Poor Man's Cell Phone IR Filter




About: I've never had much, so I try to do the most with what I have. Most of the time that means breaking stuff...

IR photography is fun. However, getting a proper IR filter (technically a visible light filter but whatever) for your camera can be a pain, especially if you only have a point and shoot, or in my case, a cell phone. Sticking true to my "Poor Man's" philosophy of using only things I have around the house to make this, all that is required are 4 things:

*A cell phone (obviously with a camera on it)

*A case that fits snugly on said cell phone

*A floppy disk

*A pair of scissors


IR photography requires an immense amount of sunlight (or IR lights) to properly expose shots. That being said, do not look into the sun, with or without the filter on your phone.

*This isn't technically a true IR filter. However, for the price it does the job well enough. 

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Step 1: Camera Check

The first and most important step of this is to check that your camera does not have a good IR Blocking filter in it. Most cameras do, but they are cheap and only meant to filter out IR from visible light pictures. Some cameras have very good ones, which block nearly all IR light, and this filter won't do anything if yours is one of those.

So how do you know if your camera has a blocking filter? Turn the camera on, get a remote control of some kind (TV/DVR/etc etc...), point the end of the remote with the IR LEDs in it (the end you point towards whatever you are trying to control/the end that has little LED bulbs on it) towards the camera lens, and press buttons. You should see them light up (probably purple). If you don't see anything, make sure the remote isn't dead and that you are pressing a button. If you still don't see anything, then you have a good camera and unfortunately the only way to continue is to take it apart. If you do see them light up, congrats! You have a camera capable of taking IR pictures.

Step 2: Break Your Floppy

Take your floppy disk and flex it between your hands until you hear a crack. This will release the adhesive holding the two halves together, allowing you to obtain the actual disk from inside. This is what we are after.

Step 3: Assemble Your Filter

Using your scissors, cut a small piece from the floppy that is large enough to completely cover the opening for your phone's camera on the case. Position it in the bottom of the case over the opening, and insert your phone. You are now done.

Step 4: Photographing in IR

You will notice that when you attempt to use the camera now, you more than likely can't see anything. That is because the film from the floppy disk blocks most visible light coming through it. If you hold it up and look through it, chances are you won't see anything. What it does allow through is IR light. The sun gives off most of the IR you will use to take pictures, but other things such as IR LEDs, lightbulbs, fires, and heating elements from stoves give off IR light as well. This being said, in order to get a proper exposure you will likely need to be outside on a sunny day, and if possible, set your exposure to +1 or +2. 

Some of the best things to shoot in IR are plants. They reflect IR very well. The color of the film will come through in your IR pictures, so shooting in black and white makes for great pictures in IR.

Above are some examples of things photographed with this IR filter on my HTC Rezound. The first is a 60w equivalent daylight CFL, and the second is outside on a cloudless day at about 2pm. You can see how much light you lose putting the filter on, so remember to shoot with as much light as you can. I didn't bother doing any post-processing with these pics, but a little touch up can definitely help.

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    9 Discussions


    3 years ago

    oculus said this is how you fix your cam lens


    4 years ago on Introduction

    This also works really well with the BP104 photodiode (IR sensor). The sensor was being saturated by natural light, so any IR signal was unnoticeable, but with my new floppy disk light filter it works perfectly. Thanks!


    5 years ago on Introduction

    So I see all these instructibles everywhere that talk about removing the filter from the camera lens. And others saying to place film (or a disk) over the lens to block visible light, but say nothing about removing the filter. I have had very cheap, and very expensive digital cameras and cell phones, and I don't think I've ever seen one that does not light up when a remote is pointed at it and buttons pressed. So, anyone? Whats the deal on removing the filter IN the lens?

    1 reply

    Many new cameras apparently have an IR filter to help clean up the image (and supposedly prevent unwanted thermal imaging), however if you block visible light, and the camera already has an IR filter -> then the resulting image will be of nothing since both spectra would be removed. If you are seeing the remote lights then you don't have to worry though...


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Another filter option is if you have some developed negatives. The darkest areas (say, near the ends where it may have been exposed directly to daylight during loading) are said to make usable IR-pass filters.

    Yes, it works fine. In my cell phone I can't see anything except the sun, but with my camera the photos are ok.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I can't be alone in being totally confused when I first saw the title of this post. On reading I then understood that you meant a filter that allowed only IR through and blocked visible light. May I suggest renaming the 'ible to something like "How to take IR photos with cell phone camera" or "Easy IR mod to cell phone camera"..?




    7 years ago on Introduction

    For a lot of phones (mine works perfectly) the battery cover covers the entire back of the phone, so the "filter" can be put on without a case, held over the camera by the pressure of the backplate.

    1 reply

    Yea mine does too, however there are phones like my old one (Droid 2) where the battery cover only covers the battery, so I figured I'd cover everyone.