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CHDK on SD4000/IXUS 300 HS

  • 79 Replies
Re: CHDK on SD4000/IXUS 300 HS
« Reply #70 on: 04 / September / 2017, 16:03:02 »
Turns into a monologue, but I hope these tips will be useful to someone...

Here's a good low-light compromise: 35mm f2.8 ISO 800. This extends the sharp "in-focus" range from meager 2 meters to somewhere between 4-8m. Everything is a bit sharper. 35mm is still wide, IS is effective, and f2.8 gathers a lot of light. There is more detail at 100%, so this seems to be pretty good solution for indoor shooting, if you can't use 50mm f4 for various reasons but still need some 100% detail. In fact, on desktop monitor everything looks pretty good (unless you're viewing 32 inch screen from 1 feet distance).

Outdoor, with distant objects, one can only hope there will be sufficient light for 50mm f4, or greater. I took a sharp shot at 106mm and 1/5s wide-open, in the middle of the night, which means that IS is much more effective at longer focal lengths. IS is a bit unpredictable, though. Some 35mm shots were blurred at 1/13s, but some 35mm shots were sharp at 1/5s. The only certainty is that at f2 nothing helps with getting distant objects sharp, stabilization, focus, low ISO, fast shutter, absolutely nothing - only contrasty areas and good composition/processing can "save" your image. At 28mm, avoid apertures below f7.1 if you want to print large. At DPReview they concluded, SD4000 is not for large prints. But with CHDK and 50mm f4 you CAN do large prints. So, there are workarounds, maybe not for every situation, but for most realistic shooting scenarios.

If one needs startup script with set_zoom to 35mm, the value is 6. Also, RAW shooting is mandatory for getting decent IQ at high ISOs.

Setting up & learning this camera was really fun, an interesting and "unique" experience. :)

I put all this effort simply because this is the photographic tool I can have anywhere, anytime with me!

Re: CHDK on SD4000/IXUS 300 HS
« Reply #71 on: 04 / September / 2017, 17:13:21 »
Turns into a monologue, but I hope these tips will be useful to someone...
How is the rewrite of the CHDK User Manual Custom Auto ISO feature going?  8)
Ported :   A1200    SD940   G10    Powershot N    G16

Re: CHDK on SD4000/IXUS 300 HS
« Reply #72 on: 07 / September / 2017, 17:29:51 »
Turns into a monologue, but I hope these tips will be useful to someone...
How is the rewrite of the CHDK User Manual Custom Auto ISO feature going?  8)

Well, I have to spend more time with the camera... Maybe then I could do it...

The "35 2.8" solution is great, it made this thing a couple of more times useful in low light. Sure, f2 looks decent indoors in desktop monitor size or smaller, and it gives us faster shutter speeds when needed, but I actually used 35 2.8 outdoors during night, for still subjects, and was blown away with results. It's like a different cam zoomed in and stopped down just a little bit. Of course, the strong contrast produced by artificial lighting adds to the sharpness, but this looks pretty good even at 100%. Earlier, I was trying 28mm f4 ISO 1600 but that's not very effective. 35 2.8 ISO 800 does the job: you lose less than 1 stop of light, however, when you zoom in on your subject you often gather a bit more light + image stabilization is INSANE at 35mm, better than 28mm or 50mm. I took a shot almost in moonlight, there were a couple of lamps but small and weak - it was 35mm f2.8 ISO 3200 at 1/3s. And it was sharp enough. Hell, there were no signs of handshake blur. This is the new record for me, with Nikon 18-55 VR II I was able to get down to 1/5s hand-held, but 1/3s? How awesome is that? I was also able to restore and pull up the natural colors in post. I mean, this is just unbelievable for such a small pocket camera. All made possible with CHDK RAW, because JPEG at ISO 3200 looks like [admin: avoid swearing please].

So, it's mostly 50mm f4 in daylight and 35mm f2.8 in low light. If you don't want to mess with aperture, f7.1 gives decent results at all focal lengths. Furthermore, noise looks pretty good, the pattern is natural, similar to S95. If you go for "softer" look, you just leave the noise & sharpening as it is and it will look fine even in large prints.

I had a Lumix LX7 in very good condition for like $130 and didn't buy it. It's a good camera but comes in annoying size. If I'm going to carry a bag, I'll bring my DSLR. The little SD4000 turned out even better than I anticipated :D

But this tool is NOT for Program & Auto shooters, particularly those who just turn on the camera and shoot at 28mm. They might be unhappy with the results and blame it on the camera, without even realizing its true potential...

Re: CHDK on SD4000/IXUS 300 HS
« Reply #73 on: 11 / October / 2017, 16:43:35 »
One more thing...

There are definitely some issues with lens elements movement / aperture. For example, if I use start up script to set 35mm f/2.8 from f/2, image will be very sharp. However, if I zoom in longer than 35mm and then zoom out to 35mm f/2.8, the image will not be as sharp. Also, it seems that if you shut down camera at smaller aperture such as f/4 or f/7.1, there could be even more softness when going back to 35 f/2.8.

