking filter. This will allow the camera to focus after the conversion by maintaining the distance between the lens and the camera's digital sensor.

    How to convert to a full-spectrum camera
    The replacement glass should be of the same dimensions as the infrared-blocking filter to maintain focus. (focus image by apeschi from Fotolia.com)
  3. 3

    Gather the tools necessary to perform the conversion. Consider investing in anti-static equipment such as a floor mat, wrist strap and gloves, and ensure that the tweezers you purchase have rubber tips for the same reason.

    How to convert to a full-spectrum camera
    Diamond-tipped screwdrivers increase the friction between the driver and screw to reduce slippage. (allrounder image by Benjamin Herzog from Fotolia.com)
  4. 4

    Remove the screws from the exterior casing of the camera to gain access to the infrared blocking filter in front of the camera's digital sensor.

    How to convert to a full-spectrum camera
    As you remove each screw, tape them to a piece of paper and record the location to help when you put the camera back together. (screws image by Eldin Muratovic from Fotolia.com)
  5. 5

    Remove the filter and replace it with clear glass of the same dimensions.

  6. 6

    Close the camera casing and replace all the screws. Take test images to ensure no dust settled on the sensor.

    How to convert to a full-spectrum camera
    Experiment with different lenses and external lens filters to achieve the unique full-spectrum photos you desire. (lenses and photo filters image by FrankU from Fotolia.com)

Tips and warnings

  • If you don't have experience repairing or working with internal parts of a digital camera, then practice with broken cameras that you find at garage sales or on eBay.
  • Opening your camera may void the manufacturer's warranty.

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