Hyperspectral imaging goes beyond what the human eye can see, collecting information from across the electromagnetic spectrum for use in analyzing a particular object or location (seeing if certain mineral deposits are present, for example). The specialized equipment doesn't run cheap, but researchers at the Vienna University of Technology have been able to turn an ordinary consumer DSLR camera into a full-fledged computed tomography image spectrometer.

Starting with a Canon EOS 5D, the team added a frankenlens made of PVC pipe and a diffraction gel combined with a 50mm, 14-40mm, and a +10 diopter macro lens. They were then able to mathematically reconstruct the full range of spectra from the data captured by the camera's imaging sensor, achieving performance comparable to that of commercial imagers: a resolution of 4.89nm in a hyperspectral configuration of 120 x 120 pixels. The downside is exposure time, with the DSLR requiring several seconds to capture the data, while tailor-made devices need mere milliseconds. The team admits that the current system is on the "low-end" of what is possible, but they already have their sights set on a direct-mount version, which will increase the aperture and lower the necessary exposure time — all while costing under $1,000.