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Controlling Sony Alpha cameras remotely in Live View mode from a tablet or smartphone: Sony’s PlayMemories Mobile app on the test bench

When cameras of the Sony Alpha series are used for microscope or macroscope photography, especially in professional environments, the ability to control them remotely is a key element for an efficient workflow. In most cases, the camera is attached to the photo tube of the microscope – the screen is small and located too high above the user. Here, an external monitor is the perfect solution. A high-resolution smartphone display or a large tablet screen allow the user to precisely adjust the focal plane in Live View mode, which is extremely convenient and makes working with the microscope a lot easier. These days, a wide selection of powerful tablets that offer a great price-performance ratio is available.

We used an android tablet by Samsung and a Sony Alpha 6500D for our test of the PlayMemories Mobile app.

Sony system camera Alpha 6500 mirrorless

The communication between camera and tablet is wireless via Wi-Fi. First, the app needs to be downloaded to the tablet. Since we had an android tablet, we used the Google Play store for the download, which was quick and easy.

app Play Store download Play Memories Mobile

Next, the connection between camera and tablet needs to be established. The easiest way to do this is by scanning the QR code of the Sony camera by starting PlayMemories Mobile on the tablet and snapping a picture of the QR code with the app.

Sony Alpha camera has a qr code

The image is sent, and smartphone and camera are connected via Wi-Fi.

connect Sony DSLM camera with tablet or smartphone

The moving image is displayed live on the screen of the tablet.

Sony software app moving image live view on smartphone

Changes to the camera’s most important settings can be made with the menu button.

Sony Play Memories menu button for microscopy

The self-timer feature lets you trigger the camera instantly or with a delay.

Sony App PlayMemories Live View self-timer feature  

Sony App PlayMemories Self-timer

In “Camera information”, the user can check which camera is currently connected.

Sony camera information Alpha 6500 ILCE 6500 connected with tablet

In “Save options”, you can select whether or not an image reviewed on the tablet is also saved to the camera.

Sony App DSLM save image on tablet and camera

When “Save options” is set to “On”, location information can be added to the images.

Sony ILCE 6500 local information for microscope images

Photos/video recordings are saved directly to the tablet. The path to the saving destination is shown:

Sony Alpha 6500 path to saving destination on tablet

The “Mirror” mode is a very useful feature for microscope photography. Depending on the microscope type/beam splitter, it is possible that the image is displayed inverted. With the mirror mode function, the image on the monitor can be flipped back to its correct positon.

Sony App PlayMemories mirror mode for microscopy use 

Sony Alpha 6500 playmemories app live view

Depending on how the camera is attached to the microscope, the ability to rotate the live image can also prove useful because it can be used to adjust the image to its optimal position.

Sony Alpha rotate live image on smartphone microscopy

Sony Alpha 6500 rotating live image with Sony DSLM app

The “Grid line” option sets whether or not grid lines are displayed, which is convenient for measuring specimens or counting particles.

Sony remote software measuring specimens or couning particles

Sony app measuring microscopic specimen on tablet

Summary list of all important basic functions:

Conclusion: Sony’s PlayMemories Mobile app is an easy-to-use application that makes camera use more convenient. It enables remote camera control from a tablet or smartphone, which vastly improves workflow efficiency and image quality. Releasing the shutter remotely minimises the impact of camera shake, which is essential for high-quality images.

Alternatively to the app, users also have the option to connect cameras of the Sony Alpha series to a PC/Mac via USB cable. The imaging software Capture One is a powerful and versatile tool for this. Click here for a detailed description.