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.
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.
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.
The image is sent, and smartphone and camera are connected via Wi-Fi.
The moving image is displayed live on the screen of the tablet.
Changes to the camera’s most important settings can be made with the menu button.
The self-timer feature lets you trigger the camera instantly or with a delay.
In “Camera information”, the user can check which camera is currently connected.
In “Save options”, you can select whether or not an image reviewed on the tablet is also saved to the camera.
When “Save options” is set to “On”, location information can be added to the images.
Photos/video recordings are saved directly to the tablet. The path to the saving destination is shown:
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.
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.
The “Grid line” option sets whether or not grid lines are displayed, which is convenient for measuring specimens or counting particles.
Summary list of all important basic functions:
- Wireless communication via Wi-Fi
- Live View display on tablet/smartphone
- Immediate or delayed image capture
- Images are saved directly to the tablet for convenient post-processing, such as
- Sharing by email
- Sharing by message (WhatsApp, Photoshop app, etc.)
- Taking image measurements
- Rotating and flipping the live image
- Saving location information
- Displaying grid lines
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.