Tag Archives: Camera control

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.

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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