Linux and the Canon PowerShot A40: FAQ

Here is a collection of questions that I've been asked at least once. Not really frequently asked, but, oh well.

Please contact me with any further questions or issues, especially if you have a solution, and I'll add them to this page.

Thanks, Ben Edgington,
7 May 2003


Q Which versions of gphoto2 support the A40?

A As far as I am aware the A40 and A30 are supported from version 2.1.0 of gphoto2 onwards. As of 1 December 2002 the latest official version on the Gphoto website is 2.1.1, which does support the A40.

Q Where can I get binary packages of gphoto2 that support the A40?

A At the time of writing Debian "testing/sarge" contains gphoto2 2.1.0-9 which supports the A40. For other GNU/Linux distributions you may be in luck if some kind person has created a binary package for your particular distribution. An unofficial RPM of version 2.1.0 is available from FreshRPMS. If you can't find a binary you'll have to compile from source as per my instructions.

Jason Chagas reports that he obtained RPMS of gphoto2 version 2.1.1 from RPMfind, but that under RedHat 7.3 it could not detect the camera. Rebuilding libgphoto2 from the official 2.1.1 source code fixed the problem. Your mileage may vary.

Q Where can I get source packages of gphoto2 that support the A40?

A The latest official release of the gphoto2 source code is version 2.1.1 (1 December 2002). This supports the A40, and I recommend using it rather than the CVS code: it's a little more straightforward.

To get the source, follow the "Download" link from the Gphoto website. Make sure you download both libgphoto2-2.1.1 and gphoto2-2.1.1 which is the command-line front end to the library. This version of gphoto2 is the first in which the library and the command-line interface have been split into separate packages.

See my instructions for compiling the source code.

Q Everything seems OK, but the computer cannot see the camera!

A Make sure that you have the camera dial set to "playback" mode (the one with the little arrow). It won't work otherwise.

Q Are there any GUI front-ends for gphoto2?

A Pim Tigelaarx writes

This is to let you know, that I find a grafical user interface for Gphoto2. Digikam is the program, I've downloaded it from, version 0.5.1. I've downloaded the source tar-ball, because the RPM for SuSE doesn't run. When you want compile it, you have also have to install QT-library 3.0 and KDE-development libraries. This happens with me with my SuSE-installation. I don't know how it is with Debian of course. But you can give it a try. It works much prettier than with the command-line.

Pim is only the first to recommend digikam. It's OK, you can stop emailing me about it now!

Q How can I turn my A40 movies in compressed MPEGs to put on the web?

A See my A40 movies page.

Q Blergh, that looks horrendous. Isn't there an easier way to do it?

A If you just want to view and edit your movies under Linux then the mplayer/mencoder package is all you need. I never succeeded, however, in using this to make movies that could be viewed under Windows (with either Quicktime or Windows Media Player). Please let me know if you find a way!

Q So much for MPEG. How about converting to DIVX?

A You're in luck. Ben Low has provided some notes

Q How can I see the meta-data that the A40 stores alongside the images?

A The Canon A40 stores various information alongside the image within the JPEG files themselves. This is called Exif format. A lot of information about Exif format is available on the web.

If your gphoto2 has been compiled with Exif support, you can view this information in shell-mode with the show-exif command:

$ gphoto2 --shell
gphoto2: {gphoto2: {/tmp} /> } /> cd DCIM/105CANON
Detected a 'Canon PowerShot A40'.
Remote directory now '/DCIM/105CANON'.
gphoto2: {gphoto2: {/tmp} /DCIM/105CANON> } /DCIM/105CANON> show-exif IMG_0528.JPG
Downloading 'IMG_0528.JPG' from folder '/DCIM/105CANON'...
EXIF tags:
Tag                 |Value
Make                |Canon
Model               |Canon PowerShot A40


RelatedImageWidth   |1600
RelatedImageLength  |1200
EXIF data contains a thumbnail (3979 bytes).

However, the MetaCam program (which is available as a Debian package) does a slightly nicer job of decoding the Exif data. Failing these you could try a basic command-line Exif decoder written in Python.

Yet another Exif extraction utility is jhead. Ben Low uses jhead in his script for managing the files from his Canon S45, which he has kindly provided. He describes it as follows: I use gphoto (gtkam) to fetch the images, then run the script over the files to rename, rotate, encode, etc. I end up with a bunch of files named after their exif exposure date/time, much nicer than IMG_xxx.JPG and such :-). There's lots of nice stuff in it; well worth a look.