Canon EOS Utility:
The Canon 450D comes with a "Canon
EOS Digital Solution Disk" that contains the camera driver
and a number of software programs for the camera. "Digital
Photo Professional" is one of the programs for viewing files
and also converting RAW files to other image formats such as TIF
files. For imaging I have done in the past with the Canon 300D,
remote control operation of the camera was possible using Canon's
"Remote Capture" software supplied with the camera.
The Canon 450D comes instead with camera control software called
"EOS Utility". For astro imaging, an advantage of the
new "EOS Utility" software is that long exposures via
the bulb setting are now possible using the supplied USB 2.0 cable
for connecting the camera to a computer. "EOS Utility"
also operates the "live view" feature of the 350D which
is a very easy way to achieve a good focus.
I operate the scope and mount
on my deck observatory via an ethernet
connection over power line from a 50 inch plasma Hi-Def TV
in my recroom. The Canon "EOS Utility" software worked
well over the remote connection. Here is an overview of the camera's
With the USB cable connected between
the 450D and the already booted computer, turning the camera on
will open the window "Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi".
In this window, the "EOS Utility" icon can be selected
and then the "Camera Settings/Remote Shooting" icon
to open the remote control program seen on the left.
The image on the left shows the
settings I used to take flat frames. The window shows battery
strength and how many more images can fit on the camera's SD card.
The round button at the top is the shutter button and below it
you can specify the save directory for the images. The second
section of the window shows "M" for manual mode and
the number "5" which is the exposure setting of 1/5
On the display to the left, the
camera has been set to Bulb mode for long exposures.
The ISO setting is 800 and the
images will be saved in RAW format. The icon to the right of "RAW"
is showing that the current setting for saving images is to both
computer and camera SD card. Below this icon is a small "stopwatch"
icon. If you click on this, the following "Timer shooting
settings" window will open:
The "Timer shooting settings"
window can be used to take multiple exposures in bulb mode including
a delay setting and timer interval. I used the above settings
to take 5 images, each 1 minute long with a 15 minute delay time.
After clicking the "Start" button, the following window
will appear during the exposures:
Live View: The third icon at the bottom of the main
window as shown below starts the Live View operation:
A "Remote Live View window"
opens as shown below:
The display in the Live View window
above has a rectangle that can be grabbed and moved anywhere on
the display. Clicking on the rectangle will open a new window
that Canon says is "enlarged at 100% (actual pixel size)
in the Zoom View window" as shown below:
I have not found a way in the
Canon EOS Utility Software to adjust the Zoom magnification of
the Canon Zoom View feature. It would beneficial to have the ability
to adjust the zoom amount for focusing on astro objects such as
stars, planets and lunar features. So, I have been using non-Canon
display magnifier software programs to further enlarge the zoomed
image on the computer display for more accurate focusing. Here
is an example using the freeware "Virtual
Magnifying Glass" that can magnify up to 32X:
After setting focus using the
zoomed section of the image, the Live View windows are closed
and image exposures can be taken. Although the examples above
were for focusing on the Moon, focusing on stars or planets is
also possible (see below).
Clicking on the "Preferences"
button opens the following windows where parameters can be set:
With "Digital Photo Professional"
selected as a linked software in the above window, when an exposure
is taken, the image is displayed as a thumbnail in Digital Photo
Professional where it can be further analyzed.
Lunar image taken on 4/16/08 using
the above settings with an Orion ED80 refractor and 2X barlow
reduced to 1200X 1200 pixel size:
Live View Focusing
and non-Canon Magnifying Software:
With my older modified Canon Digital
Rebel 300D, my preferred method of focusing for astro imaging
was by eye through the viewfinder using a 2.5X varimagnifier.
I had also kludged together a webcam system using the varimagnifier
for easier focusing on a computer display as detailed Here.
Although I also used DSLR focus for camera control and timed exposures
with the 300D, its focusing routine of using still images transferred
from the camera to computer using the slow USB 1.1 connection
was awkward to use and took a long time. The "Live View"
mode of the Canon 450D provides a real time video of the subject
and in a fixed zoomed view, but for easier focusing I found that
a higher zoom magnification is helpful. Windows XP has a built
in magnifier tool under Start/ All Programs/ Accessories/ Accessibility/
Magnifier. It is a very basic magnifier. Fuller featured display
magnifiers are available as freeware. Here is one that I also
- Magnifying Glass 1 is a simple utility that zooms region of
screen under mouse cursor. This utility differs from many others
by set of unique features various contrast modes, various position
modes and transparency.
Magnifying Glass Features:
In the example below, the subject
was the star Regulus and a 127mm Triplet Refractor was used for
imaging. On the left is the "Remote Live View Window"
with Canon's Zoom View selection box in white centered on the
Field of View. The star Regulus appears near the center of the
selection box. It is dim in the example below because I had adjusted
the star's brightness to avoid overexposure in the Canon Zoom
View window. On the right is Canon's Zoom View window enlarging
the white boxed area. The square area labeled "Magnified
Glass inverted view" is the focusing display uisng the Magnifying
Glass software for an additional 4X magnification. I used the
"inverted" mode as an aid in focusing and this window
can be moved anywhere on the display to select a star or feature
for closer inspection. The "corner tracker" mode is
used here that is using the red highlighted corner as the pointing
Also shown at the the of the display
is a 4X magnified view of the star using the Windows XP built
in magnifier tool. This tool can magnify between 2X and 9X and
also has an "inverted" mode, not selected here.
My experience with webcam focusing
for astro imaging has been with using video focus software such
Details on how it uses a star's PSF and full width at half-maximum
(FWHM) measurement to achieve focus can be seen Here.
Hopefully in time, such software features will become available
for the Canon cameras equipped with live view including control
of ASCOM focus controllers.
I tried some other freeware magnification
utilities and although they had some great features for focusing,
most would only function for still images and not for video streams
such as the Canon live view display.