Synchronizing x 24 Canon 5D Cameras

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by septimus_severus_caracalla, Sep 14, 2007.

  1. We are looking to synchronize x 24 Canon 5D Cameras.

    So, we would like to buy reliable device that would do it with 100% precision
    using various aperture & shutter speed, only which one that is the question?

    Any Ideas, Links, alternatives are WELCOME!

  2. No ideas from me - but I would like to ask "why"? Sounds like something intriguing!
  3. What sort of timing accuracy do you need? Depending on your requirements the task could be impossible or very easy. As a practical matter, "100% precision" is meaningless.
  4. Colin,

    Let me finish the project and I will post the results so that you may see "why".
  5. Johnson D.

    As far as "100% precision" is meaningless, Plenty of time to debate the issue of precision in 2008, but let me find what I am looking for and let us stay productive PLEASE.
  6. 24 Pocket Wizards?
  7. Rob,

    24 Pocket Wizards?

    Just make sure before I go and buy 24xPocket Wizards, I have to ask How?
  8. No clue. But if you might buy 24 of them, I'm sure the sales people at Pocket Wizard would /love/ to talk to you :)
  9. Rob,

    Sure they will talk about the price and perhaps I will get a number of them for free, but as far as Instructions/Techniques goes most of them are Helpless! not intentionally of course but simply because they don't have enough experience.
  10. Matrix-like 3D photos?
  11. >>As far as "100% precision" is meaningless,<<

    No, it's NOT! That is the NO. 1 criteria in deciding what to get.

    If you by precision you mean that must all trigger within xxx millisecond of one another, that's one thing.

    IF you simply mean that they trigger period (without a definite requirement as to the timing relative to each other) it's another thing.

    The ONLY system I know is a radio system adapted to trigger the shutter. Pocket Wizards are very, very reliable and well known around the world.

    You can contact the guys that worked on Matrix (since someone mentioned it) and they have a system that you can duplicate (if you have the budget) which does exactly what you want to do. In fact, I think you can find that info online.
  12. You may need to contact someone in movie special effects. (Hey, how about the folks at "Mythbusters"? I bet Grant has something that would work!)

    Yep, first thing that popped into my mind was "The Matrix", too. You might Google on how they did that. In essence, they fired a long series of still cameras sequentially.

    But, from your question I'm not clear if you need to fire them all at the same moment or sequentially. If all at one time, easy... 24 remote releases (wired or wireless, depending upon your budget).

    Do you need to change the exposure settings remotely? If so, perhaps you could tether all the camera's and set up some sort of computer applet to fire them. That might also work to fire them sequentially, to allow adjustment of the interval, etc. It's probably possible to do the same thing wirelessly/untethered, too. But I'd suspect would be a whole lot more expensive!

    To do sequential firing with Pocket Wizards or other wireless setup, I think you'd need 24 discrete radio channels, then a controller of some sort that can transmits the signal to fire to each camera in turn.

    You've actually got 24 Canon 5Ds?

    Can't help but ask... What are you going to do with all of them when the project is finished? If the price is right and they aren't too "beat", put me down for two! ;-)
  13. I believe it was the movie "Lost in Space" where they used a bunch of 35mm Canon A2s
    on Bogen 410 gear heads to do the "bullet time" (or whatever they called it) effects when
    the ship went into hyperspace.

    I can't remember where I read about it (probably "American Cinematographer") but I recall
    the article talking about what they had to do to synchronize 'em.

    If you can't find anything with that info, check out -- some of the folks
    over there work for places like SI and occasionally they need to synchronize a number of
    cameras to get sequence shots of Barry Bonds or the Kentucky Derby (for example).

  14. Septimus,

    I have no interest in debating the "issue of precision", I'm simply trying to get more information about your requirements so that I/we can provide useful suggestions.

    Anyway, ok, how about this: Hire 24 people hold a finger on each shutter button until you shout "Now!".
  15. Pockets wizards will work. OR wireless remotes will work, which would probably save you some money, though it doesn't seem like you're too worried about money if you are going to purchase 24 5Ds.

    And in either case they would be pretty close to precise if not perfectly so.
  16. You know, it occurred to me that this might be a really good question to ask of Canon Professional Services. Sometimes Canon is happy to help out with a special project, when their cameras are being used. If you've recently purchased 24 5Ds from them, I'd think you would qualify and they would be willing to at least offer advice.
  17. Since you can control the cameras from a PC using the Canon EOS utilities, It's certainly possible to control 24 cameras that way. The software may not currently exist, but it could be written.

