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Promote Control Bracketing Controller (Read 170365 times)
Sam Rohn
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Re: Promote Control Bracketing Controller
Reply #15 - 08/09/09 at 04:14:37
 
hey arty -

i've taken the promote out in the field a few times at this point, and all is working well Smiley

currently, i have a 1.5 cm thick piece of styrofoam between the NN arm & the promote, this gives a bit more clearance for the cables so as not to rub against the knob on the upright arm, and a more robust velcro cinch strap, this wiggles a bit, but is working ok for now, i'll get some pics up soon -

one thing i might suggest is a louder "cycle complete" beep sound, w/ perhaps adjustable volume, it can be hard to hear in noisy environments...

sam
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mushroomgod
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Re: Promote Control Bracketing Controller
Reply #16 - 08/09/09 at 12:48:49
 
looks very cool - might have to buy.

One question though, how quickly can it take shots? With my 5d when tethered theres about a 1sec delay between bracketed shots, does this have the same problem?

Also, for anyone whos interested theres a 5DMK2 hack firmware coming out soon that allows built in extension of the cameras bracketing ability - from 3 to 11 shots - this is free, but I have no idea how well it will work.

Seach for Magic Lantern .
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Sam Rohn
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Re: Promote Control Bracketing Controller
Reply #17 - 08/10/09 at 00:01:32
 
i'm using a nikon D300, and when it is connected to the promote via USB only, there is a delay between shots at a configurable interval of about .5 - 1.5 seconds, this is a necessity for USB i believe -

however, when i connect via USB & the nikon 10 pin cable, it fires faster than i could by hand, no delay between shots, i assume the canon cable & USB will do the same -

sam
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« Last Edit: 08/10/09 at 04:41:49 by N/A »  
 
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Byron Nash
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Re: Promote Control Bracketing Controller
Reply #18 - 08/13/09 at 18:06:38
 
It's been a while since I have logged into the forums. I have to say that I am thrilled to see the Promote Control device! This is exactly what we have been needing. I will have to get a few more jobs lined up before I can get one but it looks like it will really speed up the workflow!
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imadummy
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Re: Promote Control Bracketing Controller
Reply #19 - 08/19/09 at 21:03:12
 
Looks like a cool device!
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Byron Nash
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Re: Promote Control Bracketing Controller
Reply #20 - 08/21/09 at 01:23:31
 
With the price of this thing being $299, what do you think of getting a cheap netbook and a copy of DSLR Pro to do the same thing?
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Blochi
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Re: Promote Control Bracketing Controller
Reply #21 - 08/21/09 at 01:59:12
 
Does not compare.

The point about the Promote is that it's small, light, powered right away. And with the optional remote release cable it snaps images faster than anything you would ever connect via USB only. However, there are downsides to it. The menu is a little clunky, and the settings aren't as intuitive as they should be. I really have to give you a full review with pictures and all that so you can get the point.

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Scottes
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Re: Promote Control Bracketing Controller
Reply #22 - 08/21/09 at 02:17:59
 
I recently purchased this device, and like it quite a bit.

As far as comparing to a netbook, I most certainly thought about that. I was thinking long and hard, until I stumbled upon the Promote thanks to a post that pointed me to this thread.


Netbook pros:

Versatility! Viewing photos, storing photos for long trips when you don't have enough cards, storing manuals, mapping software, GPS maybe, Internet access, yadda yadda yadda. You can't beat the versatility of a laptop.


Netbook cons:

Size & weight. I like to travel light. A netbook is 5 to 10 times the size and weight of a Promote.

Field use. How are you going to set this up? Sit on the ground and hope the cables reach? (They won't.) Add something like flip-out "legs" to your tripod to make a table? Hold the laptop in your hands during the whole shoot? Sure, all of those are possible, and can be done, but at a large pain-in-the-butt factor IMHO. And possibly with added weight, if you do something like a tripod attachment to hold it.

Power limitations. A spare set of AAs will keep the promote going for a long, long time. Far longer than a netbook. A spare laptop battery is always possible, but at a much, much larger cost of size, weight, and price compared to a set of AAs.

Price. First, remember that you'll need to spend $75 for Breeze Systems remote control app. (I couldn't find any alternatives to do what I wanted to do.) Then the laptop itself: The cheapest laptop I could find was a small Dell for $350. The smallest laptop that could run Breeze was a Sony for $1000. (Breeze needs real Windows, not Mobile or CE.)


