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How to convert to a full-spectrum camera

Updated July 19, 2017

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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

Tip

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.

Warning

Opening your camera may void the manufacturer's warranty.

Things You'll 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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About the Author

Michelle Boardman has worked as an information-technology consultant and trainer for numerous Fortune 500 companies since earning her master's degree in rhetoric from Purdue University. From technical training guides to professional editing for university publications, Boardman's eclectic experience includes graphic design, business analysis and copywriting.