Canon Treats Digital Rebel XT Owner Like Pawnshop Scavenger

Consumerist alum Joel Johnson has a beef with Canon and their decision to treat him, the proud purchaser of Canon Digital Rebel XT, like he found the camera in a dumpster.

The software that came bundled with my Canon Digital Rebel XT no longer works on the latest version of OS X. No problem, right? I’ll just download the update from Canon. But oh ho! They’ve bundled all the functionality into a new application called “EOS Utility,” which is now packaged with cameras newer than mine. And because it’s a newer bit of software, Canon’s (rather helpful) customer service people want me to pay $20 for a copy of the new software.

I understand not getting free software updates for life, but it’s doubly frustrating in this case, because 1) I brought the camera in part because of the functionality promised by their software (functionality I used to have until I upgraded my Mac), and 2) it’s stupid that Canon won’t just let the users of their cameras download the software in the first place. Even if I had bought a camera that came with the newer “EOS Utility” software, Canon would force me to pay for a new disc if I lost or broke the original. Their rationale? According to the customer service rep: “What if someone bought a Canon from a pawn shop? Then they could have the software for free!” The horror!

I love my Rebel, but I’m extremely put out by Canon’s decision to maximize every bit of profit instead of providing a person who purchased their product with the best experience possible.

We’ll give our old bossman the same advice we give you: don’t stop with Tier 1, escalate! Knowing Joel, he’s probably already found a free copy of the new software online somewhere, but if he hasn’t, anyone know where he can get it?

Either way, Canon’s policy is wack. Why should it matter if Joel traded a newborn child the camera underneath the docks? Successive generations of owners shouldn’t have degraded user experiences. — BEN POPKEN


Edit Your Comment

  1. Odwalla says:

    Go over to and search for what you need. I lost the disc that came with my Canon PowerShot A95. The only software available on Canon’s site was being distributed as upgrades that required the original disc. Frustrated, I went over to Pirate Bay, searched for “Canon A95 software” and had a CD image of my missing disk downloading about ten seconds later.

  2. danieldavis says:

    Yes, escalate. When my product discs dont work, I talk them into sending me a new one, thus avoiding the horseshit fee they place upon a new disc.

  3. KevinQ says:

    I, too, have a Rebel XT, running on an OS X laptop, and all my software runs fine. I did notice that I have the EOS Utility software, as well as CameraWindow, Digital Photo Professional, and Image Browser. What doesn’t work for him.


  4. Joel Johnson says:

    Yeah, I ended up having a nice friend of mine with a newer Canon send me an .iso of the disc.

    It blows me away when you talk to customer service agents and finally get them to admit the party line makes no sense whatsoever, but that there’s nothing they can do about it. Someone should start a website about customer service and the consumer experience!

  5. TPIRman says:

    I’ve been stung by this, too. My product CD was similarly outdated for OS X, and I went to the Canon website to download an update. After a half hour of searching, I was stunned to finally realized that they wanted me to pay up. Like Joel, I understand that not all software upgrades are free, but we’re not talking about Photoshop here (and even Adobe gives away maintenance updates). The Canon utilities are one rung above product drivers.

    Somebody at Canon thinks they’re in the business of selling software rather than cameras. That’s a mistake, because their cameras are great, but their software? Not.

    I solved my problem by doing what Odwalla recommends — I kept my wallet closed and downloaded what I needed off the Bay.

  6. Joel Johnson says:

    Also, jfc, this site looks so much better than it did in my day. Good job on that.

  7. nweaver says:

    Question: how much does the cannon software buy you?

    I’m quite happily using the native Mac photo utilitiy with my XTi.

  8. Vinny says:

    My XT works perfectly with the Canon software and all the native Apple apps.

    Granted, they run in Rosetta, but if you install what came with your XT and then update it with what’s on Canon’s site, all is right with the world.

  9. B0rked says:

    While I agree that Canon’s policy about requiring the original CD to get updates is downright dumb (as if the utilities are going to be of much use to someone who doesn’t own a Canon camera), as long as you have that CD you can download pretty much any update you like.

