A700 "really" Remote Control - from PC
The α700 is one of the first cameras that comes with a optical remote control accessory for not only shutter trip, but actually playback control of the camera. It removes having to handle the camera during a playback on a monitor or television. That's cool and useful, but this thread is NOT involved in that. It is concerning using the "tethered" function of USB control of the camera.
When most people consider "tethered" control of the camera, it is typically through the rather "limited" 5-foot Standard USB-A-type port-to-A700 USB mini-port cable that came with the α700. That really does NOT give you a lot of room between the camera tripod or other camera support holder and the PC. I tried something similar taking portraits with the Canon EOS 20D and a third party program. I mean the idea was cool and all ... but, the distance was a little TOO tight.
Using USB, you can safely add another 10-feet to the overall wire length, usually, by using a USB Male-A to Female-A extension cable.
I am currently seeing if I can use a 165-ft USB extender (two units) that are powered by the USB-ports of the devices they are hooked to, which would be the PC on one end and the α700 on the other.
This would allow you to almost completely operate the camera effectively inside the house, while it does all the foul or fair weather work, outside. :p Yes, I know it should be shrouded, to protect it from the elements ... let's just say I have considered that.
Anyway, got the 150-foot Cat 5e Ethernet cable that goes between the "local" and "Remote" USB Extenders ...
and that's a start. I am still waiting for the extenders to arrive. As this develops, I will follow-up. ;)
A little History ...
This idea came up as a side-by-side concept when dealing with timed shots, using a Timer Remote Cord. The timer cord will cause the Alpha-camera to focus, between each shot, using whatever Focus Area mode you previously selected. The α700/α900 USB-tethered mode provides almost complete control.
In other words, specific control of:
- White Balance,
- Drive mode,
- Image size,
- Aspect ratio (all modes) over the shot,
with the PC offering not only real-time control over the camera, but an image transmitted directly from the camera to the PC.
The PC also collects the captured image directly to where ever directed (hard drive, CD, etc), instead of storing it on the memory cards (CF or Memory Stick) (BTW: You must have a memory card in the camera, otherwise the "USB-connection" hangs on the camera and will require a complete power down (battery removal) to clear it.). In that way, if the camera should be compromised, your collected image data is not subject to being lost, also.
The SONY's "tethered" application also displays the camera's battery condition, which will be very helpful, because I suspect that this idea, if it is viable, may be a significant drain on the power resources. I do have an AC-VQ900AM AC Adaptor/Charger that can be used to power the camera indefinitely ... just need a 150 ft (or whatever length) power cord to get power out there, too.
If this does work, it could a $150 extension cord to nature lovers, when the animals or whatever do not appreciate your all too human-intrusion into their world.
Yeah, babu ... I've got me some reach, now!
Okay ... got the USB "Extender" and hot dog! It works! :D :D :D
Dudes/Dudettes ... this really gives you some reach. It is a lot cheaper than long glass and just as sharp! LOL ;) It requires no additional power to operate other than the USB port of the desktop or laptop computer.
Upgrade your camera's software ...
Well, obviously you could not have this with a 35mm-film setup or even the intro-level Alpha DSLRs. You would have been left to an electronic timer and just waiting the subject out and having a series of arbitrary shots. It is only because of the advanced electronic nature of the gear that this is even possible, when you can actively control and monitor the results.
I used the timer cord and shot a series of dog shots. Obviously, the camera had to stay with the SAME settings all the way through the series. Unfortunately, the dog moves around and there were a series of shots where he was not even in the image.
Now, admittedly, you could combine the timer cord and the old version 3 Remote Control application features of the α700, so you could walk away from the remote control and allow the timer cord to just do its job and then, as it gets darker, as the sun sets or what not, you could revisit the remote control to make setting adjustments, unless the camera was in AUTO, but that can be rather dubious.
The new α700 Rev. 4 update builds an interval timer feature into the Remote Control program, so you do not need the shutter timer cord ... but the restriction that is only will work if drive is set to SINGLE frame shots. If you want bracketing, it will not. That's where the Timer Cable would step in, because it is independent of the program.
You need to realize that AUTO mode has a limited amount of flexibility ... whereas Manual Mode is the true control. Also, once the camera is in AUTO Mode (Modes are dependent on the physical position of the Mode knob) ... you really have to make a trip out to the camera to change out of it. In AUTO you only have the limited +/- EV and +/- flash compensation, although you still can control ISO by the remote control program. Your aperture and shutter speed are whatever the camera's exposure algorithm has in mind.