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Thread: OT: Souping up your Canon Rebel XTI/350D

  1. #1
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    Default OT: Souping up your Canon Rebel XTI/350D

    I discovered a very simple and safe hack for the Canon 350D DSLR. It increases the maximum ISO from 1600 to 3200 with virtually no increase in noise. It also enables spot metering. The only modification to the camera firmware is to set a single bit from off to on which allows the camera to boot from the Compact Flash card. The rest of the software that enables these functions lives on the card and is loaded when the card is installed in the camera. To remove the software you remove the card and replace it with a card that isn't bootable.

    I am making the software available from my server because I have tested it and checked it for viruses. It's clean and it works. None of this makes any changes to your computer other than downloading the files themselves.

    First download these files:

    http://ixian.ca/server/CardTricks143.xyz

    Change the extension on the CardTricks file from .xyz to .exe once you have downloaded it. There is no install required. It makes no changes to your computer.

    http://ixian.ca/server/scanled.fir

    http://ixian.ca/server/350d_iso3200_spot.zip

    The scanled file is the firmware upgrade and doesn't need to be unzipped.

    The last is the software that lives on the CF card. It must be extracted to the directory of your choice on your computer.

    Following are the instructions to perfrom the upgrade:
    ------------------------------------------------------------------
    Make sure battery is FULLY CHARGED. Camera must be firmware ver 1.0.3

    1. Format your CF card. Copy scanled.fir to the card.

    2. Insert CF to camera and run firmware update from the bottom choice of the 5th Menu setup screen. Screen will show "CF card containing firmware is required to update". Wait for blue LED to light steady. Wait another 30 seconds.

    3. Turn off camera and take battery out and back in. Leave it off.

    4. Insert CF card in card reader. Run Cardtricks and select the CF card by clicking on the picture of a memory card. Format the card in Cardtricks using the format button.

    5. Using Cardtricks make the CF bootable. Check "CF boot sector" at the bottom right of the Cardtricks screen and then click "make bootable."

    6. Copy the files in 350d_iso3200_spot directory to the CF card.

    7. Insert CF in the camera. If the camera is booting from the card the Blue LED will flash.

    To use the ISO 3200 function press INFO and you can change ISO levels from there by pressing the ISO arrow key. For spot metering press Menu and the DP button with the blue LED.

    Blue led will blink and there will be a sound. Spot metering will be enabled.

    FYI, the Canon DSLRS run ROMDOS and treat the CF Card as a floppy drive. Because the camera operating system is in ROM you cannot mess up the camera to the point that the firmware can't be reloaded.
    Last edited by Evan; 11-08-2009 at 05:13 PM.
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  2. #2
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    I'm disappointed that my Sony cameras don't allow any of these cool hacks. And that there's no mechanism for remote shutter control.

  3. #3
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    Dennis,

    You may find the CardTricks file useful. It will run under wine or bootcamp and allows you to make just about any card bootable. It will probably work on a USB flash drive too as long as it is formatted FAT 16. It may work with FAT 32 but I haven't tried it.
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  4. #4
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    If anyone's interested in this for more than the Canon 350D, the creators: the Canon Hacker's Development Kit (CHDK), have it for just about every Canon digital that's been sold in the last ten years.

    http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/CHDK

    The latest version of Card Tricks is here:

    http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/Cardtricks


    Q. What does the CHDK program do?

    A. CHDK enhances the capabilities of your camera in a non-destructive, non-permanent way.

    After loading of CHDK program you will get the following functionality:

    * Shutter-priority (Tv) exposure - via shutter value override feature
    * Aperture-priority (Av) exposure - via aperture value override feature
    * Shooting in RAW, with RAW Average, RAW Sum, and RAW Develop features
    * Live histogram (RGB, blended, luminance and for each RGB channel)
    * Zebra mode (a live view of over and under-exposed areas of your picture)
    * Depth-of-field (DOF)-calculator, Hyperfocal-calculator with instant Hyperfocal and Infinity focus-set, and more
    * Battery indicator
    * RAW and Video space-remaining gauges with custom low-limit alerts
    * USB cable remote shutter release
    * Motion-detection trigger - automatically fires camera on motion detection. (Fast enough to capture lightning strikes.)
    * Customizable high-speed continuous (burst) Shutter-based (Tv), aperture-based (Av) and ISO-based exposure bracketing (unlimited shots)
    * Focus bracketing (unlimited shots)
    * 99 constant bit-rate and 10 constant-quality video compression levels
    * Elimination of 1 Gig video-size limit
    * Zoom during video function (for cameras without this feature)
    * Shutter, Aperture, and ISO Overrides
    * Ultra-long shutter speeds - up to 64 seconds, and much longer on some cameras.
    * Ultra-fast shutter speeds - up to 1/10,000" and higher
    * High-speed Flash Sync at all speeds up to 1/64,000 second (even faster in some cameras)
    * Custom user-editable visible Grids for framing, cropping, and alignment
    * File browser
    * Text reader
    * Calendar
    * Some fun tools and games
    * Fully customizable CHDK display, info placement, user-colors, fonts in menus, etc.
    * Custom CHDK user menu (for instant recall of up to 10 favorite functions)
    * Scripts execution - including exposure bracketing, focus bracketing, intervalometer and more)
    * And other features too numerous to mention here. See the CHDK Firmware and Allbest Firmware usage pages for a more complete overview.


