Progress update and Sony A7rIII support
Sony A7rIII now supported via Wifi and USB
Last week I rented the new Sony A7rIII which seems to represent their new generation of cameras that no longer include the PlayMemories App store, but instead now have wifi remote control built-in. I'm assuming that the new A9 will be similar to my experience with the A7rIII, but I haven't confirmed this.
The most exciting thing about the A7rIII is that for the first time with Sony cameras it's possible to save to the camera's card instead of requiring that the images be copied over USB to the VIEW's SD card. This means much shorter intervals are now possible via USB with Sony. While this is a very welcome update, this still a little room for improvement here -- Sony doesn't seem to allow downloading of just thumbnails of the images, so the whole image still needs to be copied to the VIEW to analyze the exposure and provide the preview, kind of defeating the purpose of being able to save to the camera, However, there is a workaround: if the camera is set to RAW + the smallest JPEG, the VIEW will only copy the JPEG, which ends up working with an interval down to around 5 seconds, a big improvement for using Sony cameras with the VIEW.
Here's a video showing and comparing the different ways of setting it up with the VIEW:
Another excited new feature added to the A7rIII is the ability to control focus via USB, also a first for Sony here. However, although the potential is there, it's not going to work yet as-is, at least with the Sigma 19mm f/2.8 lens I had rented. With both the VIEW as well as Sony's tethering software, Remote, the focus control was possible but very unreliable -- sometimes it even moved the opposite direction as requested. This happened with Sony's app, too, so I'm hoping it's either an issue with that particular lens (maybe a Sony lens would work as expected) or maybe it's something they will fix with a firmware update. Given that the feature is there and available in Sony's tethering app, it shows they have some commitment to it so I'm expecting improvements here.
The ability to (attempt) to control focus with Sony is available currently with the VIEW on firmware v1.8-beta16 or newer.
v1.8 progress update
The v1.8 firmware development has been slower than I was hoping but steadily progressing over the past few months, with a bit of a slow down during the holiday season which coincided with shipping out a batch.
The past few weeks I've been making good progress again but have been running into issues adding new features to the app (like long-term scheduling and live updates), and finally realized I needed to take a step back and start over on the app. I had made it back with the very first VIEW prototype before it even had a working UI itself, and I had never fully designed it for the current features. Additionally, since then, the platforms and libraries available for progressive web apps have dramatically improved (AngularJS v1 to Angular 4 with TypeScript is an incredible improvement). So in the last couple weeks I've redesigned and rewritten the app, and it's gone so smoothly I've nearly caught up to the features of the current app. In fact, it's gone so well I wish I had just done this months ago!
While it's a minor step backward at the moment, it will make it much easier and quicker moving forward from here, and the UI will be more polished and responsive. Additionally, I plan to release native builds for iOS and Android on the app stores by the end of next month. So now, with the new app platform, I plan to add the long-term and live-update features in the next couple weeks, and hope to release the final v1.8 soon after those features are tested.
Here are some early screenshots of the new app (it will be first available in the upcoming beta18 release):
More camera updates
I plan to continue to progress with camera support, with the next rental arriving Monday being the Panasonic GH5. Panasonic completely changed the USB control with the GH5. Interestingly, the GH3 and GH4 both identify themselves as Microsoft, but the new GH5 identifies itself as Panasonic, leading me to believe that they used Microsoft firmware for the tethering control up until the GH5 when they wrote their own. The GH5 unfortunately doesn't follow any of the typical specification for USB tethering but instead uses vendor defined codes for everything, meaning it's not just adapting an existing camera driver to support it, but more like a whole new camera.
While this will be a lot of work, it looks like it will give a lot of control via USB, including live view (which isn't possible with the GH3 and GH4). From testing I did previously, I don't see any sign of support for focus control, though. Hopefully I will have it working by the end of next week but there are still too many unknowns to say for sure.
I'm also working with someone to try to get support for Olympus cameras as well, and the latest v1.8-beta17 includes some important fixes and improvements for the Fuji X-T2.