We need tethered/remote shooting for mu-43!

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Ranger 9, Mar 6, 2010.

  1. Ranger 9

    Ranger 9 Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 20, 2009
    This isn't a question, or a request, just a statement that I hope will echo a bit: There ought to be a way to shoot with a Micro Four Thirds camera "tethered" directly to a computer!

    Whenever I'm shooting indoors with a DSLR and have my laptop handy (which is most of the time) I almost always shoot tethered. (I use a Nikon and a free application called Sofortbild -- more info here.)

    Shooting tethered lets me use the laptop as a shake-free "remote release"; gives me a large, easy-to-see image for instant review; and imports my shots directly into Lightroom, saving me a step later.

    I wish I could do this when shooting with my Micro Four Thirds camera! There are lots of times I prefer to use mu-43 over a DSLR: when I want to use an adapted lens, for example.

    I'm sure Olympus or Panasonic easily could whip up a simple tethered/remote application, like those that come bundled with many DSLRs. Or they could release a software developer's kit (SDK) or at least technical documentation that would allow independent developers to write one.

    If anyone has the ear of somebody who could make this happen, please say something! Thanks...
  2. BBW

    BBW Super Moderator Emeritus

    If you use a Mac, I believe Aperture 3 offers this, though I have no personal experience I have read about it and just ran a search on it. Here's their link: http://www.apple.com/aperture/specs/
  3. cstevens

    cstevens Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 11, 2010
    Not tried this, but can you connect a usb cable and see if it copies directly to drive? Then something like Lightroom can watch the folder.
  4. Ranger 9

    Ranger 9 Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 20, 2009
    Aperture does offer tethered shooting, but unfortunately not with the G1. (List of officially supported models here.) The specs say other cameras may work, so I tried the G1 with the downloadable trial version of Aperture 3... no go.

    Actually, Apple also offers a very basic form of tethered shooting via the Image Capture application that comes installed on every Mac. The latest version (included in the Snow Leopard OS release) is somewhat sophisticated, letting you fire the shutter either from the camera or the computer, see an onscreen display of the shot you just took, and download your pictures immediately to your hard disk. It's got a simple interval timer, too. (Previous versions of Image Capture had more limited capabilities.)

    But the G1 doesn't work with this either. As long as you've got it set to PictBridge mode, it does show up in Image Capture's device list, proving the computer can "see" it. Apple's docs say that tethered shooting requires that a camera comply with "certain industry-standard protocols" for remote shutter triggering... which apparently Panasonic does not.

    So... assuming that Panasonic even has built tethering capability into its cameras (it would seem goofy not to, but who knows?) someone would have to decode their protocol and write an application that can communicate with it. Sigh.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Ranger 9

    Ranger 9 Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 20, 2009
    Thanks for the suggestion, but nope, it doesn't. In fact, when the camera is connected to the computer (in either PC or PictBridge mode) its controls are completely dead. You can copy files off its memory card, but you can't get it to do anything else.
  6. Ranger 9

    Ranger 9 Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 20, 2009
    Just curious: Does anyone who owns an Olympus mu-4/3 camera know if Oly offers any kind of tethered shooting support?
  7. squeegee

    squeegee Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 26, 2010
  8. f6cvalkyrie

    f6cvalkyrie Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 12, 2010
    Brussels, Belgium
    I would already be happy if I could "tether" my G1 to my flatscreen, as a kind of giant (50 inch) focus and composing aid. After all, the G1 does have a miniHDMI output. I just tried it, and also, no joy :frown::frown:
    This HDMI out only works in playback mode :mad::mad:

    So, Panasonic, please do something about this !!

    C U,
  9. BBW

    BBW Super Moderator Emeritus

    Ranger, thanks for your reply to my post. As I said, I hadn't looked into it at all.

    Hope some help is out there for you and everyone else interested.
  10. bilzmale

    bilzmale Mu-43 All-Pro

    The short answer is no. My E-P2 does not have a "Control" option for the usb connection and Studio 2.3 does not 'see' the camera.
  11. GaryCh

    GaryCh Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 14, 2010
    First, a quick test...

    Connect the G1 up via composite (cable must be connected before you can switch the output on)
    Select PAL or NTSC setting as appropriate
    put the mode dial to M
    Switch to the LCD
    Hold down the delete button till the LCD flashes black once (5 secs or so)
    You now have live composite
    Hit display till you have the minimum clutter

    If that worked then the HDMI should too the same way. Check the VIERA settings, unless your TV is VIERA compatible it should probably be off. Same deal ... use the held delete button to turn the output on and off.

    I've had this working, so persevere. You can actually shoot excellent video with the G1 using a tethered PVR including recording the menu screens etc for tutorial purposes. It actually makes a pretty excellent camcorder if you turn off the info, focus assist zooming, etc.

    Tethering any digital that takes SDHC...

