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09-13-2011, 09:42 PM   #1
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Computer Remote Control for Pentax?

Hi forum users,

I am a long time Pentax user, astrophotographer, and member of this forum. I currently own a K-x. I want to start a campaign to get Pentax -Japan to do something for we Pentax users, and I think this forum could help. First, there is a really nice software package out there called Eclipse Orchestrator (Moonglow Technologies, LLC , and BTW I am not conncted to to Moonglow in any way). Here's how it works: for any Lunar or Solar Eclipse, or any other timed sequence one would like to shoot, one can pre-program and then run a timed sequence of various exposures of the event. This the allows the user to pretty much sit back and enjoy the event. In the case of a total Solar Eclipse this is a big deal because unless one travels half way aroud the world, one doesn't see them very often; and the total phase lasts only seconds to about 7 min. (rarely) long. A photographer tends to spend most of his time managing the camera and not watching, and enjoying the eclipse. Also, when taking multiple exposure sequences of an eclipse, the images turn out correctly spaced on the image. The company that makes this package sells about ten of these per week. Here's the problem; It works for Nikon, and Canon, only. The owner of the company been told that Nikon and Canon freely offer what's known as a "software development kit" or SDK (this is what, for instance, Apple offers for its ap developers). Pentax does not. Without the SDK, it's almost impossible to create the software. So, if I want to do this now, I'll have to go buy a Nikon! Why hasn't this happened at Pentax-Japan? After all, they have to have an internal version to develop their cameras. It could be that they just haven't taken the time to put together a clean user package, and the technology is moving too fast, and/or maybe they don't see enough user need. So, I guess they won't do it without some prodding from the outside.

I'm thinking that if the Pentax Forum was to launch a campaign, we may be able to light a fire under Pentax-Japan to get them to move on this.

I have talked to Joe Virgil at Pentax USA (joe.virgil@pentax.com), who coincidentally is also into astronomy. He wants me to email him my

request, but I am certain that if we were to stuff his inbox with emails from many users, it would have a better effect than just me alone.

E-mail Joe, we need Pentax to produce a SDK. Tell your Pentax owning friends.

Thanks,

-John

09-13-2011, 10:24 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forums!

"The truth is out there", see: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-dslr-discussion/124343-k-x-tethered-shooting.html.
09-14-2011, 02:51 AM   #3
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Welcome to the Forums!! I have posted several times that the way for Pentax to go is the SDK route. In this respect Pentax would not have to produce another software utility such as the Remote Assistant that they have supplied in the past and just concentrate on the camera body itself. The external software utility could be supplied by third parties and open source. The physical interface is just USB.

Given the astro capability (AstroTracker) of the new GPS unit (Pentax's O-GPS1 unit), I would think that the natural evolution would be for additional support being provided. One drawback would be that in the past the Remote Assistant utility was only applicable to the higher end bodies such as the K10 and K20. I would assume that Pentax was using this as a feature differentiation between their entry and enthusiast line of bodies. This is one reason why I am somewhat reculant to upgrade to the K5 since my K20 supports at least the old tethering capability with Remote Assistant.

This would be extremely easy for Pentax to do. As indicated, tethering has been available in the past, however removed with the K7 and K5 bodies for some reason. At a minimum, the re insertion or re enabling of Tethering would be a plus here.

Additionally, this would be useful for applications well beyond Astro-photography. Just external tethering applications, one could use a tablet or Android type device to control the camera body, when its in an awkward position - low to the ground etc. thereby eliminating the need for a rear swivel screen. An actual extension to this would be a wifi interface (with an off capability in the menus so as to reduce battery drain) so as to maintain the body's WR capability, thereby eliminating the need to open a body seal to attach the USB cable to the unit.

Along the same thought would also be an interface for camera setup. Essentially, everything available via the menus on the unit could also be setup via a menu on a PC and stored to a file on the SD card. The reason why I add this is that my K20 required servicing - new circuit internal boards, and thus upon receipt of the body back from Pentax Warranty Service, I needed to remember the setup I had previously used.


Last edited by interested_observer; 09-14-2011 at 03:07 AM.
09-16-2011, 06:57 PM - 1 Like   #4
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I don't think that Pentax (or Nikon or Canon, either) will ever release an SDK. The camera's firmware is not designed to allow "apps".

The comparison to the iPhone is not valid. The iPhone operating system was designed from the ground up with the ability to run third-party apps. The OS in a camera is not. So, at least for the current generation of cameras, it simply ain't gonna happen.

Please note that Apple's SDK for the iPhone does not allow developers to modify the basic operation of the phone, just as Microsoft doesn't allow you to modify the code within the Windows OS. You just write application programs that run and make use of system functions to accomplish some goal.

The OS in digital cameras is not a general-purpose operating system. It is an embedded programmed control system designed for a very specific purpose. If Pentax wanted to triple or quadruple the amount of on-board memory and write an entirely new OS for the camera, with apps in mind, it could probably be done, but how many extra cameras would this sell? If the answer is "very few, if any", then it is clearly not worth the expense, in the minds of Pentax.

What people are really asking for is more akin to the open-source movement of Linux. However, neither Linus Torvalds (the originator of Linux) nor the hardware manufacturer of your computer will support you, if your modifications to the Linux kernel cause a catastrophic failure. Since camera buyers expect warranty support, no camera maker is going to risk it.

Remember, its all about sales. If you want a feature added to the next Pentax camera, convince them that your idea will sell more cameras or improve profit margins. Otherwise, they're not interested. I don't believe that there is a stong case to be made that open-source firmware would increase sales.

This is just my opinion. YMMV.

09-16-2011, 07:46 PM   #5
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Hi all,

Thanks for all your input.
First, I've read the site and e-mailed PK tether. I seems that multiple exposure/interval shooting does not work very well with that.
Second, my analogy to a "web app" may have been off the mark a bit, but the owner of "Monnglow Tech" (who developed the software) called what he needed: an "SDK". I didn't make that up. But whatever you would call it, it would be enough information from Pentax to allow third parties to develop software to remotely control recent Pentax models. My opinion is similar, it's a cost/benefit issue for Pentax. How many people want it vs. how much it would cost Pentax to provide it.

-John
09-21-2011, 07:23 PM   #6
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Computer Shutter Control

Sure, I'd love Pentax to support Remote Control better. But I gave up waiting for them long ago. I have four versions of K1x0D cameras. They are not supported by Pentax Remote Assistant whereas the *istD (older) and K10D (newer) are supported. I assumed it was an oversight and Pentax would correct the mistake!

What I used for astronomy was DSLR-Shutter from Stark Labs.

DSLR Shutter

I made a two simple interfaces from Serial to Pentax Shutter jack. One is relay based and requires power, the other is Opto-Isolater based and self contained. You can set exposure, interval, and count. Nothing fancy but all the functions I needed.

Works fine with my old HP observatory desktop, old HP laptop, and new HP laptop via USB to Serial converter. Software is free though a donation would be nice.

Leo Taylor
09-14-2014, 04:32 PM   #7
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Already so many years, Ricoh Pentax still never willing to share the "SDK" out. What a disappointment!
09-14-2014, 06:17 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by kamayok3 Quote
Already so many years, Ricoh Pentax still never willing to share the "SDK" out. What a disappointment!
You resurrected a zombie thread to share that?

09-15-2014, 03:32 AM   #9
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Wouldn't a FLU card + Android API be more attractive??
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