On Friday, I shared my musings about setting up a homebrew, full-spectrum game camera. Years ago, when we had a couple of 35mm cameras and a Polaroid in the house, we did happen through a couple of extremely cheapo digital cameras. At some point in time, Jennifer decided that she’d like something nicer. We wound up ordering an Olympus Stylus 600 for her.
This camera hasn’t been used in years, despite our best intentions. We cleared the XD card several weeks ago and found pictures from our last trip to Galveston, before it got blown away by the hurricane, just to give a little perspective. I’ve been wanting to try out a camera with no hot mirror filter, so I decided to hack into the Stylus (with Jennifer’s permission, of course). When I was a child, I was a creative yet hamfisted lad, and wound up ruining quite a few pieces of electronics in my attempts to mod them. Every time I tweak on my gear as an adult, I fear similar results. Even so, I pulled the sensor out of the Olympus:
And, I popped the filter off the sensor. From left to right, there’s the naked sensor, the hot mirror filter on its gasket, a bracket pad, and metal frame:
I got the camera all reassembled and confirmed that it functioned still, and took a couple of test pics:
Alright, so the color is a little off and the cat’s eyes are glowing quite brightly. This is hardly any unusual feat of photography. Hrm. I then did some test pictures in my bedroom with a black light. For reference, here’s my bedroom wall through my Nikon, lit only with the black light:
And then, here’s a similar frame through the modded camera:
It certainly sees more ultraviolet light than the other camera does! It’s safe to say that it’s picking up extra-human light ranges at this point. Full-spectrum camera plus black light and UV responsive materials equals psychedelic pictures:
As you certainly know, we’ve been having a stormy few weeks in Oklahoma, so I decided to see how the modded camera perceived our storm clouds in comparison to my Nikon. Here’s the skyline from the unmodded camera:
And in full spectrum:
The world goes from gray:
To a stunning display of pink, purple, and blue:
The real shock though, came when I took pictures of trees and other green plants.
Are those cotton candy trees? What looks like this in visible light:
Transforms to this when you allow for infrared capture:
As it turns out, chlorophyll reflects a lot of infrared.
So much so in fact, pretty much everything under the canopy is washed in its pink glow.
Here’s one of the roses in our garden:
And jalapeño blossoms:
When there isn’t much visible light available,
There’s still plenty of non-visible light to catch with the CCD sensor.
So, will this make for a great trail camera? It looks promising. Sadly, as cool as the little Stylus 600 was when new, it’s about a $10 ebay camera now. Even the homebrew camera people don’t support this one. It seems that it was always a little finicky about focusing, and never took the best pictures. When Jennifer upgraded to her Nikon P80, it was really because the Stylus took terrible product photos. As an experiment in full spectrum photography, I’m calling this a win so far.
I have ordered a used Nikon L14 which will be the basis on my new, full spectrum game camera. I have also ordered 100 ultraviolet LEDs and 1,000 infrared LEDs. My brother and I are going to put together some light arrays. I plan on doing the hot mirror hack to the L14 when it comes in and continue my experiment using artificial UV and IR lighting in conjunction with the full-spectrum Nikon as well as the Stylus. This whole project has been so much fun and has produced such fascinating images that I’m seriously considering picking up a used DSLR, hacking it with the full spectrum mod, and getting a handful of various lens filters for different effects. I’m not in a position to buy just yet, but I have tentatively shopped a few models. Anyone out there have an old D40 or D200 with a 18-55mm lens that you’d be willing to donate to the cause? If not, I will likely start saving my pennies for one.