    As for tethered use, the USB is out on the G1 because it blocks the controls (as someone previously pointed out) but has anybody mentioned the WiFi memory cards ? These are fantastic as they are card sized, power off the camera, but allow you to wirelessly collect the pictures from your cam AS they are being taken... smashin, and they work with anything not just cameras.

    There ya go, hopefully a couple of solutions there : )

  12. squeegee

    squeegee Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 26, 2010
    Just a warning... I happened to stumble on a few article yesterday that said they don't work with olympus. Not sure about the truth of the statement but the eyefi site mentions almost all camera companies - except olympus too. You might want to double check before buying one.
  13. GaryCh

    GaryCh Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 14, 2010

    That would be odd since they should be device agnostic as far as I can tell, I've used them on lots of gear but unfortunately I don't own an olly. Still, being pin-4-pin compatible SD's the camera really shouldn't notice any difference at all ...

    ... hmmm, unless the Olly has problems powering the card, that would certainly put a spanner in the works. In order to improve battery life they may be too sparing with the current to the card. Most cards these days can operate with far less power than the old specification SD, so Olly may have sensed headroom here and be throttling the spec too much. Kinda like when laptops throttle the USB current to improve battery life.

    These wifi capable SD's of course really do need the full spec when it comes to power.

    I've seen wired SDHC cards too, but those were a homebrew FPGA projects to solve such problems long before the commercial Wi-Fi ones came out.

    Oh well, NM

    • Like Like x 1
  14. chuckgoolsbee

    chuckgoolsbee Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 6, 2010
    Bend, Oregon
    I would love to have tethered shooting on my G1!

    I love to make timelapse movies as well which I use an old Nikon L11, or even an Apple iSight for… but I'd MUCH rather shoot these with the G1. I use Boinx Software's "iStopMotion" to make these movies and it requires tethering support in the camera in order to function properly. C'mon Panasonic, give us what we want.
  15. GaryCh

    GaryCh Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 14, 2010
    Hmmm, you can focus and fire the G1 from a parallel port of a PC and you can get live video in either analogue or digital (composite or HDMI) which you can capture with standard capture cards.

    So, if you have the time and patience it can certainly be fudged.

    I wrote an app to perform motion detection on the liveview and managed to make a great motion-driven video capture of people in the street. It would be easy to adapt that to, instead of cap the video stream, fire the shutter release instead but then you have the delay of grabbing the images over the wireless SDHC card.

    Given the import latency (and that not all wireless SDHCs let you delete images after importing) it seems that just using the HDMI live view as an HDTV stream is the best bet for stop motion or time lapse.

    I know premiere can certainly handle the G1 for Timelapse and Stop motion.

  16. Bokeh Diem

    Bokeh Diem Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 14, 2010
    I had recently written Panasonic on the topic we are discussing here...

    From: XXXX YYYY
    Sent: Sunday, April 18, 2010 9:01 AM
    To: Panasonic-Lumix_Concierge
    Subject: Technical Support, Digital Still Cameras
    When Submitted: 2010/04/18 9:01:15 AM
    First Name: XXXX
    Last Name: YYYY
    Model No: G1, GH1

    I want to tether my cameras to a laptop. It seems as if this function is either not supported, or if it is, not easily found or run. Several of my friends also desire the same thing... see: https://www.mu-43.com/f35/we-need-tethered-remote-shooting-mu-43-a-1341/

    Perhaps, if you can help, we could follow this up with a Panasonic Rep when he comes to my local Henry's shop in Vaughan this month.

    Thank you,

    .... and they wrote me back today.....

    Panasonic-Lumix_Concierge wrote:

    Thank you for your email.

    In regards to your cameras, do you mean connect them via USB to transfer images from the unit to the PC? Or do you mean physically affix the camera to your PC?

    Panasonic Canada Inc.
    Customer Care Centre

    So I wrote back just now.....

    Hello SM/Panasonic Concierge;

    My colleagues and I are interested in two levels of interconnectedness between a laptop and the G1/GH1 system cameras.

    The first would allow for simple overview and data processing functions such as shake-free "remote releasing" of a shutter; offering an easy-to-see image for instant review; and importing pictures directly into laptop software for post processing, saving later steps.

    The second, and more important functionality we are trying to discern is whether live view and stop/lapse time photography is supported. We don't see USB functionality, but suspect that existing HDMI connectivity would work as long as the protocols are in place. Unfortunately it appears that for some strange reason Panasonic has not chosen to write them.

    I am especially interested in live view functionality, so that work through the EVF will feed directly to the laptop screen. This is especially important where cameras need to be remote from the operator, or in highly lit sequences involving a display other than the EVF where those displays become unreadable. A remote setup in these circumstances would allow a user to shade the image screen appropriately.

    I suggest also that you consider taking this discussion into the mu-43.com realm where many Panasonic system camera users are waiting to find out about this situation.

    Again, the link is https://www.mu-43.com/f35/we-need-tethered-remote-shooting-mu-43-a-1341/

    Some there have tried jerry-rigged fixes with limited success. We really would like to see Panasonic developed and supported functionality on this issue.

