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Book Review: The Canon Camera Hackers Manual: Teach Your Camera New Tricks by Berthold Daum

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My son and his wife need another (better) camera.  While shopping around for a good buy, I discovered what may be the best gift.  I just hope that between the two of them, there’s enough “geek”  to handle the software.

Here’s the deal.  A Canon PowerShot SD 1400IS is available online for $175.00. It features  4x Wide Angle Optical Image Stabilized Zoom, a 2.7 inch LCD and 14.1 MP. Not a bad deal for the camera alone.  I’ve long been a Canon fan and have invested heavily in Canon equipment for my photography business.  My son isn’t a professional photographer and as far as I know, has no aspirations to become such.

Now the plot thickens.  Rockynook publishing has released a book by Berthold Daum, The Canon Camera Hackers Manual — Teach Your Camera New Tricks.  Along with the book (available for under $25) comes a CD packed with some cool software that delivers what the title promises.  Included on the CD are: script development tools, example scripts and curves, various utilities and “other useful software”.

Daum studied photography in Melbourne and produced images of Australia’s natural beauty.  He earned a Ph.D in math and is a professional Java and XML developer. If you’re familiar with “java” as something other than coffee, you’re further down the “geek” road than some people.

After the introduction, there’s a chapter on digital cameras and how they work.  Then we learn more about the “hacker” software, its features and benefits.  The software is officially titled, “Canon Hack Development Kit” and is commonly known by it’s initials, CHDK. 

Chapter Three has instructions on how to install the software on to your camera’s SD card and then you’re ready for the rest of the book’s chapters on tricks, scripts, and advanced techniques.

The easy to read and follow instructions help users do things with their consumer-grade equipment that any pro would be pleased to do with an expensive DSLR.  Be forewarned though, if you aren’t familiar with basic photography jargon and what it means (ISO, DOF, F-stops to name a few) you’ll be as lost as if you thought java was coffee.

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