Sunday, July 13, 2008

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.


Glantucan said...

Pretty interesting, as I am both PENTAX and ubuntu user since a while. Do you have by chance any info on using pkremote with K100D?

Thanks a lot man

glantucan said...

Pretty interesting, as I am both a linux and a PENTAX user.

Do you have any info on using pkremote with a PENTAX K100D


Ale y David Fairlie said...

Hi, this is all very interesting. Thanks for this post!

I have a Pentax *istD and I cannot get it to work with Pentax's Remote Assistant on my mac (running MacOS 10.4). Do you know of any programs that would allow me to take perform tethered shooting with a Pentax SLR on MacOS?

helmerj said...

Hi there, I am not a Mac user and the only software not native to the camera producer that I havecome across is bibble from But they only support Nikon and Canon as far as tethered shooting is concerned...

Some more options:

1. If you can get at least the image download to the computer going using the Pentax software and you happen to own and use Adobe Lightroom you could use the "watched folder" option. Using this Lightroom checks for new images in a specified folder and then you can use the power of Lightroom to work on the files...

2. Check apples aperture that is suppose to have some tethered shooting support. Hearsay only though, but might be worth a check...