DC280 Conversion to an Infrared Only Digicam
February 5TH, 2008
I have been able
to purchase several Kodak DC280 cameras off ebay for the somewhat
reasonable price of $18 to $25. If you pay much more for them you
are getting ripped off. Early Kodak cameras, when they first came
out where quite expensive, and had a terrible user interface (in
my opinion). They are however built pretty sturdy, and are a breeze
to modify, for someone skilled in optics, and works well with a
small screwdriver. So far I have successfully modified 3 DC280
necessarily mean this is easy though. 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 $49
to $99 new. Why would someone pay $45 for a camera from 2000?
The Kodak DC280
is a bulky, but very sturdy camera. It takes 4 AA Batteries, has
a reasonable sized LCD screen with a brightness adjustor, does
not take video, and has crummy resolution on the LCD screen. Its
a solid camera, and quite suitable for Infrared Conversion. Suggest
retail price in 1999 was in the $600 price range.
start with, here's a few shots of the outside of the camera.
first step is to remove all the external screws on the camera.
There are 12 screws to remove. Two on the left and right
sides (the side with the wrist strap has 2 longer screws).
Two on the camera back. And 6 on the bottom (2 of them are
under the battery door).
two middle screws, the ones around the tripod mount on the
camera bottom are longer than
the others. Take care to set these aside.
to the right shows the two larger screws on the camera strap
side of the camera. Make sure you remember these so you can
put them back. Don't forget to remove the two screws under
the battery door, or you'll be surprised when you try and pull
the body apart.
the body is a little tricky, but not too bad. The body will
come apart into three pieces. The front of the camera will
hold the lens and electronics. The bottom of the camera will
come off as a separate piece, and the back of the camera
will remain connected to the camera by a blue ribbon cable.
Be careful not to pull to hard on the back panel, as you
don't want to wreck this ribbon cable.
the back of the camera, you will need to pull open the A/V
output plugs on the camera side so that the hard plastic
exterior can slide off. When you have wiggled the back slightly
off, I recommend pulling the battery door out and remove
the bottom plastic piece, it should slide right out.
to gently pull the back off, and flip it over to allow you
to work, as shown on the left.
is located on the camera body's left side. The CCD Sensor is
directly in front of you on the camera back. The picture at
right shows the two screws that will need to be removed, and
ribbon cable to unhook to expose the CCD and IR Blocking Filter,
or Hot Mirror. The square block on the circuit board should
pop up vertically, use a finger, or flat head screw driver
to gently nudge it up.
the two black screws pointed to in the picture. There are
a few black tabs that also hold the CCD steady, so gently wiggle
the ribbon assembly backward and it should slide right out
exposing the Hot Mirror and CCD.
touch the CCD ever. You'll probably never be able to remove
your greasy fingerprints, and you'll have ruined a useful
mirror should be held in place by a small rubbery square.
This is a buffer between the IR Filter and the CCD. Its not
really needed when we are done, but if you can ring your
home made filter in the rubber it can't hurt. I use a small
flathead screwdriver to pry the hot mirror out, which I set
aside in case I want to convert back to a standard camera.
at right shows the hot mirror being removed. The IR Blocking
Filter is quite thick, so be sure you have some replacement
glass to fill back in, or else your images will be out of
1 piece of glass about the thickness of a microscope slide.
I cut and ground it down to fit the chiseled square it was
removed from. Then inserted two pieces of developed film
negative, and placed a second piece of glass behind it.
the glass a good cleaning before inserting it. Plus a blast
of compressed air. The negatives I am extremely careful not
to touch. Then a blast to the CCD because it will have dust
on it, I seal it up, and tadah! Instant IR Camera.
Here are some
sample photos I took with some of the DC280 cameras I have modified
first image shows two things. First it is an image from the
camera with the Hot Mirror removed,
and no replacement filter put in place. This means the sensor
receives all visible light, as well as the visible infrared
light we are trying to capture. Its interesting because it
gives the picture a red tone, as the sensor is being overloaded
with wavelengths from the red and infrared side of the spectrum.
notice this image is blurry, that's because I didn't replace
the depth of glass that was removed with the hot
mirror. In fact I went in to add a single piece of glass
and it wasn't enough to fix the blur. I had to add two pieces
until I got the thickness correct.
with no hot mirror or any kind of filter are useful because
you can use the cameras for multiple image types by varying
the lens attachments you put on them. It can be a visible
light camera by putting an IR Blocking Filter
on. Or an IR camera by putting a visible blocking filter
image shows a scene with the correct glass depth. Unfortunately
the sun was not out to provide me with a large amount of
infrared source light, but you get the idea, its reddish.
is an infrared image taken of a house. The purple tint is
caused by the filter that blocks out the visible light from
the CCD. To really see the beauty of the image it is best
to view it in black and white, as the infrared wavelength
has no color associated with it.
is the same image grayscaled and with contrast adjusted.
It shows what IR photography has to offer. Enjoy.