DIY Convert Lumix DMC-ZS3 for infrared or full spectrum photography

(May 4, 2021) Digital camera sensors are often sensitive to infrared (IR) or ultraviolet (UV) light. The manufacturers add filters to cut out that unwanted light in order to have sharp images. But some of us want to do other kinds of photography. The DMC-ZS3 was at one time a top end point-and-shoot camera and is still very good and available at very low cost, making it a good platform for experimenting with IR Conversions of digital cameras.

Shooting (pictures of) the moon with a digital camera

(April 14, 2020) Taking pictures of the moon is challenging because of the huge contrast between the dark sky, and the brightness of the moon. The automatic exposure calculation will be completely wrong causing the moon to be an over-exposed blob of light, plus the camera might have a hard time with autofocus. The trick is to remember (or learn) some old school tips and tricks, and to put the camera in fully manual mode so you can get things just right.

LCD replacement on Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS25 - partial teardown

(December 7, 2019) In this article I have two Lumix DMC-ZS25's, one with a broken LCD display, the other with "System Error (Zoom)". With luck both cameras can be fully restored, but to start I'll swap the good LCD display into the camera that is otherwise fine, and maybe later I'll work on the Zoom Error camera.

Install CHDK on Canon camera from Mac when Firmware Update does not show up in the menus

(December 5, 2019) CHDK is a tool for making a camera do pretty much anything. Instead of the prebaked functionality created by the camera manufacturer, CHDK is a geeks tool letting you write programs that run on the camera, or otherwise tweak any setting. At least that's what the project promised. I bought a cheap Canon PowerShot A4000 to try it out, but couldn't get the instructions to work. Turns out the solution was easy.

Extracting lens unit from Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS19 - partial teardown

(December 4, 2019) Panasonic Lumix point-and-shoot cameras have a frequent failure where the display shows System Error (Zoom), and the Lumix ZS19 shown here has that problem as well as a lens cover that doesn't work correctly. Thinking it might be possible to repair the lens, I set about doing this teardown. What I'll do in this article is show the teardown of the Lumix ZS19, the feasibility of converting it to be an infrared camera (full spectrum anyway), and at the end is a video showing how to repair a common failure mode of the ZS19 lens assembly. Everything shown here also applies to the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20, DMC-TZ27 and DMC-TZ30.

Complete fix for System Error Zoom on Panasonic Lumix cameras (DMC-ZS19)

(December 4, 2019) Panasonic Lumix point-and-shoot cameras have a frequent failure where the display shows System Error (Zoom). Most say that when a Lumix camera shows this error it's a goner, because the cost to repair is more than the camera is worth. I recently bought a Lumix ZS19 that turned out to have this problem, and after some diagnosis I came up with a theory of how to fix this issue. I am happy to report a successful repair that involved buying another Lumix ZS19, and merging parts of the lenses on the two cameras. This repair requires some skill, and took several hours.

Handling 'Memory Card Error' - memory card compatibility for older digital cameras

(November 30, 2019) Maybe you've bought a used digital camera, or unearthed one from a drawer, and want to check that it works. Eagerly putting a handy SD card into the camera you might get a message like "MEMORY CARD ERROR PLEASE CHECK THE CARD", and you get the same message no matter how many SD cards you try. The solution might be simple. Modern SD cards are not always compatible with older digital cameras. Let's talk about what to do if your digital camera gives such an error.

DIY Convert Canon SX530 to full spectrum and infrared photography

(November 8, 2019) Digital camera sensors are often sensitive to infrared (IR) or ultraviolet (UV) light. The manufacturers add filters to cut out that unwanted light in order to have sharp images. To do infrared photography requires removing that filter, the IR/Cut filter, allowing the digital camera sensor to see infrared light. Given the success I've had with a Lumix DMC-ZS3 converted to Infrared, I wanted a better camera for the purpose. I found a Canon Powershot SX530 and found that it would be possible to convert it for infrared photography. While it doesn't natively shoot RAW mode pictures, the CHDK firmware can add that ability plus a whole lot more. Further with an adapter you can attach filters to the front of the SX530, making it far more suitable for infrared photography than the ZS3.

Editing infrared photos with Graphic Converter, Gimp and the like

(November 5, 2019) An infrared picture straight out of the camera usually has a strong pink overcast, and you're probably thinking "I paid how many dollars to convert a camera to get garbage pictures like this?" After quite a bit of studying and learning, I'm finally getting the hang of making interesting-looking pictures with simple photo editing tools (like Gimp or Graphic Converter) from pictures taken with a converted infrared camera. There are some simple techniques like swapping the red and blue channels which are widely recommended, but that's just the start and of course photo manipulation programs have a zillion options to explore.

How to replace the rear LCD display of a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100

(October 22, 2019) Digital camera's with a rear display that flips out to any angle are cool, but doesn't it mean the display is more prone to break? What do you do when the display panel on your digital camera breaks? Do you throw up your hands in resignation to having to buy a new camera? Or that it will be an expensive repair at a camera shop? In this article we'll show you how, in a half hour or so, to replace the display panel on a Lumix DMC-FZ100 camera.

The history of infrared photography

(September 28, 2019) How do we discover the existence of invisible things? Some claim ghosts exist, but none of us can see them. Similarly infrared light cannot be seen by our eyes, but it is now known by scientists that visible light and infrared light are only a small part of a broad spectrum of "light" phenomena.

How to convert a cheap digital camera into a night vision camera

(September 26, 2019) If you have an old digital camera gathering dust in a corner, you can easily convert it into a night vision camera. The difficulty level is generally easy, but does depend on how the camera you choose is built.

Shooting infrared photography at night, or by moonlight

(September 15, 2019) Most infrared photos are shot during the daytime when there is lots of light available, including infrared light from the sun. The core of any kind of photography is capturing light, so we have to think about capturing infrared light. Therefore successful night-time infrared pictures are scenes containing infrared light. For instance urban lighting has an infrared component, and it is possible to buy or build infrared illuminators which can light up a scene.

How to detect if your camera can see infrared light

(September 13, 2019) What if you could take infrared pictures just by screwing on an IR filter? While most digital cameras have built-in filters to block infrared light, some do not. That makes infrared photography possible simply by attaching an IR filter, rather than undergoing a conversion process.

What is infrared photography, and what is it used for

(September 10, 2019) Infrared photography is a portal into an invisible world that's in front of our eyes but which we cannot see. Our eyes see only a portion of the light spectrum (from red to purple). While most digital cameras can see the infrared spectrum, in most cases the camera must be slightly modified to remove the filter which blocks infrared light. With infrared photography the sky is dark, the grass and any other plants are white, and it's like seeing a bizzaro other-world that's opposite the world we inhabit.