Scaredy Cat Films

Kodak 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 Digital Cameras.

That doesn't 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.

To start with, here's a few shots of the outside of the camera.

Camera Front
Camera Back

Camera Front

Camera Back Camera Bottom
Camera Top
Camera Output Ports
Strap
Camera Top Camera Output Ports Camera Wrist Strap

Step 1:

Remove Bottom Screws

The 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).

The two middle screws, the ones around the tripod mount on the camera bottom are longer than the others. Take care to set these aside.


The picture 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. More Screws

Step 2:

Removed Back Of Camera

Removing 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.

To remove 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.

Then continue to gently pull the back off, and flip it over to allow you to work, as shown on the left.


The LCD 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.

Next remove 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.

Do not touch the CCD ever. You'll probably never be able to remove your greasy fingerprints, and you'll have ruined a useful digital camera.

Camera Electronics

Step 3:

Exposed Hot Mirror

The hot 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.


The picture 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 focus.

I used 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.

I gave 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.

The Lens

Sample Photos:

Here are some sample photos I took with some of the DC280 cameras I have modified

No Filters

This 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.

You'll 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.

Cameras 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 on it.


This 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.

No Filter, Proper Focus

IR Picture, No Processing

This 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.


This is the same image grayscaled and with contrast adjusted. It shows what IR photography has to offer. Enjoy.

Black and White IR Photo


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