Photographing birds with a remotely controlled digital camera?

Discussion in 'Digital SLR' started by Dean Keaton, Feb 14, 2005.

  1. Dean Keaton

    Dean Keaton Guest

    Let's say that you hide a remotely controlled digital camera, which
    can also be pointed with a servo remotely, in a hollow log or
    something (possibly even a model of a bird!). Then you place it where
    there are a lot of migrating birds and lay a cable to a hiding place a
    100 meters away or something, which has a small computer screen where
    you can se what the camera sees. Shouldn't it be easy to take the most
    fantastic bird pictures with this setup? Has this been done to
    anyone's knowledge?

    What type of camera would be best? SLR digital camera or a regular
    digital camera? You must be able to see what the camera sees remotely
    and also control the camera remotely. Does this rule out SLR-digital
    cameras? And can you control a zoom lens (zooming in and out) remotely
    on an SLR?

    I have been thinking of, to start with, to try this with my Nikon
    Coolpix. It connects with a USB cable to a computer. Can this type of
    cable be a 100 meters or longer and function properly?
    Dean Keaton, Feb 14, 2005
    1. Advertisements

  2. Dean Keaton

    Martin Guest

    I'm 99% sure that a USB cable has a maximum effective working length of 5
    metres - maybe 15 metres, i can't remember for certain.
    So a 100 metre USB cable is definate no-no.

    An alternative is to use a network cable.
    But then you'd need power and a pc with the USB camera plugged in at the
    scene of the shoot.
    And another pc networked to it 100 metres distant....

    Martin, Feb 14, 2005
    1. Advertisements

  3. Dean Keaton

    Pete D Guest

    You can get USB extenders that work over UTP, not sure the distance but
    would be a lot more.
    Pete D, Feb 14, 2005
  4. Dean Keaton

    P.R.Brady Guest

    I saw some amazing shots of a kingfisher a while ago. The photographer
    caught them alongside a canal by driving his car there and opening his
    window. He learned that if he got out of the car, the birds flew away.
    His camera was on a wooden board resting on a pole inside and on the
    edge of the widow.

    P.R.Brady, Feb 14, 2005
  5. No remote view and no zooming on a DSLR.
    Dave R knows who, Feb 14, 2005
  6. Dean Keaton

    Ron Lacey Guest

    You can't have a USB cable run of much over 6 feet and expect it to
    work. I shoot birds remotely using a remote shutter release and a
    twenty meter extension. I preset the zoom and put some bait out,
    sunflower seeds usually, to attract the birds.

    Ron Lacey, Feb 14, 2005
  7. Dean Keaton

    Glenn Jacobs Guest

    You might consider a good blind. If you are very still, birds after a
    short time will ignore you. I actually had a Chickadee land on my head
    while I was doing that once.

    Glenn Jacobs, Feb 14, 2005
  8. Dean Keaton

    Alan Browne Guest

    My printer USB cable is 15 feet long. Works fine. states 3 meters as the design max length.
    Alan Browne, Feb 14, 2005
  9. Dean Keaton

    Alan Browne Guest

    There are extender devices that allow a USB to go to 150 feet. I have no idea
    how well they work.
    Alan Browne, Feb 14, 2005
  10. Dean Keaton

    Ron Lacey Guest

    Nitpicking I guess, 6 feet 15 feet, my printer manual suggest a 6 foot
    max but it's a USB1.1 Espon 2200, nonetheless it's a far cry from 100
    meters. As well my 20D manual suggests you should only use the
    supplied dedicated cable and not use a hub to connect the camera to a

    Ron Lacey, Feb 14, 2005
  11. Dean Keaton

    Alan Browne Guest

    If you said 9 and I said 10 ...that would be nitpicking, 3:1 is something else.

    I posted that 3 meters is the 'design' max length, a far cry below 100 m.

    Hubs are another issue, and I have a few periperals for which the manuals say to
    avoid a hub. I don't know why this is as hubs are a part of USB topology and
    manufacturers should strive for compliance.
    Alan Browne, Feb 14, 2005
  12. Dean Keaton

    Paul Mitchum Guest

    Wires? How 20th century!


    This is the next trend, by the way. Security will be an issue... Imagine
    papparazzi hacking each other's wi-fi to get the best shot.

    Regardless: A remotely-actuated camera near enough to birds to be useful
    would also startle them when it started moving and making whirring
    sounds and clicking.

    Some famous remote control photography (model gliders and helicopters
    with a movie camera attached) can be seen in 'Winged Migration.' They
    spent months letting the birds get used to flying with these strange
    Paul Mitchum, Feb 15, 2005
  13. Dean Keaton

    Owamanga Guest

    It'd be best to have the gun pre-cocked, ready to fire. The shock of
    the bullet ripping through the flock would probably mask any
    mirror-flap noise from the camera. That *would* make an interesting

    That was a cool IMAX film, except for the fact it was about 4 times
    longer than it needed to be. Once you've seen one flock of winged
    things up close, you've seen 'em all. By the 20th flock it got
    extremely tedious.
    Owamanga, Feb 15, 2005
  14. Dean Keaton

    Richard Guest

    Oh happy days with film!

    I remember constructing and operating just such a setup over 20 years
    ago before auto focus cameras came about.

    I had, still have, an Philips CCTV system that runs off mains and 12
    volts and the camera works off a simple TV coax cable, up to and
    probably more than 100 metres. I either bolt the bulky CCTV alongside
    the SLR or better, aim it through the viewfinder. That way you can see
    the shutter operating. The camera also has sound.

    From old bits, I made a geared platform and operated it via a model
    aircraft radio control system, so that I could pan the camera. With a
    bit of ingenuity one could probably devise a tilting system as well

    I placed the whole lot at a shorebird/wader roost at low tide, and
    simply waited for the rising tide to push the birds up towards the
    camouflaged camera. It was incredible watching the birds at ground
    level a couple of feet away. For some reason, they didn't seem to mind
    the camera panning. But what I would have given for auto focus!

    If I had the time now and a suitable spot where I could park the car
    and a reliable roost, I would do the same again.

    It should be great fun and much easier nowadays with modern DSLR's and
    the new breed of tiny wireless CCTV cameras .

    I've seen it done with motorised floating cameras and model R/C
    vehicles, both incorporating a still camera and a video system.

    Richard, Jul 4, 2005
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.