Let's face it: when it comes to tethering your camera in the field, laptops are the way to go. However even though they are considered a "portable" on the go solution they are not exactly a quick and simple setup. The alotted time for a shoot and the amount of space you have to shoot in can be a photographer's worst enemy. When shooting editorial projects often one is given little of either. So how do we achieve the benefits from tethering to a laptop but also provide flexibility and speed to meet these stringent demands? Enter the DSLR Controller app for Android.
Get the app on the Google Play Store here.
Not all Android devices and cameras are compatible. It should be noted that the app is still in Beta so expect bugs as well as occasional crashes. To view a list of compatible devices, click here.
1 Touch screen user interface provides quick access to all of your camera controls from image capture and video record to ISO adjustment.
2 Pinch to zoom for quickly checking focus and exposure areas upon image review.
3 Larger view external screen complete with live view that can be manipulated into various angles for viewing. Makes low or high angle shots a cinch.
4 Remote capture and image review with live view through a wifi access point (must have two android devices with the DSLR controller app for this feature to work)
The only thing this solution doesn't provide is a post processing workflow that would be available with your typical laptop or computer setup. But I would argue if you are keen on that feature, you will most likely have the time pre-shoot to set that up.
The Tablet Solution
To start you will need an Android tablet preferably with the latest Android however anything above 4.0 should suffice. This tablet must support a USB host connection. Most newer devices have this capability however some don't so it is best to check before purchasing. If you have an older device like I do, (HP Touchpad) it may support a USB host connection but be unable to provide built in power to this connection. For this type of configuration there is a solution below.
Android Tablet devices that support a built in powered USB Host
To just create a connection with the camera from your tablet without any mounting, you will need a USB OTG cable that plugs into the tablet and a usb cable that connects from that to the camera.
1 USB OTG Cable
2 USB to Mini-USB cable
Android Tablet devices that support a USB Host but is unpowered ( e.g. HP Touchpad )
Along with the items above you will also need the items below. The USB Y Cable will connect to the USB OTG cable, USB to Mini-USB cable, and the Tekkeon Mobile Power Pack which will allow you to supply power to the USB host.
1 USB Y Cable
2 Tekkeon Mobile Power Pack and ( 4 AA batteries sold seperately)
A list of items used to mount the tablet to a tripod as well as various images displaying the system in detail.
1 1/4-20 bolt with washer
Purchase at any local hardware store
2 ProClip Mounting Plate
3 ProClip Extension Plate
4 ProClip Swivel Mount
5 Manfrotto 143A Magic Arm
6 Manfrotto 035RL Super Clamp
A Few Notes and Tips
1 If you have a padded tripod you can mount the super clamp to the padded area. This particular tripod has carbon fiber legs with no padded area. I did not want to risk damaging the tripod legs so I mounted the super clamp to the center column. Mounting to a padded leg would provide easier center column adjustment.
2 If you are shooting a RAW workflow I recommend shooting RAW + Jpeg/Small to make the image transfer almost instantaneous when reviewing the images on your device. You will need to set DSLR Controller app to only import the jpeg files for review and you can find that in the settings section of the app itself.
In the next installment of this two part article, you will learn how to create an even smaller setup at less than half the price. Stay tuned!
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