I seem to be getting into the habit of acquiring older gear and then facing the uphill battle of making it work with more modern equipment. Recently, I wandered into the local pawn shop here in Woodland Park and discovered a used Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (350D) DSLR camera sitting on the shelf. I’d always wanted a DSLR with which to try some astro-imaging but wasn’t willing to shell out the bucks for a new one. So, I laid out the cash and took the 350D home with me to check it out.
Did I mention that we moved from Colorado Springs to Woodland Park this spring? We found ourselves a nice house on an acre with mostly dark skies overhead. You can actually see the Milky Way on moonless nights–completely unlike the washed out urban sky in Colorado Springs. We love it! If you noticed that there haven’t been any additions to the ol’ web site for more than a year, now you know why. It’s a lot of work to get one house ready for sale, sell it, find a new house, buy it, and get moved. I’m pooped. Anyway, let me tell you a little bit about the new camera and what it took to get things up and running.
Plugging it in
The 350D connects to a PC via USB, just like most cameras made over the past several years. It turns out that the 350D has two communications modes, selectable from its menu: Print/PTP and PC Connection. Counterintuitively, if you want to be able to browse the contents of the 350D’s memory from your PC (like you would a USB thumb drive), the 350D’s communication mode should be set to Print/PTP, not PC Connection (PC Connection mode, as I would learn later, is used for controlling the camera from the PC). Once in the Print/PTP mode and connected via USB (and turned on), Windows 10 detected it, installed drivers for it, and the camera popped up as a device on my PC as expected. Great! Now to see if I could find the manual and software it would have come with new.
Filling in the Gaps
How often do you buy some second-hand gear and get all the accessories that were originally included? Yeah–not very often. My used 350D came with the camera, lens, strap, charger, and battery. No lens caps, no manual, and no software CD. No problem, right? We have eBay and Google, after all.
The 350D was released about a decade ago and has long since been replaced by a parade of newer models. Thankfully, software and manuals are still available on Canon’s support page for the 350D. Well, if you look hard enough, anyway. Canon’s support page automatically detects which operating system you’re running and adjusts its list of downloads accordingly. For Windows 10, Canon’s list of drivers and software was pretty slim. Fortunately, the page allows me to select other operating systems, and selecting Windows 7 gave me a much larger list. From that list I ended up downloading
- Digital Photo Professional 3.14.48 Updater
- Picture Style Editor 1.15.20 Updater
- PhotoStitch 3.1.23 Updater
- ZoomBrowser 6.9.0a Updater
Then I switched to the “Brochures and Manuals” portion of the support page and downloaded the manuals for each of these (except PhotoStitch, for which no manual was listed), and for the camera itself. Then I noticed there were manuals for something called “EOS Utility,” which wasn’t listed on the software and drivers page. I found that download by switching the operating system to “Vista”, and downloaded “EOS Utility 2.7.3 Updater”. I also found “EOS USB WIA Driver 6.0.0 for Windows” and downloaded that, too, just in case (more on that later). I rummaged around a bit more on the support page to see if I’d missed anything, but that seemed to be about it. Now to see if I can get this stuff to install.
Getting it all Installed
So, what’s with the word “Updater” in the names of all the software I downloaded? Turns out, these installers won’t install the software unless you already have some Canon software installed (from the CD that came with your camera). So, those of us who don’t have the CD are out of luck? Great–what genius thought of that idea? Fortunately, it’s easy enough to trick the installers into thinking that older versions are installed by creating some entries in the Windows registry. This page provides instructions for how to create the registry entries. For Windows 10 (64-bit version on my desktop PC) I needed the following entries:
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Canon\EOS Utility] [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Canon\DPP] [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Canon\ZoomBrowser EX] [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Canon\ZoomBrowser EX\Settings] [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Canon\ZoomBrowser EX\Install] [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Canon\PhotoStitch] [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Canon\EOS Capture] [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Canon\EOSViewerUtility] [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Canon\ODSK]
For 32-bit Windows 10 (on my netbook), I used these entries:
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Canon\EOS Utility] [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Canon\DPP] [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Canon\ZoomBrowser EX] [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Canon\PhotoStitch] [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Canon\EOS Capture] [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Canon\EOSViewerUtility] [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Canon\ODSK]
Once I had the registry keys in place, everything installed just fine. So far, so good.
Of all the software that I just installed, the app that I was most interested in was EOS Utility, because it allows you to control the camera and take exposures using your PC. I could envision using that on my netbook to control the camera while it was attached to my telescope, outdoors under the stars. Not only does EOS Utility allow you to easily manage the camera, it also downloads each picture from the camera to the PC immediately after it’s taken. That’s really handy for seeing the results and making adjustments on the fly (especially when you consider that the EOS 350D doesn’t have “live preview” mode on the LCD screen).
However, I couldn’t get the EOS Utility to recognize the camera when it was connected to the netbook. I mentioned above that the camera communication mode needs to be set to PC Connection in order for it to be controlled from the PC. However, when the camera was in that mode and connected to the netbook, Windows 10 tried but failed to install drivers for it. So, I tried installing the EOS USB WIA driver that I downloaded, and son of a gun–it worked! On the netbook, anyway. No such luck on my desktop PC running Windows 10 64-bit. I tried compatibility mode and a few other things but could not get the EOS USB WIA driver to even install on the 64-bit machine. Since I was planning to use the netbook for camera control anyway, it was no big deal.
So, despite using a 10-year-old camera and some older software, I was able to successfully connect the camera to my Windows 10 netbook and control it for astrophotography. In a future post I’ll describe how I use EOS Utility during an astro-imaging session