Lifehacker: Take Impressive Macro Photographs with Your Point-and-Shoot and CHDK

This sounds awesome. I’m gonna have to pull out my SD450 and give this a shot…pun intended.😉

Remember the Canon Hacker’s Development Kit, aka CHDK—the open-source firmware that turns your point-and-shoot into a super-camera? Here’s how bug enthusiast Tim used CHDK and DIY ingenuity for better macro results from his point-and-shoot.

Spending more money was off the table for Tim’s spending budget, so rather than pony up for some new, expensive equipment, he turned to the wonder of open source. His setup is a little heady if you’re not familiar with the subject, but Tim used a reverse mounted lens technique along with the focus bracketing feature of CHDK. The results—one of which you can see in the screenshot—speak for themselves.

via Digital Photography: Take Impressive Macro Photographs with Your Point-and-Shoot and CHDK.

Canon EF 1200mm f/5.6L USM



  • Lens construction: 13 elements in 10 groups
  • (protective glass and drop-in filter included)
  • Diagonal angle of view: 2°-5°
  • Focus adjustment: Inner focusing system with USM
  • Closest focusing distance: 14m / 46ft
  • Filter size: 48mm rear drop in

Canon’s most powerful supertelephoto lens

The world’s largest interchangeable SLR AF lens, in terms of both focal length and maximum aperture. Two large fluorite elements eliminate secondary spectrum, resulting in extremely sharp, high-quality images. With Extender EF 1.4x or 2x. a whopping focal length of 1700mm f/8 or 2400mm f/11 can be obtained respectively.


Almost as impressive as this bad boy:

JSTN – Please, Canon

He’s got an excellent point – I’d love if I could set up my camera the way he’s described…

Please, Canon

Let me set my own lower limit for shutter speed with auto ISO.

I want to shoot wide open, but 1-divided-by-focal-length is just too slow for me most the time. At 24mm it frustratingly picks 1/20th even with several usable ISO stops that could go towards a faster shutter speed.

Shutter priority mode does me no good; I can’t rely on it to choose the maximum aperture (in fact, it rarely does).

Manual mode doesn’t support auto ISO. If you have it selected and you switch to manual it forces the ISO to 400. Instead, I wish it let me lock a shutter speed and aperture and then float the ISO as needed. Hitting the floor would cause the shutter speed to drop, but not before.

Actually, what I really want is a modeless UI that lets me set any two of the three (shutter, aperture, ISO) and institute my own graceful degradation.

Camera interface designs up until now have relied on the assumption that you’re only making two exposure decisions per shot (shutter speed and aperture, ISO being decided beforehand when you load the film). Digital suddenly adds a third thing to think about and the interfaces haven’t caught up yet.

via JSTN – Please, Canon.

Nifty Fifty! (Canon 50mm f/1.8 II Review)

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II: Box

I just picked up the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens, and so far, I’m quite impressed – much more than I thought I’d be!

Until yesterday, when I purchased the 50mm f/1.8, I had been shooting almost exclusively with the Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM zoom lens that came with my Canon EOS 30D. I’m still quite fond of the 28-135mm, and for most occasions it’s the perfect walking-around lens (until I can get my hands on one of the L-series zooms). However, everyone I’ve talked to so far in the photography world has highly recommended getting a prime lens, and I wanted to find something inexpensive to tide me over until I could get my hands on the 100mm f/2.8 macro that I’ve heard such wonderful things about.

I’d also heard good things specifically about 50mm lenses (though on my 1.6x crop APS-C sensor, the 50mm is more like an 80mm), and set out to find myself a relatively cheap 50mm as my first prime lens. Of course, I found the 50mm f/1.8 Mark II lens first, because of it’s ridiculously cheap price compared to the rest of the EF/EF-S lineup of lenses, and the reviews said that the optics were surprisingly good for such a cheap lens.

Canon 50mm f/1.8 Mark II
Canon 50mm f/1.8 Mark II

I must say that I agree on both points above: this is a ridiculously cheap lens (both in construction and price), and it’s optics are surprisingly good. I first saw this lens on, so I knew what it looked like, but had no idea of the actual physical quality. If you haven’t seen this lens before in person, and you’re coming from a relatively higher quality kit lens like the 28-135mm, you’ll probably scoff at the 50mm f/1.8 lens. No ultrasonic motor, completely plastic housing and mount, and it’s light as a feather. I almost thought that I was going to break the damn thing when I was holding it, but I decided to try it out anyway, and I loved the clarity of the images that I saw coming from it. It is remarkably crisp, and quite fast for the price – much faster than my zoom at the wide end (f/3.5) and way faster at the narrow end (f/5.6). I’ve found that I’ve been able to take handheld shots in much lower light, and I love the bokeh it makes when it’s wide open at f/1.8.

I’ll admit, the plastic body of the f/1.8 made me strongly consider stepping up to the f/1.4 (the f/1.2 is waaaay too rich for my blood), but the price of the f/1.8 was just too good to ignore. I picked up the f/1.8 locally for $119, while the f/1.4 at the same shop was going for $300, and the f/1.2 was over $1600!

I haven’t been able to process any of the photos I’ve taken with it yet, since I’ve taken so damn many of them, but I’m sure you’ll be seeing my Flickr stream flooded with shots from my “nifty-fifty” as soon as I can get them posted. I’m really getting a kick out of this lens, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone looking to get their first prime lens for their Canon SLR or DSLR!

Additional Links:

Canon Dial 35 –

Fascinating camera from the 1960’s…

The Canon Dial 35 was an unconventional half-frame 35mm camera with clockwork automatic film advance. It was made in Japan by Canon from November 1963. The Dial 35 was also sold as the Bell & Howell Dial 35.