    I don’t use OSX, but I’m assuming Canon is using the same method as a Windows installation:

    1) Install the applications from the CD. You don’t necessarily need to RUN the applications, they just need to be installed. YOU CANNOT INSTALL ANY UPDATED VERSIONS OF CANON’S SOFTWARE WITHOUT INSTALLING THE BASE VERSIONS FROM THE CD. The installer looks for them, and if it doesn’t find it, it quits with an error. At the very least, you need to install the EVU software to be able to install EOSUtility.

    2) Download the EOSUtility and install it. It’ll see the previous application installed on the system, and let you install it. If I remember correctly, it will also uninstall the older utility for you as well.

    Unless you plan on attaching the camera to your computer so you can either download photos from the memory card, remote control the camera, embed your name into the camera (so when you shoot RAW, your name is attached to the file as the author automatically), or shoot in tethered mode, you really don’t even need the utilities on the CD. Downloading from a USB memory card reader will be a lot quicker than from the camera, save some wear and tear on the USB port on the camera, and (if it’s anything like how it is on Windows) if you shoot RAW, you’ll actually be able to see the files on the memory card (under Windows, if you open the device in My Computer, you only see JPG files. If you shoot RAW, you need to use Canon’s utility, or just use a memory card reader).

    Also, just so you know, newer CD’s are pretty much retro-active. For example, I own a 20D and a 5D. The software from the 5D will work with the 20D. So, in the off chance that you do lose your CD, if you know someone who has the same Canon camera as you, or the updated model, you could (theoretically speaking of course ;) ) use their CD.

  10. bokononist says:


    You should put the ISO online here, or wherever your website is now. Force Canon to defend their inane policy when they ask you to take it down.

  11. kartoos says:

    Easiest way to get canon software browse their canadian or European websites. Apparantely those folks are special.

  12. Dibbler says:

    Wow, this is crap.

    I threw away my cd’s awhile back. I’d installed them on the computer so keeping them seemed like a waste. I just assumed that the software is probably out of date anyway and figured on just downloading them if the need ever came up later. Bad move on my part and a guarantee that I won’t buy a Canon the next time I buy a new camera.

  13. ngwoo says:

    Uhhh…. does anyone actually install the software that comes with cameras and scanners, etc….
    It is completely unnecessary.

  14. endless says:

    seconded Zeke’s comment.

    (PS shoot nikon ;) )

  15. soj17 says:

    Quit bitching and buy or download the software. Boo Facking Hoo, should I call Adobe and demand a new version of Photoshop because I upgraded my old machine and now Photoshop will not work will the newer operating system? What happened to everything just works with an Apple? You don’t deserve everything for free and Canon is in business to make money. Their product worked as advertised then you, admittedly, changed your system and now are complaining that their software does not work with something they never claimed it would. Heck while you are at it you might as well demand a new camera as well and then complain here when they tell you to, and rightfully so, kiss off.

  16. Ben Popken says:

    @soj17: Goodbye troll.

  17. mathew says:

    I have 4 Canon cameras of various kinds, and yeah, this policy sucks.

    If it’s any consolation, Nikon’s customer service is far worse.

  18. Seth_Went_to_the_Bank says:

    Why is there always one apologist/blamer in every thread?

    Statistically, it’s seem kind of strange, no?

  19. Mark 2000 says:

    at least they updated the software. Almost none of Canon’s scanners have driver’s for intel macs. rosetta software still works, but Photoshop cs3 doesnt see my scanners. The techies said it does work and when i said many people on forums also where having problems he told me people on forums don’t matter. Canon also cripples their software on macs so that their printers don’t work over a network. Canon and Mac just don’t go well together.

  20. ptrix says:

    I am not sure about what the Canon software is supposed to do, but if you need it to transfer pics from the camera to your mac, wouldn’t iPhoto do as good a job, or better, in addition to allowing some basic photo editing functionality?

    That’s what I used on my mac when I purchased my last digital camera, and it has worked supurbly for photo transfers. Have you given it a try yet?

