How to Make a Cheap Infrared Camera

Infrared (IR) photography is fun and interesting, however, getting a proper IR filter that allows only IR light to pass through for your camera can be costly and difficult to find. If you have a point and shoot, or in my case, a smartphone, you can avoid the cost and difficulty of buying one.

Find this how-to project and many others on Squareguides.

Step 1: Materials & Tools

For this project, you'll need a camera (I'm using my smartphone), a floppy disk, an X-Acto knife, and a ruler. That's it.

Step 2: Check Your Camera

How to Make a Cheap Infrared Camera

The first and most important step is to check that your camera does not have an IR blocking filter built into it. If it does, this project will not work. However, the camera may work if the IR blocking filter isn't very sensitive and only blocks some IR light.

So how do you know if your camera has an IR blocking filter? Turn the camera on, get a remote control of some kind (TV, DVR, etc...), point the front end of the remote with the IR LEDs in it towards the camera lens and press any button. You should see them light up if your camera is sensitive to IR light (they'll look purplish). Congrats!

If you don't see anything, make sure the remote isn't dead. If you still don't see anything, then you have a good camera and unfortunately the only way to continue is to take it apart, which is outside the scope of this project.

Step 3: Cut Your Floppy Disk

How to Make a Cheap Infrared Camera

Take your floppy disk and, using your X-Acto knife and your ruler to guide you, cut open the floppy disk. Try to not cut into the actual disk inside.

Step 4: Add the Filter to Your Camera

How to Make a Cheap Infrared Camera

Crack open the floppy disk. This will release the adhesive holding the two halves together allowing you to obtain the actual disk from inside. This is what we are after.

Step 5: Crack Open Your Floppy Disk

How to Make a Cheap Infrared Camera

Using your X-Acto knife again, cut a small piece from the floppy disk that is large enough to completely cover the opening for your phone's camera on the case. Position it in the bottom of the case over the opening, and insert your phone. You are now done.

Step 6: Photograph

How to Make a Cheap Infrared Camera

You will notice that when you attempt to use the camera now, you won't be able to see very much. The sun gives off most of the IR light you will need to take pictures, but other things such as IR LEDs, lightbulbs, and flames give off IR light as well. This being said, in order to get a proper exposure you will likely need to be outside on a sunny day, and if possible, set your exposure to +1 or +2.

*Tip: Try photographing plants on a sunny day. They reflect IR light very well and look very cool.

Find this how-to project and many others on Squareguides.

 
 

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