    I doubt that you can plug 24 cameras (or even 2 cameras) into the same PC and control them all at the same time from the existing EOS utility though.

    If all you need to do is fire the shutters, a wired or wireless remote shutter release system should do it.

    I'd ask Canon. They have a pretty good technical department.
  18. 1. How far apart are they to be?
    2. Can they be wired or wireless?
    3. For one, fixed setting, with remote shutter release, the solution may be trivial: wire the releases in parallel and have one master button to close the shutter (i.e. buy 20 RS-80N3s, cut their ends off and put one master switch on).
    5. Look at this for the 5D: Remote They may be able to help you achive the same thing in parallel or on 24 wired/wireless channels. 6. The EOS Utility interface 'may'(?) be a master/slave simplex arrangement, i.e. commands get sent from the PC to the camera and the camera just does what it's told. In this case you could make a 24 way parallel USB cable that sends the same controls to all cameras at once (maybe with one master camera giving the return path). In this way they would all need to accept the same settings, which may not be waht you want
    7. If you want 24 way, independent control of aperture etc in the same way that the EOS Utility may give you then you need to know the protocol that exists between the Canon software and the Canon camera. There are at least three ways to do this: a. Ask Canon and pay them to write some software, b. 'Sniff' the protocol (i.e. monitor the USB commands when you send the required signal. c. Find some third party device that have already done it (e.g. Breeze Systems above in part). If you have a software API (library) then anything is possible. Of course it's proprietary so it is harder for most people to get a start.
    8. If you are going to get someone to do it then make sure you have a clear specification of what is required: 24 channel 5D control, independent control of the aperture, shutter of each camera, synchronised to within x milliseconds. Clarify which parts will be done manually (e.g. a runner could pre-focus and set aperture etc if you accepted the KISS, 24xremote aperture release solution)
    9. You don't necessarily need 24 independent wireless channels if you are not varying 24 cameras independently - there could be one master and 24 synchronised slaves - simpler but stupider.
    10. Never underestimate the bandwidth of a pair of Nike runners.
  19. Just a little more on the independent approach:
    1. The USB sniffer records the signals passed between EOS Utility and the camera so that you can replicate them: USB Sniffer
    2. Get one 5D, step through all the commands you may need and record all the USB commands sent to the camera.
    3. Now get a USB driver expansion (x24), with custom software to drive 24 cameras on 24 channels. (i.e. needs hardware also).
    4. Reconsider the KISS approach.
  20. Cool name. Named after a Roman General?
  21. Reminds me of what they did in the movie "The Matrix"
  22. Just get the Canon wireless controller and set all the cameras to the same channel.

    Can I get my $500 consultation fee please?
  23. This is not unusual to do, we all saw multiple setups during the last olympics by sports photogs, admittedly not 24 but I`m sure Pocket wizards were the trick, not sure how many receivers can be triggered from one transmitter that a Q for them, a search may find info on the PN archives and possible contact. And yes maybe a call to canon pro service.
  24. Ask SI staffer Bill Frakes (

    He often shoots with more cameras than that at an event. He's a really nice guy, too.

    You can also talk to a Canon rep.

  25. Septimus, I'd like to see your response to Giampi's comment. By "100% precision" do you mean that all must fire or that all must fire within a certain time of each other? If the latter then what is an acceptable window? 50 msec, 100 msec, 10 sec? If your timing requirements are too tight you are going to have to concern yourself with the latency of the camera in responding to being told to fire.

    Also, what are your physical requirements? Are the cameras to be within a meter or less of each other or many many meters?

    Answers to these questions would be useful. To me anyway.
  26. "...Plenty of time to debate the issue of precision in 2008, but let me find what I am looking for and let us stay productive PLEASE."

    I get it, you're going to be simultaenously shooting all 24 US Presidential candidates at once at the Big Debate. Right? Maybe photographing is a better word. I echo the others' question of "why" which is a legitimate question - apparently you don't work at a job where you take on reviews or criticisms by others based on your defensive engineering work is constantly in review by clients and superiors, sometimes I get "ripped a new one."
  27. Thanks to everybody responding who took time to seriously try to explain. I have finally tested the equipment and found a good solution. So here it is: Link for the future reference in case there are more of you who would like to investigate more before they spend serious dollars..... C H E E R S

Share This Page