Connecting your camera using the LAVA SimulCharge USB

25th Thursday, 2014  |  Life at LAVA  |  no comments

Cameras today are sophisticated pieces of technology, and your camera can connect to computers, phones, and tablets to permit tethered shooting, remote control, and image viewing. And the SimulCharge USB can be an important part of this interfacing.

What you need:
• a camera capable of being remotely controlled over a USB connection
• a LAVA SimulCharge USB adapter
• a tablet compatible with the SimulCharge USB and that tablet’s adapter
• a remote control/tethering app for the tablet (see below)

Cameras can connect to other hardware through wired connections (usually USB these days), or through WiFi, Bluetooth, or IR. In the case of USB wired connections, the link is established as a USB host mode connection (sometimes called USB On-The-Go or OTG).

This blog post describes using the SimulCharge USB to make tethering work well. This adapter lets the tablet operate in USB Host mode — that is, having a camera attached — and at the same time have power supplied to the tablet.

Since one of the benefits of tethered shooting applications is interval shooting, you might want to have your setup operate for an extended period of time. Shooting a series of interval shots lets you then create amazing time-lapse videos.

The setup is simple: plug your camera’s USB cable into the LAVA SimulCharge USB adapter, plug the SimulCharge in to the tablet, and plug your tablet’s power adapter into the SimulCharge. Now your camera is tethered to a continuously powered tablet.

Canon TL-002 and DSLR control blog page_700px

Nikon TL-002 and DSLR control blog page_700px

On your tablet you will need a tethering/remote control app suited to your camera. A number of such apps exist, offering everything from remote shutter release to almost-complete control of the camera’s settings. Some apps let you set interval shots, and some offer image review, which on a tablet makes it much easier to assess shots you have just taken. The Samsung tablets compatible with the SimulCharge USB have some of the best and highest resolution screens available.

Canon TL-002 and DSLR control connection diagram_700px

 

Nikon TL-002 and DSLR control connection diagram_700px


A good general discussion of tethering is here:

Control a DSLR with your Android phone or tablet


A few remote/tethering apps are:

REMOTE CONTROL NIKON
For Nikon IR
Free

 
DslrDashboard
For Nikon and Canon
Free

 

DSLR Remote
Uses infrared, WiFi,  by wire or Bluetooth connection
For Canon, Fuji, Minolta, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax and Sony
Free

 

Remote Release
A subset of paid “DSLR Controller” below
For Canon only
Free

 

DSLR Controller
Canon only
Paid app

 

Helicon Remote
For Nikon and Canon
Free

Numerous other remote control applications exist.


To understand how the whole operation works, we can delve further into the protocol used when cameras connect to tablets.

PTP, MTP, and Android File Transfer

Although this blog post describes tablet connections to DSLRs, in fact other cameras can also work [an extensive list] [a shorter, older list], depending on the camera and the application running on the tablet. What is required? Two basic things: a camera that implements a specific protocol (PTP) in a manner that the tablet application can use, and a tablet application (such as dslrDashboard) that will recognize that specific make and model of camera.

Getting specific: PTP, MTP, and USB

Back as far ago as 2002, camera manufacturers began to standardize their camera’s interfaces to computers, particularly over USB. Before then, a camera with a USB port needed a driver installed on the computer to be able to recognize the device as a camera and to establish even the most rudimentary connection, such as that needed to copy files from the camera to the computer. That interface was called “Picture Transfer Protocol” or “PTP”. The current PTP has been published as ISO 15740:2013.

Today, many cameras implement PTP only to the degree that they can tell a computer that they are a camera, and support basic file copying operations.

However, the PTP grew and added more access to camera features, permitting the interface to control that camera’s picture-taking settings, the camera’s shutter, and other camera functions.

Some cameras (usually on the higher end of a manufacturer’s product line) have very full implementations of the PTP, and in addition will be able to tell an application their specifc make and model. These cameras, paired with the right tablet or computer application) can be fully controlled remotely.

If a camera control application can detect a camera on a USB connection, and if the camera implements PTP to provide camera control functionality and to supply its vendor and product IDs to the application, and if the application has that specific camera’s information, THEN a full remote control/tethering/ device management environment exists.

PTP has been standardized as the “still image capture device class” by the USB Implementers Forum (making cameras NOT a part of the USB mass-storage device class); and a superset of PTP, the “Media Transfer Protocol” also exists to facilitate file handling on devices such as portable media players and digital audio players, although MTP is also useful for handling video files generated on a camera.

The Protocols and Extensions

Protocols

Picture Transfer Protocol (Wikipedia)

Picture Transfer Protocol: ISO 15740:2013 (Photography — Electronic still picture imaging — Picture transfer protocol (PTP) for digital still photography devices)

Originating as part of the Windows Media framework, MTP has since been standardized by the USB Implementers Forum as a USB device class and official extension to PTP.

Media Transfer Protocol (Wikipedia)

Extensions

PTP has been extended by several camera manufacturers with interfaces to proprietary functionalities, and PTP/IP allows file transfer over IP networks (including WiFi interfaces to cameras by Nikon, Canon, and others).

Operating System Support for PTP

Although this blog post focuses on Android implementations of PTP, other operating systems also implement PTP

Windows

Windows ME and later

Apple

Mac OS X v10.1 and later (although Mac does not implement MTP, preferring the proprietary iTunes)

Android

Android USB Connections Explained: MTP, PTP, and USB Mass Storage

Linux

Linux implements PTP under the libgphoto and libptp libraries.

gPhoto2: free, redistributable, ready to use set of digital camera software applications for UNIX-like operating system, including Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, MacOS X, etc. gPhoto is provided by major Linux distributions like Debian GNU/Linux, Ubuntu, Gentoo, Fedora, openSUSE, Mandriva, etc.

libptp2: a library used to communicate with PTP devices like still
imaging cameras or MP3 players

USB

The USB Implementers Forum (USB.org) defines the PTP transport over USB

Free Software with PTP Support

Free software with PTP Support