  21. krunk4ever says:

    1st of all, I agree Canon shouldn’t just allow anyone to arbitrarily download their software. This isn’t just drivers to get your product working. This includes image software that actually cost money.

    However, upon proving ownership (either by registering your camera on their website via model # and serial # – only 1 account per serial #), you should be able to download updates to software to work on the latest OS (if the model is still supported and within warranty).

    Finally, I’ve never installed software that comes with digital cameras anymore. With USB memory card readers, I have my own preferred set of software that I use to edit, print, and upload my photos.

  22. Kobe_No_Means_No says:

    Sorry if this sounds mean, but this is what happens when you choose an operating system that only has 5% market share.

  23. NeoteriX says:


    I’ll be the third to say that Canon’s bundled software sucks. :)

    Out of curiosity, what software do you need? Often there are free or better options for the most basic camera tasks.

    (don’t ban me!)

  24. arachnophilia says:

    do canon cameras need software to work on macs?

    i don’t know, because i’m a nikon-owning pc-using kinda guy. basically, i installed bloatware that came with my camera, poked around with it for 3 minutes, and promptly uninstalled it. i’m much happier simply plugging it in, and using windows, as my d200 shows up as a removable usb drive. no drivers needed, or anything.

    of course, i can see that the situation might be different with a completely different setup. if you, in fact, NEED the software… well that sucks to have to pay more money after dropping a thousand bucks on a new camera. glad piracy worked out for you. :D

  25. genterara says:

    everything is free on the internet.

    anyway, as the first commenter said, just use piratebay or demonoid.

  26. palaste says:

    Erm, am I missing something here? So what if someone got their Canon EOS camera from a pawnshop? He owns it then, and as an owner, he’s entitled to the software. As long as the ownership was transferred legally (he didn’t steal it or anything), Canon shouldn’t be able to have a problem with it. What are they going to do, force people to resell their old cameras for full retail value?

  27. andyj76 says:

    If I buy the software, can I get a free camera? :-)

    I have a Canon Rebel, but I haven’t installed any of the bundled software. Is there something I’m missing out on?

  28. ShadowFalls says:

    Though you can partially blame Joel Johnson for not checking ahead of time before he made such an update, the blame mostly lies here on Canon. They specify MacOS X support but fail to even mention the versions of which it will not meaning they should support the said product.

    You can’t expect them to support an older OS after so much time has went by, but you can expect such if the OS is within the same version. Imagine them not providing support for Windows XP service packs 1 or 2 if they were not functioning, the same applies here. Also, to say you don’t support this without a cost, giving the excuse of you could have got the camera at a pawn shop, that is just laughable. So what? Should I get less support for an operating simply because I won it at a contest or bought a second hand pc that came with it?

    In the end, Canon has been letting me down for years, if people can’t trust in reliable support, they will think twice before buying your product, going with someone who actually cares.

  29. HawkWolf says:

    I’m going to assume that the software that comes with the camera includes RAW conversion software. That means it lets you have full control over the literally raw output from your camera’s sensor, as opposed to dealing with JPEGs that the camera has already prettied up the way it sees fit.

    Unlike drivers and ‘photo library’ software, that’s something that isn’t included in OS X and is something you generally would need to purchase. There’s also PhotoStitch, which lets you create panorama shots, and software that lets you control your camera with your computer, which is probably useful if you have a studio for photographing ‘things’ en masse (like you sell stuff on ebay or something.)

    If you don’t use the software on a CD, then you need to buy something (or pirate it for free by downloading it off the internet, duh) which does one of those things, *IF* you want to do them. If you already own Adobe Camera RAW or Aperture or whatever, you probably could care less for the software that came with the camera.

    Considering that people who owned non-UB pro applications FROM APPLE had to pay 50 dollars or something to get the Universal Binary versions, it’s not incredibly insane to suggest that someone pay 20 dollars for the latest, updated versions of software. Do remember that software development is not free unless you explicitly set out to make free / open-source software.

