Extended bracketing control

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Shooting exposure bracketed gets more and more important for panorama creation, but most cameras still only support three brackets at 2EV steps maximum. External camera control works around this limitation. It supports not only bracketing control but eventually many other features (timelaps, sound or light trigger etc). However, exposure bracketing is the main interest here. This page is about how to extend the camera capabilities. If you look for general HDR information start at the HDR page.

PTP bracketing

Picture Transfer Protocol (PTP) is built into many cameras and should provide a means of not only transferring pictures over USB but also controlling the camera remotely. PTP is part of the WIA architecture on Windows, hence it is fairly easy to build a camera control software using f.e. Visual Basic. For other OS's the gphoto project should provide access to such cameras.

Hence there are many programs to control your camera from a computer but only few that do the same from a portable device. However, availability of cheap USB host circuitry has triggered some do-it-yourself projects and apparently even some smartphones can use USB hosts nowadays.







  • DSLR camera remote A smartphone app and a program running on a PC connected to the camera.

Bulb mode bracketing

A much cheaper way to control a camera is using bulb mode and controlling the shutter directly by cable or infrared. Unfortunately no short exposure times are possible since for fast times the second shutter curtain starts to close already while the first one is still not fully open. Hence bulb mode bracketing is limited times slower than 1/120s to 1/60s depending on the camera. Great for night time HDR but nothing for daylight use where fast speeds are needed. There are lot's of DIY projects and many smartphone apps in this category.


  • HDR Jack probably the smallest bracketing controller ever.
  • HDR jack 2 improve version build into a standard cable release. There are other solutions with even more features on that page, too.
  • Open Camera Controller controlled by a Nintendo DS and build into a game cartridge, many features.
  • PhotoIRemote controlled by smartphone using audio out using either a self modified cable or a self mad IR transmitter

Smartphone apps

  • TriggerTrap i-devices app with bulb mode bracketing
  • DSLR.bot i-devices app with infrared bulb mode bracketing

Camera software hacks

In-camera bracketing limits are mostly artificial. Where the camera software can be extended or replaced better functionality can be retrofitted.

  • CHDK The Canon Hack Development Kit extends the firmware of Canon powershot cameras by many useful features among which is extended exposure bracketing.
  • MagicLantern A firmware hack for some Canon DSLRs providing not only bracketing but mainly extended video functionality.