Sometime roughly around the early 2000’s camera makers offered the feature of tethered photography to some of their lower end cameras. Tethering a camera to a computer allows for stable, hands free shooting. It also allows the photographer instant feedback on a large computer monitor. Camera settings can be changed quickly on the computer until the desired results were reached. This was especially useful in food photography, or in sales and marketing of products. Hobbyists like me used it for photographing items for sale and for photographing things like coin collections, and even portraits. As you can see in the pic, you don’t need a fancy studio to get a good shot.
In a nutshell, tethered photography is a PRO FEATURE. Canon, Nikon, FujiFilm, and Sony had tethered options but Canon mostly led the pack. With the release of the Canon Powershot G11 in 2009, Canon removed this feature. I guess they figured out that people wouldn’t purchase high end cameras if they could achieve professional results with less expensive, point and click cameras.
Even to this day cameras from this era that are able to be tethered fetch a premium price on the secondary market. If you don’t believe me, go to eBay and look for a Canon G9 or G10.
Even a 20 year old Canon A640 goes for over $100 still. It should be noted that I took this photo with a Nikon D7000 It was tethered to an $80 Evolve III Maestro laptop using Nikon Camera Control Pro 2 software.
Auto-Vox Solar4B Wireless Backup Camera
Auto-Vox Wireless Backup Camera Solar4B
I was recently contacted by a Auto-Vox and was provided their Solar4B Wireless Backup Camera ($169) for review. At the time of the review there was a $50 off coupon available at the Amazon link above.
Auto-Vox did not apply any conditions to the review nor did they pay for the review. Conversely, what you will read here is what I actually think of the camera.
First of all, they couldn’t have selected a better person to review this. I have a 17′ Rockwood A122 pop up camper and have always wanted some form of backup camera mounted on the rear of it.
You’d think every single camper in the world would have wiring and connectors preinstalled. But you would be wrong for thinking that. An Auto-vox backup camera is perfect for my situation.
I had a Ring Pro that was a few years old. It died. I would log in to look at something only to find it was alive a day or two before then died. Then miraculously it would come back to life only to die again.
I bought a new Ring Pro to replace it and documented that process here. It was a living fucking hell. It should have been easy. But it was not easy. Enough of that. I spouted off enough about it in the last blog entry. Let’s talk about fixing the one that was broken. This will just cover the battery replacement and not the entire tear down or rebuild.
Basically you just open the thing up and remove the motherboard. There are several connectors on the board which must be CAREFULLY removed. Take a picture first before you disconnect anything. Regarding the connectors, just get under them and pop them up with a spudger made of plastic. THEY ARE FRAGILE. Then remove two screws , pull the speaker out and then lift the motherboard.
Connector removal locations
Wyze Cam V2
This is the latest toy I’ve been messing with. This is the Wyze Cam V2 indoor camera. I typically link things like this to Amazon but you can pick these up at HomeDepot for about $25 which makes them a bargain.
Much like every other smart device they are controlled by their own app. Before you know it you have an app for the doorbell, one for lights, and another for cameras, among a multitude of other devices. Apps, apps, apps.
When I buy smart devices I like to make sure they are compatible with my home automation system which is Home Assistant. Well the Wyze camera can be pulled in however you have to use what is called a Real Time Streaming Protocol or RTSP stream.
Here’s the bad news. Right out of the box the Wyze V2 does not support RTSP however, Wyze does offer a beta firmware that enables RTSP.
Today it is my pleasure to teach you a little about indoor home security cameras. I have several outside cameras, which is an entirely different subject. The best outdoor cam in my opinion are Reolink RLC-410-5MP . I have a lot of reasons why I love these but today we are talking about indoor cameras.
Oddly enough you are more likely to find an indoor security camera called a “Video Baby Monitor” if you go to the store looking for them so keep that in mind if the electronics section doesn’t seem to have what you want.
There is no shortage of cameras out there from all manner of companies. They range from “pretty darn cheap” to “pretty darn expensive”. I don’t think I’m going to hone in on any particular BEST brand as much as I just want to discuss features to look for and things to think about.
Primarily, with an indoor home camera SECURITY needs to be the thing you are thinking about the most. I just bought a couple of cheap cams from a company called Wyze. Cool cameras and very cheap and they do some of the things I like. BUT I was just at my girl friends house and showing her my new cams and I could reach them from an app on my phone. The bad news here is that if I can do that, potentially so can someone else.
