If you have a Canon PowerShot camera, a great and fun software hack is available – for free – called the Canon Hack Development Kit or just CHDK.
CHDK is software that runs on your Canon PowerShot camera to add additional features and capabilities; which features are supported depends on which PowerShot camera is used.
When I had a Canon PowerShot SX1, I used CHDK especially for its motion detection feature. This hack added a feature to detect motion in a scene and then fire the shutter – which was perfect for photographing lightning. Yes, its detection is so fast that you could use it to photograph lightning bolts.
In addition to a set of features added by CHDK to the PowerShot cameras, CHDK also adds “scripting”. This is a feature that let’s you write a set of commands (similar to writing a program) to use and operate various camera features.
The hack is installed by copying files to a specially prepared mini SD card. When the camera is turned on, the hack software is pre-loaded, together with the camera’s own, original software.
I sold my SX1 (a great camera for macro shots due to its macro feature and small sensor size). Since then, I have missed being able to play with CHDK. I am thinking about buying a used Powershot with a larger 1/1.7″ sensor so I can play with CHDK again 🙂