Controlling Canon Powershot cameras with Arduino

Canon A640 shooting Arduino board

Canon A640 shooting Arduino board

The Canon Powershot support for Arduino PTP Library has been released. The library code, as well as several examples, is posted to GitHub. The code allows remote controlling shooting parameters of certain Canon Powershot cameras ( see gphoto and Canon SDK pages for the list of cameras) via USB using Arduino board equipped with USB Host Shield.

Every function of the camera available via buttons/menus can be initiated through PTP. This includes shutter button, shooting mode (Av, Tv, etc.), aperture and shutter speed values, zoom, focus, white balance, just to name a few. Code examples demonstrate control technique. In addition to examples, I added a static page with detailed description of Powershot library.

Most PowerShot cameras have two modes of operation – ‘shooting’ and ‘PC connect’, selected by a switch on camera body. Typically, USB is deactivated in shooting mode and communication with camera is not possible; for remote shooting, camera has to be switched to PC connect mode. Newer PowerShots switch to PC connect mode automatically when USB connection is detected.

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Canon Powershot camera control project

Sandro Benigno from DIY Drones released camera control code for Arducam project. The goal of the project is to control Powershot camera mounted on UAV while feeding camera’s video output back to operator. Telemetry from UAV will also be sent back mixed in video using MAX7456 OSD ( on-screen display ) generator IC. Needless to say, I’m very interested in camera control side of this project.

The capabilities of the code can be seen in a video above. From my experience, Powershot cameras use identical control commands for different models so this code would work with other cameras with no or very minimal changes. For example, I tested it on my A640 and it works just fine. On the other hand, not every Powershot camera can be controlled over USB; suitable model numbers can be deduced from this gphoto list.

The project-related discussion is hosted on DIY Drones.