DSLR Remote Pro – Revisiting an old friend

dslrremote_main If you have been a fan of Camera Dojo for a while you will have seen mentions of Breeze Systems’ DSLR Remote Pro. DSLR Remote Pro at its basics is a tool for doing tethered shooting, so what right? The Canon EOS Utility can do that, so why would we want to spend close to $100 for software that comes free with your camera? Let’s take a fresh look at what all DSLR Remote Pro can do for you.

Features

As we have already said, the core purpose of DSLR Remote Pro is to allow for tethered shooting. While that seems like a pretty trivial thing, its all of the extra things that DSLR Remote Pro brings to the table.

  • Take control of your Canon DSLR camera from your PC (supported models)
  • Retain full control from the camera
  • Photos automatically downloaded to the PC and displayed in a large preview window
  • Large high quality live view display on the  PC with live histogram, autofocus and intuitive manual focusing using mouse wheel with Canon EOS 40D, Canon EOS 50D, Canon EOS 500D/Rebel T1i, Canon EOS 450D/Rebel XSi, Canon EOS 1000D/Rebel XS, Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III or Canon EOS-1D Mark III
  • Photos are saved on the PC’s hard disk and can also be saved on the memory card in the camera
  • Full size preview window can display a critical area of the photo e.g. the eyes and face of your model during a portrait shoot
  • Flashing highlight display to highlight over exposed areas
  • Grid overlay display for accurate alignment of studio shots. The size and color of the grid is user definable
  • Color management and sharpening options for more accurate display of preview images
  • Auto bracketing of up to 15 shots ideal for HDR images, interior shots and product photography
  • Timed bulb exposures controlled from the PC – ideal for astronomy (Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, EOS-1D Mark III, EOS 5D Mark II, EOS 40D, EOS 50D, EOS 500D/Rebel T1i, EOS 450D/Rebel XSi and EOS 1000D/Rebel XS only)
  • Focus point overlay display for more precise control of auto focus
  • Automatic screen blank option – blanks the screen before taking a photo so that the light from the PC display doesn’t affect the subject lighting
  • Fullscreen mode for large, uncluttered display of images
  • Automatic edit option – automatically loads the image after downloading into the editor or program of your choice
  • Automatically stores a short comment in the shooting data of images for easy identification e.g. the person’s name when taking id photos. The comment can also be used for the image filename to make it easier to identify images when taking product shots, school portraits etc.
  • Automatically stores IPTC data in images as they are downloaded
  • Time-Lapse feature which allows the number of photos in a sequence and the interval between shots to be specified.

Stack it and Bracket

Typically if you want an exposure bracket for HDR images you are limited to the camera’s 3 shot bracket. While three shots is often sufficient, there are times you really want to use more images, with DSLR Remote Pro you can do bracket sequences using either shutter speed or aperture of up to 15 shots. Using tools like PhotoMatix, you can get really incredible results when using larger groups of images.

Another interesting thing you can do with multiple images is called focus stacking. With Focus Stacking you take a series of images of the same object with the focus positioned at different points. When you combine the images you can achieve a super sharp image with a longer depth of field. Photoshop CS4 now has this ability and there are some free tools that can do the processing as well. To use Focus Stacking you actually need a script that will automate some of the steps in DSLR Remote Pro. If you are interested in this functionality, read more about it at http://www.breezesys.com/DSLRRemotePro/focus_stacking.htm.

Live and in Color!

liveview With the newer Canon cameras that support Live View, a whole realm of possibilities is opened up to you since you can display full-screen Live View with a live histogram. The Live View mode also allows you to zoom into the frame at 100% magnification to ensure that your focus is dead on. This is exceptionally useful when doing macro, product, or food photography.

What’s really unique is the ability to do autofocus while in Live View mode. Hitting Ctrl-F will perform a contrast detection routine that may be a little slow but is usually quite good. This however will not work well with moving objects.

Another interesting feature is Onion Skinning. Onion Skinning is a term that is used in animation to be able to see an overlay of the previous image in order to draw a smooth animation. With DSLR Remote Pro in Live View mode you can load in another image or the previous image in order to get precise alignment. This is good for stop motion animation or to accurately align images for panoramas.

Step into my booth

One thing you really wouldn’t expect from a program like this is the Photo Booth mode since there are a handful of companies that make specific photobooth software. With DSLR Remote Pro you can setup a nice photobooth station, even build a whole booth around it, and offer prints right after a series of images are taken. This can be a fun option to offer your clients at different events.

Integrating with Lightroom

Since Adobe Photoshop Lightroom doesn’t have direct tethering ability at this time, the next best thing is to use DSLR Remote Pro and Lightroom together. Lightroom has a feature that allows it to watch a folder and import any files that it sees show up in the folder. This allows you to take full advantage of all of DSLR Remote Pro’s features while having the images go into Lightroom automatically.

Summary

If you want to take tethered shooting to the next level than DSLR Remote Pro is probably worth looking into. The only real downside is that you are limited to the length of cable between the camera and the computer. For $95 you pick up a ton of functionality that the free EOS Utility doesn’t have. For my own studio shooting, I rely heavily on DSLR Remote Pro and as it continues to evolve it just keeps getting better and better.

Breeze Systems Website: http://www.breezesys.com

KerryG

Kerry Garrison is a wedding, portrait, and product photographer living in Castle Rock, Colorado. With 10 years of experience shooting products and 5 years of experience in the wedding industry, Kerry brings a good deal of technical know-how and can explain topics in easy-to-understand terms. Kerry's work can be found at http://kerrygarrison.com and on Facebook at http://facebook.com/KerryGarrison

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