DJI Osmo Action Camera
Just was in the big city and picked up a DJI Osmo Action camera at BestBuy. Even though they have been released for a while there seems to be a lag time between ordering and receiving at least on most of the sites I’ve seen. This may be because there was a large price drop recently which is probably an indicator that a newer camera is coming out soon or this camera is End Of Life.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS BEFORE REALLY USING THE CAMERA
- The camera must be activated online prior to use. I find this very bizarre and somewhat annoying. If you read forums or reviews for the DJI Osmo Action they are full of “I can’t activate my camera and therefore I can’t use it” posts. A bit scary. All I can say to those people is that they obviously can’t follow instructions. I activated mine on the first go around.
- Firmware updates: DJI seems to be actively fixing all the quirks via firmware updates and the most recent update is from June 2020. Their competitor, GoPro, seldom releases firmware upgrades which is a frustration in that community.
- Having a front screen is awesome and seems to be the new standard for action/vlog cameras.
- The camera is WELL BUILT. Feels more robust than my GoPro Hero Series. And it seems to be a bit more compact.
- There is no external microphone jack. To be fair there isn’t one on the GoPro Hero 8 Black either. Adapters must be used on both cameras.
- Screen layout and navigation seems to be more intuitive.
- There is no GPS on the DJI Osmo Action. That is a bummer. The ability to overlay GPS tracks and have speedometers visible is cool, however in my opinion once you’ve done it and then shown it to people everybody will say “that’s cool” and then it really isn’t that cool anymore. It also ties you to software and apps and to be honest I just want GOOD QUALITY video and I’ll just dump it in software like iMovie. I don’t even want an app to control the camera.
Akaso EK7000 Pro
Let’s face it. GoPro’s are expensive. And your phone already has a pretty good video camera on it. Somewhere in between those two items is a niche that an INEXPENSIVE action camera can fill.
I don’t know about you but I don’t want to mount my phone on my bike or carry it when I run or when I’m otherwise pounding around.
I have a GoPro Hero 8 Black which is a $300 camera (now) and it doesn’t have a removable lens cover on it. The thought of it catching a rock while I’m riding my bike does not appeal to me. And yes, while they have protective cases, the minute you stuff your camera in there you lose the ability to change the battery quickly. I take nearly 2 hour bike rides and it requires a battery change.
The battery change has to be done carefully with sweaty hands, and then it hit me………WHY NOT A CAMERA CHANGE? Or just ride with a cheaper camera. So I stumbled across an Akaso EK7000 Pro which I got for just over $60. Wow! That’s a bargain. It claims to shoot in 4K but the camera sensor actually isn’t capable of that. They use interpolation to get 4K. Translation: It ain’t 4K.
Never have I been so conflicted over a tech product before. The GoPro line both inspires me and frustrates me. My introduction to GoPro goes something like this:
I bought a new Toyota Tacoma in 2017 and realized that there is a GoPro mount glued to the windshield near the rearview mirror. Not having a dash cam I originally bought my GoPro (a Hero 4 Silver) for that purpose. And I still use the Hero 4 in my Tacoma. It does pretty well.
Battery life in GoPro’s is pretty limited so I purchased a power cable from here. And I blogged about that installation here.
Although GoPro makes cameras now with Image Stabilization I find that the Hero 4 still is my choice for a dash cam for the following reasons:
- No one really makes a power cable kit like I linked above that goes from fuse block to USB-C connector. The newer GoPro’s use a USB-C connection at the camera. You can rig something up but an off the shelf solution would be great.
- Putting a cam inside a truck doesn’t really require Image Stabilization. The platform is fairly stable to begin with, Your big truck gives a nice plush ride to your camera..
- You don’t need the latest and greatest technology just for a dash cam.
Ok, on to my GoPro thoughts………..
Camera Tethering For Better Photography
This is a subject that I have blogged about before. Camera Tethering. It allows you to have a Live Preview of your shot (depending on camera and software support) and gives you instant feedback of your shot. Professionals use tethering for certain types of shooting. If the pros use it then by golly us hobbyist should use it too.
What is it useful for? I personally use it to photograph collectibles or for taking pictures of items that I place for sale on eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or Letgo. How many times have you seen AWFUL photos in local classified ads? It’s like a disease.
With the advent of great cameras on cell phones we have forgotten about our stand alone cameras and what a tremendous job they can do with professional results. It doesn’t take much to get started:
- A camera that supports tethering
- A cable to run from camera to computer
- Software for tethering