Last Updated on 07/11/2019 by Mark Beckenbach
This camera conversion project for infrared photography is not for the faint of heart.
Infrared photography is one of the most popular creative styles for both film and digital, but for the latter, you’ll need to have a camera modified specifically for this purpose. If you’ve ever been curious about how cameras are converted to enable them to shoot in infrared, fortunately, there are brave and experienced photographers like Davin Lavikka who show how it’s done.
If you’ve been interested in digital infrared photography, surely, you must have come across some resources saying you’d have to get your camera modified. In his near 30-minute video below, Lavikka shows us how it’s done by replacing the UV filter of his Sony A7r with a clear ultraviolet filter from Kolari Vision to give it the full spectrum. It did come with a warning, though — don’t try this at home!
Everything looks stressful as hell, and halfway through the tedious dismantling you begin to wonder if he’ll be able to put all those pieces back together. Aside from showing us the ribbon cables, circuit boards, and connectors that comprise a Sony A7r camera’s guts, Lavikka explains what certain parts and components do — akin to a biology lesson for digital cameras!
By the 18:30 mark (and having taken apart around 80% of the camera) he finally makes it to the sensor. He shows us a small bit sticking out that will be disconnected because it won’t be used anymore, then proceeds to tell us that on top of the sensor sits another filter stack, known as UV cut filter, Color correction filter, UV block filter, Sensor filter, Lowpass filter, IR cut filter, or Hot mirror. That needs to come off too. After swapping that with the Kolari Vision filter, next comes the equally stressful process of assembling everything back together. And yes, it worked!
So yeah, converting a digital camera into full spectrum for infrared photography is no easy task! If you want to get yours modified, definitely have it done by a qualified technician — or even the folks from Kolari Vision, as they offer conversion services as well.
Screenshot image from the video by Davin Lavikka