Can my Canon Powershot A510 be Hacked?
June 15, 2006 8:38 AM   Subscribe

My camera's video recording option is limited to 30 seconds which I think was done to prevent people from using it as a video camera and therefore drive sales for other products. I think that sucks. I should be able to record to my heart's content Does anyone savvy know of any way to hack the software/firmware to remove the 30 second limit?
posted by postergeist to Technology (9 answers total)
Are you sure it is related to the firmware and not the size of your memory card? What happens if you put in a different sized card?
posted by JJ86 at 8:49 AM on June 15, 2006

I suspect that the limitation is actually the size of the buffer memory. Your camera probably can't write to the flash memory as fast as the video information is coming in. Once that overflow takes up all of the camera's RAM, that's your limit.
posted by godawful at 8:50 AM on June 15, 2006

some canons can be hacked, to allow up to 3 minutes of video, so my guess is yours could be too, but that dosn't mean anyone has done it. Maybe you should try contacting the authors of those hacks.
posted by delmoi at 8:53 AM on June 15, 2006

They have fixed that on the newer model Canons, like the A540. Now they are limited to 1GB segments.
posted by smackfu at 8:58 AM on June 15, 2006

I think it's a compression engine/buffer limitation. The moves produced by most cameras are a sequece of JPEG frames and the compression engines are slow. If it takes longer than 1/15th of a second to compress a 15 FPS video stream, the camera is going to fall behind and eventually run out of incoming buffer space.
posted by GuyZero at 9:10 AM on June 15, 2006

I have a 1GB card so that shouldnt be a limitation.
posted by postergeist at 9:46 AM on June 15, 2006

It doesn't have to do with the memory card but the camera's internal buffer. The data comes off of the image sensor and is buffered while the compression engine turns the raw data into a JPEG file. This takes some time. It may write the compressed data directly to the storage card, but because the access times for flash memory are poor (relative to good old RAM) there's probably an output buffer as well between the compression engine and the storage card.

So, if the compression engine takes more than 1/15th of a second to compress a single frame and the sensor is recording at 15 frames a second, at some point the input buffer fills up.

It has nothing to do with your storage card's capacity. It might have something to do with the storage card's write speed, but those are sufficiently variable that I assume there's enough output buffer space to handle the slowest possible storage card.

Because people like recording longer video clips, more expensive and/or more modern cameras either have faster JPEG encoders or more buffer memory, both of which cost more. In some cases, cameras have actual MPEG encoder engines, which compress the data enough that it can be written directly to the storage card and that's when you get the unlimited clip sizes.
posted by GuyZero at 10:07 AM on June 15, 2006

Video on my Powershot S1IS seems to be limited to the size of the memory card - with a 4 gig microdrive I can shoot a lot of video. Haven't ever gone over the 1 gig size though, so I don't know if it is actually limited to that or not.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:57 AM on June 15, 2006

According to the posting above by delmoi, some guy was able to hack the firmware on some canon cameras to go from 30 second limits to 180 seconds. I emailed him and he said the only way for him to be able to do it is if Canon releases firmware for the camera which they haven't done yet. So i'm hopeful :)
posted by postergeist at 12:04 PM on June 15, 2006

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