Auto focus blues & how to cure them

Canon’s DSLR cameras can be set to auto focus (AF)  or manual focus (MF). The auto focus setting is very convenient for photo booth operators, but when the camera cannot find anything to focus on it will not take a photo.

This post has been written for DLSR Remote Pro 3.7.3

What can go wrong using auto focus?

You may notice a long pause before the camera takes  a photo. The focus motor whirrs and the camera lens moves as the camera tries to focus. Two different error messages may be displayed: ‘Unable to release shutter’ or ‘Unable to focus’.

Unable to release shutter

When setting up the booth the operator presses Release(F8)  or Preview (F9) to check camera operation. No photo is taken and this error message is displayed:

Error message for DSLR Remote Pro 3.7.3 displayed: Unable to release shutter. This may be because the AF was unable to lock
DSLR Remote Pro 3.7.3 ‘Unable to release shutter’ error message

Unable to focus

After the countdown there is a long pause before the camera takes  the first photo. The focus motor whirrs and the camera lens moves as the camera tries to focus. Eventually this message* is displayed:

DSLR Remote Pro 3.7.3 error message 'Unable to focus! If you are standing close to the camera please try moving back a bit. The booth will retake the photo in ... seconds...
DSLR Remote Pro 3.7.3 ‘Unable to focus!’ error message *

*Hint (localization) You can translate this message into your local language using the PhotoboothAfErrorMsg message in the configuration files

Why does this happen?

Usually the camera cannot focus because

  • there is not enough light
  • the booth is empty and has a plain background
  • guests are too close to the camera
  • the lens cap has not been removed

Autofocus works best with good lighting and guests positioned at the right distance from the camera. It may be improved by changing from a plain background. The most reliable solution is to switch the camera to manual focus.

How to make sure the camera will fire: Set the camera to manual focus

Exception : cameras with dual pixel AF. If your camera has dual pixel AF please see the Camera Settings section of the program help files. (At present the Canon EOS DSLR cameras with dual pixel AF are the Canon EOS 800D/Rebel T7i, 200D/Rebel SL2, 70D,  77D, 80D, 7D Mark II, 5D Mark IV and 6D Mark II*.)

*Support for the EOS 6D Mark II will be added to the next release of DSLR Remote Pro.

Simplest way to set the camera to manual focus

  1. Set the AF/MF switch on the camera lens to the MF (manual focus) position.
  2. Each time you set up the booth turn the focus ring on the camera lens until you see a sharp image on the PC live view display.
Photo of Canon REBEL T5 camera how how to switch between auto and manual focus
Canon REBEL T5 (1200D) showing AF/MF switch
Photo by Kārlis Dambrāns (edited to highlight AF MF switch)

Photo sourced from Flickr

Use the camera controls to set manual focus

Use the screen on the back of the camera to set the custom function “C.Fn IV: Operations/Others – Shutter/AE lock button” to “1:AE lock/AF” (refer to your camera manual if necessary).

Canon 200D camera display showing Customer Function IV
Customer function IV screen on Canon EOS 200D camera

This setting has the advantage that focus can still be adjusted remotely from the PC but auto focus won’t be used when taking a photo. The lens can be focused in fullscreen photobooth mode by typing Ctrl+A.

For more precise control of focus exit photobooth mode and type Ctrl+L to display the live view window. Then use the <<<, <<, <, >, >>, >> buttons or the mouse wheel to manually adjust the focus.

If you found this post helpful please share it with others.

Try out DSLR Remote Pro                         Breeze Systems website

Copyright Breeze Systems 2017

Getting Started with DSLR Remote Pro (1): Photobooth Setup Wizard

This is the first of a series of posts explaining how to setup your photo booth using the DSLR Remote Pro 3.7.3 Photobooth Setup Wizard.

Getting Started with DSLR Remote Pro (2) will explain how to customize your prints. Getting Started with DSLR Remote Pro (3) will explain how to customize your screens.

Downloading the program

First download DSLR Remote Pro from our website; and install the program on your computer. You can run the program as a free trial for up to two weeks from the day you download it.

Screen shot downloading DSLR Remote Pro 3.7.3
Downloading DSLR Remote Pro 3.7.3 from http://breezesys.com/downloads.htm#dslr

Start the program. If you are running a trial version of the program you will see the registration window each time you start. Click on Evaluate.

DSLR Remote Pro 3.7.3 registration dialog

There are five buttons at the top of the main screen. They are shortcuts to the most used parts of the program.

