Skip to main content

How to inject some DIY into your outdated digital camera

DIYThe rate at which digital cameras are improving and smartphone photo apps are taking over translates to a whole lot of discarded and outdated point and shoots sitting around. The $200 you spent on a pocket cam last year might be a cost you eat if you find yourself relying entirely on your iPhone. Luckily, there are a handful of fun mods that will repurpose your old point and shoot. You might not be able to do anything about that wimpy 8-megapixel sensor or the pitiful 4x digital zoom, but take inspiration from these DIY camera hacks that give your old device some new tricks.


What you’ll need: Old digital camera (that has video capture/video output), a computer with video input (if your computer doesn’t have this, you can get a USB capture adapter), adjustable grip tripod

webcam supplies
Image used with permission by copyright holder

How to: There isn’t too much to explain about this DIY trick. You’ll probably spend most of your time figuring out a good to position your new Webcam. A flexible camera tripod of some (like the GorillaPod) is probably your best bet, but consider this element up for interpretation. After that, all you need to do is hook your camera up to your computer from its A/V out port and then open up whatever video chat software you choose.

Infrared camera

What you’ll need: Old digital camera, small screwdrivers (used for jewelry or eyeglasses), tweezers, a piece of glass or film negative

IR supplies
Image used with permission by copyright holder

How to: Here are some really great detailed instructions on how to do this and what you’re looking for. Here’s the gist: you want to take apart your old camera, so turn it upside down and unscrew the thing and then gently open it up. You’re looking for the “hot filter,” which sits between the lens and the CCD and replace it with a piece of glass or underexposed, developed slide film negatives cut to the same size as what you are replacing. You’ll then want to put her back together (again, carefully), and try out your new IR camera.


What you’ll need: Old digital camera, small nightlight, small screwdrivers (use for jewelry or eyeglasses), sharp knife, all-purpose glue

supplies nightlight
Image used with permission by copyright holder

How to: First of all, be careful. You essentially need to cut the inside of your camera once you’ve carefully opened it, and there are lots of tiny parts in there to be careful of. In order to keep the shell of the device whole, you need to take your time and do this the right way. You’ll want to get the lens out too. A pair of tweezers might make things easier as well.

Once you have nothing but an empty camera, fix the night light in it using some sort of super stick glue (a hot glue gun should also work) and then closer her up. You’ll need to cut a hole in the back of the chassis for the prongs to stick out of. After that, shut her back up and if the screws seem loose, try gluing around the camera’s seam for extra support.

Self-portrait camera

What you’ll need: Old digital camera, small mirror, all-purpose glue

self portrait camera suppliesHow to: Here is an incredibly easy way to repurpose your old digital camera. If you’re a fan of the self-portrait (it’s okay, I’m not going to shame you), then you need a solution so that you can stop cutting off one or all of your subjects. Find a small mirror from a makeup compact (you can also buy them at craft stores) and fix this piece to the face of your digital camera. The mirror’s size and placement will depend on where the lens is located, but you’ll quickly and easily have a way to start seeing what you’re shooting.

Editors' Recommendations

Molly McHugh
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Before coming to Digital Trends, Molly worked as a freelance writer, occasional photographer, and general technical lackey…
This AI cloned my voice using just three minutes of audio
acapela group voice cloning ad

There's a scene in Mission Impossible 3 that you might recall. In it, our hero Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) tackles the movie's villain, holds him at gunpoint, and forces him to read a bizarre series of sentences aloud.

"The pleasure of Busby's company is what I most enjoy," he reluctantly reads. "He put a tack on Miss Yancy's chair, and she called him a horrible boy. At the end of the month, he was flinging two kittens across the width of the room ..."

Read more
Digital Trends’ Top Tech of CES 2023 Awards
Best of CES 2023 Awards Our Top Tech from the Show Feature

Let there be no doubt: CES isn’t just alive in 2023; it’s thriving. Take one glance at the taxi gridlock outside the Las Vegas Convention Center and it’s evident that two quiet COVID years didn’t kill the world’s desire for an overcrowded in-person tech extravaganza -- they just built up a ravenous demand.

From VR to AI, eVTOLs and QD-OLED, the acronyms were flying and fresh technologies populated every corner of the show floor, and even the parking lot. So naturally, we poked, prodded, and tried on everything we could. They weren’t all revolutionary. But they didn’t have to be. We’ve watched enough waves of “game-changing” technologies that never quite arrive to know that sometimes it’s the little tweaks that really count.

Read more
Digital Trends’ Tech For Change CES 2023 Awards
Digital Trends CES 2023 Tech For Change Award Winners Feature

CES is more than just a neon-drenched show-and-tell session for the world’s biggest tech manufacturers. More and more, it’s also a place where companies showcase innovations that could truly make the world a better place — and at CES 2023, this type of tech was on full display. We saw everything from accessibility-minded PS5 controllers to pedal-powered smart desks. But of all the amazing innovations on display this year, these three impressed us the most:

Samsung's Relumino Mode
Across the globe, roughly 300 million people suffer from moderate to severe vision loss, and generally speaking, most TVs don’t take that into account. So in an effort to make television more accessible and enjoyable for those millions of people suffering from impaired vision, Samsung is adding a new picture mode to many of its new TVs.
[CES 2023] Relumino Mode: Innovation for every need | Samsung
Relumino Mode, as it’s called, works by adding a bunch of different visual filters to the picture simultaneously. Outlines of people and objects on screen are highlighted, the contrast and brightness of the overall picture are cranked up, and extra sharpness is applied to everything. The resulting video would likely look strange to people with normal vision, but for folks with low vision, it should look clearer and closer to "normal" than it otherwise would.
Excitingly, since Relumino Mode is ultimately just a clever software trick, this technology could theoretically be pushed out via a software update and installed on millions of existing Samsung TVs -- not just new and recently purchased ones.

Read more