Sunday, July 13, 2008

Using Pkremote

In the last post we did install Pkremote written by Pontus Lidman. The goal of the application is stated in the pkremote README file:

"Control Pentax K10D remotely & download pictures without using a memory card, just like Pentax Remote Assistant(tm) 3."

So there you go. After having installed pkremote we take it for a first spin:

The application starts up presenting three windows:

  1. PK-Remote Camera Settings
  2. PK-Remote
  3. PK-Remote Camera Buffers

PK-Remote Camera Settings

Once the camera is recognized by pkremote this window will allow you to control the camera:

You can adjust he Jpg settings to your liking on the rigth hand side. On the left you can choose the camera mode, aperture, shutter speed, iso settings and the exposure correction. I didnt check if the "green button" and "AE lock" buttons work...


The Pk/remote windows shows you the preview and all focus points of your camera. If you click one the focus point will checked (green color). Once you click the Focus button, the AF will be activated. The take picture button will let you, you might habe guessed it, take a picture. The upper part of the windows informs you about the camera setting chosen while taking the picture.

PK-Remote Camera Buffers

The last windows will displays the pictures in the Camera buffer, aka the pictures that have already been taken.

If you work in manual mode, click on a picture and you can either delete it, or save it using the appropriate buttons and the format chosen in the drop down menu. You can save in Pef, Jpg or Dng format.

You can also setup an autosave mode. Check the autosave check box and choose a name in the "Name" text field. Set the counter to the first sequence number ("1", if you start a new shooting session). Enter a valid path in the "Folder" textfield pointing to the folder where to store you images. You can also navigate there using the "Browse" button. Any picture taken from that point on, will be saved ASAP after expoure.

HOWTO: Tethered shooting using Pentax DSLRs under Linux

Being a Linux user can be tough at times. Most applications that one might need come with any distro on the market.

If you are a photographer, you are in the need of serious post-processing, image archiving, or tethered shooting. On Linux you are most likely out of luck. Using wine, one can install and run much needed applications like Photoshop (CS2 and older), iView and the like, while others like Lightroom or the latest version of Photoshop (CS3) remain out of reach. Virtualisation applications like VMware or VirtualBox can help, but make the process of runnig those application clunky, the performance is often slow like molasses... (I know about f-spot, digikam and the gimp and bibble as well. They all have their merrits but are just not the same. Yet! They might get there, though...

So you can imagine how happy I was when I learned about a small Linux program called "pkremote". Pentax offers an application called "Pentax Remote Assistant" which can be used on Windows. The application installs fine on Linux using wine but can't be used since it is unable up to date to recognize any cameras...
Pkremote supposedly would allow me to use my Pentax K10D *or any other Pentax DSLR or that matter in tethered mode, enabling me to control the camera connected to my computer via the computer and directly transfer images at the same time. Big deal you might think if you are a windows user and are able to use the Pentax Remote Assistant. So I get the source and tried to install on my machine.

Pkremote is not part of any software repository, although there is an ebuild for Gentoo. Here are the steps I took to get the software running on OpenSuse 11:

1. Get the source code:

You will need to have the subversion package installed for this step to work
svn co \

2. Make sure that the glade2 and glade2-devel packages are installed:
zypper install libglade2 libglade2-devel

3. Compile the application
cd pkremote
make install
This will install the binary pkremote in the /usr/local/bin directory.

4. Install the udev rules (Check the README file for details on other distros).

cp pentax.rules /etc/udev/
ln -s /etc/udev/pentax.rules /etc/udev/rules.d/55-pentax.rules
5. Using your system administration tool, add the group “plugdev” and add all users that are supposed to be using pkremote. I did use yast2 for this and added myself as a user to the new group. In order to belong to the group, you will have to restart your X session.

6. Restart udev. I did reboot the machine, supposedly you can do this:
mount /dev/pts
mount /dev/shm
I found this procedure in an Arch-Linux forum, Don't even know if this works on OpenSuse. If in doubt, get some coffee while the machine reboots...

7. Connect your Pentax DSLR to the computer using the USB cable that came with it and then turn it on. Make sure that the top display reads “PC”. It it reads something else, enter the camera menu and change the PC transfer mode to “PC”.

8. Start the pkremote application by executing:
So there you go. You should be presented with three windows and the application should recognize your camera. More on how to use the application in the next post.

Starting this blog

Hello to you all.

When it comes to things to do in your spare time you are in more and more trouble. Like most people I personally feel drawn between tons of stuff I have to do (job, daily chores), and the stuff I would like to do:

  • Spent time with the family
  • Build my own electric guitar (long time dream since I was 10 years old...)
  • practice the guitar (I just never get around to do it...)
  • take more photos
  • learn how to take better photos
  • take better photos
OK, non photography "to dos" should not be much of anyone's concern in this blog (I will let you know how things are moving, once I get the guitar building project off the ground... :-).

I would like to focus more on the photography side of things here...
I always did like photography. I used a Canon A1 for the longest time and thought of myself as an advanced amateur, I guess. I knew enough about shutter speed, apertures and depth of field to take pictures the way I wanted them. But my knowledge was rather limited when it came to controlling of light in either an ambient lightning or a studio flash controlled setting.

Soon after I switched to a digital SLR (I own a PENTAX K10D with a selection of lenses and a system flash) I found myself overwhelmed with the possibilities of my new system.

  • What to do with all the images?
  • How and where to store all the images?
  • How and if to develop the images?
  • How to post process the images?
  • Print or not to print?
  • Trying to obtain a realistic reproduction of the scene or make use of the post processing possibilities of the digital age?
Reading other blogs, listening to podcasts and follow the discussions in forums did help me a lot in the beginning. But and the end of the day you will have to find your own way of how to do things, which will ultimately lead you as a person and a photographer to the development of your own style.

So what is this blog about?

  • I would like to share some of my photographic work
  • I would also like to share some of the thoughts, that made me take featured pictures
  • I would like to discuss the gear that was used in the pictures
  • I would like to share my post processing, and discuss alternatives or other ways of working on images
  • I would like to discuss the use of some standard applications
  • Being a long term Linux user I would like to show, how to use open source applications as an alternative to standard applications most people would use in the windows world.
  • But I would also like to show you ways how to use your windows applications on Linux as good as one can.

So if you think one or the other topic might be of some interest to you, stay tuned.
Cheers J├╝rgen