Having decided not to go to the expense of having one of my DSLR’s converted to shoot infrared, instead, I decided to have a go at doing a conversion myself. The camera I had chosen to convert was the Nikon Coolpix 995. Although these cameras were quite expensive in their day you can pick them up relatively cheaply on e-bay. Because I’d never attempted anything like this before, I was reluctant to pay too much for my 995. I set myself a messily budget of just 50 quid, not a lot of cash granted, but enough if it all ends up in the dustbin! Like I said, I’ve never done this before. . .

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The Coolpix 995 I won on e-bay set me back just over 30 quid and to my surprise was in pretty good condition. It came with 2 new batteries, a leather case and the manual, none of which I was expecting for £30.50 pence! In fact, it was in such good condition it was a shame to dismantle it.

The reason for dismantling the camera is to remove the infrared blocking filter, known as the hot mirror. With the hot mirror removed the CCD inside the camera will be sensitive to light-waves up to about 900nm. Because Infrared wavelengths start just beyond the deepest reds of the spectrum at 700nm we need to block out all light-waves below that figure. To do this we replace the hot mirror filter with a 720nm infrared filter. Once this has been done the camera will be just as sensitive to IR wave-lengths as it was to normal light before.

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Dismantling the camera is pretty straight forward, once you know where the screws are! In fact, only eight screws hold the body casing together with only another two screws holding down the circuit board, located just above the sensor.

The hot mirror is held in place by means of a square rubber grommet, you will need to remove the hot mirror and use as a template to cut your IR filter too. Note: your new IR filter must be the exact same size as the hot mirror filter it is replacing. Once this has been done re-assemble the camera in reverse order and make a few test shots to see if all went according to plan?

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Now! All that sounds pretty straight forward, but it did take me almost four hours to do my conversion, simply because I had no previous experience. If I had to do another 995 conversion I reckon I could do it in under an hour, no sweat!

As for the results, well they’re pretty amazing too. By setting up a custom white balance in camera you will remove most of the red cast caused by the filter and your images will become almost monochromatic, reminiscent of those taken on high speed infrared film.

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The beauty of digital infrared is that you can process them in many different ways depending on your mood at the time. However, the best thing for me is I now have a full converted IR camera, which cost less than 50 quid and I don’t have to carry a tripod around with me every time I want to shoot IR.

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Copyright © John Powell BPE3 . All Rights Reserved

Just one word of warning! If you decide to have a go and convert your own digital camera don’t blame me if it goes horribly wrong! I took a risk and it paid off. Nevertheless, if you value your camera and you don’t want to lose it, have it converted by a pro!

Larger and more detailed images can be seen by visiting my Flickr Photostream . .