    If you are interested, this same group of users has other suggestions for Panasonic and it's system cameras. These people are all avid users and hearty promoters of the format. And, if you wan to meet to demonstrate anything in person, I will be at the Photographic, Video and Digital Imaging Show in Toronto this May.

    Best regards,
  17. GaryCh

    GaryCh Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 14, 2010
    Just some details...

    I have a USB video capture device called "DVD MAKER II" from kworld ... it accepts composite. It ties nicely to the G1 and gives me a window or even a 16.2" wide view of the camera display. It even allows me to shoot video with the G1 (albeit via analogue). Easy to code for using directshop.net wrapper.

    My parallel (a USB one because my lappy has no parallel port) fires the shutter when I click the mouse... The remote shutter is just 3 resistors and two switches, three connections to the parallel port and a cheap DIL IC is enough to make a laptop into a remote shutter release. Heck, it can be built on veroboard. Again, a simple task in VB.net

    For auto-shutter scenarios you can use the aforge.net library and visual studio (example here) to code a simple VB solution to fire the shutter upon motion detection or colour-plane specific parameters (Great for unattended shots of birds/insects on tightly framed flowers for example) ... however, the capture card is NOT a webcam, so you do need to build a filtergraph with the correct AVI decoding. The directshow.net wrappers allow VB.net to handle this task relatively simply.

    EyeFi will let you capture the shots to the PC and again VB.NET can code you an intelligent solution. The FileSystemWatcher class will tell you as soon as the remote drive has filesysytem changes... giving you an efficient interrupt driven (as opposed to polling) solution. You can then pull the file and handle it as required (Create a new layer in photoshop for example)

    It really isn't such an ordeal, honestly.

    But, if there IS a G1 tethering mechanism that just 'doesnt play well' with the available software then it may be possible to monitor the IO from a tetherable model to find what works and what doesn't... then extrapolate from what does work to discover the other functions. This is reverse engineering but it is certainly possible if the problem is simply an immature or unsupported interface.

    If the USB or some other connector can be used as a JTAG then there is incredible potential for control, including a possiblity of full lens control barring, obviously, the zoom... but until I get a second camera I don't even want to look into this. I do have friends that tackled some pretty extreme JTAGging projects though so I wouldn't be on my own.

    Indeed, if JTAG is available we would be able to produce a USB cable you could use to roll back the firmware or recover from bad flashes or other complete lockups in out of warranty equipment.

    But *basic* tethering IS possible right now, it just depends what functions you need. Advanced tethering may be possible and I'd love to watch a mac talking to a tetherable m4/3 camera for clues as to the protocols message format.

    What next ?

    Let's pressure panasonic, but if they don't want to play (and why would they, fresh features mean fresh sales) there's a fair chance we can rig something better up given a little experimentation, and if JTAG can be found and externalised (either as a mod or over an existing port) then we stand a darned good shot at making a full remote API.

  18. Bokeh Diem

    Bokeh Diem Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 14, 2010
    Hello Gary;

    I don't have much of a clue about what you are talking about but no worry there. You sound like the go-to guy on this problem and that's what is going to be necessary to solve it.

    Why don't we just get this thing done right and have it manufactured to high standards in volume and sell it commercially? Maybe we could seed fund it right here on mu-43 for shares, 60 -100 people at $100 bucks each might just give us the necessary resources to get a prototype (on paper at least), a rudimentary model to test and impress, a business plan and away we go. This forum must have all the right connections, we just don't know it yet.

    Either that or just go find one already made in a garage in Szchenzen. Stick it into the HDMI port on the side of the G1, a thethered transmitter; it would be the software interface and communicator direct to the laptop. Firmware upgradable.

    If Pocket Wizard can do it MU43 Wizard can too.

    Bokeh Diem
  19. GaryCh

    GaryCh Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 14, 2010
    Erm... it really is only 3 tiny resistors and a small IC for the shutter interface, no firmware at all. Composite live viewfinder is simple and the capture device already exists however it would be simple enough to build one on an FPGA (reprogrammable custom silicon) ... you could do so in HDMI too but the processing overhead means it needs a beefier machine to process the signal, so not ideal for netbooks (and let's face it, if you're already lugging camera gear you'd rather use a netbook than a full laptop). FPGA also draws far too much power to be USB friendly and would need external power... so I'd stick with the prebuilt modules.

    So, in the end it comes down to using what's already available on the shelf. You could re-box it into a single unit which handled both shutter and video over a single USB port though, if you really wanted a one-box interface.

    For stop motion animation you may not want to transfer files from an EyeFi each time, so if it was acceptable you could use the HDMI video feed for boh preview and shot frames. Just pump the HDMI into a desktop machine and you'd be able to 'onion-skin' against the live view.... then shoot your frames either using EyeFi or just using a video frame (or, better, averaged consecutive frames to deal with domestic lighting) from the HD video stream.

    Since you'd do this using an HD capture card it should be instantly compatible with any of the large-box software out there.

    There are always solutions.