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How to mod Olympus E-Pxx cameras?

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by tbyork2012, Apr 4, 2013.

  1. tbyork2012

    tbyork2012 Mu-43 Veteran

    213
    Nov 14, 2012
    Oxford, UK
    I have converted the Sony Nex-3 and Nex-5N in the past to full-spectrum, hence I was keen to mod the E-PM1 (and subsequently the E-PL5) to full-spectrum as well. Do be aware that to do so will void the Manufacturer's warranty, and there is always a risk of damaging the camera if you are not careful. Although the method described below has worked for me, I do not accept any responsibility for its use. Please only proceed with the mod if you are willing to accept full responsibility for any potential damage to your equipment.

    For the traditional method of modding the camera, you can look at the DIY section in the Lifepixel website, as that was where I first looked for how to mod the E-PM1 (is similar in construction to the older E-PL1).
    See: Life Pixel – Olympus E-PL1 DIY Digital Infrared Conversion Tutorial | LifePixel Digital Infrared Photography IR Conversion, Modification & Scratched Sensor Repair

    Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) for me 2 of the bottom screws were stripped off so I could not dismantle the camera during this process. Hence I had to find an alternative way of doing this. Hence the only way for me to mod my camera was from the front - in fact for me this is the safer way compared to the traditional method as there is no desoldering and resoldering required.

    What are the steps to the mod (it will be worth looking first at the Lifepixel DIY section to know what parts you are dealing with)?
    1) You have to break the dust-shaker filter, which is in front of the internal cut filter (ICF) and the sensor. The ICF will serve to protect the sensor from any scratches from the removal of the dust shaker. Ensure that all the glass pieces are removed before proceeding to the next step.
    2) There is a metal frame holding the ICF on the sensor, which needs to be removed (using a fine-nosed pliers or screw-driver to pry one corner of this frame off, which can then be pulled off completely). The ICF is still there to protect the sensor, so you are unlikely to damage the sensor (if you are careful not to crack the ICF).
    3) The ICF will now come out if you tip the camera to face downwards.

    The camera will now be fully sensitive to UV, IR as well as visible light. So to image in the different light spectrum, you will need the right filter. But be aware that the removal of the ICF will result in a change in the register distance for focusing, such that with certain lenses you will not be able to focus to infinity (e.g Panasonic 14/2.5, 12-35/2.8, Olympus 45mm f1.8). But it will focus to infinity with Olympus 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 ii, 75mm f1.8, Panasonic 100-300mm f4-5.6. If you would like to retain infinity focus with all lenses, you will need to buy a quartz filter of the right size and thickness (around 2.5mm thick) to replace the ICF.

    It should only take 5-15 minutes to complete the conversion and you potentially can save yourself $200 for the conversion.

    BT
     
  2. tbyork2012

    tbyork2012 Mu-43 Veteran

    213
    Nov 14, 2012
    Oxford, UK
    Photos of mod

    Just in case people think this was an April fool's joke, I thought I would show pics of how the mod was done on my E-PL5.

    Starting pic of E-PL5 (ICF and dust shaker still intact):
    8622269384_d57d233c1e_b_d.

    8621167705_51060c5c00_b_d.

    Dust-shaker cracked:
    8621168013_60ae4fb7d1_b_d.

    Most of dust-shaker glass removed (need to ensure the dust is cleared before attempting to remove the ICF):
    8622270252_a273d44521_b_d.

    Next is the removal of the black metal frame holding the ICF against the sensor:
    8621168559_9b93d009c8_b_d.
    8621168735_d684b5762d_b_d.

    Final image of E-PL5 without ICF:
    8622271062_b0a06e6015_b_d.

    BT
     
    • Like Like x 2
  3. homerusan

    homerusan Mu-43 Regular

    130
    Dec 25, 2012
    izmir, TURKEY
    holy s**t
    what treachery is this !?
     
  4. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    I'm speechless! :eek:
     
  5. Dave Jenkins

    Dave Jenkins Mu-43 Veteran

    Not me, Babe!
     
