Alley in Pisa, Italy

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It seems that cameras are getting impossible for people with poor motor skills to use.

I have a friend that used to have a camera on a tripod that was fixed to his wheelchair. However he can’t find a digital camera with large enough buttons, a tripod mount and a remote release.

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See also: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/817/… –  Rowland Shaw Jul 28 '10 at 18:04

5 Answers 5

To overcome the "small buttons" limitation, and assuming the camera would be mounted on a tripod, it is possible to use a camera such as the Canon T4i/650d, which has built-in WiFi, in conjunction with the Canon App for Android/iOS on a tablet for remote control. I suppose the controls on the tablet version of the App would be bigger, which might suit better your friend. Only thing he'll have to do manually on the camera itself, I think, is turn it on and adjust the zoom.

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The basic answer is that no, no one makes a large-control DSLR.

If your friend is satisfied with having the camera pre-set up and then leaving it in automatic mode, a cable release for the shutter may be an option. This may be unsatisfactory if he wants more control — or if he would have difficulty with the camera's power switch.

One could use a camera with a computer tethering interface and a laptop. This could be used with existing interface-accessibility software, or, theoretically someone could develop custom camera control software meant to be easily used with a variety of specialized input devices

While there's a lot of software that does tethered control, I'm not aware of any that is specifically written with special accessibility needs in mind.

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Canon's DPP (free with any Canon DSLR) has full control when tethering. While most folks run it on a laptop, there is no reason it or a similar APP can't be written for any large tablet. The standard tripod mount screw is a 1/4"-20, you can get the basic bolts at any hardware store, Home Depot, etc. Would be trivial to setup a tripod mount on a chair. Maybe even use a monopod. With a bit of hacking, you could use an Arduino to control servors based on a joystick, this could allow independent pointing of the camera in 1, 2, or even 3 dimensions relative to the chair Sounds like a fun project –  Pat Farrell Jan 4 '13 at 4:01
    
@pat, The mounting of a camera on a wheelchair used to be easy however the design of wheelchair armrests in the UK have changed and they no longer have a mounting point for a table, so a more creative solution is needed. There are remote control tripods with joysticks for security cameras, so that is easy. –  Ian Jan 4 '13 at 9:03
    
@ian, sounds like a fun effort, a bit of metal work or welding will create a table stand for the laptop/tablet. They probably don't have Home Depots in the UK. Have you checked the wheelchair users' forums for information on tables and laptop stands? –  Pat Farrell Jan 4 '13 at 20:28

In some cases it's possible to control a DSLR from a mobile phone or tablet. Two examples:

  • Canon has an iPhone app (could run on an iPad as well) for controlling a Canon 6D. You can't do everything, but you can change a number of settings, focus, and fire the shutter.

  • There's an app called DSLR Camera Remote that purports to control some Canon and Nikon cameras. You need to connect the camera to a computer that runs some provided software, and then the app talks to the computer. The computer part may or may not be a deal breaker for your case, but there are some PC's out there that come in extremely small packages that could work.

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Most competent DSLRs should support some kind of cable release. If all he wants to do is use it as a point-and-shoot, that should be sufficient. If he wants manual control, that's a bit trickier. Aperture control can be obtained by using a manual lens with a physical aperture ring. If the ring isn't big enough, perhaps a lever could be jury-rigged to the ring. This would hopefully allow aperture-priority operation, but check the specific lens and body model to be sure. Shutter speed could be also controlled through the cable release in bulb mode, which requires the user to physically hold the button for the desired duration--probably a long shot, but worth mentioning.

Also note that lenses with physical aperture rings seem to be a dying breed, unfortunately, so just make sure the lens in question actually has one, if you choose to go this route.

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"Large enough buttons" is probably relative, but I would highly recomend the Nikon D300s. "Almost everything" (relative again) that you need in the normal operation of the camera is right on the body, so you dont have to mess around scrolling through lots of menu's.

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