Promote pros & cons are pretty much the flip of everything above.


Now compare to a good timer remote like the Canon TC-80N3. Price is $142 on Amazon, about half of the Promote. It does less than the Promote - but not by much unless you do HDR. (Um, isn't that why we're here on this forum??)

And Promote will be adding capabilities, too. I was talking to the owner, John Moran, and they have some plans for adding features. They plan on doing Depth Of Field calculations in the next version (or real Soon Now). They can possibly keep adding software features that will blow a TC-80N3 out of the water.


Comparing back to a netbook, in many ways there are no comparisons. They're so very different, in size, cost, weight, power life, and especially capabilities. If you want all those other capabilities of a laptop or netbook, then it should be an easy decision. If you want the small size and weight of the Promote, it might be an easy decision. If you don't really need all those netbook capabilities, that makes the decision easier.

And that's how i ended up with a Promote: I wanted small and light, I didn't want the netbook hassles of weight and field use, and I don't need or want the capabilities of a netbook.

Sure, if I had a netbook I would do all those things, no doubt - but they were simply unnecessary to me, and didn't even make my list of considerations when deciding. I truly did not want a netbook, for all the cons listed above. But I was almost ready to deal with one just to get the features of the Promote. So I'm very glad that I found the Promote.
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Byron Nash
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Re: Promote Control Bracketing Controller
Reply #23 - 08/21/09 at 02:54:16
 
Thanks for that thorough comparison Scottes. The small form factor and ease of use makes the Promote desirable. I was thinking of it in the context of my normal workflow. I normally sit around on set taking reference photos and then have to jump into action very quickly when crew OK's me to walk on set and shoot HDR seq. I usually have to keep a laptop around anyway and some of the newer netbooks are so tiny that you could hold them in one hand while shooting a sequence. It seems to me that any way you look at it you need to have something to help you fire those sequences faster. The last two shoots I was on I did not have that and everything felt rushed.

I guess the real issue is all of this stuff is so freakin' expensive!!   Shocked
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Scottes
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Re: Promote Control Bracketing Controller
Reply #24 - 08/21/09 at 03:27:33
 
Quote:
I usually have to keep a laptop around anyway and some of the newer netbooks are so tiny that you could hold them in one hand while shooting a sequence.

Make sure that you can get software to run on the OS. Breeze, for instance, won't run on the Windows CE, Mobile, Pocket PC, etc. It needs Windows 2000, XP, Vista, etc. I think that's because the Canon SDK is full-Windows only, but I'm not sure.

I could not find software that would take HDR sequences and run on the oddball OSes that come on the truly tiny PCs. The Sony Vaio (sp?) was the smallest that I could find that would run Breeze software.
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Blochi
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Re: Promote Control Bracketing Controller
Reply #25 - 08/21/09 at 03:37:27
 
Thanks Scottes for these deep thoughs. I totally agree. And BTW - here's a good netbook deal (I think only for today)

Byron, I know the on-set hush hush "do your thing and get outta the way". If you're shooting Canon, there is no alternative to the Promote. It's not only the setup time, it's also the lag between exposures that fires with close to the same speed as the built-in bracketing (IF you have that second cable attached).
Personally, I shoot Nikon, and found the built-in 9-EV brackets sufficient so far. That's why I will stick to the good old cable release for most jobs. However, in veery low-light conditions, where the longest exposures exceed 1 second, the Promote may even be faster than Nikon's built-in bracketing, because it will allow me to shoot in 2 EV intervals.

uh, oh, I got something for ya.... That's me on set with the Sigma 4.5mm on D200. If it wouldn't be for that freaking rain you could hear the shutter race through these. I found that 30 seconds is a safe on-set time I can request over and over again between takes, without being shut out.


The Promote should get you close to that speed, a netbook not ever near (and never as reliable).

