Firmware hack to get advanced features on Canon A-series/Ixus
The Canon A-series and compact Ixus are some of the most popular consumer digicams out there but as with any consumer level camera they are missing several of the high-end features found on prosumer digicams and DSLRs. Usually you just have to deal with the features you get with the standard firmware. Camera manufacturers have not really embraced opening up their platforms to much modification or hacking. Luckily though Canon has left a bit of a loophole open on the A-Series and Ixus model so that you can modify the firmware and gain a whole slew of features.
The CHDK firmware can be loaded on to your SD card and temporarily replaces the standard firmware. This does not permanently change anything on your camera so if you want to revert to the standard firmware just pop out the memory card and power cycle the camera.
However, if you do install it here's a few of the powerful features you can get:
a. Enhanced ways of recording images - you can capture still pictures in RAW format (as well as JPEG), and for video images you can have increased recording time and length (1 hour or 2 GB), and a greatly increased range of compression options.
b. Additional data displays on the LCD screen - histogram, battery life indicator, depth of field, and many more.
c. Additional photographic settings that are not available on the camera by itself - longer exposure times (up to 65 seconds), faster shutter speeds (1/25,000 sec, and faster in some cases), automatic bracketing of exposure, etc.
There's more stuff you can do like trigger shots using the usb cable, playing games on your LCD and running scripts on the camera but the features above are probably the most attractive.