Magic Lantern for Canon 5D

[Trammell] has released a new firmware for the Canon 5D Mark II DSLR geared toward film makers. The stock firmware was very limited on the audio side. This firmware adds features such as live VU meters, reduced audio noise, and crop marks for filming in different formats. The firmware is written in a manner that it can be extended fairly easily. Hopefully this will turn out to be as helpful as CHDK has been for point and shoot cameras.

Arduino camera laser trigger

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[Adam] made a remote camera trigger that uses a laser. He had to install CHDK on his camera, which we’ve featured in a how-to, in order for it to work. CHDK allowed for a remote shutter trigger through the USB port. The laser bounces off a mirror and onto the photoresisitor hooked up to an Arduino. When the beam is broken, the Arduino sets off the trigger. He also plans to use the trigger to tweet over ethernet. Embedded is a video demonstrating its functionality.

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High speed book scanner from trash

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[Daniel] sent us his entry to the Epilog laser cutter challenge on instructables. He made a book scanner, mainly out of found parts. The bulk of the project was salvaged from dumpsters, though if you’re not comfortable with that, the free section of craigslist might be able to do the job. The cameras are loaded with CHDK, using StereoData maker, and custom software to compile the images into PDFs. They did a fantastic job of documenting every step of the construction, including helpful tips for some of the more complicated parts. There are several videos in the instructable, so be sure to check them out. We’re particularly amused by the extra step of making the photo captions visually interesting. At 79 steps, it’s a long read, but well worth it.

Macro photography with CHDK

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[Tim] photographs insects for bugguide.net. As you can imagine, macro photography is a must. He was very frustrated with his camera’s stock ability to capture the insects. You can see in the example on his site that the image is blurry and has some color issues. He did some research and hacked together a method of getting fantastic macro images for relatively cheap. He used the reversed lens method to get his macro lens set up. He then modded his camera with CHDK for more control. He found that his focal distance was too small to get the entire bug in focus, so he took 15 images at different distances and combined them to make the final image. We’re curious how the pringles can macro lens would compare to this. Thanks for the submission [sp'ange]. Lets see some more tips.

Canon 40D hacked to record movies

Both Canon and Nikon recently released DSLR cameras that now include a feature that most consumer level digital cameras have had for sometime: the ability to record movies. What makes movie recording especially appealing on a DSLR is the wide selection of lenses available to get the look you’re after. If you’re an owner of Canon’s 40D you may want to follow [DataGhost]‘s progress on the CHDK forum as he is currently working on bringing this function to the 40D.

While [DataGhost] has a working proof of concept he notes that there are still some issues pertaining to the camera powering down while recording a video, autofocusing, and writing to the memory card. Aside from this, [DataGhost] has made considerable progress and is considering adding custom user settings via the mode dial to really give some creative control. We’re excited about this hack and can’t wait for its release to the general public.

[via CHDK forum]

Pet photography and tracking


We’ve seen numerous products geared toward tracking the location and activities of your pets, two in the last month, but we feel sure you can make more functional devices than those you can purchase. Let’s look at a few and consider our options.

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StereoData Maker


So you got CHDK working on your camera, and the histograms, raw image files, variable shutter speeds and other added functions are amazing, but stereo imaging is what you really want. If you have two or more CHDK-ready cameras, it’s cheap and easy to run StereoData Maker, a system that synchronizes the shutter and flash of multiple cameras.

The first step in getting SDM to work is installing the software on your SD card. You’ll need to find the correct version for you camera; a list is available on the main SDM page. If you are running Windows XP or Vista, run the installer in the zip file. Otherwise, load the files on the SD card and run the installer directly from the camera. Then decide whether this will be the right or left camera and repeat the steps for your second camera.

Next, you’ll need to prepare a switch unit, essentially a set of synchronized USB remotes. There are many ready made commercial units available, but building one on your own shouldn’t be much trouble, and a few ideas are provided on the SDM instruction page.

You’re basically ready to start shooting stereo images, just take a few test shots to get used to it and to customize the configuration on the cameras.