Montana Ghost Hunter

Build a simple IR (infrared) illuminator

by on May.16, 2009, under Equipment

p5140010In a previous post I converted a digital camera to be a infrared digital camera. This allows you to take some very cool photos, and you can utilize ‘night shot’ can capture still images in the dark. To do this, you’ll need a IR light source, the built in flash will be useless.

Various video cameras have night shot IR and I was initially testing the ability of the digital camera to see in the dark using the beam from my video camera. You can purchase various IR illuminators, but I knew there had to be some simple DIY (Do It Yourself) techniques to do this.

After Googling for a bit I found various techniques where you can create a filter for a normal flashlight and create a large IR beam to illuminate a room.  I was able to create a very effective IR illuminator and I’m more than happy to demonstrate how I did it.

The entire project cost around $35 dollars including the purchase of gels and flashlight. I have enough gels to convert several flashlights as well as a few filters for another camera project I’m working on.

Okay, here is what you’ll need to get to convert a flashlight into a IR illuminator:

Flashlight – I used a Brinkmann 6 volt Krypton Lantern. You can purchase this for about $6 at Walmart, etc. I wanted something with a large beam. My goal is to fill a room with IR light.

Congo Blue Gel Lighting Filter (Rosco #382). You can purchase this at B&H here

Red Gel Lighting Filter (Rosco #27). You can purchase this at B&H here

Here is a photo of the flashlight I purchased for this project so you can get a sense of what type of torch I was looking for


This particular flashlight had a adjustable stand. This could be quite useful for setting up shots . Here is a view of that light with the stand.


Unscrew the lens assembly (this is will expose the battery area).


Next take out the reflector. This piece just lays inside the lens assembly. No work at all to pull this out.


I then used the reflector as a template to cut out the gel shapes. I laid the reflector on top of my sheets and used a exacto knife to cut out gels. I cut four congo blues and two reds for a total of six gels.


Next lay the gels into the lens assembly. Order does not matter. You might want to experiment with the gels, adding additional red or cutting back gels altogether. For now, the six gels seem to be quite effective. Make sure your gels are not too small, you don’t want any unfiltered light to escape.


Return the reflector back in it’s place. This will secure the gels.


Looking back at the flashlight from the lens face, it should look similar to this


Turning on the light, you will see a reddish glow. Pointing it in the dark you should see a small red light. Test your light with a IR sensitive device, either a video camera with night shot or with a converted digital camera.


Good luck with this project. Let me know how your results are, and if you have any tips or recommendations to improve this!

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