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UV-capable cameras

There are many UV-capable cameras available currently. Previously it was thought that only CCD cameras were UV-sensitive, but certainly with the new generation of CMOS sensors (many from Sony), this is no longer the case.

Many of the mirror less cameras can be converted for UV-imaging. Cameras from makers such as Panasonic, Olympus, Sony, Nikon and Canon, have been modified by removing the internal cut filter (ICF) as this filter blocks both UV and IR. There are professional companies which do these conversions for you, but this service does come at a price.

I have successfully modded the Sony NEX-3 and NEX-5N for full-spectrum, although this is a time-consuming process (typically 1.5-2 hrs); I have also helped a friend to mod his NEX-5N. The good thing about the NEX cameras, is that there is no need to replace the ICF to retain infinity-focus with native lenses. Hence I have not needed to buy a replacement filter window to replace it.

But I have found that some of the Olympus micro 4/3rds cameras are very easy to mod, although this process is not for the faint-hearted. I have successfully done this with the E-PM1, E-PL5 and E-M5 (this should also work with the E-PM2); but I don’t think this will work with the E-M1. And if you are careful, you can still retain the ICF for future use.

The downside is that if you intend to use native micro 4/3rd lenses with the modded camera, you will need to replace the ICF with an equivalent thickness filter window (best is Spectrosil 2000); otherwise it will not be possible to infinity focus with many native lenses. I have used Spectrosil 2000 in my E-PL5, as I can use this for IR and astrophotography as well.

When you bear in mind that a used Olympus E-PM1 will cost less than half the price of getting a camera modded to full-spectrum, you will understand why I did the mod myself.

Please do not follow this modding process unless you bear full responsibility for any potential damage you may cause to your camera, as I will not be held responsible for any such damage. Also be aware that this process will void any manufacturer’s warranty. But here is how I did it :

E-PL5 with intact ICF + dust shaker
E-PL5 with intact ICF + dust shaker

1) I broke the dust-shaker filter in one corner using a sharp instrument, and removed all the broken pieces from the camera.

Dust shaker broken
Dust shaker broken

2) I removed the metal clip-frame holding the ICF in ( by using a small flat-head screwdriver/small pen-knife to pry it apart in the corner)

Metal clip holding ICF in is prised away

3) I removed the ICF from the camera (it came out fairly easily when the camera was held facing down)

E-PL5 with ICF removed

4) As I was very careful, the ICF was scratch-free and has been adapted for use. The Olympus ICF is fairly thick (about 2.5mm) and hence protects the sensor during the modding.

The whole process took me under 10 minutes, and meant I did not have to take the camera apart, or desolder and resolder the grounding cable. It also means that the money saved can be used to purchase other pieces of equipment.