Using the N900 as a remote flash

UPDATE: How-to now online here!

So, I want to take a picture of my bonsai tree, but it’s pretty dark, and flat lighting’s a bit boring:

But hey, some off-camera flash can make things look pretty exciting, if only I had a flashgun and some wireless triggers, I could get something like this:

Much better! But wait, with my oh-so-hackable N900 I can use that as a remote flash, by having it trigger its own flash and my DSLR at the same time, lets pull back a bit from the above crop:

Brilliant! Lets see a quick video of that in action to illustrate it, note the photo being taken appearing on the back of the SLR:

So how did I make all this work? Well, mostly cos the N900 is open source, linux like and easy to hack. It’s got an IR transmitter, and Nikon SLRs (a D40 in this case) have an IR receiver for remote shutter release. First a quick overview of what’s happening:

Shutter is a python widget that uses LIRC to trigger a Nikon remotely. Flashlight lets you use the N900s LEDs as a low power torch. Both are open source, so I can easily get the source, edit it and create my own program. What I did here was use some of the code from flashlight to instead of drive the LEDs as a torch, emit a short high-power strobe like when taking a photo. I then combined this with Shutter, so that the strobe was triggered at the same time as the camera. So I set the camera to instant remote shutter mode, click the widget on my N900, which then strobes the LEDs and triggers the camera.

Why would I want to do this?

..after all the N900 has a fairly weak flash, and you need to manually control the exposure on the camera now etc. Well, cos it’s fun. And taking photos should be fun. And now I can try out some fun photos with interesting flash. Just using my N900.

The codes a bit of a messy hack, but if anyone wants the source to try this out or develop the idea further into an app, post in the comments and I’ll get it online.

About these ads

34 Responses to “Using the N900 as a remote flash”

  1. [...] I've been busy with my trial N900 seeing what I can make it do. Another one for the photographers: Using the N900 as a remote flash How to do something differently… Enjoy! I'll get the source up if anyone else is [...]

  2. another excellent maeniacs, i mean maemo users.

  3. Nice work!
    I would post this/ announce this on the maemo.org website and post it as a new app in their repository

  4. [...] if you want to Do It Different, hook up the device to a DSLR and utilise the flash to give your snaps a lift (see [...]

  5. [...] even used to control dancing robots. Today we’ve stumbled on yet another clever hack – a remote flash. Using the N900’s infrared transmitter and a Nikon DSLR with an infrared receiver, the N900 [...]

  6. I just loved this hack!

  7. dussart jerome Says:

    well done and it does with NIKON D5000

    • I think you’re asking if it works with a D5000? It should do, I think all recent Nikon DSLRs work with IR remote triggers.

  8. [...] momento necesitas un flash adicional para tu cámara puedes hacer lo mismo que ha hecho el autor de doitdifferent. Shutter es un widget desarrollado en python que utiliza lirc como disparador remoto de cámaras [...]

  9. [...] video below shows the hack at work, but for a more detailed explanation head on over to the blog. [DoItDifferent via [...]

  10. [...] video below shows the hack at work, but for a more detailed explanation head on over to the blog. [DoItDifferent via [...]

  11. [...] [DoItDifferent via NokNok] AKPC_IDS += "8553,";Popularity: unranked [?] Share and Enjoy: [...]

  12. [...] video below shows the hack at work, but for a more detailed explanation head on over to the blog. [DoItDifferent via [...]

  13. [...] video below shows the hack at work, but for a more detailed explanation head on over to the blog. [DoItDifferent via [...]

  14. [...] video below shows the hack at work, but for a more detailed explanation head on over to the blog. [DoItDifferent via [...]

  15. Hi, Thanks for this beautiful and very useful hack. Wanted to ask if there is an app available which I can install on my N900. I too use a D40 :)
    Thanks again,
    @vkvraju

    • Hi, I’ll try and get the code online over the next few days – I’ve been really busy recently I’m afraid.

  16. [...] hacer click en el enlace de lectura.Continue reading Nokia N900 usado como flash para cámaras NikonRead | Permalink | Email [...]

  17. This is very interesting. I’d also like to take a look at this code – I’d really appreciate it if you upload it :)

  18. Nicely done. Thx for sharing this.

  19. inextenza Says:

    Hello,

    I’ve tested with my Pentax, and, as I expected (sniff) I had «Shutter: IRsend failed: 1»

    What do you need to support Pentax DSLR?

  20. [...] das im Detail nachlesen möchte, der klickt hier: Artikel von Chris am 14.03.2010Kommentieren Equipment, Links, [...]

  21. al nutrition Says:

    Nice hack!
    Just wondering if it would be possible to link/use a satellite flash unit to/with n900′s camera so that one could c*rry a real flash around to compliment the n900 quite lowpower ledflash? that would just be too cool!!!

    • I think this might be possible, depending on how the flashgun can be triggered.

      Easy option – trigger it off the built in flash if it supports it. Hard option, build a BT aurdino flashfun interface to control with the N900.

      Both options might have problems regarding getting the sync fast enough however.

  22. [...] use the N900 as a remote flash OK, here it is. The long awaited follow-up to the remote flash post. As per most of my how-tos, it’s not a “for dummies” version. I assume you know [...]

  23. [...] might recognise him from such blog posts as ‘How to use a N900 as a remote flash‘ or ‘WOMWorld/Nokia Winners go to Texas‘. He’s a good [...]

  24. [...] a waste of my time – people come here because they want to know how to solve problems and do cool things. But thought I’d jot down a few thoughts from the notes I took, things that stood out [...]

  25. [...] even has used his N900 as remote flash for [...]

  26. Vacation…

    [...]Using the N900 as a remote flash « How to do something differently…[...]…

  27. [...] Nokia N900 phone hacked to remotely trigger a Nikon DSLR. [...]

  28. My Nikon blog…

    [...]Using the N900 as a remote flash « How to do something differently…[...]…

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: