Serene Life

by garik

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I had to shoot self-portraits today, and it didn't go well. I first tried shooting tethered, but it was so hard to get composition & focus right, that I just did it with a mirror. Which of course introduced a whole new set of problems. Not only is using a strobe with a mirror an extremely dumb idea (and I don't have real continuous lightning, so ended up using an anti-SAD lamp), but my infrared remote has to be pointed at the front panel of the camera. While I managed somehow, the results are far from thrilling.

So I searched a bit and landed at good old DPS, which has an article about self-portraits. This includes following advice:

Shoot tethered; most digital cameras have a mini video if not a HD video out. I borrowed my son’s DVD player (the one he watches movies in the car with) on multiple occasions for the sole purpose of shooting self portraits. This is where the remote comes in great; you can fine tune the composition by watching that little monitor, without having to run back and forth. If you have a newer DSLR with an HD out then you could hook up your laptop or HD monitor.

(source http://www.digital-photography-school.com/self-portrait-photography-tips#ixzz1FBqKNMCi)

This made me wonder. I have a D90, which has both LiveView and a HDMI output. I have shot with it tethered using DarkTable, but I cannot see the image on the monitor the way I would be seeing it on the camera back in LiveView mode. Instead, I can just make some changes with the mouse (and that doesn't work perfectly, as some settings are overridden by the position of the controls on the camera) and then click on a button to shoot, effectively using the wireless mouse as a wireless remote. And then the picture is visible on the big colour-calibrated monitor. This is, of course, much better than shooting camera-only and later noticing that what looked OK on the camera back is not so hot at normal resolutions, but it still isn't enough for very demanding situations like self-portraits.

The quote from DPS, on the other hand, sounds as if it is possible to send a video to the monitor, which I imagine like a kind of LiveView on the monitor. Which would be, of course, perfect. So, is this possible, and if yes, which software supports it? (preferred platform is Linux with Gnome, but if there are Windows options, I want to hear about them too). Or did I just misunderstand the quote and does he mean that he is only tethering the same way as I do, but using a HDMI instead of a USB cable?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Nikon's Camera Control Pro 2 supports LiveView with the D90 on both Windows and Mac.

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1  
... and it lets you use contrast-detection autofocus anywhere in the image with a draggable and sizable focus point (along with being able to set just about anything that can be set from the camera body). –  user2719 Feb 27 '11 at 20:33
    
Sounds nice, but $179? It seems to be the same software which is already running on the camera (or at least a software with the same function scope), only in a version which can be run on an external processor - including the draggable focus point, which is already present in LiveView mode on the camera. Such a thing shouldn't cost as much as one and a half Windows licenses. I guess that if I was making money from pictures, I'd grumble and buy it, but as it is, I'm just grumbling. Thanks for the info though, it's always good to know what my camera could do with additional tools. –  rumtscho Feb 28 '11 at 0:17

Without any software involved you can connect most Live-View to a display. That is, you connect your camera to a HDTV, LCD monitor or even a projector. Anything with an HDMI input.

Actually, the same is true of the A/V output. A special cable is included with almost every camera to connect it to an analog TV. Make sure to select the right one of NTSC or PAL in the setup menu, depending on where you live.

You need a remote (IR or wired) to trigger the camera and set it up first (focus, zoom, exposure mode) but it is very easy from this point.

While doing so:

  • Prefocus where you will be, if the remote does not trigger AF or using MF. Otherwise, you have to at least choose the focus point, so that the camera does not focus on the wrong place.
  • On your camera, you can combine the self-timer and remote. This will give you time to assume a more natural or relaxed pose.

Silly alternative to using a remote: Some cameras support time-lapse mode. Start it with the shortest delay possible, usually 1-10 seconds. And let it go for a while, framing yourself using an external display or TV through HDMI or A/V connection.

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This is how I am doing it with darktable, with the addition that I can predefine the picture tags and the name of the "film roll". Now I wanted to try it out over HDMI, but the cable I have is too big to go into the camera. Does HDMI have different connector standards like USB? But it wouldn't have helped in my case, as what I needed was not a real portrait but a picture of the fitting of a misconstructed scye I wanted to ask about on a tailoring forum. So I was working in almost-macro range with a very shallow DOF, meaning that prefocus and then change posture didn't work –  rumtscho Feb 27 '11 at 22:26
    
TVs and Monitor use standard HDMI connectors. While cameras and camcorders use Mini-HDMI. You can buy a HDMI to Mini HDMI cable or an adapter which you stick at the end of a HDMI-to-HDMI cable. The official naming of the cables is confusing, Mini HDMI 1.3 Type C is usually what you are looking for. The camera manual will confirm this exactly (at least they aren't proprietary variants like with mini-USB, or I have not seen any yet). –  Itai Feb 28 '11 at 0:16

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