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DNG for PowerShot - PowerShot RAW image converter Pick of the Week
  • Developer / Product Page: Denis Artyomov / DNG for PowerShot
  • Price: Free (open source)
If you've got a Canon PowerShot (Digic II or Digic III) camera, there's a third-party software suite known as CHDK (Canon Hacker's Development Kit) that adds a huge variety of features to your camera -- and it supports a long list of Canon models, as seen on the first page of their site. For many people, the ability to shoot in RAW mode is among the most useful of the newly-added features. I wanted to test this out, and my PowerShot 850is is among the supported cameras, so I installed CHDK this weekend. The installation is relatively straightforward; I used a combination of the CHDK for Dummies and FAQ pages, and soon had a more-powerful Canon that was shooting in RAW mode. (Once installed, CHDK does not permanently change your camera, and it's easily removed if you never want to see it again.)

The problem, however, is that RAW formats are camera-specific, and OS X (and its various image-aware applications) don't know what to do with these RAW formats they've never seen before. So I couldn't use iPhoto (or Aperture) to import my RAW photos, because those programs know nothing about the PowerShot's RAW format. iPhoto would import the JPEG copy that's created alongside the RAW image, but not the RAW image itself.

So I went looking for a solution, and didn't have much luck at first -- most programs that handled PowerShot RAW format images seemed to be for Windows or Linux. After much digging, however, I found DNG for PowerShot. This program converts PowerShot RAW images to Adobe's DNG format. Once converted to DNG (which is based on the TIFF file format, but adds in metadata), I was able to use Photoshop to open and edit the files. (Aperture also supports DNG, but iPhoto does not.) Note that I first tried Adobe's own DNG Converter, but it would not read the RAW images from my PowerShot.

So if you've CHDK'd your Canon, and you're looking for a way to handle the RAW images it creates, give DNG for PowerShot a try -- it worked well for me!
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DNG for PowerShot - PowerShot RAW image converter | 4 comments | Create New Account
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CHDK RAW via DNG or direct access
Authored by: thwaite on Sep 29, '08 10:57:16AM

DNG for Powershot is indeed useful, and I was happy to discover this myself a few weeks ago. The Russian page you link to then links MacOSX users to, which provides both a source compilation guide (my advice: just skip it) and a downloadable precompiled binary which I hope gets updated from time to time.

Converting RAW to DNG ("Digital Negative") files isn't the only way to access CHDK RAW images - RAW can be directly read by several Mac programs, though not the most popular ones. A program list is found in the chdk FAQ you linked to (search for "There are some Mac programs"). I contributed most of this list a year or so ago in an email message to the CHDK discussion at; it's nice to see it incorporated into the FAQ, and it's still accurate. One addition to make: now Lemke's Graphic Converter also reads CHDK RAW directly.

DNG ("Digital Negative") files have merit as a standardized format for RAW images, which are otherwise entirely ad hoc. But it's still an open question as to whether a 10-bit RAW from my Powershot S2 is dramatically preferable to the 8-bit jpeg prepared by the camera - the jpeg is pretty well optimized. In my experience RAW wins only occasionally, and it certainly is more work compared to even the substantial jpeg editing I do sometimes. A decidedly critical appraisal of RAW is at

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Ken Rockwell is a hypocrite
Authored by: alec kinnear on Apr 05, '09 02:46:01PM

Hypocritical old Ken Rockwell now does use RAW. He should pull the crappy old article down.

I do agree that the Powershot JPEGs are pretty good for daylight and flash.

For night/low-light shots, they fall on their face though.

Very useful hint.

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[ Reply to This | # ]
CHDK RAW via DNG or direct access
Authored by: thwaite on Apr 06, '09 10:32:50AM

CHDK now includes an option to create .dng files directly in those cameras it supports. This adds a second or two to the next-shot delay, but the .dng files include the camera curves and white-balance info for use if desired - very versatile for post-processing. And Adobe's DNG converter recognizes and compresses them (losslessly).

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Actually, iPhoto DOES support DNG
Authored by: Makosuke on Sep 30, '08 05:30:55PM

The hint notes that iPhoto does not support RAW or DNG--this is wrong.

Older iPhoto versions don't, but the most recent version ('08 / v7) does support DNG (and some RAW formats, I believe)--it's one of the features that Apple made a big deal about.

Given that I just upgraded to iLife '08 exclusively for the added support of DNG files in iPhoto, I thought this was worth correcting.

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