    * Camera: Firmware Versions
    * A2000: 1.00c, 1.00b(with 1.00c version) (beta)
    * A450: 1.00d
    * A460: 1.00d
    * A470: 1.00e, 1.01a, 1.01b, 1.02c
    * A530: 1.00a
    * A540: 1.00b
    * A550: 1.00c
    * A560: 1.00a
    * A570: 1.00e, 1.01a
    * A590: 1.00e, 1.01b
    * A610: 1.00d, 1.00e, 1.00f *1
    * A620: 1.00f, 1.00e *9
    * A630: 1.00c
    * A640: 1.00b
    * A650: 1.00d
    * A700: 1.00b
    * A710: 1.00a
    * A720: 1.00c
    * S2: 1.00e, 1.00f, 1.00g, 1.00i *2
    * S3: 1.00a
    * S5: 1.01a, 1.01b
    * G7: 1.00e, 1.00g, 1.00i, 1.00j
    * G9: 1.00d, 1.00f, 1.00g, 1.00h, 1.00i *7
    * SD30 (IXUS izoom): 1.00g
    * SD300 (IXUS 40): 1.00j, 1.00k
    * SD400 (IXUS 50): 1.01a, 1.01b
    * SD450 (IXUS 55): 1.00b, 1.00c, 1.00d
    * SD500 (IXUS 700): 1.01a, 1.01b
    * SD550 (IXUS 750): 1.00f, 1.00g
    * SD600 (IXUS 60): 1.00a, 1.00d
    * SD630 (IXUS 65): 1.00a
    * SD700 (IXUS 800): 1.00b, 1.01b, 1.01a *3
    * SD750 (IXUS 75): 1.00b, 1.01a, 1.01b, 1.02a *4
    * SD800 (IXUS 850): 1.00d, 1.00e *5
    * SD850 (IXUS 950): 1.00c
    * SD870 (IXUS 860): 1.00c
    * SD880 (IXUS 870): 1.00e, 1.01a, 1.01b
    * SD890 (IXUS 970): 1.00b, 1.00c, 1.00d, 1.00f
    * SD950 (IXUS 960): 1.00d
    * SD990 (IXUS 980) (beta): 1.00e 1.01b
    * SD1000 (IXUS 70): 1.00c, 1.01a, 1.01b, 1.02a *6
    * SD1100 (IXUS 80): 1.00c, 1.01a, 1.01b *8
    * SX1 (beta): 2.00h 2.01a
    * SX10: 1.00c, 1.01a, 1.01b, 1.02b, 1.03a
    * SX100: 1.00b, 1.00c
    * SX110: 1.00b
    * SX200IS (beta): 1.00c, 1.00d
    * TX1: 1.00g, 1.01b
    Last edited by lazlo; 11-08-2009 at 05:36 PM.
    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."

  5. #5
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    Unfortunately the CHDK doesn't run on the Canon DSLRs. This is the first hack I have found that does. It will come in really handy for astrophotography.

    BTW, I downloaded the latest version of CardTricks and it doesn't seem to be functional. The main EXE file is missing. The previous version is actually the same and works fine. That is the one I am serving.
    Last edited by Evan; 11-08-2009 at 05:53 PM.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan
    Unfortunately the CHDK doesn't run on the Canon DSLRs. This is the first hack I have found that does.
    It's from the same developers, imaginatively called DSLR CHDK They post it on the DSLR CHDK development forum of the CHDK discussion forum:

    http://chdk.setepontos.com/index.php/board,33.0.html

    Quote Originally Posted by Evan
    BTW, I downloaded the latest version of CardTricks and it doesn't seem to be functional. The main EXE file is missing.
    Card Tricks 1.44 is packed with 7Zip, so it has the .7Z file extension. It works fine -- I've got it running on my 880IS.

    The ISO hack works, of course, but it adds a tremendous amount of noise to the picture.
    Last edited by lazlo; 11-08-2009 at 05:58 PM.
    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."

  7. #7
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    The ISO hack works, of course, but it adds a tremendous amount of noise to the picture.
    __________________
    Not according to the test shots I have seen. In fact it doesn't seem to add hardly any noise at all. If it's clear tonight I will be taking some photos and I will post some results. Even if it isn't clear I will do some dark fields that I need for later processing.
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  8. #8
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    I think part of it is that you're taking picture in darkness. I tried it in my poorly-lit shop. The flash washes-out anything shiny, so sometimes it's tough to get good close-ups.

    In my case, I think there's enough ambient light that the high ISO settings are saturating the CCD element.

    Are you reducing the ISO noise with image stacking? I haven't tried that yet...
    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."

  9. #9
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    While stacking does average out noise that isn't what I mean.

    Here is a raw image from last night. The overview full image is jpeg compressed and shows the portion that I extracted to show the noise level. The extracted portion has been converted to a lossless gif so that the original noise pixels may be seen. The exposure was 2 minutes using prime focus (no lens) and the temperature was just at freezing, ISO at 1600. The stars are trailed because I was doing a drift alignment test.

    As a side note you can see a very small periodic error that is from the gearmotor itself. The overall background noise is primarily due to the fact the moon was up. In a really dark sky I can go about 4 minutes before the sensor begins to saturate from sky glow and sensor heat. Both are easily removed by taking a flat field with a diffuser on the scope and a dark field to take out the heat background.



    There is very little noise in the form of hot pixels as you can see.

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  10. #10
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    Isnt CMOS noise mostly temperature related? So doing the test in the cold would help the noise figure, as would only running at the cameras rated 1600 (Im going to guess that the canon firmware has 'some' noise smoothing / averaging in it.)

    what about a 3200 iso shot indoors in the warm with the lights out?

    Dave

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