DSLR Remote Pro 3.7.3 Photobooth Shortcut buttons
  • Printer Setup
  • Photobooth Setup Wizard
  • Print Layout
  • Advanced Settings
  • Start Photobooth

First connect your printer to the computer and switch it on. You can also connect and switch on your camera now; or use the ‘simulated camera’ at this stage.

Select Printer Setup to tell DSLR Remote Pro about about the printer you intend to use. Choose prints in Portrait or Landscape orientation.

Hint: Portrait is used for narrow strips of 3 or 4 photos, unless you have a DNP printer.

DSLR Remote Pro 3.7.3 Printer Setup screen showing Landscape oriented 6″ x 4″ print layout (non DNP printers)

Hint: For DNP printers using 6″ by 4″ media portrait and landscape orientation are swapped.

DSLR Remote Pro 3.7.3 Printer Setup screen showing Landscape oriented 6″ x 4″ print layout ( DNP printers only select ‘Portrait’ instead of ‘Landscape’)

Finish by clicking on OK.

Now start the Photobooth Setup Wizard. The program will prompt you to save any existing settings before the wizard overwrites them

DSLR Remote Pro 3.7.3 check at start of Photobooth Setup Wizard

At Step 1 you choose the photo layout you need. The wizard offers a choice of 8 popular layouts; if you want something different choose whichever is closest to your design (you will be able to change this later).

DSLR Remote Pro 3.7.3 Photobooth Setup wizard step 1. Landscape layout with 1 large and 3 small photos

Next Step 2. Tell the program which folder to save the photo booth photos you are going to shoot.

DSLR Remote Pro 3.7.3 Photobooth Setup Wizard Step 2

Finally choose the options you want to offer your guests.

  • The first 5 check boxes tell the Wizard whether you are using a touchscreen, whether guests can choose between color and B&W prints, whether to display a preview of each photo after it is taken and the maximum number of prints allowed.
  • The next five check boxes tell the wizard whether a sharing screen (after the photos are taken) should offer uploads to guest’s Facebook and/or Twitter account, share photos by email or MMS/SMS, or offer optional printing. Hint: some operators prefer to offer browsing and sharing from a kiosk separate to the booth. You can use Breeze Kiosk for this. To share and print photos away from the booth leave these boxes unchecked.
  • Beginners should leave  ‘Add a background.jpeg’ blank at this stage. Print layouts can be branded/customised later.
  • To offer ‘boomerang’ animated GIFs check ‘Enable videobooth..’ and  ‘Capture Boomerang GIFs..’.
  • To offer video booth check ‘Enable videobooth..’

Click on <Finished> and you will see a final screen reminding you where the screen and print layouts created by the wizard have been stored; and where photos taken today will be stored.

DSLR Remote Pro 3.7.3 Photobooth Setup Wizard completed

Close this window, connect your camera and switch it on before selecting ‘Start Photobooth’. That’s it!

DSLR Remote Pro 3.7.3 default photo booth screen created by the Photobooth Setup Wizard

Customise your screens  Customise your prints

Buy DSLR Remote Pro

Copyright Breeze Systems 2017

 

Photo Booth Show 2017 Round Up

Thanks to all who came to the stand and listened to Chris’s presentation at the first UK Photo Booth Show. We had an amazing time catching up with old friends and making new ones.

The Breeze stand focused on three industry trends: animated GIFs, 3D activations, and magic mirrors.

DSLR Remote Pro appeared in multiple guises on several stands. It was beautifully complemented by a Wilkes booth and ran the magic mirrors on our own stand and at I Love Photobooth; partnered with Breeze Kiosk at Everybooth; and powered green screen software at Incredible Booth.

Andrew Bliesner’s professionalism, knowledge of our software and willingness to share his experience and tips with visitors was fantastic.  The screen and GIF designs were adapted from Breeze Themes at Wilkes Photobooth ‘The Lab’. Thanks Andrew and Steve!

Activations creating 3D GIFs are are increasingly popular; and Breeze software is trusted by many industry leading operators to provide ‘bullet time’ animated GIFs.

Multiple images are taken using DSLR Remote Pro Multi-Camera, automatically combined into an animated GIF, and shared using Breeze KioskHotfolder Prints was used to provide visitors with a printed takeaway.

Samuel Waters‘ video shows just how fast this process is:

Thanks to Matt at Noonah for lending us the multi-camera rig in this video. You can buy your own multi-camera system powered by DSLR Remote Pro Multi-Camera from Noonah.

I Love Photobooths kindly lent us the magic mirror running DSLR Remote Pro to show on the stand. Purchase the complete magic mirror from I Love Photobooths (their Green Screen Dream Machine and Hashtag Printers also run Breeze software).

