I haven’t seen a lot of ControlMyNikon reviews on the web, so I’m reviewing this awesome tethering application. I take a ton of self portraits, mostly to test out new lighting and posing techniques. At least that’s my story. In reality, my whole room is filled with ridiculous pictures of me in different poses. My wife isn’t a huge fan of posing for me, so it’s either my dogs or me. Cooper only sits for me for all of 10 minutes, so most of the time it’s me staring into the lens. Come see why this is such a great learning tool, as well as a steal. Review inside…
For a while I was using a Targus remote to trigger my D90, but that was a pain, I would have to get up every few shots and chimp my LCD to see how the lighting, focus etc. was. I decided that it was time to get some reliable tethering software. I use Lightroom 4, but the tethering options in Lightroom aren’t great, they are pretty basic. I tried a few free ones too, but I always seemed to get the “camera not found” error a little too often. Then I tried the trial of Camera Control Pro 2, which did all the basics flawlessly, but the full version was expensive, and didn’t offer a whole lot of options. I continued to search….In comes ControlMyNikon.
ControlMyNikon is a standard camera tethering application. It’s Windows only and can only be used with Nikon DSLRs. Check here to see if your camera is supported on their download page. I purchased a 15 foot mini USB cable for about 6 bucks on Amazon. It connects from my D90 to my laptop. That is pretty much it. You can view your images on your laptop screen instead of having to look at a tiny LCD screen. Review after the jump.
One word about this software. Sweet. CMN comes with a ton of features. In this regard, it destroys Camera Control Pro 2. This includes built-in triggers, full-screen mode and scripting as the most important differences between the two apps.
Lets start with all the triggers that CMN offers. This includes a sound trigger, speech trigger, and a web-based trigger. I tested most of the triggers out and they performed pretty well. I used the built-in microphone on my laptop, and set the trigger to release every time I said “shoot”. It worked about 90% of the time. The sound trigger is an interesting option, although I probably won’t use it in the real world. You can set up certain sounds to trigger the shutter. I ended up just whistling, and it worked well enough.
My favorite trigger though was the web-based trigger. CMN installs a web backend. This is a website on your network that you go to that allows you to trigger the shutter, trigger auto focus and a bunch of other options. I LOVE THIS. You navigate in a browser to the same ip address of the computer that CMN is loaded on and this web app loads. It works on cell phones too, which is the reason it’s so awesome. It essentially adds a remote control option. There are a bunch of other commands besides just triggering the shutter, see the screen shot to the right of Safari on my iPhone.
The second feature that I’d like to mention is scripting. This is actually pretty handy. You can create a macro using predefined commands such as setting the ISO, shutter speed or aperture. You can also send a command to pause for a certain number of seconds. I’ve created one where I auto focus and shoot, pause 3 seconds, shoot again, pause another 3 seconds and shoot one more time. It’s a great tool if you are experimenting with different posing techniques, or even with different camera/lighting settings. I’ve only just begun to explore it but it’s a welcome feature and super simple to use. Double click the command and it adds it to the script.
The other features are pretty much what you would expect from a tethering application, as well as many that aren’t typical.. There is live view on your computer screen, motion detection to trigger the camera, intervalometer for time-lapse shots to name a few. There is also focus stacking. This is a neat feature that allows you to stretch your depth of field by taking multiple images of the same subject, focusing on different areas. Then it can combine the exposures into one image, with an increased depth of field. This is a great feature for macro shots, as the DOF is quite small for them. I also like the real-time histogram in live view.
Everything just worked the way it was supposed to. There is about a 2 second delay before your image appears on your computer, but that is inline with most other tethering applications. All the options that are usually controlled through your camera can be controlled right on your computer screen, without issue.
The best part about this software? It’s 30 dollars, which is practically giving it away, for what you get. I know I’ve been pretty positive in this review, but this software is a godsend for anybody wanting to tether their Nikon camera, especially in studio. Nikon’s Camera Control Pro 2 is about 140 dollars. I use all Nikon equipment and am a big fan of the company, but they need to really look at Camera Control and make some changes, or at least cut the price. Then again, maybe they don’t care all that much about it, as it’s a tertiary concern to their hardware. Either way, if you have a Nikon and are planning on tethering, this is a great choice.