empower your digital camera with CHDK

In class, we often speak about photography in very traditional terms.  Most concepts from photochemical or traditional photography generally have some “analog” in the digital realm.  While things may work very differently behind the scenes, all cameras basically have to deal with aperture, exposure, sensitivity, and shutter speed.

For many of us, however, these terms (as well as their technical counterparts like “ISO” and “f-stop,” etc.) can be a bit confusing because they appear nowhere in our digital camera’s user interface.  Many basic consumer-oriented digital cameras lack these settings, even when set to a “manual” mode.  These cameras are adjusting all of these variables each time we snap a picture, but they don’t necessarily expose them to us.

It was only after owning my first digital camera, a very inexpensive Canon PowerShot, for several years that I discovered a powerful piece of Open Source software which can change all that.

Canon Hack Development Kit, or CHKD for short, is freely available software available for dozens of common consumer-level digital camera models which gives you, the camera user, access to every low-level function of your camera as is common on more “professional” models.  With CHKD installed into your camera, you can adjust and manipulate absolutely anything.  You can also automate your camera to perform repetitive tasks like taking “bracketed” exposures for HDR or even creating stop-motion animation.  The possibilities are endless!

The installation process and download links for each type of supported camera are different, so for detailed instructions consult the official CHKD wiki to learn how to install CHKD onto your particular camera.  Note however that no matter what camera you use, this process is totally safe and does not actually modify your camera.  CHKD merely “lives” on your memory card, and each time you power on your camera CHKD is booted along with the camera’s own permanent firmware.

Once you have successfully gotten CHKD running, consult the online manual which explains how to do just about anything with all of your camera’s powerful new features.

Drew Wallner


~ by atw17 on January 24, 2011.

3 Responses to “empower your digital camera with CHDK”

  1. Although the technology described is very interesting and useful, there is no DIY involved in this post! If the person who posted this included the steps they used to get CHDK then I am sure it would make a very cool addition to the blog 🙂

    As for the content, I think it was a great topic to cover because my classmates and I probably wouldn’t have stumbled upon it on our own, and it is a technology that, once in use, could be beneficial all semester long.

  2. I’ll try to choose more specifically demonstrable subjects in the future, this might have been a poor choice because the installation steps for CHDK can be radically different from one camera to another. I was afraid that if I described how to install CHDK into my camera, for example, people would become frustrated trying to follow those steps with their camera. My goal was simply to make people aware of something (which yeah, might not really qualify as “DIY instructions”).

  3. […] opportunities to tweak our images in post-production (and if your camera can’t shoot RAW, check out this blog post to see how you might be able to add that […]

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