    (Btw, if you want to see what software comes with the camera, check here: )

  30. chimmike says:

    +1 to using Nikon. I can still get software for my old coolpix 4300, and my D50, for free :D

  31. Raze50 says:

    Some of the things you could do:

    a) Look hard. Some of the programs on that CD may now have appropriate updates available online. Look in Canon’s Download Library ( for the Rebel XT and see if any of them will do the trick. Tiger has been out for awhile, now, so I doubt you’re the first person to need the software updated.

    b) Escalate at Canon. I’m really surprised that they would want to charge you for the new software, because, in my experience, Canon has some of the best Customer Service of any of the major camera manufacturers. I speak from some experience as I was a Camera repair tech for an independent Camera Shop for more than a year. We dealt with all makes and models, and Canon (shone? shined?) sparkled. Get in contact with the supervisor, let them know that this could be enough to finally push you to buy Nikon D40x, and I bet they’ll help you out. I always had really good experiences with the Customer Service/Repair center in Illinois.

    c) Use alternative software if you need to process RAW images. There are tons of photo apps out there, as many have stated above. Lots are free, many are craptastic. Canon’s RAW converter (part of Digital Photo Pro series) is nothing to be overly obssesed about. In fact, Photoshop Elements will do all of the same stuff, and uses Adobe Camera Raw to boot. Adobe Camera Raw is much more faithful in color reproduction than anything Canon has put out.

    d) Go make friends at the local camera shop. Provided there is one near you. And I’m not talking about Wolf, or Ritz, or any of the big box electronic stores. Stay away from the corporate entities. Find the Mom and Pop store that has been selling cameras since the 70’s and make friends with the sales people and especially the repair techs if they do repairs. Chances are that they have spare software from display models or refurbs or rental equipment, that they can share or they would be willing to outright copy for you. Or they might have some better suggestions for you…or if
    you’re really nice, they might put you in contact with their Canon sales rep and s/he can help you out.

    In the end, you have to think around the typical obstacles. There’s always a way, and saying “It’s not fair they don’t support my OS” and pouting is not an option. Good luck!

  32. MeOhMy says:

    Shoulda gotta Pentax :-)

    I can’t imagine what that software could possibly do…if my *istDL even came with a CD, I just filed it away without even looking at it.

    Sad that a big ship like Canon doesn’t realize that that nickel’s worth of revenue cost a lot more in lost customer satisfaction.

  33. I had the same problems with Olympus. I bought an Olympus XD card that came with a code to unlock specific features in the software. When I installed the software it was a newer version and didn’t contain those features. When I called Olympus they wanted me to pay $29.95 for the older software….NOT!

  34. Pasketti says:

    I see that this camera uses CF memory cards.

    Here’s what you do to future-proof yourself, and make the software totally unnecessary:

    Purchase a USB – CF adapter, like this one: . You can probably find one locally.

    Remove the CF card from the camera, plug it into the adapter, then plug the adapter into the USB port on the computer. This makes it appear as a drive on the computer.

    Then just copy the pictures off.

    This has the advantage of being EXTREMELY portable. You can carry the adapter in the camera bag, and use it on any computer at any time – no need to install the software.

  35. phrygian says:

    @Mark 2000: It is possible to network a Canon printer with Macs. I have a Canon printer at home and it’s networked; my home network is all Macs and an OpenBSD box.

  36. zentec says:


    It’s far more of the market for serious hobby and professional photographers. This isn’t a matter of Apple support; I can plug my iBook into a $45,000 Ikegami video camera and they talk over the Firewire port like they were brothers. The issue is Canon’s software so you can use all the features of the camera they sold you.

    It’s a convenient matter to say “well, should have used a PC”. Obstinate corporate attitudes toward their customers is indeed platform independent and next time it’s just as likely to happen to Windows users.

  37. forumreader says:

    “Erm, am I missing something here? So what if someone got their Canon EOS camera from a pawnshop? He owns it then, and as an owner, he’s entitled to the software. “

    It depends if the camera came with the software at the pawnshop. If it didn’t, then no, he’s really not entitled to the software because he didn’t pay for it, he only paid the pawnshop for the camera.

