This week I modded my Kodak EasyShare CX4230 digital camera to record infrared light. Since I couldn’t find a guide for this type of camera my first attempt involved careful prying and the removal of several screws that weren’t important to this mod. As a consequence there is a possibility that I’ve left out some steps or added extra ones in this guide.
First, some words of caution. Since I modded my camera it doesn’t zoom properly and has a tendancy to power off when the lense is zoomed to the maximum. This is probably a result of man-handling the lense assembly as I was attempting to figure out how to get to the filter (or when I attempted to add a visible-light filter). Next, the quality is much less than it was prior to the mod. Lastly, the camera seems to have difficulty focusing, especially at the lowest zoom setting, which is probably directly related to the first issue.
Now that you’ve been warned, here are the details.
Small Philips-Head Screwdriver (with a narrow tip, magnetic is recommended)
Small Flat-Head Screwdriver (such as the kind in eyeglass repair kits)
Small Needle-Nose Pliers
Exposed Film Negatives
A small philips-head screwdriver with a narrow tip will remove every screw in and on the camera. A magnetic screwdriver will make it easer to put certain screws back into place durring assembly. A flat-head screwdriver is recommended for prying the case open and removing the filter and padding. The needle-nose pliers are convenient when a screw is unscrewed but is difficult to extract completely. I highly suggest that you use an empty container to store your screws and other parts in.
The exposed film negative will be used to block visible light. If you’d prefer that your camera display visible and infrared light then you won’t need the film. I added the film on top of the lense, which can be done with the camera body assembled.
I purchased the camera a couple of years ago and it’s worked very well since then. However, I have easy access to higher-quality digital cameras and I wanted to try a new modding project.
To begin remove one screw from the side of the camera and five screws from the bottom. I don’t have photos of these screws but they’re easy to spot.
Next, open the battery compartment and remove the batteries. You’ll notice a single screw in the side. Remove the screw.
Next, move on to the SD slot. Open the cover and remove a card if one is inserted. Then, remove the two screws. This is where the pointed tip on the philips-head screwdriver will come in handy as the heads of these screws are very small. I had difficulty with one of the screws and realized it was unscrewed after a few turns but required the use of the pliers to remove it.
The bottom is now unscrewed. Simply take the flat-head screwdriver and pry the edges of the bottom away from the case. Be careful near the battery door as there is a small plastic arm on the bottom that reaches into to the front of the case. Removing it carefully and at an angle will cause it to unlatch. It may take a bit of maneuvering to remove. It may be slightly easer to remove if you take the battery compartment cover off first.
The next step is to simply pry off the front of the camera, once again using a flat-head screwdriver. Then, you’ll remove two screws in the back of the case. This should allow you to separate the camera from the rear of the case.
Flip the camera over and look at the board beneath the lense housing.
After this step you should be able to seperate the sensor from the lense. Pull gently to seperate a connector but don’t pull two hard as there are two or three wires that are soldered to other parts. Your goal is to create enough room to remove the filter, but not to seperate the board from the rest of the components.
At this point you should see the filter on top of the sensor. Carefully use the flat-tip screwdriver to pull up the black padding the filter rests on.
The next step may not be necessary and I did not actually do it the first time I opened the camera. I removed the filter and padding but later decided to reopen the camera and place the padding back into place thinking it may have affected the focal length of the lense. However, I haven’t noticed in improvement by leaving the padding in place.
Finaly, just reassemble the camera. The results so far have been different than I expected. Sometimes the image is mostly a red hue and other times it is more of a gray-scale, which seems to depend on the zoom and the lighting.
I filter out some (maybe even most) visible light by adding a piece of exposed film negative between the lense and a piece of plastic above the lense. I tried inserting it between the metal cover above this piece of plastic but the metal cap won’t stay on. To do this I popped off the metal cover on the top of the lense and removed two screws from the plastic piece above the lense and then sandwiched the piece of film between the lense and the plastic. Note that it has to be just slightly large enough to cover the exposed lense area. If it’s too big it will prevent the plastic from touching the lense properly, which will cause the plastic to jut out slightly and prevent the metal cap from fitting properly.
I regret that I was rough with the camera and have yet to see a good photo to really make this project as worthwhile as I hoped it would be. However, it was an interesting experience and on the second time I worked on the camera I didn’t have any left over screws. The benefit to adding the film between the plastic and the lense is that I didn’t have to try placing the filter directly over the sensor and it can easily be removed.
Adjusting the Exposure Comp to -2.0 seemed to improve the quality but unfortunatly the camera seems to loose the setting once it is powered down. I don’t have any sample photos yet.