1) I get best results when I shut down camera at f/2, and then power on to 35 f/2.8.
2) Second best option is to shut down wide-open and then power on to 35 f/2.8.
3) I get worst results if I shoot 50mm f/4 or 106mm f/7.1, then zoom out to 35mm and set f/2.8.

I even thought that softness at f/2 might have something to do with this, but I've never managed to get a really sharp shot at the widest aperture. Option 1 produces the sharpest shots in low-light, it's the best way to shoot this thing in dark conditions. It's like a 35 f/2.8 prime then.

I believe this has nothing to do with CHDK, it's most probably some kind of lens design fault. It's difficult to notice as well! The problem is non existent when switching between 50mm and long end, for example, but zooming out to 35mm wide-open introduces the problem. It happens with or without start up scripts. Everything seems to be pretty good at f/7.1 (which is also surprising).

Maybe it's just my copy? Is this possible with a compact/retracting lens?
I suppose it's just a side effect of having real aperture in such a tiny lens.
« Last Edit: 11 / October / 2017, 16:46:32 by Robert1975 »

Re: CHDK on SD4000/IXUS 300 HS
« Reply #74 on: 12 / October / 2017, 00:20:29 »
One more thing...
I just have to say,  you are probably getting more out of this camera than anyone, including the original Canon engineers, ever intended or thought possible. It's nice CHDK added a few capabilities that helped with that.
Ported :   A1200    SD940   G10    Powershot N    G16

Re: CHDK on SD4000/IXUS 300 HS
« Reply #75 on: 28 / May / 2018, 14:10:36 »
Wise Man's Mirrorless: The Saga Continues

Some at DPR were surprised at the amount of enthusiasm I share for this camera. But they don't know the SD4000.

You can see me here trying to figure out the optics back in October. Afterwards, things got a little bit worse, at least I begun noticing even more issues with image softness. Then I found out that many owners complained about auto-focus and lens softness particularly at wide apertures. A couple of days ago, I've decided to take my camera to repair center and have it carefully examined!

Result? The best $25 I've ever spent. That's approximately a third of the camera value. But my SD4000 is now reborn.

It turned out all my SD4000 needed was LENS CALIBRATION. Canon messed up something at the factory, calibration was done poorly. Maybe they rushed the release of the camera, who knows. Anyway, now that the optics is calibrated in accordance with design charts, here are the latest findings.

The lens is still sharpest at 50mm f4. But now, 28mm f2 looks fantastic, and f2.8 appears to be the best aperture at the wide end. 35mm f2.8 may be just a little bit better. The entire zoom range is now pretty much equal in sharpness, and the lens is best wide open between 35mm and, say, 85mm. There's a pretty good ND filter on board, so using the widest apertures is never a problem. Only at the long end, one needs to step down to f7.1 for a little bit more sharpness. To me, 28mm-50mm is the most important range.

What can I say? I feel like I got myself a new camera... Now I stand behind my words even more firmly: I would use an SD4000 as a professional tool. It's perfect for shooting events, because it's almost completely silent, small, unnoticeable. You get some DoF control, you get f2. I don't need a Sony A9 for silent shooting, and I don't need 100fps to "capture the moment". Some Canon users complained about controls, but that's only because they were used to different models. Everything is quick on SD4000, particularly if you shoot in A, use CHDK AutoISO and the jog dial for Exp. compensation. It's all quick and elegant. With CHDK, this is a professional tool. I even have a lens profile and color profile for Lightroom editing. You can't beat that for the price & size of this thing.

Too many people returned this camera believing it was defective. But all it needed was LENS CALIBRATION done by a dedicated, capable technician.

There are two ultra-compact models which truly stand out: the famous ELPH330 HS/Ixus 255 HS, and SD4000/Ixus 300 HS. You get an ELPH330 if you prefer detail over color & light, if realism is important to you and you want instant results, in JPEG. On the other hand, if you want DSLR-like shooting experience, THE BEST low-light performance and prefer abstract/artistic stuff over realism, you get SD4000. Both are great cameras. Of course, I plan to get an ELPH330 as well, if I manage to find an excellent copy. With the lens perfectly calibrated, I am even more confident in large prints from SD4000 DNGs. I can pull down sharpening, and remove masking completely at the base ISO. Up to 24x16in everything looks pretty good, and even 40x27in is possible, particularly with "artistic" stuff where detail doesn't contribute to the image a lot.

So, if you are having second thoughts about your SD4000 - take it to a good technician. It's quite possible that lens calibration will make it sing.
« Last Edit: 28 / May / 2018, 14:16:11 by Robert1975 »

Re: CHDK on SD4000/IXUS 300 HS
« Reply #76 on: 29 / May / 2018, 18:49:38 »
I did more optical tests, in HORRIBLE light (almost no contrast, or too much contrast, around sunset). This is actually worse than darkness with a couple pointy light sources.

