EPIC! Shoot 28mm RAW with the Canon Powershot SD800 IS

April 2nd, 2008 / 3 Comments

The Canon Powershot SD800 IS is a notable compact digital camera if only because of its 28mm equivalent wide-angle lens. However, with the recent RAW enabling firmware hack I think it’s fair to move the SD800 into the category of “epic.”

Canon Powershot SD800 IS

As I have explained in a previous post, unless you are shooting 300mm+ nature or sports photography, the benefits of having a wide-angle lens far outweigh those available with an ordinary optical zoom. Not only are you able to fit more content into your image, but you also gain a more realistic depth of field and a higher aperture.

Yet what truly separates the SD800 from other wide-angle compact digital cameras is the recently released CHDK firmware hack. This hack unlocks previously unavailable features such as a battery indicator, live histogram, increased exposure times, improved video quality (hi-speed SD card required), script support for KAP, and most importantly the ability to capture images in RAW, a feature typically limited to more professional SLR cameras.

RAW is the original pixel data captured by the camera’s CCD before it is processed by an image correction algorithm and compressed into a JPG. In other words, a RAW is to a JPG, what a WAV is to an MP3. Thus, being able to capture RAW gives you finer control over how the image is optimized. To demonstrate the significance of RAW I’ve posted a basic example below. The first photo was taken using the default JPG settings, the second is a RAW image optimized by yours truly. A simple comparison of the skyline in each image should serve to demonstrate the advantages of shooting in RAW.

JPG image, enlarge

RAW image, enlarge

Visit the CHDK.wikia site to download, install, and tweak the CHDK firmware. For the less hip, the firmware is also available for a number of other cameras in the Powershot series.

Other resources

Comments (3)

  1. Adam Parker / December 6, 2008 / http://blogs.adamparkerphotography.com/blogs/

    For anyone with this camera, apply the hack!!! Shooting RAW is one of the best things you can do for your photography. The flexibility it allows in your shots will leave you happier with your pictures.

    I put up some more information on what RAW is and why you want it, if you aren’t already convinced by the output above, read this post on shooting RAW then come back here and get that hack.

    Thanks for posting, should help a lot of people get the most out of their cameras.

  2. James / March 10, 2009

    How close is my Digital IXY 800 IS to your SD800 IS for the purposes of enabling RAW and allowing read/write to SDHC cards?


    the ver.req trick reveals firmware GM1.00B

  3. Scott Lenger / March 10, 2009 / http://scottlenger.com

    @James the IXY 800 is actually the same camera as the SD 700, confusing huh?

    On the downloads page look for something that begins with“ixus800_sd700.” I’m pretty sure the same features are supported.

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