The Digital Photo Guy

Tag: raw

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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Monday Morning Tip – 11/30/09

by on Nov.29, 2009, under Monday Morning Tips

Today’s Monday Morning Tip

I have a Wild Animal Park Photoshoot this coming Saturday so I thought I would roll my MMT into the instructions I send the students beforehand. During “hands-on” photoshoots, I concentrate on three areas: Nailing Exposure, Sharp Focus and Compelling Composition. Today’s MMT is about nailing the exposure.

Exposure is a balancing act among three controls: aperture, shutter speed and ISO. These are covered in this previous MMT. After I wrote that MMT, some students didn’t understand the relationship among the three so I wrote this MMT. Then, students wanted step-by-step instructions for adjusting EC (exposure compensation to get the desired exposure. I also wrote this MMT this year as a refresher.

Bottom line, there are 3 variables (controls): aperture, shutter speed and ISO. To help you adjust these, there are 3 major tools: histogram, EC and “blinkies”. Use these tools to determine if your photo needs more or less light and adjust the appropriate control. Click to read more

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Monday Morning Tip – 08/24/09

by on Aug.23, 2009, under Articles, Monday Morning Tips, Photoshop Elements, Schedule, Webcast, Workshops

Rob Sheppard to Teach Photoshop Elements

On Saturday, November 14 from 9AM until 1PM, Rob Sheppard will teach a 4-hour Photoshop Elements class jam-packed with tricks, tips and shortcuts used by professional photographers. Whether you are a complete newbie or an experienced PSE user, you will learn more about Photoshop Elements than you ever imagined possible. After this class you will be able to enhance and edit digital photos faster, easier and more precisely than ever before. Most of the material from this class also applies to Photoshop CSx.

If that’s not enough, you’ll receive 60 days of e-mail support after the class. That’s right, for 60 days, if you encounter a problem and just can’t figure out how to apply Rob’s tips, send me an e-mail and I’ll get you an answer. What class have you ever taken that offers that kind of help?

Anyone with the slightest interest in photography knows the name Rob Sheppard. He’s the editor of Outdoor Photographer magazine and editor/founder of PCPhoto as well as author of over a dozen books on photography.

I literally ran into Rob at the NANPA (North American Nature Photographer’s Association) summit earlier this year and asked him to teach a Photoshop Elements class for my readers. He was enthusiastic but, understandably, his schedule was filled.

Rob is now available to teach that class on November 14 via webinar. Even better, the cost is just $59.95 ($49.95 early bird special until Sept 30). If you had attended Rob’s class at NANPA, you would have paid $155 plus hotel, meals & travel to Albuquerque so this is a screaming deal!

Click below to register today. Seating is limited.

Monday Morning Tip

When I first converted to digital in 1998, almost everyone used JPEG. This was reinforced for me because I was a sports photographer who came home from events with upwards of 1000-1200 frames. All the frames except total disasters were quickly processed for levels and sharpness before resizing and uploading to my web site for people to order. As orders came in, I reprocessed each photo for printing but, during the initial rush, there wasn’t time for messing about with RAW files.


Today, one of the most frequent questions I hear is, “Should I shoot in RAW or JPEG?” Even rank newbies are pressured into thinking they should be shooting RAW because “that produces better photos.” Let’s set the record straight. It’s just as easy to capture crappy RAW photos as it is to capture crappy JPEGs.


Today’s MMT addresses this question head-on for newbies. This MMT will answer this age-old question once and for all. As always, the MMT is in the Tips & News page of this site.

Quick Tip

One of the trickiest things to do in Photoshop or PSE is selecting hair when you’re trying to knock out a person’s head from a photo. Let’s say you took a family photo at the reunion but Cousin Ernie couldn’t attend. You try to paste Cousin Ernie’s photo from last year into this year’s photo but it’s nearly impossible to get a good selection of Cousin Ernie’s curly blonde hair which was photographed against a white wall.

Whenever you have friends and family together, take several head shots against a contrasting wall. Cousin Ernie’s blonde locks will stand out nicely against a dark wall while Aunt Ruthie’s mousey brown hair contrasts with the standard Navajo White found on most interior walls.

Next time you want to knock out Cousin Ernie from a busy background, use hair from the easy photo. You don’t want to use too much because the light and angle probably won’t match but little wisps here and there will help fill out areas where his hair blends into a white object in the background.

