The small size of the Raspberry Pi computer allows it to fit in all sorts of places, like on the VESA mount behind your monitor or in a case you made with a 3D printer, but those are just the start of where we’re seeing people put this $35 computer. Once you factor in that incredible price (thus making the risk of breaking it minimal) and its limited power demands, an incredible number of doors are opened up to experimentation. In one of the most clever RasPi projects that we’ve yet to see photographer David Hunt fit the tiny computer into the battery grip on his DSLR, making for a portable supercamera.
At 85.6 x 54 x 17mm the Raspberry Pi is quite small, but it wouldn’t just fit in a removable battery grip, some modding was required, but the job was surprisingly minor thanks to the roomy size of the grip. Holes were made for the USB slots, ethernet, and video, and at the end of the day the result is a full-on computer, powered by Raspbian Linux.
And why would you want to put a Linux computer in your camera (in this case a Canon 5D MKII)? First off, Canon’s DSLRs aren’t exactly known for their computer-like features or expandability. The 5D MKII, while being a great camera, doesn’t have wireless built in, nor does it have GPS or a built in timer (known as an intervalometer). All these things are possible with the Raspberry Pi, you just need to get past the hurdle of getting the computer to coordinate with the camera. Some tasks will be relatively easier — tethering the camera to the computer and then saving images to a USB stick for example — while others will be much more tricky, especially with Raspbian’s less-than-perfect USB drivers.
Additionally Hunt talked about using the Raspberry Pi to setup remote control of the camera, do on-the-fly image manipulation, and to trigger the shutter (a lot of other functions would rest on this one). Supposedly the trigger can be done using the 2.5mm shutter release port (instead of USB) which will require some modification, but comes with the added benefit of being able to wake the camera from sleep.
From what it sounds like the hardware side is basically done, but the software still needs a fair bit of work. The Linux distro that the Raspberry Pi uses is imperfect, and it wasn’t exactly developed with Canon’s 5D in mind. That noted, Hunt seems well on his way to bringing Nikon D4-level — and beyond — features to his DSLR for under $100.
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