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Nikon D80 Infrared Conversion

Sep 07 2010 Published by under Photography

My infrared D60 served me well, but a recent accident involving a kayak and the beautiful waters of Georgian Bay left it inoperable. My primary colour camera is a D80, so it seemed natural to get the same one to convert to IR. It turned out to be a lot easier to deal with than the D60. There are no wires to desolder, and fewer screws and ribbons to undo. As long as you have the IR filter cut to the proper size and ready, you can be in and out within 10 minutes.

First, lets start with the necessary tools and equipment:

  • the D80 (naturally)
  • the IR filter, no larger in size than the original filter (which is 30x32mm). Mind that sensor size is 28x20mm and the filter overlaps it
  • #00 Philips screwdriver (even better if you have a special screwdriver for Japanese electronics; it’s very similar to a Philips, but slips off the screw less easily and provides a better grip on those tiny screws)
  • a lint free cloth

On the outside case, there are only four screws to undo. Two on the left side near the cable inputs:

Another two on the right, near the SD card slot:

Once these are out, you can lift off the back cover with the LCD. Be very gentle with it, there are a few places where it would need to snap off as you pry it open. Don’t pull too quickly, as theLCD is still attached to the main body by a ribbon cable, which may get ripped if pulled too far.

Once the LCD back is off, you’ll see a protective metal plate that covers the main board. Take out the six screws holding it and take it off.

Next, you need to take out one more screw and three ribbon cables attached to the main board. Taking out the LCD ribbon cable is not necessary, but it’s very easy to do and will reduce the chance that it will get pulled and damaged.

Now you need to lift the main board and place it vertically like in the photo below. I used some tape on it to prevent it from bending back down. Be careful as you handle it to avoid damaging the wires soldered next to the large ribbon cable at the bottom. It’s not fun soldering them back on it they break.

With the main board up like that, you can now see the CCD chip’s board. Take out the three screws that connect it to the body.

You can now lift off the CCD board in the same manner as you did with the main board – very gently! Place them both horizontally with the CCD facing up so that you can work on it. What you are really seeing here is not the CCD itself, but the IR blocking filter over the CCD. Touching it (getting it dirty) at this point will not affect your IR photos as you will remove it anyway.

There are now another four screws that you need to undo (the last ones, I promise).

Take off the metal frames that are used to secure the filter  over the CCD. There are two, one over another:


Now you can finally take out the IR blocking filter and place your own, R72 (or whichever you picked) filter instead. Be sure to wipe your filter clean with a lint free cloth before putting it on.

Put the frames back on and repeat all the disassembly instructions in reverse to put your camera back together.

Make a few test shots, set the custom white balance and go shoot some great IR photos!

Tips

  • If your IR filter is a little too big, you can use 80-100 grit sand paper to sand the edges down to appropriate size. Be careful not to sand near a disassembled camera or food items, as the fine particles of glass will get everywhere. Also, be gentle with the filter surface because these same fine glass particles can create permanent scratches on the filter that will be visible on your high f-number photos. You can wipe the dust with a lint free cloth, but you cannot easily get rid of scratches.
  • To set a custom white balance easily: attach your longest lens to the camera, then with the camera in shooting mode with no image on the main LCD, hold the WB button near the main LCD and turn the wheel under your thumb until “PRE” is displayed in the white balance section of the secondary LCD. Keep holding the button until “PRE” is flashing. Point the camera at any plant or vegetable you have. Get close to it, as if taking a closeup, but focus manually at infinity. Press the shutter button and make sure the secondary LCD has a message “Good” flashing. Take some regular shots to confirm that it really is good.

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