    The original purchaser paid for a bundle of the camera and the software, both of which Canon put time and money into developing.

    I see no problem with Canon asking for the $20 in that case.

    I do agree that they should give the software away to registered users of older cameras needing support on newer systems. It’s just good customer service.

    Canon still makes a better product than Nikon, no matter how terrible their bundled software is ;)

  38. nighthwk1 says:



    I’ve never installed the utilities for any digital camera, since any recent OS can already read raw photos, and there are much better (sometimes free) tools for photo viewing, manipulation, etc.

    I’m not sure if plugging the camera directly into any USB port will work on every system, but I just use a CF reader, which is faster anyway.

    The bundled software, usually something like Photoshop Elements, is equally useless.

  39. Buran says:

    @endless: Nikon does this as well to some extent, although I too never installed the Nikon utilities — I use a D200 now with Photoshop & Aperture. However, many people do like the utilities that come with cameras.

    I have had to help my boss with his Canon software, and I ran into the “you need the CD” problem myself. I don’t recall how I managed to fix it. I think Google pointed me to a full download somewhere … and since he owned the camera, it wasn’t anything underhanded.

  40. Buran says:

    @forumreader: Whether or not Canon is better than Nikon is debatable. I love my D200. I don’t like Canon’s ergonomics or controls. But when someone comes to me asking what they should get I admit I have more Nikon experience … but then I say “If you already have lenses go with that brand so you can keep using them. If you don’t, go to a shop and try both cameras and buy which one you like the feel of.”

    Honestly, they’re both great and which one to buy really depends on personal preference.

    Some people I’ve talked to have bought Nikons (and with the D40 the cost of an SLR body plus a lens has really come down). Some have bought Canons. All have come back to me and thanked me for the advice. Actually holding the cameras makes a bigger difference than reading every online forum there is.

  41. Sephira says:

    What software in particular were you looking for?

    Click Drivers and Downloads then Drivers/Software. Make sure you allow the popup.

  42. Buran says:

    @Ben Popken: Er? While I’m sure the opinion is unpopular, the guy was raising a valid point. Canon doesn’t offer upgrades in perpetuity for free; not all do. Some do (which is nice) but if they don’t … downloading the app anyway as a lot of people are suggesting is illegal (although understandable).

    Although I admit the “everything just works with an Apple” thing isn’t always true. It’s easier to make things work with OS X but that’s not a blanket guarantee.

  43. Buran says:

    @Kobe_No_Means_No: I don’t think that’s a valid complaint, and besides I think that number is too small. Plus keep in mind that you are talking to a photographer. Macs have long been far more common in the photography/graphic design field than they are in the general public computer pool. They’re also gaining market share in research and education.

    But as long as Macs are supported by a given developer, they’re obligated to provide that support. And blaming the user is not going to solve the problem. If you think using a Mac is a dumb idea, then don’t use one — but don’t levy your platform bias on other people.

    Or do you think I’m an idiot based on my computer choice, too?

  44. Mark 2000 says:


    Maybe you have a different model. I know for a fact that all the compact home printers can not be shared from one computer to the rest of the network. When I asked the tech way he said it was impossible. Of course it is possible on my windows. Canon just won’t support it.

  45. tcp100 says:

    I dunno, mac people. The guy did choose to update his OS. That’s not wrong, of course, but imagine the ridicule from the Apple crowd if this were a Vista problem – the blame would be pointed squarely at Microsoft and the idiot who chose to go to Vista, no doubt. Please don’t read this as me saying there’s something wrong with the guy updating his OS – I’m just a little chagrined at the hypocrisy sometimes from the Mac crowd, saying “nothing breaks, everything just works”. Get real, please.

    I have two Canon DSLRs, and personally have never cracked the seal on the lousy software.. I use Adobe Camera Raw, which suits my needs (but of course isn’t free). I’ve always been a big avoider of bundled software, because it’s typically crap.

    I also don’t believe Canon is obligated to support you while your camera is no longer in warranty.. And that’s a question – is the OP’s camera still under warranty?

