Camera Hackery

Courtesy Tom, I've been pointed to a piece of software allowing one to enable RAW support on Canon DIGIC II cameras which don't normally support that image mode.

Called CHDK, it's hardly new, but it's a piece of software that sits on your SD card and it's enabled only when you want to use it. Other than enabling RAW mode it allows other functions based on what build is used and what model camera you use. As silly and basic as it sounds, I suspect I'll get a fair amount of use out of the real-time battery charge indicator enabled by the program, something which should have been there from the word go from Canon.

Basically one copies the program to one's SD card, turns on the camera, and enables the software by tricking the camera into thinking it's doing a firmware update (that's how the app is loaded to memory). Turn off the camera and the program is wiped from memory and if you don't want to use it the next time you use the camera, just don't enable it.

The way it's handled is wonderful in that it's non-destructive to the existing firmware on the camera however a couple glaring issues do crop up, both of which can be fixed by me changing the way I do things.

First, the software has to be copied to the SD card directly and thus far I've not found a way to enable mass data storage mode when directly hooking the camera up to my MacBook Pro via USB. That's not a huge deal if one uses a memory card reader, and I of course have a USB memory card reader, however the unit I have doesn't support SDHC meaning I'm limited to 2GB SD cards despite the fact the camera supports SDHC just fine and can support (at least) 16GB cards. This is fairly unfortunate if I plan to do much shooting in RAW mode given images stored in RAW are, well, raw and uncompressed and therefore take up more space. The answer to this is to buy an SDHC-capable card reader, or suffer with the 2GB SD card I keep in my camera bag.

Second, because the software is resident on the card it means I'll have to go about changing the way I erase images. Normally, unless I'm importing items into iPhoto, I'll format the SD card as it's simply the quickest way of getting rid of the contents. Doing that will of course wipe out the software and require a reinstall, something which could become tedious if I have to do it over and over. That means I will have to manually erase images on the camera one by one (unless my camera has a batch erase mode - I may have to look into that, though I have doubts about it existing) or import everything on the roll into iPhoto and delete the images from iPhoto. Alas iPhoto doesn't support directly erasing images on a memory card, one has to import them first. If that was a supported function then I'd be happier as it'd be faster to do a batch delete via the software than a one-by-one manual delete on the camera via its clunkier interface.

So far since arriving back in England I've not actually used my standalone camera. To date I've used the camera on my N73 or my iPhone when I've needed to snap images. In part this is because I've not bothered to take my camera with me when I go out, in part because I don't currently have a battery charger for the AA batteries used by my camera (the one I had in Canada didn't support 230V) and lastly in part because I've not really gone anywhere touristy this time around. As such I'm not sure how much use this software will actually get, but it's nonetheless nice to know it's available. The software beeing free is of course another bonus, making the price right.



Anonymous Rob said...

On my S2, there is an Erase All images after pressing the MENU button while in playback mode.

On my SD1000 devices (Digic III) you can delete by date, folder, etc.

1:52 AM, November 02, 2008  

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