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Monday Morning Tip – 5/18/09

by on May.17, 2009, under Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing

This week’s MMT continues with raw files. Specifically, converting raw files to a format that can be editing in PS, PSE or any other photo editing program. As you may recall, raw is not an acronym but simply means the image data is the original, unprocessed (raw) information straight off the camer’s sensor. (That’s not 100% accurate but close enough for our purposes) Raw is not a standard, every company has their own implementation of raw. This makes means the file has to first be converted to a standard.

For PS and PSE, the standard is PSD (Photoshop Data). Many other photo editing programs can also read PSD with some level of compatibility. However, every program can read and write JPEG and TIFF so those have become de facto standards. A few years ago, Adobe introduced DNG (digital negative) as a standard and, hopefully, other photo editing programs will begin to incorporate that into their repertoire.

If you don’t have PS or PSE, you can use one of the free raw converters. Read the full MMT on the Tips & News page under MMTs. You’ll need a password to access that area which you can get by registering.

Quick Tips

These days, buying off the Internet is pretty much a given. However, as anyone with half a clue knows, it’s dangerous out there. Tales of scams and outright fraud abound so how does one protect themselves when buying pricey items like camera gear. The Number 1 rule is to always do your research. Here are two sites that will help you with research. has a good reputation as a reputable place to check on companys. They have a fairly robust system to catch cheats who post their own “atta-boys” or knock their competitiors. Be careful of other sites that resemble ResellerRatings because they can be set up by a scammer just to lull you into a sense of security.

You can check Don Wiss’ pictures of actual Brooklyn camera stores to determine if they’re legit. If it’s a Mailboxes Etc or UPS store, you might want to dig further. Don also has photos of Manhattan camera stores. Some of these photos are downright scary.

New Video Uploaded

Part 3 of the Restoring Old Photos series has been uploaded. This covers sharpening using both Unsharp Mask (USM) and Adjust Sharpness in PSE7. If you have PSE4 or prior, you wan’t have Adjust Sharpness.

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Monday Morning Tip – 5/11/09

by on May.11, 2009, under Monday Morning Tips, Schedule, Workshops

Photoshop Elements class with Award-winning Photographer/Author set for August 15, 2009

The instructor has photographed and written for numerous magazines including National Geographic. However, his main commitment has always been to teaching photography.

There will be 2 sessions. The first will be from 8AM-11AM with a second session from 1PM-4PM. These information packed, 3-hour sessions will get you up-to-speed with Photoshop Elements or Photoshop CSx. Everything will apply to both PSE and PS CSx.

The session will be recorded so you can review the recordings for free as often as you want for 60 days. DVDs of the sessions will also be available. But wait, there’s more. If you preregister before July 1, 2009, you’ll be eligible for free e-mail support from The Digital Photo Guy for 60 days. So, if you still don’t get it after sitting through the webinar and reviewing the recording, you can send me an e-mail and I’ll explain it to you again.

To preregister, send me an e-mail at this time and I’ll notify you as soon as price is set. At this time, the price will definitely be less than $50. Stay tuned for more details.

Monday Morning Tip

Today’s MMT was inspired by a reader who wanted to batch convert Nikon NEF files to JPEG. She had borrowed a D90 and taken over 500 photos in NEF without knowing how the camera was set. Her friend then tried to read the NEF files with Photoshop Elements 7 but that didn’t work either. My regular readers would have immediately known how to fix the problem but she was totally lost.

Don’t be lost. Today’s MMT covers the advantages of camera raw regardless of whether you use a Canon or Nikon or Olympus or any other dSLR. Next week, we’ll cover the specific steps for converting raw files to JPEG or some other standard format. By the way, raw is not an acronym like JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) or TIFF (Tagged Image File Format or GIF (Graphics Interchange Format). Raw simply means it’s the raw data directly from the camera sensor without being mangled and manipulated inside the camera.

As always, the full MMT is in the MMT area under Tips and News. Register for this site to get the password for that area. You’ll have access to nearly 100 MMTs when you register.

Palomar Classes are now Online

You can register for my classes at Palomar College here. The 2 webinar classes are open to anyone, you don’t have to be in San Diego to take these classes. The “Hands-On” Photoshoot class is a good excuse for out-of-towners to take a vacation in San Diego.

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