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digg Remote Camera Capture
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posted by sysrpl on Friday December 26, 2008 3:17 PM

Soon there are going to be no more computer controllable digital cameras.

A few years ago I researched and implemented a software system to communicate with and control digital cameras from computers. The purpose of the project was to automate the photo capture of products sold on the Internet. Though this usage of digital cameras is quite common, there are many other potential uses for computer controlled photo capture systems, including law enforcement mug shot capture, photo identification systems, and extremely high definition time lapse photography, just to name a few. My point is: there are some compelling reasons to connect a computer to a digital camera.

The project's photo capture dialog

While researching this project I was surprised to learn the following: There is only one consumer digital camera product line (I consider consumer level digital cameras to be those that cost less than $1000) which supports computer control. That product line is Canon PowerShot (select cameras within the A, G, and S series).

Canon maintains a section on their website for software developers interested in creating software to connect to their cameras. For years they’ve maintained their camera developer section adding new SDKs, updating old ones, and adjusting the camera matrix to include entries for their recently released models. With their SDK you could find cameras connected to the computer, turn them on and off, adjust their zoom, flash, size, and quality settings, read from a live picture view finder stream, and snap photos capturing them directly to computer memory.

A few weeks ago Canon posted a notice to their developer SDK site stating that they will no longer be building cameras which support their SDKs, and that they have shipped their final SDK updates. What this means is that after the existing stock of SDK compatible camera are sold, you will no longer be able buy digital cameras capable of being computer controlled.

This leads to the following question: Why is the only digital camera manufacturer that supports computer control of their cameras getting out of the computer controlled camera business? Why don’t other digital camera manufacturers support remote control of their cameras? Does anyone even care?

A word about webcams...

In situations where photo size and quality are important webcams cannot come close to matching the tone and clarity of a digital camera. In fact, webcam still photos are downright pitiful looking, filled with artifacts, and notoriously difficult to color balance.

Linked Canon SDK info:

Last Powershot SDK
Canon Announces Last PowerShot SDK

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