Missed Chris’s talk on light painting? Much of the content is covered here

Chris demonstrating light painting props at Photo Booth Show 2017 (Photo by Peter Leese Everybooth)

Interested in multi-camera activations? Download a copy of DSLR Remote Pro Multi-Camera and try it for yourself. Chris will also be giving a presentations about multi-camera systems at PBPI in January and PBX 2018 in March.

A big thank you to Jon Sharp for organising the show.

Find out more about I Love Photobooths, Noonah, Photobooth Guys Andrew and Steve , The Lab, Wilkes, Everybooth, Incredible Booth

Copyright Breeze Systems 2017

Shooting Square photos with Breeze Photo Booth software

Usually photo booth images are shot in ‘landscape’ mode; so that you can comfortably include several people in the shot. Sometimes we want to vary this.

This post explains how to create and print square  photos using DSLR Remote Pro 3.7.3. Webcam Photobooth, NKRemote and PSRemote work in a very similar way. First we need to change the shape of the live view image; then change the print layout to match.

1. Start DSLR Remote Pro and run the Photobooth Setup Wizard to set up a basic booth, selecting a single photo at Step 1.

DSLR Remote Pro 3.7.3 main screen: Photobooth Setup Wizard button highlighted

2. Start the photo booth. DSLR Remote Pro allows you to customize your booth setup without connecting the camera. (NKRemote  and PSRemote users  connect and switch on the camera. Webcam Photobooth uses the PC’s internal camera if you have not connected an external camera.)

DSLR Remote Pro 3.7.3 main screen: Start Photobooth button highlighted

3. Crop the live view guests see by holding down the ‘shift’ key and pressing the cursor right arrow -> until the live view window is square. The amount of cropping is shown in the lower right corner of the screen. If you overshoot press ‘shift’ and the left arrow <- to reduce the cropping.

DSLR Remote Pro 3.7.3 : changing shape of Live View

4. Check the crop size to see whether the live view window is square: numbers in brackets show (width x height) of the live view.

DSLR Remote Pro 3.7.3 : 160 pixels have been cropped from each side of live view image to a create 640×640 square

5. Press <Escape> to exit Photobooth mode and select the large ‘Print Layout’ button to open the Print Layout Editor.

DSLR Remote Pro 3.7.3 main screen: Print Layout button highlighted

6. Right click on the photo in the print layout and select ‘Edit image position’. Set the image width and height to the same value to make the photo square.

DSLR Remote Pro 3.7.3 Print Layout editor: image on print cropped to square shape

7. Click OK, drag the photo to the required position and/or resize it by dragging the corners. Add any captions, background etc before exporting the layout to save your work.

DSLR Remote Pro 3.7.3 Print Layout editor: Export layout button highlighted

Square photos can be combined with filters to give a pop art effect, or used singly for a ‘polaroid’ look.

This method can be used to create rectangular photos of any proportions you choose. More details.

Ready for more? You can also create round (or any other shape) photos using  a live view overlay and print overlay. You will need to create these overlays in an image editor such as Photoshop. The DSLR Remote Pro help files explain how to customize screens and prints in more detail.

Copyright Breeze Systems 2017

Light painting without a tent

When we first showed light painting in a bright exhibition hall at Photo Booth Expo 2016, the industry was amazed. This post explains how to use light painting at indoor venues with an open or closed booth using DSLR Remote Pro.

You can use the same technique with DSLR Remote Pro Multi-Camera .

DSLR Remote Pro Multi Camera animated GIF (5 cameras). Flash with 3 second exposure.

What equipment do I need?

  • Camera
  • Photo booth software that lets you control the camera settings
  • Flash
  • Black backdrop
  • Lighting props

Camera: we recommend using a Canon DSLR camera. Webcams and iPads are not suitable because you need complete control over the exposure and settings (including aperture). This is not possible with a webcam or an IPad.

Photobooth software: The examples here use DSLR Remote Pro and DSLR Remote Pro Multi-Camera. You can use the same technique with other programs which allow you to control the camera settings.

DSLR Remote Pro with open photobooth at Photo Booth Expo 2017

Flash: You need a powerful flash to freeze the subject at the start of the exposure. We like to position the flash high up so that people are less likely to look directly at it and be dazzled by the light. The flash also acts as a cue to the guests to start light painting. Ask them to pose until the flash fires and then start moving the lights.

Black backdrop: the light trails show up best against a black background. If you have a light background you may get ghosting (dark shadows) when guests move around.

Lighting props: guests’ phones, colored torches, LED batons or more elaborate props such as pixel sticks.

How do I use DSLR Remote Pro to control the camera to create the light trails?

