My Experiments with Digital IR Cam

Jaggermax

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I placed my cam in the only good spot I knew of where I knew I would get pictures of deer.  The problem is that it is 50 miles from my home and there are no film developers around that area.  Like most of you, most of the time I cannot wait to develop the pictures and I am tired of having to spend days waiting to get them developed.  I WANT THEM NOW!!   I sit in bed at night tossing and turning trying to guess what is on that roll of film.  Also, here in South Mississippi, almost all of the land is public and I am surprised the flash on my cam has not alerted anyone to come steal it.  

Therefore, I have been wanting to play around with a nightime digital IR camera setup.  My intentions are to build a cam which needed no flash for nightime pictures, and also one that has an LCD screen and removeable memory.  I borrowed a Olympus CAMEDIA 2.1 MP Digital Camera from work and have been playing around with it for the past week.  

I first tested to make sure the camera would detect IR light by pointing a TV remote at the camera while viewing the remote through the LCD screen.  Sure enough, the LED would light up in the LCD screen.  I then built a quick 7 LED high output IR array to use as a simple spotlight.  I turned the array on and turned out the lights in the room.  I then took a picture of the room in total darkness without the flash or the lcd display turned on.  I downloaded the picture and could not believe the detail of the picture.  I could make out every item in the room!  I guess this is exactly how the Game-Vu operates.  

However, the Olympus camera I used runs about $400 which is to steep for my blood.  I am going to purchase a Poloroid 1200 camera this weekend and start to build a cam around it.  I also saw a neat little 640 x 480 digital camera on EBAY which I may buy and try.  It is called the "Stealth Black" and sells for about $25.  For that price I can buy two or three and simply change out the camera whenever I check the cam.  The only problem is that it does not have a flash (which is not needed if it can detect the IR "Spotlight") or removeable memory.  Still, the price is great.  I will keep you all posted on this project as I continue to work on it.  
 

Possum

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Keep us informed about this experiment.   I'm very interested.  Do all digitals detect IR light?
 

Jaggermax

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Actually Possum, most higher end digital cameras do not.  From what I have read on the web, most, but not all higher end cameras (2.5 mega pixels and above) have an IR filter build into the lens which blocks IR light.  For a night cam, you actually want the IR light to come through, since that is what you are "bouncing" off the deer and or other animals.  

You can easily tell if a camera will detect IR light by simply aiming a TV remote control at the camera and then taking a picture in the dark.  If you see a light in the picture when you down load it, then the camera indeed passes the IR light which is what we want. For the ones with the LCD screen on the back, you can actually watch the IR Led in the remote light up while looking at it with the LCD display in the camera.  Here are some good links to learn more about IR photography.  

http://www.cliffshade.com/dpfwiw/ir.htm
http://www.echeng.com/photo/infrared/
http://www.uws.com/Blades_SF_3DL.html
http://www.rit.edu/~andpph/text-agfa-1280-ir.html
 

gizz

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I will be following this thread (lurking) closely as i'm interested in what you pioneers are up to now. Keep us posted please.
gizz
 

Archilochus

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Hi Jaggermax,
Excellent info!  I've been too chicken to tear into a digital cam yet.  The cost of a good digital cam and a camcorder being about the same, I've been tempted to skip the whole digital cam idea and get into video.

I've been concerned about the operating temp range of digital and video cams - any specs on the cams you're trying??

Archilochus
 

Jaggermax

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Yea Arch, I have been reluctant to tear into a high dollar digital cam like Brian did with the Elf.  At around 300-400 buck a pop, it's a little risky for me.  I too am a little worried about the temperature range of the digital cams.  However, being in South Mississippi where our winters rarely get below freezing, I don't think I am going to have much of a problem.  

The downfall of using a digital camera with a built in LCD display for viewing is that the display does not hold up well in cold weather.  The operating temperature of almost all of them I have looked at are about 40-90 degrees F.  However, the storage temperature of them is a little wider, around 20-110 degrees F.  

I have two cams ordered off of ebay, a MN410 and a Relysis.  Neither have an LCD readout because I am sure the LCDs on the digital cams will not survive the winter.  However, it looks like all of the other components on the camera including the CMOS image sensore will work well with no worry about temperature ratings.  The Relysis cost me $40 and has a removeable flash card and looks to be a neat little camera.  I got my fingers crossed!
 
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