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. But there are possibilities to work around this limitation. Many solutions support 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. The gphoto project also collects informations what cameras can be remotely controlled and in what ways: http://gphoto.org/doc/remote/

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.

Supported cameras

Not all PTP enabled cameras implement all features. Hence it's impossible to tell which cameras can be used for PTP bracketing. The most complete list of cameras supporting PTP or other means of direct control is found in the gphoto project. If your camera is listed, there is a chance that one or the other software will support it. But it is still better to look on the vendor or developer page.




  • DigiKam (open source) Should "use gphoto for capture" according gphoto page no camera control




  • Promote control
  • Seitz Roundshot VR Drive 2 with HDR option
  • OKII USA They sell 2USB controls, battery powered, they allow camera control and also very fine follow focusing control. Canon only.
  • CinematicsThey sell 2USB controls, battery powered, they allow camera control and also very fine follow focusing control, one of them is the unique one that controls 2 cameras for stereo3D photography or video making. Canon only.
  • Opteka FF1x it is a simple, battery operated followfocus. No hdr functions or camera controls
  • Camranger is a small device plugging in the USB connector of several Nikon and Canon DSLRs allowing to control them wireless from iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Android device, or Mac or Windows computer.


While the commercial devices above should be save (or at least offer some liability) there is a chance the DIY projects might hurt your camera. See this post on the vimeo forum.

Raspberry Pi

The w:Raspberry Pi is a very cheap yet complete ARM based single board computer the size of a credit card running Linux. This offers new and exciting possibilities. Some projects:

Chained apps

Unfortunately very few smart devices have an USB host to control external readers, iOS would need a special circuitry attatched to their propretary port. Hence proliferation of tools claimed to coontrol the camera from a smartphone, that are more conveniently using a real computer as bridge. The convenience is that the smart device controlling the camera operations is wirelessy connected to the bridge computer and can be a very valuable companion in studio work. Drawback is it comes more heavy on the field.


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

Android + other

  • remoteyourcam wifi is compatible with Canon cameras, Nikon compatibility is still not provided. The server application is available for Mac OS X 10.5+ and Windows.
  • cameraremote Documentation is scarce, seems to act through bluetooth. Someone will have to test it.

Apps direct USB control

Few apps are avaliable, chaining the full camera control with PTP protocol. Unfortunately only few smart devices are equipped with an USB host, and generally Android 3.1 is required. Till now only few apps can control the cameras directly. The solution is smart and lightweight, requires an USB cable linking your device with the camera, somehow limiting the action range.

  • DSLRcontroller app to control Canon cameras over USB or WiFi
  • dslrsystems is an Android smartphone app chained with an arduino Bluetooth reciever with USB conection to Canon camera
  • DslrDashboard supports many Nikon and Canon cameras both over USB and WiFi
  • Helicon Remote supports many Nikon and Canon cameras (Commercial)
  • CamCap supports many Nikon and Canon cameras (Commercial)
  • remoteyourcam usb is compatible with Canon and Nikon cameras,and remotes them via USB host.

Apps direct WiFi control

Some DSLRs can be controlled via USB plugged to a portable wireless router or other device with a cheap app:

  • DSLRcontroller Supports a couple of Canon EOS cameras and the TPLink MR3040 and Nexx WT3020.
  • DslrDashboard Supports a couple of Canon, Nikon and Sony cameras with any device where ddserver (open source) can be installed to. This includes TPLink MR3040, WR703N and MR3020, pcDuino, Rasperry Pi and other linux devices.

Bulb mode bracketing

A much cheaper way to control a camera shutter is using bulb mode and opening and closing 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 to times slower than 1/120s to 1/4s depending on the camera, with fastest possible times getting unreliable. 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.

Supported cameras

Any camera that has a cable or infrared release and that supports bulb mode should work.


  • The PClix intervalometer has the feature of a programmable shutter push length (to 99/100th sec) and programmable bulb length which can be combined with interval timing -- which makes it useful for continuous sequences of autobracketed bursts.


DIY bulb mode bracketing should be safe if you don't apply power to the connector.

  • 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
  • Bracketmeister Arduino project by Joergen Geerds

Smartphone apps

  • TriggerTrap i-devices app with bulb mode bracketing
  • DSLR.bot i-devices app with infrared bulb mode bracketing
  • Trigger Happy I-devices and android app plus cable bulb mode bracketing
  • TL-Plus Androide app that programs the AutoMate robotic panorama head which then does not only bulb mode bracketing or timelaps but also gigapixel shooting on it's own.

Camera software hacks

In-camera bracketing limits are mostly artificial. Where the camera software can be extended or replaced better functionality can be retrofitted. However, there is a small risk of malfunction or even permanent damage to your camera.

  • CHDK The Canon Hack Development Kit extends the firmware of Canon powershot cameras by many useful features among which is extended exposure bracketing. Also read the FAQ Can CHDK damage your camera?
  • MagicLantern A firmware hack for some Canon DSLRs providing not only bracketing but mainly extended video functionality. Also read the FAQ "Is it safe?"

Other possibilities

  • Another idea of doc-diy is to butcher a battery grip and emulate the dial wheel by a micro controller. This way exposure could be controlled simply and directly.