  6. tbyork2012

    tbyork2012 Mu-43 Veteran

    213
    Nov 14, 2012
    Oxford, UK
    I did mention before that this was not for the faint-hearted. I know this is very controversial and goes against the principles of good camera care. But the conversion company will take your camera apart anyway and void manufacturer's warranty, including desoldering and resoldering. By doing this myself (in under 15 minutes) I did manage to mod the E-PM1 and the E-PL5 to full-spectrum and save $400+ in the process; I did not feel like spending as much for the conversion as the price of the E-PM1. Both cameras have pristine sensors with no marks on them, and can image in infrared and UV.

    I did not think many people would do this, but this thread is just to let this community know that a full-spectrum camera is just a 'crack' away; perhaps this could be justified if your dust-shaker sustained a scratch and you did not want to pay to get it replaced.

    BT
     
  7. slothead

    slothead Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 14, 2012
    Frederick, MD
    Great stuff Boon! My first question is: If I am already taking IR (haven't attacked UV yet) with my unmodified EPL5 and EM5 with 720nm filters, do I really need to mod the camera sensor? And of course the second question: Once the camera is modified, how able is it to take normal visible light images? The third question: From what you have shown us, I would still not dive into my EPL5 (I wouldn't even touch my EM5) without more instructional material and mechanical drawings. What did you have that enabled your confidence in doing so? Do you have access to some detail drawings on the EPL5?
     
  8. janneman

    janneman Mu-43 Veteran

    414
    Dec 6, 2012
    Netherlands
    Jan (John) Kusters
    :eek: I think I will settle for the use of a tripod for the foreseeable future :smile:
     
  9. tbyork2012

    tbyork2012 Mu-43 Veteran

    213
    Nov 14, 2012
    Oxford, UK
    The infrared your unmodified sensor is recording is the little which the ICF does not block; the 720nm just refers to where it transmits at 50%, so the filter does still let light through below this wavelength (which is not true IR). But my favourite IR filter is the 665nm, which adds that bit of visible to the IR.

    To use for visible light, you will need to custom whitebalance with a UV/IR cut filter such as the B+W 486 UV/IR cut filter, or the even better Baader 2" UV/IR cut filter. I prefer to bring 2 cameras, one for visible and the other for invisible spectrum, so I do not need to do this.

    I practiced on the E-PM1 and found it very easy. Hence I took the plunge with the E-PL5 as the process was exactly the same, only even faster the second time round. I wasn't afraid of damaging the sensor as the ICF was protecting it; I did not mind damaging the ICF as I intended to remove it anyway. BTW, did I mention the E-PM1 does let through a little UV even unmodified?

    BT
     
  10. mjones41

    mjones41 New to Mu-43

    2
    Jun 24, 2012
    love to see examples

    BT do you have a link to some of your IR photos, a flickr, tumblr or similar?

    Thanks
    Matt
     
  11. kds315

    kds315 Mu-43 Regular

    149
    Apr 6, 2010
    Weinheim, Germany
    Very bold, but successful! How did you crack the dust shaker?
     
  12. tbyork2012

    tbyork2012 Mu-43 Veteran

    213
    Nov 14, 2012
    Oxford, UK
    I'm sure I have posted some IR on this forum. You may need to search for them. BTW, my E-PL5 can now focus to infinity with all native lenses, as I've placed a UV Fused-silica window in front of the sensor.

    Boon
     
  13. tbyork2012

    tbyork2012 Mu-43 Veteran

    213
    Nov 14, 2012
    Oxford, UK
    I used the flat-head screw driver of my Swiss Army knife at one corner to crack the dust shaker, by tapping on it a few times (perhaps with a small hammer). If you only use light force, it should not damage the ICF, and you will then be able to reuse it as a UV/IR cut filter for visible-light photos. As the ICF is fairly thick (just over 2mm), it should protect the sensor from being damaged by the mod process; I've done this with the E-PM1, E-PL5 and the E-M5 and not scratched any of the ICFs in the process.

    BTW, this is the only way to mod the E-M5 for full-spectrum as the magnets of the image stabiliser of the sensor make it too risky to mod the traditional way.

    Boon
     
  14. kds315

    kds315 Mu-43 Regular

    149
    Apr 6, 2010
    Weinheim, Germany
    OK, thanks Boon!