    Canon gave me a free cleaning and plenty of support for my 10D when it was still under warranty; now they want to charge $50 for it. I don’t really think that’s wrong.

    If the original poster’s camera was under warranty (and I’m thinking it’s not, since he’s implying it was bundled with an older software suite) Canon may have some obligation to provide an update, if available. If not? No, they aren’t obligated to support him, and $20 is not unreasonable.

  46. forumreader says:


    “Whether or not Canon is better than Nikon is debatable.”

    Oh, I know, I was just kidding around (hence the winky). I’ve got a good friend that shoots Nikon and we’re always giving each other crap about lenses and the new products the competitors come out with.

  47. j.b. says:

    Wait, what’s wrong with being a pawnshop scavenger?

  48. dlinkwit27 says:

    I don’t see how _you_ updating your OS makes anything _their_ fault. Software/Bandwidth cost money.

    This is just like when software doesn’t work for Vista. It’s neither Microsoft’s or the Software company’s fault that you didn’t check to see if it was compatible.

    What’s next, demanding McDonald change their cup sizes when their cups don’t fit in the new car you bought?

  49. tcp100 says:

    “What’s next, demanding McDonald change their cup sizes when their cups don’t fit in the new car you bought?”

    You honestly don’t think this is something that some folks on here would propose!?

    I agree with you. Listen, I’m all for keeping the big guys in line, but sometimes you need to understand that it’s not always an evil corporate conspiracy against the little guy. A company such as Canon, who produces support software as a secondary product cannot simply support every OS for every user everywhere forever, free of charge.

    $20 probably covers your support call, shipping, the cost of burning the disc – I’m sure it barely touches development costs. If Canon wanted, they’d be fully within their rights to “end-of-life” the products and not support newer OS versions.

    Maybe I should call up Casio and try to get Vista drivers for my 1997 QV-10a?

    I love the consumerist and everything it stands for, but I honestly think sometimes this site needs to step back a bit and look at the big picture. Asking a measly $20 for an out-of-warranty software update is not treating a customer like a second class citizen. (Although being a pawn shop scavenger can be a good thing, so maybe the Consumerist was complimenting Canon?)

  50. tcp100 says:

    I’m sorry.. I meant to say “You honestly don’t think this is something that some folks on here WOULDN’T propose”

    I do think there are a few folks here who would insist McDonalds make cupholder-friendly-cups if a new popular car model came out with odd sized holders! And therein lies my point, I think. :)

  51. Joel Johnson says:

    Some things people are missing: I didn’t upgrade my OS, but actually upgraded my Mac to an Intel-based model. Same OS, but the old software doesn’t work on the new hardware.

    Also, the software I needed was to capture images directly from the camera with a remote control (from the Mac), not just copy images from the memory card to my machine. That’s a very specific thing that I needed Canon’s software to do – and I *could* do it on my old G4 Powerbook.

    My point remains only this: Is it wrong that Canon charges money for upgrades to their software? No, it’s their right to do it. It’s just shitty to do so. I think my $1,000 purchase of the camera paid them enough for software they’re going to write anyway, since they bundle it with the newer versions of the camera.

    And as for the “no downloads for any users” policy, that makes my life as a legitimate Canon user more inconvenient while clearly does nothing to stop me from pirating the software if I choose.

    Anyway, not a huge deal, all told, but just a bad customer service experience.

  52. AcidReign says:

    …..HP did the same thing with their inkjet drivers in the 1990s. Upgrade to windows 98? Had to buy a new driver, I think for about $12. Funny thing is that Windows XP recognizes the ten year old printer with no installation.

    …..I have a couple of years old Nikon. Their Coolpix software was a pain, then I discovered that you could just browse the camera memory itself, like it was a portable hard drive. You’re going to set up your photo albums the way you want, anyway, not in Coolpix’s byzantine system. And as an image editor, it was weak.

  53. iPhoto on Mac (I’m using 10.4.9) does delicious things like processing RAW images. So use that! I do!