Tethering on the cheap: Free, open-source app controls your Nikon DSLR remotely
posted Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 1:08 AM EDT
Among the myriad features available on modern interchangeable-lens cameras, remote control via a tether has to rate as one of the coolest -- and yet perhaps most easily overlooked. The ability to set your camera up in precisely the right position and then shoot remotely, changing settings and tripping the shutter without fear of changing your careful framing, is mighty cool. Doubly so when you consider that with a Wi-Fi connection, you can leave your camera shooting somewhere in which it might perhaps be difficult -- or even dangerous -- for you to remain for any length of time.
Open-source Windows app digiCamControl promises just that capability for Nikon digital SLRs, and Canon support is under development as well. The app -- formerly known as Nikon Camera Control -- is offered completely free of charge by Romanian programmer Duka Istvan, who created it from scratch in response to the lack of free tethering software for his own Nikon D5100 DSLR. Istvan is assisted in the project by Danish developer and photographer Martin Joergensen.
From its humble beginnings last year, the app has come a long way. Originally coded using a Windows Image Acquisition interface, digiCamControl now uses the more powerful Media Transfer Protocol, allowing advanced features such as remote live view and multi-camera tethering. It's coded in C# using a Windows Presentation Framework interface, and for those who like to tinker -- or want to help out with the project -- full source code is also available free of charge.
DigiCamControl just hit the important milestone of its first full release, and version 1.0 offers a pretty comprehensive list of features. These include not only remote settings, and shutter control for multiple cameras simultaneously, but also an intervalometer, focus stacking, exposure bracketing, image download with full-screen review, dual-monitor support, and more. Impressively, you can even manage and upload settings groups remotely, and control the camera (via digiCamControl on your PC) from a smartphone or tablet. This last is achieved courtesy of a web server that runs on the host PC.
For some camera models, even more functions are supported, including shooting automatically when subject motion is detected, remote live view, automated focus stacking, and bulb mode exposures. To find out if your specific camera allows use of these features, take a look at the supported cameras list on the digiCamControl site. A detailed user manual is also available online.
More details on digiCamControl can be found on the official website. Although the app is free, donations are accepted -- and we'd imagine are much appreciated, given the significant work involved. What are you waiting for -- hop on over now, grab a copy for yourself, and show the developers a little appreciation! (And if you own a Canon DSLR, don't forget that you can help out in testing of the initial Canon DSLR support in the app's latest test releases.)