  • Use external flash mode
  • Set a slow shutter speed
  • Use a small aperture and low ISO to cut out ambient lighting

External flash mode: Run the photo booth setup wizard; select <Advanced Settings> and check the box to set external flash mode. If you also check ‘Mirror output images’ the words guests write with the lights will be reversed to read correctly:

DSLR Remote Pro 3.7.3 Photobooth Settings screen: check boxes for External flash mode and Mirror Output Images highlighted

Shutter speed: You need an exposure of at least 1 second to create the light trails. We find between 2 and 3 seconds is best. (Guests start to run out of ideas with exposures longer than 3 seconds).

In the <Advanced Settings> screen select camera settings mode Bank 1, then click on the <Camera Settings> button to the right. This takes you to the camera settings screen. You need to adjust the Bank 1 settings for both taking photos and live view.

DSLR Remote Pro 3.7.3 Photobooth Settings screen: select Bank 1 and click on <Camera Settings>

Camera settings: Start with  exposure (Tv) set to 2″ (2 seconds), aperture (Av) 22, ISO 100 and white balance ‘flash’.

DSLR Remote Pro 3.7.3 Camera Settings screen: Bank 1 ‘taking photos’ settings highlighted

Live view: Select Tv: bulb for a bright live view image and White balance: Auto (ambience) for reliable colors.

DSLR Remote Pro 3.7.3 Camera Settings screen: Bank 1 live view settings highlighted

In a brightly lit venue you may need to reduce the length of the exposure or use a screen to dim the ambient light.

DSLR Remote Pro Multi-Camera users should use the same technique.

Ideas for lighting props

Colored torches (DSLR Remote Pro with open photobooth)

The simplest props are guest’s own mobile phones and colored LED torches. A set of LED finger torches can be glued together.

LED baton (DSLR Remote Pro with open photobooth)

Our most popular props are made from LED lighting strips wound round a foam baton and powered by rechargeable batteries. Pixel sticks can be customized for branded events.

For more ideas search for specialist websites such as lightpaintingphotography.com

Copyright Breeze Systems Ltd 2017

360 degree multi-camera activation for Mazda

Event Attitude in Belgium have been creating amazing effects using Breeze software since 2003. This 360 degree rig for an activation in Rome is just one example of their work

Thanks Gaetan for allowing us to share this video.

Boomerang basics – animated GIFs in two extra clicks

Do you want to offer your guests something new with very little effort? You can add animated GIFs to your booth with just two extra clicks using the  Photo Booth Setup Wizard in DSLR Remote Pro or Webcam Photobooth.

DSLR Remote Pro and Webcam Photobooth include two kinds of animated GIFs: boomerang and slideshow. Boomerang GIFs are captured with a short video clip, and usually shared using social media or by email. Slideshow GIFs contain still photos taken during normal photobooth operation. These GIFs can also be shared. The same photos can be printed in a strip or other layouts.

This blog post explains how to create  simple boomerang GIFs using the Photo Booth Setup Wizard in DSLR Remote Pro. Webcam Photobooth works in a very similar way. You can customize your GIFs using the advanced settings.

You need DSLR Remote Pro 3.7, Webcam Photobooth 2.4 or a more recent release; a touchscreen, and your camera must support video. Customers with DSLR Remote Pro licenses issued before 22 February, 2016 also need to buy a DSLR Remote Pro upgrade license. Customers with Webcam Photobooth licenses issued before 17th May 2016 need to buy a Webcam Photobooth upgrade license.

1. Start DSLR Remote Pro. Select the Photobooth Setup Wizard.

2. At Step 3: check the box to enable video booth mode; then check the box to capture animated GIFs. Select the sharing and other options you need before clicking on <Finish>.

3. The next screen confirms that you have completed running the Setup Wizard. Close this to return to the main screen.

4. Connect your camera and switch it on before selecting ‘Start Photobooth’. That’s it!

5. This is the default photo booth screen created by the Photo Booth Setup Wizard. Guests  switch between boomerang GIFs and still photos using the button in the top right corner.

6. You can choose whether guests share GIFs directly from the booth as shown here, or take time to browse and share them away from the booth with Breeze Kiosk (purchased separately).

7. The dinosaur chase at the top of this page shows what you can achieve just using the photobooth setup wizard.

You can modify the default settings to change the video length and playback speed;  add overlays and a title page to brand GIFs for each event. This example shows the same GIF overlaid with a simple border. The capture rate and image interval have also been altered to give a smoother result. Find out how to customize your own Boomerang GIFs .

Copyright Breeze Systems Ltd 2017

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