Nikon Firmware Hacking with Simeon Pilgrim from Nikon Hacker

  • S07E16
  • January 14, 2014

Improve the feature set of your Nikon DSLR with Nikon Hacker. Enable better video features and make your cheap camera work more like the expensive model.

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Topics Covered:

  • {play 4:24}Contest Announcement: Win a free copy of Wirecast 5 Pro.
  • {play 6:07}Feature: Interview with Simeon Pilgrim from Nikon Hacker.
    • How Nikon Hacker came about.
    • The team behind Nikon Hacker.
    • The modern Internet has made it possible to collaborate with a global team for projects such as Nikon Hacker.
    • The risks involved in patching a Nikon DSLR camera's firmware.
    • The dangers of flashing a Nikon camera are much less for end users than the developers, since Nikon Hacker releases patches that have been successfully tested. Beta, Alpha, and testing patches are also created, but not available through the default Nikon Hacker tool interface (the user must know the URL specifically to the applicable tool).
    • Simeon's proudest achievement with Nikon Hacker thus far: Hot pixel suppression. With this patch, people shooting the night sky will be able to take pictures without their camera suppressing the "pin pricks" of light generated by the stars.
    • The long-term goal with Nikon Hacker is to be able to allow people to add code to their firmware using an easy-to-use interface ala the Magic Lantern project for Canon cameras.
    • Currently, Nikon Hacker turns on features which Nikon turned off in their firmware, perhaps because it was not production-ready, or because they wanted to limit the camera based on price-point.
    • Nikon Hacker allows us to buy a cheaper Nikon camera and then activate some of the features available only in the more expensive models (eg., purchasing a D5100 and activating features that are otherwise only available in the D7000).
    • Being able to broadcast from a Nikon DSLR will produce incredible results, but at the moment is not quite possible for two reasons:
      1. While the camera's HDMI output canvas size is 720p after applying the current "Clean HDMI" patch from Nikon Hacker, due to the large amount of letterboxing presently on screen, the available image is closer to 970x652.
      2. The auto off timer when in Live View mode is hard set (at present) to no more than 15 minutes, so after 15 minutes of broadcasting, your DSLR will shut itself off, and potentially crash your Windows broadcast PC (BSOD) due to poor ability of HDMI to successfully hotswap on most popular capture cards.
    • Broadcasters could be an excellent target market for Nikon Hacker since being able to use our DSLR for broadasting could potentially save them thousands of dollars in camera hardware. Because of this, we are more likely to contribute say, $500 to the Nikon Hacker project than the photographer looking to save $10 by being able to use off-brand batteries.
    • [Quick focus break]
    • Nikon Hacker for live broadcasters.
    • How to help Nikon Hacker: if you have access to a Nikon specification sheet, please share it. This will help the project along the fastest.
    • Nikon's view on Nikon Hacker.
    • Patching a Nikon camera firmware has been made very easy by Nikon Hacker, but at this time uses Microsoft Silverlight. Linux users could use Moonlight. Robbie opted to use a virtual machine.
    • You can help the Nikon Hacker project by donating through their web site, or providing information if you know people who know things about Nikon cameras.
    • Contacting Simeon Pilgrim from Nikon Hacker.
    • Important Note About Quality: It can take a bit of work to get the gamma, contrast, color, exposure, and focus perfect on a DSLR source since it is very much a manual process (and genuinely requires either a separate person to operate the camera, or a model to use for focusing—we had neither). While you may think this is a downfall, keep in mind, the big, expensive broadcast cameras are entirely manual and also require a good operator. We're getting a similar featureset and outstanding quality for around the price of a consumer video camera.
  • {play 41:58}Top Stories from the Category5.TV Newsroom
    • Intel has announced a Linux computer the size of an SD card.
    • Joy of joys: MATE is coming to Ubuntu!
    • Remember the intelligent thermostat Christa showed you on Episode 214? The company that makes it is being bought by Google!
    • A Linux powered slow cooker can be controlled from your smartphone.
  • {play 51:50}Viewer Comment: Thank you for your kind words on Episode 327. I've started a Facebook group called Tetralogy of fallots and cardiac awareness, which acts as a Discussion/Support Group.
  • {play 52:51}Why our weather in Ontario has prevented Robbie from having outdoor fun with his kids.
  • {play 55:09}Viewer Comment: I found this video of Honda's Asimo robot, and in the video you can clearly see they are using Ubuntu Linux to control Asimo! Check out
  • {play 58:00}Viewer Comment: Take a look at what this person did with an Amazon Drone and a Raspberry Pi:
  • Host: Robbie Ferguson
  • Co-Host: Erika Lalonde

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