Camera Tethering: The Mobile Solution - Part 2 of 2 Featured

Handheld in Portrait Position | © Steve Demmitt Handheld in Portrait Position | © Steve Demmitt

In part one of this article we covered utilizing an Android tablet with the DSLR Controller app to tether with a DSLR camera. For many photographers having a Manfrotto Magic Arm connected to a 10" tablet protruding off their tripod might prove to be a hinderence rather than a helpful solution. Some may have no use for a tripod and instead prefer handheld shooting. And of course we have the budget minded photographer that would just find the tablet solution too expensive.

Sizing it Down

For this next installment we are subtracting the Android tablet in favor of an Android phone to create a smaller footprint and possibly a smaller dent in your wallet. The basic connection from phone to camera will still remain the same as it was with the tablet. The main difference being where and how we mount the device.

 Samsung Galaxy SII w/ Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2DSLR Controller App on a Samsung Galaxy SII w/ Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2

First step, you will need an Android phone preferably with the latest Android however anything above 4.0 will work. This phone must support a USB host connection. Most newer devices have this capability however it is best to check anyway before purchasing. If you have an older device without this criteria, it is time for an upgrade.

To create a connection with the camera from your phone without a mounting solution, you will need a USB OTG cable that plugs into the phone and a usb cable that connects from that to the camera. Most newer Android phones utilize Mini-USB but you may want to double check your phone anyway.

1 USB OTG Cable
http://goo.gl/pC1fb

2 9-Inch USB to Mini-USB cable
http://goo.gl/9oEZI

DSLR Controller

Next you will need the app and you can install it 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.

Main Advantages

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)

P1090143Low Angle Shooting with Ball Head Adjusted | © Steve Demmitt

The Mount

Testing the stability of the mount by shooting the camera handheld, it was quite stable; granted you tighten everything down firmly. It should also be noted that it is possible to mount the device without the mini ball head but you are limited in your viewing options. Below are a list of items used to mount the phone to the camera as well as images displaying the system in detail.

Android Phone Item List

1 i.Trek Super Mount
http://goo.gl/O03ib

2 Mini Ball Head
http://goo.gl/IiVC0

3 Hot Shoe to 1/4"- 20 Tripod Screw Adapter
http://goo.gl/nqVZH

Connected via USB running the DSLR Controller App

A Few Notes and Tips

1 Shooting handheld with the phone connected via DSLR Controller won't allow you physical use of your camera's shutter button. Everything must be done through the app itself. If and when this is a problem a workaround would be to only run the app to review images.

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.

3 Pocket Wizard or remote flash trigger users can purchase a rail mount to allow for additional shoe mount accessories. If you want to go with a cheaper method you can opt for Velcro reusable self-gripping cables and wrap it around your camera strap.

Rail Mount Velcro Straps Rail Mount
http://goo.gl/80CuG
Velcro Reusable Self-Gripping Cable Ties
http://goo.gl/hrjbe

 

Steve Demmitt

A commercial automotive photographer based in Los Angeles and owner of motivelife.com

Website: stevedemmitt.com

5 comments

  • Matthew Blasi
    Matthew Blasi Wednesday, 27 February 2013 06:58 Comment Link

    This is a great solution on a relatively low budget, down side is it only works if you're shooting Canon and have Android devices. I shoot Nikon and have an iPhone and iPad Mini. A solution I just recently began using is the CamRanger Wireless Tethering System. It's not cheap ($300) but works with both Canon and Nikon DSLRs as well as iOS and Android tablets and phones.

    http://www.shop.tethertools.com/CamRanger-Wireless-Tethering-System-CR1001.htm

  • Steve Demmitt
    Steve Demmitt Wednesday, 27 February 2013 10:13 Comment Link

    Thanks for sharing Matthew. That looks like a great option. Haven't seen that one before. After I posted part one I was flooded with all sorts of other options out there. Most specifically those with iPad or iPhones, so we will have a written solution for that very soon. I think it also might be a good idea to list any other alternatives we find as well. I will definitely add this to the list.

  • Paul Bostrom
    Paul Bostrom Saturday, 01 June 2013 21:32 Comment Link

    I'm getting this message: "No wifi device was found and your android device is not compatible with Android's USB host API. A newer firmware for your device MAY fix the problem."

    I just have the camera usb cable into a female/female adapter and then into my phone usb cable. Should that be an issue?

  • Steve Demmitt
    Steve Demmitt Sunday, 09 June 2013 05:29 Comment Link

    yeah you definitely need a usb host cable that I have listed above in the article
    with that it will allow the USB host connection

    of course make sure you have a compatible device first (check in the article for the list)

  • Doc Fluty
    Doc Fluty Friday, 12 July 2013 00:56 Comment Link

    It's 2013 and I cant believe it's this hard to live view a $3000+ camera (5d3) to my wifi ipad....

    Really can not believe someone hasn't figured this out without shelling out a few hundred bucks for a 3rd party set up.

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