Public Lab Wiki documentation

Multispectral imaging

1,156 views | Last edited by warren about 3 years ago | #13341

The Public Lab near infrared imaging project is an open source community effort to modify consumer cameras to capture near infrared imagery for a range of purposes, including plant health. All open or accessible near infrared imaging hardware and software efforts are welcome here!

Join in by:

  • Reading about goals and asking great questions
  • Converting a camera using one of our starter kits
  • Trying (and critiquing) our community-made how-to guides
  • Posting your own how-to guides and mods
  • Building on others’ work; hack and remix the kits to refine and expand them
  • (proposed?) Submit your improvements for inclusion in an upcoming starter kit release or add-on
  • (proposed?) Serve on a Research Review Group for a 3 month period


This is a list of community-generated guides for specific applications using your near-infrared imaging setup (either a camera you converted yourself with a filter pack, a ready-made near-infrared camera, or double camera setup). Some may be more reproduced -- or reproducible -- than others. Try them out to build your skills, and help improve them by leaving comments. Together, we can repeat and refine the activities into experiments.

Purpose Category Status Author Time Difficulty Replications
Tracking Plant Health Using Visible and Infrared Light -- Initial Experiences at an Arts High School - - @Travis - - 0 replications: Try it »
Pole NDVI of deer grazing experiment - @cfastie - - 0 replications: Try it »
NIR and water - - @cfastie - - 0 replications: Try it »
Video tutorial: Creating false-color NDVI with aerial wetlands imagery - - @warren - - 0 replications: Try it »
Graze anatomy experiment - @cfastie - - 0 replications: Try it »
Conversion of 4k sport camera for NDVI analysis with UAVs - - @azaelb - - 0 replications: Try it »
Root crops - - @cfastie - - 0 replications: Try it »
Lycopene - - @cfastie - - 0 replications: Try it »
Mobius NDVI - - @cfastie - - 0 replications: Try it »
Halo: Red vs. Blue - - @cfastie - - 0 replications: Try it »
Holiday Beverage Whodunit - - @cfastie - - 0 replications: Try it »
Infragram Point and Shoot Starting Instructions - - @abdul 1hr medium 0 replications: Try it »
Mobius IR conversion - - @cfastie - - 0 replications: Try it »
Aspen Leaf Miner - - @cfastie - - 0 replications: Try it »
Creating Multispectral Imagery for California Beaches - - @MicheleTobias - - 0 replications: Try it »
Mobius non-fish-eye lens conversion - - @patcoyle - - 0 replications: Try it »
Video tutorial: Creating infrared composites of aerial wetlands imagery - - @warren - - 0 replications: Try it »
Infrablue Haze - - @cfastie - - 0 replications: Try it »
Spruce tips - - @cfastie - - 0 replications: Try it »
HORNWORMS - - @cfastie - - 0 replications: Try it »
Oaktober - - @cfastie - - 0 replications: Try it »
Using multispectral imagery to derive bathymetry - - @warren - - 0 replications: Try it »
Show more

Add an activity  or request an activity guide you don't see listed

Activities should include a materials list, costs and a step-by-step guide to construction with photos. Learn what makes a good activity here.

Add your guide here Request a guide

Guides should include a materials list and a step-by-step construction guide with photo documentation. See an example.

Hardware Mods

Have you added to your starter kit, improved it, or redesigned it? Show others how to take it to the next level by posting a build guide here:

Add your hardware modification here Request a hardware modification

Upgrades should include a parts list and a step-by-step construction guide with photo documentation. See an example.


There’s a lot going on in open source near-infrared imaging -- if you’ve developed another open source design you’d like to show others how to construct, post it here!

  • Rasberry Pi NoIR
  • X
  • XX

Choosing a tool / Starter Kits

The question to start with is whether you can capture all the channels you need for your research question with a single converted camera or whether you should use a dual camera rig with one converted camera and one unconverted. That choice plays out in terms of what filter (blue or red) to use for converting your camera.

Public Lab’s Kits initiative offers several starter kits, one with the basic components and instructions for converting your own digital camera to capture near-infrared imagery and a second option -- a readymade lightweight near-infrared camera. The point of the kits is to lower the barrier to capturing your own near-infrared imagery.

  • The Infragram filter pack is our least expensive way to get started with near-infrared imaging, but it does require an afternoon and some technical work to perform the camera conversion yourself. ... etc etc etc

Visit the Infragram DIY filter pack

  • The Infragram point and shoot is a Mobius camera that we worked with a factory to modify. ... etc etc etc

Visit the Infragram Point&Shoot page

Processing near-infrared imagery

Once you take a multispectral photograph with a modified camera, you must post-process it, compositing the infrared and visible data to generate a new image which (if it works) displays healthy, photosynthetically active areas as bright regions. In-depth articles on the technique by Chris Fastie can be found here:


How to process your images: we're working on an easy process to generate composite, infrared + visible images that will reveal new details of plant health and photosynthesis. There are several approaches:

Comparison to standard tools

Infrared imagery for agricultural and ecological assessment is usually captured from satellites and planes, and the information is used mainly by large farms, vineyards, and academic research projects. For example, see this illustrated PDF, page 210 from a commercial imagery provider who has been studying the usefulness of infrared imagery and has quotes from farmers who make use of it. There are public sources of infrared photography for the US available through the Department of Agriculture -- NAIP and Vegscape -- but this imagery is not collected when, as often, or at useable scale for individuals who are managing small plots.

Frequently Asked Questions

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