The Digital Photo Guy

Canon SX40 HS and RAW

by on Apr.13, 2012, under gear, Monday Morning Tips

Sometimes, You CAN have Your Cake and Eat It, Too!

Further to my email exchange with Roy Ang, I pointed out the SX40 HS didn’t have RAW support and that would make it untenable for many advanced photographers. Roy was all over that. “Au contraire, mon frère”, he fired back. CHDK (Canon Hack Development Kit) is available for the SX40 HS.

CHDK “unlocks” many features of the Canon DIGIC cpu that are not accessible in all Canon cameras. There is a CHDK version for over 120 Canon Powershot P&S models but not all are supported. CHDK does NOT work with Canon dSLRs or other brands of digital cameras. CHDK is NOT supported or sanctioned by Canon.

Not having kept up with P&S cameras for many years, I was unaware of CHDK. In the past, “hack” usually meant taking a chance of bricking a camera (as in, “I turned my Digital Rebel into a brick.”) The cool thing about CHDK is that it is external to the camera’s firmware. CHDK is loaded onto the camera’s memory card and loaded either manually or automatically when the camera is powered up. When that memory card is removed from the camera, the camera reverts to it’s original state. This is slicker’n owl snot on a brass doorknob.

If CHDK only added RAW capability, that would be cool but what makes it spectacular is the long list of other features it enables. These include, in no particular order: bracketing, full manual exposure control, live histogram, grids, DNG output and much more. It also adds features not found in any Canon Powershot such as:

  • Motion detection – Trigger exposure in response to motion, fast enough to catch lightning.
  • USB_Remote – Simple DIY remote allows you to control your camera remotely.
  • Scripting – Control CHDK and camera features using ubasic and Lua scripts. Enables time lapse, motion detection, advanced bracketing, and much more.
  • My favorites are the built-in Depth of Field calculator and infinity focus set.

If you have a Canon P&S and you want to extend its capabilities, CHDK would be a good place to start.

CAVEAT: I am not responsible for any damage you may cause to either your camera, yourself or anyone or anything else. I have not personally tested CHDK as I do not own a compatible camera. Read and understand what CHDK can and cannot do for you BEFORE installing it on a camera. Do NOT be like this reader (see Cautionary Tales.)


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