I ran across some interesting information regarding Canon PowerShot Point and Shoot Cameras (not the DSLR types, but the pocket sized auto and auto/manual types). People have figured out how to load custom software into the cameras and expand their operating parameters.
The Project is called "CHDK", is open source, and worked by folks around the world. Some of the basic functions include:
There are several different builds that include other functions (like motion detection triggers, bracketing on multiple parameters--Time, Aperture, ISO, etc.). The cool thing too is that these cameras are only $150-$600 list price and are very popular lines (A5xx, A6xx, A7xx, S2, S3, G7). They are also working on newer models (G9, A720IS, etc.--new OS but very similar code).
- Save images in RAW format
- Ability to run "Scripts" to automate the camera
- Live histogram (RGB, blended, luminance and for each RGB channel)
- Zebra mode (blinking highlights and shadows to show over/under exposed areas)
- An "always on" full range Battery indicator
- Ability to turn off automatic dark-frame subtraction
- a higher compression movie mode, and double the maximum video file size
- exposure times as long as 65 seconds
- exposure times as little as 1/64,000 of a second
- ability to use the USB port for a remote trigger input
My camera is not currently supported, but it appears to be a very safe and easy. Just drop the code (and script files) on a data card, and it is loaded into RAM on boot (does not save itself over existing code in flash memory).