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Add RAW Support to a Canon G7

Posted by Matt on March 14th, 2008 filed in Advanced Tips, Digital Photography Hints & Tips, Handy Hints, Improve your Camera

Canon G7 - RAW
Canon G7 Showing with CHDK Installed and RAW Icon

As regular readers to this blog might have noticed, I really love my Canon G7. It’s a great camera for semi-pros and keen amateurs alike who want a small, portable camera but who don’t want to skimp on control. There is one major omission though – the G7 does not support saving photos as RAW, which means you lose out on the ability to tweak your photos that little bit more once you get back home. The official Canon solution seems to be ‘buy a Canon G9’, as they added RAW support amongst other things, and this is perfect for those of us about to buy a camera, or with money to burn – but what about fanatical G7 owners who want RAW support? Hope is on the horizon in the form of the CHDK open source scripting community.

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CHDK is a script put together by Canon fanatics that lets you over-ride standard Canon features and add your own where Canon has decided not to. The basic script engine has been ported to a number of Canon cameras now, and more are being added all the time. This script gives you out of the box support for RAW files amongst other things, in fact it’s also possible to write your own scripts to do cool things like light sensing to take well exposed lightning photos without missing, or time lapse photos without having an attached computer. Pretty amazing.

The steps to install CHDK to add RAW support on a Canon G7 are as follows:

  1. Find out your Firmware version: This will be something like 1.00i and to find this follow the instructions here.
  2. Download the latest CHDK version for your firmware: Once you know the firmware version, check this page to find the latest version for your camera. Note it may not be available, in which case check back or post a request to the forums, as new code is being released all the time.
  3. Put the new firmware onto an SD card and load it: With the latest download ready, get an SD card ready and copy over the DISKBOOT.BIN and PS.FIR files to the root. Then put the SD card back into your camera, and start it up in playback mode. From the menu choose the option ‘Update Firmware’ and confirm this. After a short moment you will see some new, slightly out of place, options on your screen and the CHDK will have been installed. Lovely. Now don’t turn your camera off, as it will be gone. Yep, every time you turn off your camera it clears off the updates. This is a good thing as otherwise you could permanently change your firmware. More information on this is here.
  4. Turn RAW support on: Now CHDK is installed, you can use the Shortcut key (the button on the top left of the back of your camera) to access CHDK functions – it becomes the ‘<ALT>’ key. Press this plus ‘menu’ to access the CHDK menu, and use the normal nav keys to choose RAW and turn RAW support on. Now exit the menu and you should see a small ‘RAW’ icon on the screen. Lovely. Every time you now take a shot a RAW file will be saved as well.

Canon G7 with CHDK Options Menu
Canon G7 showing CHDK menu

So there you have it – RAW support on a Canon G7! This is just the first stage, as once you have the RAW file back onto your computer you have to process it and support for the CHDK RAW files is not as comprehensive as with a normal camera RAW. So at this point you can read here about processing your files, which varies depending on whether you’re using Mac or PC and what software you use. For those of us moving to a ‘RAW only’ workflow this is still good news though, until Canon decides to get off their backsides and simply add proper support to an official update.. come on Canon – support the G7 fans who’ve made this a popular line again!

Disclaimer: You are most likely invalidating your camera’s warranty by doing any of the things in this article, so be very sure you want to try this or use a camera that is out of warranty. The code that is installed is easily removed from the camera – just turn it off – but it’s possible you could damage your camera when writing your own scripts, so be warned!

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One Response to “Add RAW Support to a Canon G7”

  1. Digital Photography Hints & Tips » Digital Photography: Popular Posts Says:

    […] Add RAW to Canon Cameras: Frustrated that your Canon camera doesn’t let you save RAW files? Then check out this article on how to add RAW to your Canon camera […]

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