Take Full Control of Your Canon Using Android’s DSLR Controller App
This is a guest post by Jeff, he does video production in Minneapolis, MN. He is showing us a revolutionary application for androids, which can control a DSLR camera from a smartphone.
The merging of technology and photography have made it possible to do some really cool stuff with your cameras, and one such thing is the ability to control your Canon DSLR camera via your Android device (no computer, laptop, or root required).
With the DSLR Controller app by Chainfire, you can fully operate your Canon without having to actually touch it — it works for live viewing and as a remote control. It’s ideal for those times when you’re shooting video or taking stills and need a really steady shot, but don’t want to be stuck behind the camera. Think YouTube videos, interviews, portraits, self-portraits, nature shots, and anytime it’s inconvenient to look through the viewfinder.
Yes, you can do this with a dedicated, portable DSLR monitor, but those cost hundreds or thousands of dollars; this app is only $8 — no comparison.
Currently, this app, which has been regarded by some as the Android App of the Year, is only available for Android devices; however, there are some comparable apps for iOS, although they’re arguably not as good and most still require the use of a computer — kind of defeats the purpose of portability. Not to mention, the DSLR Controller is still in the BETA stage of development, so even more improvements and additions are likely to be forthcoming.
HowDoes DSLR Controller Work?
Besides the App and Canon camera, all that’s required is a compatible USB cable to connect the two devices. As mentioned, you don’t need a computer or Wi-Fi, just a USB cable that works (USB On-the-Go cable) and is long enough to give you some room to maneuver. Also, if you plan on using this setup in the field, you can buy a tripod stand to hold your Android tablet — much easier than keeping it in your hands the entire time.
Once the program is running, you have a full range of controls available, including zoom, focus, exposure, compensation, and everything else you may need. Here’s a video which shows how this app works:
If you’ve already downloaded the app, here’s a quick tutorial on how to get started.
Step 1: Launch the app and turn on camera – Connect the camera and Android device using the USB cable. If your camera’s live view doesn’t come up immediately, turn the camera off and back on. A popup may show up asking what you’d like to do with the device — tap “open it.”
Step 2: Use the Buttons on the left and right-hand sides of the screen to change settings – The setting buttons run vertically on both sides of your Android device’s screen. Using these options you can change color temperature, mode, picture styles, exposure, shutter speed, etc. If you regularly use the settings on your camera, all these buttons should look familiar.
Especially handy is the live histogram, which makes it easy to make exposure adjustments before taking a shot as opposed to taking a picture and then going back to check the histogram.
Step 3: Focus – Just tap the live view image for auto focus (if you have an autofocus lense attached), or switch to manual focus to make your own adjustments using the buttons on the top of the screen.
Step 4: Record or take picture – Once you’re ready to start filming, simply press the orange button on the bottom right-hand side of the screen. You’ll notice the time will start tracking at the bottom; this lets you know you’re recording.
Step 5: Preview video/photo or look at old footage – Since the DSLR Controller app is able to decode Canon RAW format, you can also look at (or delete) any photos/videos you’ve already taken directly from your Android device’s screen.
Overall, the app is very self-explanatory, and all the buttons will be recognizable to DSLR users. After a couple minutes of tinkering, you should have the whole program down pat.
Who’s it For?
At such a low price point, this app is really for everyone with an Android device and Canon DSLR. Hobbyists will have fun playing with “professional-level” functions, and professionals will love the versatility this app provides their operation. It’s especially useful for videographers as it allows them to see and control the action on a much larger screen instead of trying to visualize the film through the camera’s tiny display. Those who regularly post YouTube videos or use DSLRs for commercial video production as well as those who want to create an online photo album through Mixbook or Snapily for instance, should consider this app a must-have.
Will it Work With Your Equipment?
The App works with a variety of Android devices and has been tested to work on any newer DSLR Canons from the EOS series (Nikon users are out of luck for now). To make sure your camera is compatible, check the app’s website for a list of usable devices.
Considering the DSLR Controller app is still in BETA, it works surprisingly well and has a ton of features, and at only $8, it’s really a no-brainer. But, don’t expect that price to last long, since once the program is out of BETA development, the price will likely increase.