Saturday, August 25, 2007

Modify the Sony 717 for IR -- Open the Camera Shell

This article shows you how to modify your Sony DSC-F717 camera to enable full infrared capability. The DSC-F717 (and some similar Cybershot cameras) can make nice infrared pictures using Nightshot mode, because in Nightshot mode, the internal IR blocking filter is moved out of the way. Unfortunately, the camera has been intentionally cripled by Sony in this mode so that you can only use full open aperture and shutter speeds below 1/60 sec. By permanently removing the internal IR blocking filter as described here, the camera can be used for infrared pictures in all modes, with no more limitations! You can use every camera mode, shutter speed, aperture, custom white balance, wide/tele converters etc. It's much easier to use than a dedicated IR-only DSLR! After the modification you can still use the camera for normal pictures, but for the best color (especially in sunny conditions) you will need an external IR blocking filter. The hot mirror replacement window and several types of infrared filters are available from (only for EU/euro customers).

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: proceed at your own risk. I am not responsible for any errors in the described procedure, or any problem or damage that might occur if you follow (or don't follow ...) the descriptions. I do not provide any support for this modification, answer questions about technical problems, or repair damaged cameras. Performing this modification will probably void your warranty (but most 7x7 cameras are out of warranty now anyway). If you buy a used 7x7 camera, check if the CCD image sensor is working. The DSC-F7x7 (like many other cameras with the same Sony 5 MPixel CCD) can suffer from CCD failure. This shows as occasional colored bands on LCD and picture, severely distorted image a bit like 'dripping paint' or no image at all. Until September 30, 2008 Sony will repair this image sensor defect for free.

(click on Thumbnail Images for Full Size view)

Tools. The modification requires a small nr.0 cross head screw driver, a small 1-2 mm flat head screw driver and flat pliers or other tool to remove/insert the very delicate ribbon cables. Using an antistatic wrist wrap is recommended. Use a box with some small compartments to store the small screws that you will remove from the camera. Work in a clean, dust free environment with plenty of working space. Depending on your skills it may be a good idea to wear surgical gloves to prevent getting fingerprints on optical components. The procedure does not require any soldering, cutting etc. If you have some experience with similar delicate modifications it shouldn't be difficult.

Check your camera. Before you start with the modification, check that your camera is working correctly (autofocus, infinity focus, exposure etc.). Also check what happens when you switch your camera ON/OFF and when you switch the Nightshot mode ON/OFF (e.g. how fast the LCD on the back lights up, the 'click' you hear from the blocking filter etc.). You need to know this for after the modification, in order to check if everything is OK. There are many opportunities for making mistakes, and knowing what is 'normal behaviour' of your camera will help you solve some potential problems (e.g. when the hot mirror gets 'jammed' the NightShot switch sounds different).

Remove battery. When you have read the complete procedure and have all the tools and the optical window for replacing the internal hot mirror available it's time to start. Before you make any changes, FIRST remove the internal battery.

Remove body shell screws A1-3. Remove screws A1, A2 and A3 that keep the right part (seen from photographer) of the lens assembly case in place. This is the part of the shell with the USB connector. It is NOT necessary to remove the flash connector.

Remove screws B1-3. Remove screw B1. You can now take the right side of the lens assembly shell off. Be gentle because it is still connected internally with a small ribbon cable. There is no need to remove screws B2/B3 yet, I recommend to do this later.

Remove screw F1. This is how the camera looks with the right side lens assembly cover removed. the cover is still attached to the camera with a small ribbon cable for the USB port. Remove screw F1 that fixes the zoom/focus ring to the lens assembly .

Remove USB ribbon cable.
Gently remove the USB ribbon cable from its connector. Use a special tool for removing or inserting these cables, they break easily!

Copyright Statement: All images and written materials published in this Guest Article Contribution are copyrighted and are the exclusive property of the author. Images and material may not be reproduced or used in any way without the written consent of the author.

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1 comment:

Species: Cheekius_Geekus said...

Thanks for the informative series of articles. Any chance that the missing photos to the articles can be restored?

I recently found a F717 for $10 (untested) at a thrift store. It works, but it is like something is not getting out of the way of the CCD during the exposure. The top third of the picture is black (but the whole LCD is fine in composing the shot). The dark top third shows in both the finder and the LCD when viewing the shot.

Is this something that might be fixable while I have it open? (If you are aware of what might be causing such a problem, I would appreciate any insights you can share. I am very interested in using this camera for infrared only.

Thanks again!