Last week I saw a great television program called The Big Life Fix. It’s a show where, in the words of the BBC “The UK’s leading inventors create ingenious new solutions to everyday problems and build life-changing solutions for people in desperate need.”
On the show, one of the stories was about a young man called James who had an adapted camera built for him by an engineer called Jude Pullen. James isn’t able to use a standard DSLR camera due to a condition which affects his skin; so Jude built a device for James which would allow him to take photographs without the use of his hands. I thought this was a fantastic piece of equipment.
The story jumped out at me, as a few years ago I was trying to do a very similar thing for a student at my college. The solution I developed used the same Canon D600 that Jude Recommends in his Zocus instructable article and that James used in the show. I thought that given the interest in The Big Life Fix it might be worthwhile to take a look at the adapted DSLR solution I put together.
- Cannon D550 / 600 DSLR Camera
- Cam Ranger / MP 360 Motorised Head
- Camera head wheelchair mount
- Cam Ranger Software / App
In the image above you can get a look at how all the equipment was set up. This adapted solution was created for a student who has a disability, which affected their mobility and prevented them from using the smaller buttons on the camera. They also had problems framing shots as they couldn’t comfortably hold the camera steady.
By mounting the camera on a tripod with an MP 360 Motorised Head we gave the student a tool which he can use to move and position the camera at will without it shaking. In the video below you can see how the head functions. It was also used on some occasions with a wheelchair mounted M-Series Adjustable Mount and camera end fitting. It could have been left at that. The camera head alone allows for some basic camera control. However, we wanted to give the student as much independent control over the camera as possible.
By using the Cam Ranger and PT Hub along with the MP 360, a host of wireless control options were made available. It is possible to control various features of the camera. Including, focusing, adjusting the exposure, compensation, and bracketing as well as seeing a live view of what the camera is pointing at via either an iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, Windows, or OSX application.
The variety of different platforms the camera can be controlled from is great as it allows for all sorts of customisation. You could create a switch control interface using Smartbox’s Grid 3 software on PC for a user with very limited mobility, or for a more dexterous user the iOS or Android application would work well. It’s great that the equipment and software support such a wide variety of operating systems.
The Cam Ranger has a range of up to 150 meters. Meaning the camera it’s attached to can be comfortably controlled by a user who can’t easily reach the camera.
What I put together is not quite as advanced as the bespoke solution that was created for James, but it’s certainly worth a try if you’re looking for a solution which could help a person with limited mobility do some independent photography.