How-To Geek

Hack a DSLR for DIY Infrared Photography

DSLR sensors have a special filter for IR light; a little hacking is all it takes to strip away that filter and modify the camera for awesome infrared photography.

Jerry, over in the forums for the Home Shop Machinist, shares his crash course in converting an old Pentax DSLR into an infrared unit. He had an old DSLR laying around and decided, upon purchasing a new one, that the old one was destined for hacking greatness. By taking the camera apart, removing the infrared filter, and then replacing it with a piece of specialty glass to enhance his IR photograph exploits, he was able to convert the old camera into a pretty sweet IR DSLR. The photo above is one of his sample shots.

Hit up the link below to read more about his build. Even if you have a different brand camera the basic premise is the same. As long as you’re comfortable hacking a camera apart and doing some heavy searching to find specifics for your brand and model, you’re one weekend project away from cheap infrared photography.

Pentax DSLR Conversion to Infrared [Home Shop Machinist via Hack A Day]

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 04/22/11

Comments (10)

  1. Joe

    I actually did this with an old D70…couldn’t be happier!

  2. Jason Fitzpatrick

    If I didn’t have my D50 out on loan to a friend, I’d be sorely tempted. =)

  3. nirojan

    hhi la am nirojan nirojan nirojan nirojan niroja n niojan

  4. Micro Adam

    does this work on ALL DSLR cameras?

  5. dave

    this is not for the faint of heart. I might look for a used Pentax to try this. Or maybe a sony a200 since I have a bunch of minolta lenses from my film days.

  6. Don Pullum

    I converted a Canon G-2. There is a lot of info on that conversion. Key was the glass replacement of the “Hot Mirror” that reflects the IR in normal camera. Had to glue layers of glass; used “Loctite┬« Glass Glue
    Trick is to squeeze from one side to force excess out the other along with bubbles. Then I used a soft faced squeeze clamp and left over night. One year now and still clear. Sides, edges need not be smooth. Use Drumel diamond cutting wheel to shape. Take photos as you take the camera apart, and keep track of where each screw was taken out using a cardboard with holes and lables. GOOD LUCK

  7. MikeD

    I went to his site and looked at his sample pictures.

    I don’t think that he is recording infrared energy. It might be ‘near infrared’ or ‘low light’.
    The images are black and white, but I can’t see any sign of heat energy in the pictures, visible light yes but not thermal/heat.

    Infrared is energy in the longer wavelength of the spectrum, which we experience as heat.

    For example; the pictures of the models show the pupils of the eyes.
    Which are the same temperature as the rest of the eye, how can you have a cold area in the middle of an eye?

  8. Stephen Mann

    “does this work on ALL DSLR cameras?s”

    All CMOS image chips are sensitive in the IR regions and all CMOS cameras have a filter (they look green) to remove the IR from the incoming image before it hits the sensor. I haven’t seen the hack article yet, but ideally you would want to replace the green IR cutoff filter with one that only allows IR through. To the eye it loks deep red, almost opaque.

  9. Kevin Carlson

    Someone has been doing DSLR IR conversions commercially for years, not cheap but maybe safer…

  10. Ken

    The photo above was done with a Sony not the hacked Pentax. Look at his pictures on Flickr. Only the ones towards the end are done with the Pentax.

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