Monday, March 29, 2010

I am tied to my art.

Photography on Linux is supposed to make you cantankerous, at least a little crotchety. It is at its best no different to Windows or Apple systems. At its worst it is a little frustrating, even these days. I can think of nothing I need, in terms of software, for my photography. Quite the opposite! In fact the number of available applications is getting to be a problem! Still, after my last posting I thought I better report on another find. I had found out that gphoto2 allowed me to play with tethering my camera to my Fedora laptop. I suggested that it was just a toy and one that I did not, in truth, need. I still cannot let go, my camera is attached to my laptop as I write this. Of course, the snaps are rubbish, but it keeps me off the street. I have started to write a python script to help me use my tethered camera, but this is so much effort.

I have come across another piece of software, Capa. It is, as the website tells us, "built on top of libgphoto". It is just like my python script and will suffer with the same problems I am finding with gphoto2. But it is written and ready to run, as long as you understand that there has not even been a first release version, so you can expect a few teething problems. I cannot alter any of the settings on My Nikon. This is not too much of a problem as I can do this from the command line. The application does show the current state of all the settings. I am sure this will be fixed before a real release.

It does let me review all my shots and the last one taken is my viewfinder. Not brillient but then I cannot get 'gphoto2 --capture-preview' working when using my Nikon. I know it is a gphoto2 problem.

Capa will be almost what I want. Now what do I do? Nag the development team to add the features that I want? Or do I continue with development of my Python script. This is a hard one to answer at the moment. I will let you know what I choose and I will always keep an eye on Capa, once it is at a release level I will let you know what it can do.

Have I got a problem with the current state of photography on Linux? I do not think so. For me we are now where we need to be. You can do anything that Apple and Windows users can do. There may be a few bells and whistles missing, it could be 6 months before a newbie would have the same view.

Monday, March 15, 2010

As good as Windows/OSX?

Crotchety? I am fed up with Windows users telling me that Linux is OK but not good enough for photography. The same goes for Apple users. I know that they have all paid a lot more for their software. Their own personal investment is much higher than mine in financial terms. I on the other hand have invested time in helping the developers of Linux. Not a great deal but what I can afford. I do get cantankerous when people tell me it is not as good as their system.

Some myths can be blown to pieces. 16 bit colour? Of course the Gimp does not support it yet, Cinepaint and DigiKam have for some time. Just like Windows or Mac OS then? Some support it and some do not. Colour management is supposed to be none existant. I am sure that the Argyllcms project would be miffed. There are many other examples. What can Windows do that Linux cannot? I thought I could name name one, tethered shooting. But I have hit upon an old favorite, gphoto, while browsing. It does not fit into my current workflow, so I just did not bother with it. I find it can now provide remote control of cameras.

I have not looked at it in great depth but it does work. It can be used for time-lapse photography, for tweaking the settings on your macro photograhy. There are even options on my Nikon DSLR to control the flash system, giving it the potential to be used in the studio. I think it will be a toy for most of us at present, until we get a photographer friendly interface.

It can download a picture without it ever hitting the memory card! This gives me even more space for long shoots when I am tethered. For me this is no great benefit, but the ability to review a shot on a larger screen is. You can use a script to pipe the shot directly into your favorite editor or even print directly, providing a very large and expensive Polaroid PoGo camera! You may have gathered that I will not use it that much. This though is an advantage of the freedom of Linux, I am free to do what I want.

I would use it more if it were not a command line interface. I can write a few scripts if I really needed it. No GUI? There is in gtkam but this does not ship for my Fedora system (and compiling it is beyond a quick ./configure && make && make install). I have started to write a GUI based application for my Camera. I can take a snap, see it on the screen (if it is a jpeg, it does not work with RAW files). I can review lots of settings, but set none. If I get time it may work. If I can make it a little more flexible I may even release it to the world.

Does this make Linux better or worse than Windows/Mac? Both! I have to say the only solution I know of for tethering is a mere toy (multican is also available for Canon users). On the other hand I have seen several postings from Windows users asking for gphoto for Windows! Why? They are Windows users who do not want to pay for Nikon's solution, there are others who just want a command line utility. Windows users also want some freedom.

This highlights the advantages and disadvantages of Linux. You have to be willing to put the effort in. If you do not put in the effort, become part of the community then why do you expect it to give you what you want? Do I do my bit? I think I do but as with most I probably do not do enough.