Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New tricks for the Old Dog! A Look At CHDK

As a part of the technological world, photo equipment is hardly exempt from the "flavor-of-the-week", A.D.D. trend, responsible for the incalculable craigslist and eBay listings of the newest gear citing "upgrading" as the reason of sale. I am not coming out against this, however. On the contrary, I am certainly part of it. As a self proclaimed techy. it seems impossible not to be. Finance is literally the only limiting factor, and for some, even this is no object. Our knowledge of how things work, and how to make things better is growing exponentially. Inevitably, our technilogical capabilities explode just as rapidly, not to mention the whole commerce side of things!

These facts are no big secret, of course. I merely reiterate them because today I discovered just such an advancement. And what's even better, I don't have to go out and BUY IT! Put simply, it is new tricks for an old dog, my Canon G9.


Whats that you say!? According to CHDK wiki
it stands for Canon Hack Development Kit. Really quickly, just for fun I'd like to make a quick sidenote!

Reddit.com (which I was directed to some time ago by a friend, Sarah Rusnak. THANKS!) is a forum that hosts daily pics, gifs, and links. It is informative, entertaining, and digg.com's arch nemesis. Anyway, today a link was posted on some MIT students who recently successfully executed their goal of sending a camera to subspace on a budget of $150. Better yet, they did so with no programming, soldering, or much of that stuff the average person is unfamiliar with. Thus, anyone can do it (and its legal!). The images are magnificent! In reading up on this, I reasserted my desire for a camera with an intervalometer. So I began googling for cameras equiped with such a function and low and behold I find CHDK. (You should definitely take a look at the MIT project "Icarus")

So back to CHDK. CHDK is another beautiful product of the "Hive mind". While the Canon G10 has been out for "some time", the G11 is now nipping at its heels. Despite this, programmers and hobbyists have been disregarding the customer support lines and suggestion boxes of the Canon corporation and in stead, diligently resolving their wants with a little old fashion DIY. CHDK provides new features to a variety of camera models. Better yet, it is free! After probably 30 minutes of research, I now have a camera with an adjustable intervalometer, not to mention, many more feature I never thought of! The possibilities are incredibly exciting.

You can find out more on CHDK and whether there has been any hacks written for your camera here, http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/CHDK.

In order to do all this, I will say, you have to be tech savvy. This independent Filmmaker, Steve Ellington provides an excellent step-by-step* on how to do this on a mac. The previous link to the wiki gives a good Windows explanation. It is good to note, ALL MODIFICATIONS ARE BOOTED FROM THE SD CARD AND WILL NOT ALTER YOUR CAMERA'S FIRMWARE IF PERFORMED

*One more thing to note, in the beginning, Ellington talks about "Creating a blank text file called ver.req". But it cannot have any extra extention such as .txt or .doc. Well, the programs Word and Text Edit both always want to add an extra suffix. The way I did this was to create the file "ver.req" saved as a .txt (ver.req.txt), then right click on the file and click "get info". From there, under the drop menu "name and extention" I deleted the ".txt" and clicked any other drop menu. A dialogue then will pop-up asking if you wish to change the file's extention, click "use .req"!

I will continue to work on this as well as hopefully post some results from the new capabilites! The Hive Mind can do some pretty amazing things and I look forward to the future as well as hope to become a little more adept at this whole programming bit.

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