Think consumer camera equipment is expensive? At least you are not a scientist who needs a specialized "hyperspectral" camera to see parts of the electromagnetic spectrum beyond what the human eye can see. This sort of equipment is used to identify chemical compounds and check for mining deposits, but it does not come cheap, as the least-expesive such rig still costs around $25,000.

Luckily, a group of inventive scientists from the Vienna University of Technology hacked together their own computed tomography image spectrometer with a full frame DSLR and a frankenlens using PVC pipe.

The custom lens consists of two lengths of PVC pipe (one 75mm long and the other 40mm long), a diffraction gel, slit aperture, +10 diopter macro lens, 17-40-mm lensm and a 50-mm lens--which we’ve already proven is a jack-of-all-trades. Unlike the lens, the scientists used a completely unmodified Canon 5D Mark I for the camera’s sensor to capture images in HDR mode. The researches successfully created a hyperspectral camera that captures images with a resolution of 4.89-nm in a 120x120 pixel area.

The scientists admit that their prototype takes longer to capture exposures--several seconds instead of milliseconds--and that it is on the “lower-end” of factory made devices. Next time, the scientists plan to construct a new lens with custom glass and tubes that mounts directly to the camera body. This way the scientists will have a macro system that is lighter and shorter, and can use a larger aperture to cut down on exposure time--all for less than $1000.

[Vienna University of Technology via Engadget via The Verge]

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