How can I capture images directly from a digital camera without messing with memory cards?
November 4, 2009 5:00 PM   Subscribe

How can I capture high quality photos from a camera directly for printing, without using the memory card as a middle step, and preferably with a live preview on my computer screen?

Ever taken on a problem you thought would be easy, and found yourself stumped almost immediately? This is like that.

I was selected to set up and operate a Santa Claus photo booth at an alternative gift fair (with proceeds going to a charitable cause). I figured it would be a fairly easy set-up with a camera, laptop, and photo printer. However, I cannot seem to find a way to capture an image from the camera with a live preview on my computer screen.

When connected to my computer, the cameras I've tried all display as USB removable storage of one kind or another (not an image capture device.) I seem to remember that digital cameras used to advertise the ability to use them as webcams, which would be a start, but I need print quality for this particular project.

I have at my disposal: a Windows XP computer, a Macbook, a Samsung NV10 digital camera, and an Aiptek HD still/video camera.

So, how can I use these devices to capture Santa Claus?
posted by iktomi to Technology (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
My old Canon G5 camera (RIP) had software that does what you're asking. The App was called Remote Capture. It let you completely control the camera and see a preview on my Mac. My lower end cameras from Canon and others did not have that kind of software. So your answer might be if you get the right camera ($$$$) you might be able to swing this.
posted by birdherder at 5:10 PM on November 4, 2009

Similar (the same?) software came with my Canon Powershot (or downloaded from the Canon website) and is probably available for their other lines. It works over the camera's USB connection.
posted by TruncatedTiller at 5:26 PM on November 4, 2009

Best answer: "Tethered shooting" is the term you're looking for. Software, and whether you can do it or not, will depend on your camera.
posted by Pinback at 5:33 PM on November 4, 2009

If you can get ahold of a camera that supports tethered shooting, you might want to download a demo/beta of Lightroom and have it do this business.

That'd give you a seamless capture to print workflow.
posted by pokermonk at 5:39 PM on November 4, 2009

Yes, as people have said, this is tethered shooting, and your camera may or may not support it. But you may be able to do something similar with a wi-fi enabled card for your camera. I've never used them, but they could make your life easier.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:54 PM on November 4, 2009

Response by poster: Aha! "Tethered shooting" is the search term I needed. Thank you all for your help; you have saved Christmas!
posted by iktomi at 6:22 PM on November 4, 2009

If you have a certain Canon model, PSRemote does this. I picked up a used Canon A510 for cheap just to play around with.
posted by wongcorgi at 7:20 PM on November 4, 2009

You can use an Eye-Fi memory card to transfer the photos to your PC.
posted by devnull at 2:23 AM on November 5, 2009

Transfer wirelessly that is.
posted by devnull at 2:24 AM on November 5, 2009

The MacBook, the video camera and the Photo Booth software will do it. You might need to trick PB into using the external camera rather than defaulting to the internal iSight, but it's been done before.
posted by rokusan at 4:43 AM on November 5, 2009

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