I love gadgets.
An LED display, a couple of coloured indicator lights, and especially if there is a remote - I'm hooked!
But it definitely has to be useful too. Really useful. It has to fulfill a function that adds to my quality of life, or to take care of a function that I would otherwise have to spend time on - for example an automatic timer to take care of watering the plants on the patio frees an item off the schedule. Or a tablet device that makes it easy to choose play and identify music from the server or the Internet. Tell me the details of the weather outside. Provide me with a recipe for the food I'm about to prepare, in the kitchen rather than on the computer in the office.
So when I came across the Android app DSLR Controller by Chainfire, that connects to my camera with a USB cable from my Tab (no iPad version currently, sorry) I was intrigued. The app is still in Beta, but is evolving fast - and is now becoming really useful. The Tab displays a version of what I can see through the viewfinder or on the LCD in 10.1" size magnificence. I can change the ISO settings, metering mode, focus and much much more on the fly, more easily than the nested menus on the camera - also operate the shutter and view recorded images.
And now the latest version includes programmable bracketed exposure function, that controls the camera directly and so is not limited to Canon's three exposures, for long the bane of HDR camera enthusiasts (HDR stands for High Dynamic Range, a way to record an image more similar to how our eyes perceive the world than the basic camera sensors can convey).
I had an opportunity to use the bracketed exposure function last Saturday at the Pacific Southwest Railroad Museum in Campo, CA - and it was a stellar success. To be able to take five bracketed exposures of large structures in harsh light conditions without a flash (but definitely with a tripod!) was a fabulously useful and time saving function. The detail I was able to capture in the shots is nothing short of amazing (you can see some of them at http://www.facebook.com/PeterDykePhoto).
Although the software is still in beta development, and has a few rough edges, it is fast becoming an essential part of my bag of tricks. The biggest problem can not be solved by the software authors however: images on the Tab wash out in bright sunlight, which is where I do most of my work. Maybe it's time to build one of those black cloth hoods as used in the early days?
[DSLR Controller by Chainfire can be found in the Android Market. Check to see if it is compatible with your equipment before committing].