In the News – Doo Wah!

Bop bop doo bop doo bop do wow!  Okay, sorry, that’s a bad skit for the great jazz tune from the ’50’s, but nevertheless, whenever I hear the phrase “in the news” I feel compelled to sing that line.  Now, for your real news from CB today:  I’ve got two stories for you, some news from Adobe on the next iteration of Photoshop and some Canon news on the Canon Hacking Development Kit (aka CHDK) that is now maing waves.  Read on for all the details!

Adobe Photoshop News

Well, the big news I read today during lunch was that the folks at Adobe will be incorporating some sort of GPU support for its next iteration of Photoshop.  Tapping into the GPU (graphics processing unit) means that larger images can be rendered on your display faster.   Another added benefit will be an increase in processing speeds for filters and other intensive activities. Nothing too earth-shattering, except they did report that at the Nvidia show, they watched the presenter zoom and rotate the canvas on a 2 GB image as though it were a 5 MB image.


Canon CHDK News

In more Canon-specific news, I have now read at least 10 articles from a number of resources talking about the Canon Hacking Development Kit (CHDK), which is a free firmware hack that can be applied to P&S grade cameras to allow them to do a number of things that SLR’s do, and even a few that your average SLR can’t do!


  1. The CHDK allows Point-n-Shooters to shoot in raw mode.  The caveat is that since it’s not a standard raw format, you can’t open this in Photoshop or Lightroom directly.  Instead, there is a third party software kit out there (also for free) called dng4ps2 that can convert the image to the more common DNG, which is Adobe’s Digital Negative format.  The DNG file can then be opened in Photoshop or Lightroom.
  2. The CHDK kit enhances the P&S feature set by adding a battery status indicator so you can see how much of a charge you have left on your battery.  I know this feature is already there in SLR cameras, so I guess the P&S’er didn’t have this feature regularly – news to me.
  3. The CHDK kit also adds what they’re calling a zebra mode which will show you whether a picture is under- or over-exposed.  Basically, it sounds like it’s adding a histogram feature.  Again, this feature is standard on most SLR’s, but not on most P&S cameras.  I just think that even a lot of SLR shooters don’t use the histogram (although I would personally encourage more use of it), so adding the feature on P&S cameras may be a little overkill.
  4. Finally, the CHDK kit allows P&S’ers to extend their range of shutter speeds.  The most reliable info I saw for the CHDK claimed the range went from a standard of 1/3200-15 seconds all the way up to a range of 1/33,333 to 65 seconds!  You read that right, that’s one-thirty-three-thousandsth of a second (and change).  Kind of makes the 1/8000ths shutter speed on the 40D look pathetic, eh?  Granted, this was specific to the S5 IS, but the standard change is to 1/64000ths of a second, which is still earth-shatteringly fast! 

Now, the caveats:


  1. Write time slows down considerably when shooting in raw (to about 2-4 seconds – yikes!).
  2. The raw file format is not recognized by mainstream applications like Photoshop and Lightroom.  In other words, file accessibility is likely not reliable.
  3. The software that you have to use to access the raw image data is freeware.  While some software from the open-sourced community is excellent (case in point GIMP, OpenOffice, and many others) and perfectly safe, the fact that this software comes from Russia and is (to my knowledge) untested, sets off red flags all over the place for me.  Of course I work in IT, so it’s in my nature to be suspicious of third party software from third world countries…
  4. As with any firmware hack, this is likely going to void any manufacturer warranty or vendor support for the camera if you install the software.

So, having shown the pros and cons, I’ll leave it to the community – install at your own discretion.  For those that do decide to install, feel free to share your thoughts here in the comments, or with me via email – I’d like to hear feedback on the reliability of the kit.  The CHDK can be downloaded direct from the link here:, and the raw converter from here:  Until next time, happy shooting and watch those apertures (or should I say shutters?)!