Dear Canon, please opensource your firmware

Canon 5D Mark II Firmware Update from 1.0.6 to 1.0.7

I just updated the firmware on my new 5D Mark II. The firmware is the operating system in my camera. The software that decides how the menus on the screen should look, what the buttons do, and basically everything about how my camera handles the data from the CMOS that sits in there, collecting light when I snap images.

I didn’t get any extra functionality, but two issues that I never had problems with are now fixed.

Yes, it works fine. But we want more functionality. We want 25p and manual controls for video recording. And in this world of software it is possible for people to make that functionality. For you. For free. Either by hacking the whole camera. Or if you provided an API. Or even better, if you simply published the development tools and software.

Your revenue is based on selling excellent cameras and excellent lenses. And I guess Nikon and your other competitors have hacked and examined your firmware in detail already.

Open your firmware and you’ll see 25p on the 5D MkII before you can say “development kit”. And you’ll see all kinds of stuff that you and your competitors never thought of.

And you know what? People will improve the 5D Mark II firmware anyway. If you help them they will make better solutions.

You’ll be a pioneer. Bringing digital photography to the next level. Do it before your competitors!

I updated this article with a link to After a hint from @urke.

And because I’ve made the links in this article pretty non-explaining I’ll repeat the link to CHDK as well! A very interesting project that already has enhanced the Canon firmware on a couple of cameras.

Dear Canon, please opensource your firmware

Aperture, shutter speed and ISO – Explained visually


First of all: my entry into visualization using Flash in my last article was less than perfect. Mainly because I didn’t shoot every image in my sequence with the same aperture. Meaning that the background changed because the depth of field change.

So, I’ve made a new ISO-test of the 5D Mk II. Slightly better. At least the aperture stayed at 5.6 at all ISO values. The flash file is big, and I’ve not made any kind of download indicator. So when you click the link you need some patience while the page load.

Link to: Flash animation showing ISO-change


But what about that aperture stuff? Did you say depth of field? Yes. When you change that thing called aperture on your camera things happen to your image. To put it short: a low value, like 1.4 gives more blur in your image. A high value, like 22 gives less blur. The detail that you focus on will stay sharp, but the amount of detail around that point change.


Huh? Exactly. This is easier to show with an image. Or, actually several images. In an animation like the ISO-experiment. Where you can click the row of f-numbers at the bottom and see the image change. And it’s the same as with the ISO-animation. When you click the link you have to wait a while for the page to load.

Link to: Flash animation showing aperture change

Shutter Speed


But hey! I can also adjust something called “shutter speed”. Yes, in addition to ISO and aperture the shutter speed adjust the amount of light you will let in at the CMOS- or CCD-chip. And the effect on the image? A long shutter speed gives motion blur. And if you are shooting without a tripod or something to support your camera a long shutter speed mostly means a completely blurred image.

To show the difference that the shutter speed makes I did the test again. With a train moving in the image. So now you can see the effect of both the shutter speed and the aperture. And you know what? When you click the link you need patience. Let the page load…

Link to: Flash animation showing aperture and shutter speed change

But your flash animations are crap

Indeed. I haven’t coded flash since 1999 and used Apple KeyNote to make these. So, if you want to make them better I have provided you with all the original images. Full resolution:
ISO-test Originals
Aperture Test Originals
Aperture and shutter speed test Originals

These are zipped archives of the images. And please let me know in the comments if you use these images. They’re licensed under a creative commons license.

Aperture, shutter speed and ISO – Explained visually