Full Spectrum/IR Camera Conversion, Canon Sx50

Introduction: Full Spectrum/IR Camera Conversion, Canon Sx50

About: i know how to make lots of stuff, and if i don't know how to make it ill find out and if i cant find out ill make it up myself.

I originally saw this type of photography on youtube and so i looked into doing it myself, at first it seemed relatively easy, that was until i realized that the exposure times were 4-10 seconds to get a decent shot. this was not really practical for some of the shots i wanted to take so i did some research and discovered that the hot mirror in front of a camera's sensor stops all infrared and most UV light so by taking this small glass plate out the camera would be able to pick up IR light and convert it into a colour image. this would allow the camera to have normal exposure times.

the difference between full spectrum and IR:

full spec allows all visible, IR and UV light to get to the sensor, this is the most practical as a filter can be screwed onto the lens to allow it to be specifically IR at different wave lengths, 590, 680, 720 and 850 are the most common. the higher the wavelengths the more black and white the image will be with 850nm+ being totally BW an adjustable IR filter can be used so that different wave lengths can be used with ease.


this is a risky project as you are removing the camera sensor and exposing it to dust, many other delicate parts of the camera will be exposed, continue at your own risk. having said that if you use a bit of common sense and do everything slowly with care it should go to plan.

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Step 1: Preperation

this is vital to the success of the project, remove the battery and memory card with the camera off.

get at least 4 separate containers for screws and a marker to label them.

clear a clean flat surface and make sure there is no dust or water at all!! place paper down if needed.

gather all tools required and lay them out


-small Phillips head screwdriver


-air blower

-something to pry open the case (i used a swiss army knife but this damaged the plastic slightly)

-a safety pin

-very clean plastic container with lid

Step 2: Remove Screws

unscrew all the visible screws on the camera body, there are two located under the rubber flap that covers the hdmi output on the side of the camera, remove these as well. make sure to remove the two screws under the flash (lift it up and they should be visible) there is a screw either side of the view finder don't forget to remove these. place all screws in a container and label-camera body- this will help with re-assembly

Step 3: Remove the Front of the Body

using something to pry open the case; gently open it until there is a gap, then holding the camera with one hand on the back and one on the lens, pull on the lens until the front casing comes off, this may take some time but just work your way around the seam with your tool until it gives way.

Step 4: Removing the Side Casing

while facing the lens of the camera, there will be a side panel on the right held in place by on silver screw that is located next to the flash, once removed the panel should lift off at the bottom and then slide from the top.

Step 5: Remove Back Casing

to remove the back panel the LCD screen must be flipped out. pull on the back until it pops off, this may require a tool to pry it away from the body. do not pull to hard as there is a ribbon cable attached to it, on the right hand side, once free you will be able to see the connection for the cable, lift the small flap that holds the cable in place and then pull on it to remove.(remove it from the camera body NOT the back casing)

Step 6: Top Panel Removal

now you should be able to see a small screw on the right hand side of the camera at the top next to the view finder, remove this.

flip the camera over so you are facing the lens, at the top next to the flash there will be a screw, undo this. just below the screw will be a ribbon cable this can be removed by simply lifting it up (tweezers my be needed to slip underneath and pop it off)

Step 7: Discharge Capacitor

now the capacitor will be visible you MUST discharge it, if it discharges while working on the sensor of the camera it will break it. the easy way to discharge is to get an analog volt meter and attach it to both terminals until discharged. the other way is by using a heavy duty capacitor and touching both terminals for about 10 seconds.

i cut the wires to mine because i didnt have a capacitor or volt meter on hand. i have read that this can short the camera so do not do this!!! luckily the camera had been sitting around for some time so the capacitor was empty.

Step 8: Remove Metal Plate

on the back of the camera there will be a metal plate covering the circuit board and sensor, this has 5 screws holding it in place one of these is longer than the rest, use a marker to colour it red or black and also the screw hole which it came from so there is no confusion when re assembling. place all these screws into a container labeled -inner metal plate-. remove the plate and place safely out of the way.

Step 9: Sensor Removal

this bit is tricky so make sure your work space is organised and clean (very clean, no dust AT ALL!!!)

there will be 3 screws holding the sensor in place, these screws have a dab of glue on them this will need to be chipped off CAREFULLY, use the air blower to remove fragments of glue. once most of it is removed get the safety pin and start scraping the screw heads to remove the glue from inside. start to unscrew the screws but only h\about half a turn each, if the screwdriver starts to slip stop immediately and scrape more glue away until screw turns. now with all the screws half turn loose, clean the area again and use the blower to clean the camera.

there will be a ribbon cable from the sensor to the mother board, this will lift off with tweezers, do not crush!!!

the sensor can now be fully unscrewed and the scews put in a separate container labeled -sensor-

now **carefully** lift the sensor up, it may need tweezers to lift it up as the glue will still be holding it, just make sure that the tweezers do not go to far under the sensor, 1-2mm should be enough. when the sensor comes free keep it face down while carrying it to prevent dust from settling, put it sensor side up inside a very very clean container and immediately place the lid on the container.

Step 10: Hot Mirror Removal

with the sensor removed there will be a piece of glass that looks red/pink/blue this is the hot mirror, it is held in by a rubber gasket type thing, this will lift off with some force with tweezers.

now the hot mirror will be accessible, remove with tweezers or finger it is no longer needed. if you are converting to only IR and not full spectrum you will need to copy the hot mirror to get a piece of IR glass the same size and place it where the hot mirror went. **if doing dedicated IR, place IR glass in and then start re assembly***

if converting to full spec (this allows IR with a filter, there isnt much point doing a dedicated IR conversion) there will be a super thin plastic gasket, this should be removed.

now you can start to re assemble, i actually forgot to put the rubber gasket back in but it hasnt effected the camera.

Step 11: Re Assemble

i wont go into detail but basically go in reverse, gasket, sensor, ribbon cable, metal plate, top panel (ribbon cable), back panel (ribbon cable), side panel front panel. go slow and think the process through.

i will update shortly with some more photos and tips on how to shoot IR. in the mean time please comment if you are unsure. if you used this instructable please click 'made this' or favorite. thank you for reading!

Step 12: Shooting Tips


when shooting IR remember bright sun light works best so from 10am-2pm gives best results.

you will have to edit your shots to make them look like some of the ones above, youtube has some great videos on how to do this.

set your white balance by pointing the camera at brightly lit grass and then set it from that.

thankyou. please comment if you have ideas or questions.

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    2 Discussions


    3 years ago

    After you do this mod, you can see through some black things like Coke and electronics enclosures. If you make an IR light by joining some IR LEDs together (the one you get from remote controls), using that you can also see in the dark with this camera. :)