The body had an unusual “portrait” format rectangular shape, with a short, wide-diameter lens barrel containing the CdS meter photocells window around the 28mm lens. Rotating the lens barrel set the speed of the Seikosha shutter; the aperture was set automatically. A button below the viewfinder could be pulled out to give manual aperture control, for manual exposure settings or flash. Film speed was set on a scale around the meter window.

Focus was set on a lever around the top of the lens barrel, with a display inside the viewfinder.

There was a cylindrical handle at the bottom, which also wound the clockwork mechanism. On the (users) left is an accessory shoe. The film ran vertically, from the cassette at the top to the take-up spool at the bottom, giving a landscape-format 24x18mm frame when the camera is upright.

Dial 35-2

The 35-2 has a black nameplate at the top in place of the engraved name and a longer-lasting clockwork motor. Speed range is increased to 1000ASA, the meter uses a different battery and a hot shoe is added.

via Canon Dial 35 –

More info here:

(If you’re in search of the original manual, you can find it here:

E18 Error Fixed! (Canon PowerShot SD450)

Huzzah! I finally fixed the E18 error I’ve been experiencing on my Canon PowerShot SD450, which prevented my lens from extending when the power was turned on, and the fix wasn’t nearly as difficult as I had expected. I’ve even snapped some shots of the process so that you can follow along at home, and fix your own camera if you are experiencing the same problem that I was.

Canon_Ixus_II_with_E18_errorIf you’re not yet familiar with the E18 error, check out this information on the topic from Wikipedia:

The E18 error is an error message on Canon digital cameras. The E18 error occurs when anything prevents the zoom lens from properly extending or retracting.[1] The error has become notorious in the Canon user community as it can completely disable the camera, requiring expensive repairs.


This is a fairly prevalent problem with the PowerShot cameras, and a class action lawsuit was filed (but dismissed) against Canon:

A Chicago law firm, Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates, has already filed a class action,[4] while the law firm of Girard Gibbs & De Bartolomeo LLP are investigating this camera flaw and may issue a class-action lawsuit against Canon.[5] There is at least one other.[6] Although the suit was dismissed in a court of law, the plaintiffs are appealing.

Fortunately, at least in my case, the fix did not require returning the camera to a Canon repair facility or having to take unreasonably complex steps.

My solution for the PowerShot SD450/IXUS 55 follows:
(You’ll need a very small Philips head screwdriver, #00, to remove the screws)

  1. There are six screws holding the metal frame of the camera body together, two on each side, and two on the bottom. Remove all screws, pop the strap-hook plate (sorry, probably not the most technical term there), then gently lift the front plate off by pulling up from the bottom, and remove the back plate in the same fashion. These should come off relatively easily. This is what the camera should look like as you remove the plates:
  2. Now, looking from the top of the camera, you should see a small motor on the left side, as shown below (it’s beneath the cable with a “22” written on it):
  3. Take your screwdriver (or another small instrument) and gently try to rotate the plastic piece attached to the motor on the left side, as shown below:
  4. At this point, try placing the battery back in the camera (if you have removed it), turn the camera to one of the capture modes, and press the power button. If all went well, your lens should now be able to extend and retract properly.

Further information (and other repair tutorials) are available at the following locations:

Unforunately, the site that had the most comprehensive information about this issue,, seems to be down for the time being. Here’s a quote from their site that I saved in another blog post before the site was taken down:

Canon E18 error happens when the lens gets stuck while trying to extend. The camera will beep a few times and the LCD will display a little E18 in the lower-left corner. The lens gets stuck in the extended position, and refuses to move either to focus the lens or to retract when powered off.

Apparently, people who posted about this incident on forums say they had to send the camera for repair and that Canon has horrible customer support and response time.

Here is how the E18 error looks like. You just get a black screen with small “E18″ sign in the lower-left corner:

The problem usually happens because dirt or sand get into the lens mechanism. But it seems that more and more people are showing, who took great care of their camera, and still started receiving E18 errors.


Please share your experiences with this fix, or the E18 error in general, in the comments below. Thanks for reading! Manual focus lenses on Canon EOS bodies

Manual Focus Lens on Canon EOS DSLR
Photojojo: Manual Focus Lens on Canon EOS DSLR

I found this excellent post below from about using manual focus lenses on Canon EOS bodies via this great article at Photojojo: Better Lenses for Less Money: How To Use Vintage Lenses with Your DSLR

Using Manual Focus Lenses on Canon EOS bodies

A common question is whether older manual focus lenses from other manufacturers can be used with a Canon EOS body. The answer is a qualified “yes” in many cases. Of course you don’t get autofocus, nor do you get any sort of focus confirmation. Also, you don’t get any sort of automatic iris operation. In most SLRs, focusing is done at full aperture, and if you stop the lens down to, say, f11, it remains fully open until just before exposure, then it stops down for the exposure and opens up again. This gives a brighter viewfinder image and makes focusing easier and more accurate. When these lenses are mounted on an EOS body, stop down metering must be used. That means that the lens is first focused at full aperture (for maximum accuracy), then manually stopped down to the shooting aperture before the shot is taken. Some people have trouble accurately focusing using the standard EOS viewfinder screen, since it has no focus aids (like a split image center). While some of the higher end models (like the EOS-1 series, the EOS 3 and the EOS A2), so have additional accessory screens with focus aids (e.g. screen Ec-B has a split image center), the consumer level cameras (Rebel, Elan, digital Rebel, 10D, 20D) do not.

Clearly using a manual focus lens is inconvenient, but sometimes it can be worth it if the equivalent EOS lens is expensive, if the manual focus lens is better than any Canon EF or EF-S series lens (rare, but it happens), if you shoot mostly static subjects or if you don’t use the lens very often.

via Canon EOS lens Adapters – Manual focus lenses on Canon EOS bodies