Scaredy Cat Films

Creating an Infrared Digicam from a Canon Powershot A200
December 5TH, 2007

First off, I wouldn't recommend doing this with a camera you care about, as digital cameras can be fragile, and not too easy to repair. This mod may damage you camera beyond repair if it doesn't work. I am surprised, but even "lousy" digital cameras of 1.0 megapixel or less will cost you over $20 on ebay, and easily into $30 or $40 when you include shipping. Which is really astounding considering new 6.0 megapixel digital cameras can cost only $99 new. Why would someone pay $45 for a camera from 2000?

The subject for this experiment is a Canon Powershot A200 I bought for $35.49 off ebay from a seller who said it takes photographs, but the pictures can't be viewed on the LCD screen. The camera also came with a 1GB Compact Flash card, so it was pretty much worth the price regardless of whether or not the camera worked. When I got the camera it seemed to be having some issues starting up and using the LCD. But after changing batteries and messing around a little with the settings I got it working and it is a pretty easy camera to use. After this mod it has become one of my favorite IR digicams to use, except for some moire problems, but what do you expect from such an old camera. (Suggested Retail Price in 06/2000 - $299.00)

Camera Front Camera Back Camera Side
Camera Front Camera Back Camera Side, Power Ports
Camera Side Camera Top Camera Bottom
Side Battery and Flash Card Door Camera Top Camera Bottom

Step 1:

Open The Camera

Remove the batteries from the camera first, then open up the digital camera by removing all the small screws on the outside of the camera.

The Canon Powershot A200 takes a small phillips head screwdriver. There are four external screws, 2 on the camera bottom, and 2 on the side with the power cable USB output jack. These four screws are the same size.

On the side of the camera with the door for the Flash Card and the Batteries are four more screws that are larger in size. They need to screw through the door into the camera. Remember these so you can put them back in the right place.

You will need to open the Compact Flash Card door to remove the back of the camera. There are two ribbon cables holding the back of the camera to the front, so gently wiggle the camera open, don't tear it off. You will be able to disconnect these cables if you wish in a future step. Now onto the insides of the camera.

Step 2:

Removed Back Of Camera

There are two ribbon cables that can be disconnected to help remove the back of the camera from the front, where all the electronics are. Label them if you need to, then disconnect them and free the main part of the camera for the rest of the transformation to an IR Camera.

The photo to the left shows the back of the camera disconnected from the front. You can also see the 4 longer screws and 4 smaller screws that hold the camera together. I have also removed the battery that stores the camera settings. In my case, this battery is dead, and I have to enter new date and time info every time I start up the camera. I assume a new battery can be found relatively inexpensively.


This is the main body of the camera that you will be taking apart to get to the IR filter and lens area. The Canon Powershot A200 only has a "digital" zoom, so the lens area is smaller than other cameras. For this reason I think you will not need to replace any glass that you remove when creating a new visible light filter. Since the focusing is less complex you will not need to compensate for the lost depth and focal properties. Now on to Step 3, getting the electronics out. Camera Electronics

Step 3:

On the top of the camera are two ribbon cables holding the electronics to the camera body. Unhook these cables and you will be able to slide all the electronics for the camera out. You can also slide out the battery door assembly, but make note of how it fits into the camera frame for when you re-insert it.

Disconnect Ribbon Cables

Presto!  Canon Electronics

Now the camera case has been totally removed from the camera electronics. You can see the capacitor for the flash. Its not too big, but it will shock you, I know, it shocked me.

The lens assembly is pretty basic in this model, and should be easy to modify. Which we will do next.

Step 4:

At this point you can turn the camera back over so the shiny metal framework of the case is showing. There are three screws on the back of this case that are holding the lens assembly. Unscrew these three screws and you will be able to remove the lens unit and get to the CCD and IR Filter glass.

"Always Never" touch the camera CCD, as you are unlikely to ever get the grease from your prints off, and you will never get a clear picture again. Have some air spray around to keep things clean. It is a must!

Remove these screws to expose the CCD

Just for kicks, hers' a couple photos of the top and bottom of the digital camera with the case removed.
Opened Camera Bottom

Opened Camera Top

Step 5:

Exposed CCD and IR Filter

That "red" piece of glass in the lens assembly is the hot mirror / IR blocking filter. It will need to be removed to take IR photographs. To the right of the lens assembly you can see the camera CCD sitting on the circuit board. Don't touch it.

There is a black rubber "diaphragm" like device holding the glass in place. It will need to be removed and should just slide off.


The IR blocking filter will need to be pried out of the plastic lens assembly. I just used a small flathead screwdriver, but you can use an exacto knife if you want.

After removing the glass I took two pieces of exposed film negative, trimmed them to fit the area the glass was in, used a tweezers to place them in to avoid fingerprints, and put the black rubber piece back on.

All that's left to do now is re-assemble the camera back together following the steps in reverse.

Removing the IR filter

Sample Images:

This camera takes images with a distinct purple tone to them. Anyone who has fooled around with scanning slides into digital images is aware that it has similar qualities to a film negative, in that they have a purplish tint. Obviously the purple is not part of the Visible IR spectrum. It will need to be removed. I grayscale my images using photoshop. The photos are pretty crisp for a handmade filter, and so far I don't use any noise processing applications.

This is a picture of Orchard Park in State College Pennsylvania. The sun poked out bathing the area in some bright light and enhancing the contrast of this picture.

Park Original
Park Grayscale

 

Here is a photo of a local business at Rochester Technology Park. It was a sunny winter day, with some clouds in the sky, perfect for IR photography. There was a little snow on the ground too. This image is interesting because of the moire effect the building created. Also of interest is the different paneling on the building which is not readily obvious in the visible spectrum. In addition, I believe a plane is flying over the building. It shows up as a bright spot on the dark sky.

Rochester Tech Park
Rochester Tech Park Grayscale

 

This is just an interesting photo I took of a church on the way home. I'll probably photoshop out the power lines and do a little cropping. It is a good example how when a bright Infrared Light source (The Sun) is available, you pictures will turn out best.

Church Original
Park Grayscale

 


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