Make An Infrared Camera for Aerial Mapping / Remote Sensing

Make An Infrared Camera for Aerial Mapping / Remote Sensing

(Note: this is a “near-infrared” camera and does not show heat.)

We’ve been modifying cheap cameras to take near-infrared (IR) photos. Though we cannot perceive it with our eyes the plants and other materials around us reflect wavelengths of light in infrared. Interestingly the sensors in digital camera can react to wavelengths of light in the near infrared. Presently IR light is filtered out from our cameras so that digital images look normal to us. Removing that filter allows us to pick up information in IR. If you want to learn more about it, take a look at our page about this project:…

and the page about NDVI and NRG analysis using near-infrared images:



  1. felixbrun

    I’ve been looking into cameras that contain GPS in order to georectify the ortho images. Is there a way of doing it without a GPS camera and just using the APM autopilot GPS to create the necessary files? I’m not sure what would be the easiest and most effective method.

    • Admin

      Yes! And FYI, I’ve only used the GPS onboard the camera as a clock synchronization method. What I do is turn the camera GPS on before the flight and then use an function on the camera that updates the time to the GPS satellite time (Canon SX260). That ensures that the clock on the camera and the APM GPS clock are in sync. After flying the mission I use open source Palentier software to link the images to the GPS coordinates captured by APM 2.5 based on the time captured. This is the easiest method (IMO) to sync the pictures with APM GPS but there is also a function built into Mission Planner GCS that allows you to sync the pictures without a camera GPS. Open Mission Planner and hit cntrl F then click the geo ref images button.

  2. subarooturbo

    This may be very interesting to some of us that are interested in aerial mapping vegetation. I have just seen this on kick starter from Public Labs about their Infragram: the Infrared Photography Project it is a simple, cheap infrared camera which can measure plant health — for geek gardeners, farmers, and open source DIY scientists. It is cheaper than a MaxMax camera and looks like some fun to mess around with. Let me know what you think about this project.

    • geobduffy

      I think it looks very promising and I’ve been following/involved for about a month now. Just this week I converted a canon A490 using the methods in the public lab video but in addition, I installed a piece of the publiclab version of the “super blue” filter that cfastie is working on. As I understand it the Infragram project spawned from the work I just mentioned. I just got a chance to do a flight today with the camera and got some decent shots of a golf course. I’ll need to install the post processing software (imageJ/Fiji)and plugin (Neds photo monitoring plugins) to generate an NDVI now. You can search for this stuff on Google and get started. I intend to post all the links here as soon as I can get a chance to go through the process my self. I’ve been so busy I haven’t had a chance to do much in the way of videos or posts but this topic is something I’m really focusing in on.

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