First of all, I have to say, after lens calibration I'm using this camera in a completely opposite manner. Before, I used to stop down to f7.1 at most focal lengths except around 50mm equiv. Now, I usually shoot wide-open and this is great news, because I got the camera expecting it to perform best wide-open. This is quite usual for compacts. So now my compact finally behaves like a compact :lol

I believe I discovered another "issue": when shutter speed drops in dim light, using f/2.8 or smaller apertures at 28mm may cause blurring in some parts of image, mostly upper parts, mostly to the left. Your subject will still be quite sharp. Also, camera may confirm focus even though it missed it. Using the widest aperture usually helps. I believe this is a mechanical issue inherent to this particular lens design, and it's most probably related to the operation of the image stabilization elements. As the aperture closes, stabilization elements begin to move simultaneously and this causes blurring. The slower the shutter speed, the bigger the issue. There is no cure for that, it's completely physical. So if shutter speed drops below, for example, 1/250s, using f2 at 28mm is the safest bet. In daylight, f/2.8 might give you just a little bit better results, but this thing is sharpest wide-open! You just turn it on, and shoot wide-open. Very simple, isn't it?

With modern DSLRs, you have lots of room for error. For example, my kit lens tends to blur the image a bit if I use VR at shutter speeds between 1/50 and 1/150. That's because mechanical shutter "confuses" VR, since the camera body is too light. However, I could still print that "blurred" image at 40x27in.

But issues with compact cameras are noticeable even at screen sizes... Perhaps I could try using Continuous stabilization instead of Shoot-only, but I noticed that my subject is usually sharpest with Shoot-only. Others confirmed this as well. Anyway, zoom lens designs are quite complicated, particularly compact zoom lens designs, and you can't avoid issues. I've seen softness even in ELPH330 images :haha

« Last Edit: 29 / May / 2018, 18:59:11 by Robert1975 »


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Re: CHDK on SD4000/IXUS 300 HS
« Reply #77 on: 31 / May / 2018, 13:15:46 »
Turn IS off?
Ixus 300HS S100

Windows 10

Re: CHDK on SD4000/IXUS 300 HS
« Reply #78 on: 02 / June / 2018, 12:15:19 »
Turn IS off?

But it's not very practical to dive into menus every time shutter speeds drops below FL/2 :blink:

It's much more convenient to simply shoot wide-open. Using small focus area is now best option, even in low light. So I did have to re-learn my camera, but it was just a quick update to previous experiences... I also discovered I can do long exposures during daylight, at least in shady areas. Most compacts have one aperture + ND filter, this one has real aperture which goes down to f8 + 3 stop ND filter, which gives me f22 effectively (not in terms of DoF of course, but available light). Very nice! There was NV series from Samsung, I believe, which were even smaller than my Ixus and had aperture control, however, there were only 2 stops available to choose from and no built in ND filter. Being able to stop down continuously from f2 to f8 is really amazing feature in an "ultra compact", it provides some DoF control for close-ups and portraits, and with ND filter it makes longer exposures possible in daylight.

Let me get back to CHDK! The latest build works flawlessly - I've found no issues since last September. I've also installed CHDK PTP client. I was frustrated that Canon didn't implement USB mass storage option, and was looking for a way to access all the files on SD card via USB cable, in case my card reader breaks down, or just to save the battery door from hassle. I knew CHDK had a solution, and it worked nicely. With CHDK PTP and a driver different from Windows default, I can download and upload all types of files via USB cable, instead of being able to download only JPGs shot with the camera, which is one more thing Canon engineers didn't plan for this particular model. Well, they did plan pretty decent optics, but I had to make some extra investment to make it work.

Now, once again, let's turn to the shapes and colors :)
« Last Edit: 02 / June / 2018, 12:16:56 by Robert1975 »

Re: CHDK on SD4000/IXUS 300 HS
« Reply #79 on: 11 / September / 2018, 15:41:11 »
Wise Man's Mirrorless Part III: Rise To Eternity

Just kidding, I don't have anything important to say. Thanks again for the great firmware!

Well, maybe I do have some observations... While on the mountain, around 1000m, I had some AF issues. At first, I thought the lens went "nuts" again, but when I came back to 100m everything was OK. Actually, the problems were noticeable in dim light only, during couple of days. It could be that air density confused the AF mechanism, or God knows what. Stopping down to f4 resolved everything.

So, the camera works fine, the lens is fine, and the firmware is fine. The best photographic tool I've ever had, just for portability.

I do have a couple of DSLRs, maybe 10 lenses, and I'm looking at Fuji X100 series to complete the collection. It's a very interesting camera, a "digital rangefinder", particularly the X100F. So I was just saying at DPR - with my $80 pocket Canon I can draw my own framing lines on LCD, and with $1200 Fuji I can't use 50mm framing for RAW shooting. How silly is that!?

That's why an SD4000 is and always will be a WISE MAN'S MIRRORLESS. :)
« Last Edit: 11 / September / 2018, 15:43:02 by Robert1975 »


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