Introduction to Camera Control

This is the first in series of articles in which I will be looking at some of the ways that I use to remotely control a Canon DSLR; in this case an EOS 5D Mk2. Many of the techniques will also apply to other EOS cameras, and to cameras by other manufacturers.

Typical control scenarios include:

  • Timelapse – taking individual pictures over a period of time that can subsequently be stitched together as a movie. This includes automatic control of the shutter as well as the movement of the camera.
  • Stop Motion – similar to timelapse, but rather than using a times sequence, retaining control over individual frames, whilst providing automated movement of the camera.
  • Remote Picture and Video Capture – firing the shutter remotely by manual control where you can also get a remote image using Live View, and change aperture and shutter setting with the need to approach the camera.

Most of the detail in these articles is based on Canon DSLRs and software running on Apple Mac computers. Quite often the same software is available for Microsoft Windows platforms, or similar software can be found. I am using Mountain Lion, some of the steps may vary for earlier versions of OSX, especially around networking and the Image Capture application. One of the main reasons for writing this set of articles is that Apple made some changes when Lion and Mountain Lion were released. Existing knowledge on the web did not cover the changes, and led to much trial and error before getting some setup to work reliably.

Some of the control scenarios use WiFi connections, and I will cover any quirks in the set up for Apple-related platforms. These sections will require a basic knowledge of networks, such as setting IP addresses and WiFi settings.

I have excluded the “standard” remote controls, such as those provided by Canon and Hahnel as these are adequately covered elsewhere. For the record, I use the Canon RC-1 when I don’t need anything complicated, but do not want to touch the camera so as to minimise vibration. This remote works effectively for both still and video shooting. On other occasions I use the Hahnel Giga T Pro, which provides simple shutter control as well as a simple timelapse mechanism.

Before we get started, it may be useful to have access to the resources provided by the Canon Digital Learning Centre, especially the ones related to setting up the WFT in its various modes. The guides can be found here.

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