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Byron Nash
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Re: Promote Control Bracketing Controller
Reply #26 - 08/21/09 at 12:21:56
 
That is blazing fast Blochi. So you are doing 3 positions with 9EV. That seems sufficient. I've only been doing this for jobs since the beginning of the year so it hasn't been that much. I still have a lot to learn and more gear to get and get speedy with.  Do you take Zenith and Nadir shots when you are on a set?
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Blochi
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Re: Promote Control Bracketing Controller
Reply #27 - 08/21/09 at 14:59:19
 
Nope, not with that 4.5mm. Instead I angle it slightly up, so all three images overlap at the Zenith (since it's 180 deg circular). I have to paint in the Nadir anyway, no point in shooting that.
This shooting style gets me a 4k HDRI, good enough for reflections and lighting. However, when there is a little bit more time, I also try shooting a higher res pano with the 10.5mm. That would be 6 shots + Zenith + Nadir, so about 1:30 minutes. Quite often I do these trailing behind the actual shoot, when they are done in one corner... or in another interesting area of the set.

Blochi
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Arty
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Re: Promote Control Bracketing Controller
Reply #28 - 08/22/09 at 15:35:14
 
Hi guys,

I'm sorry it took me so long to respond! I took a two week vacation and spent it hiking in mountains - 11 days and 60 miles of rocks, swamps and creeks to cross with 65 pounds hanging off my back. Boy do I love doing this! Took some pictures of course, will share them as soon as they go through PP. Everything digital was properly geotagged, so there will be a map link. I also shot some with a Pentax 645N (a bit of Reala, Velvia and Ilford Delta)... almost forgot that itchy feeling of "how did it turn out?".

Sam, you are right - using shutter cable will speed up both Canon and Nikon shooting. Furthermore, on most Canon cameras shooting with USB only can be done rather fast. There is a USB delay setting in the Promote Control setup menu, set to 1500 ms by default - this is what some Nikon cameras need, so we went safe route here. But most Canons can take as fast as 500 ms on that setting - which gets the FPS somewhat closer to what you would get with a shutter cable (but not quite as fast).

Scottes, I've seen your review - it's a truly in-depth look - thanks for doing that! I will post a link to the Promote Control webpage, it's a really worthy work!

Speaking of firmware updates, I've got a binary on my desktop that has a few changes and fixes, introduces some nifty things... and - drumroll please - a Hyperfocal Calculator Smiley It does HF calculations for eight different crop factors (from Four Thirds to 6x7 film), and works both ways - you can choose a distance and it will calculate the required aperture, or you choose an aperture, and it shows the HF distance for selected focal length and crop factor. Distance units can be chosen from meters, feet or yards (contemplated adding miles but figured it might be an overkill Wink). Worked OK in our lab tests... anybody interested in giving it a run before we post it for GA? Send me a PM if interested. FYI, it's possible to roll back to a previously used version at any time, so it should be a safe bet.

Oh, forgot to mention something. I took the Promote Control with me on the hike. Unfortunately I never got a chance to use it for its primary intended purpose of HDR - the hike was a disaster photography wise, we had 8 days of non-stop rain... I'm still trying to wash the mud off my gear. Everything got wet and condensated upon - and I mean everything, including my D3 and its lenses and all other gear. Well I'm glad to report that Promote Control worked great through a short test I ran it through with the D3 after seeing them both getting seriously wet from condensation. Tough beasts seem to get together well Smiley
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Scottes
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Re: Promote Control Bracketing Controller
Reply #29 - 08/26/09 at 18:34:55
 
When I shoot an HDR sequence, I've found that I like to test-shoot to find the darkest exposure first. That is, I adjust settings until I get the brightest possible exposure without any blown highlights. I like to ensure that the highlights are captured with the most possible details, so this frame must be "exposed to the right."

With the Promote, I then have to calculate the Middle Exposure. Sometimes this can be a pain if that exposure lands on a 1/3 or 2/3 stop measurement. If it falls on a full stop, like 1/2000, figuring the middle exposure is easy. But when it lands on something like 1/350, my brain starts to hurt. (Quick, what's 4 stops slower than 1/350?)


My suggestion would be to be to have the Promote calculate and display the shutter speeds for the brightest and darkest frames of the configured sequence. Then I could adjust the Mid Exposure until the displayed darkest exposure matched my test shot.

But this enhancement might not be useful if I'm the only one who shoots a sequence in this way.


Does anyone else figure the darkest exposure first? Or do you simply figure the Mid Exposure and pick enough Total Exposures to be sure to cover the dynamic range of the scene?
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