NBT photo guide 1: Turn your old UMPC into a DSLR accessory
Let’s face it, at this point in time UMPCs are at best novelties of the past. Their price, cumbersome operation and slow hardware didn’t matter so much when there was nothing else like them, but now they have to compete with tablets half the price which people actually know exist and want to own. Still, there are uses for these old peculiarities, and one of those uses is as an accessory for your DSLR.
DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras have become mainstream the last few years due to them dropping a lot in price. They give you a lot more control over the picture you’re taking, and as part of that professional feature package they can often be remote controlled by computers. This is useful not only for professionals but also amateurs who want to be able to set up a studio where they don’t have to control everything on the camera itself. To actually be able to see the picture on screen before you take it you do need a camera that supports Live View, a feature that is becoming more and more common on both cheap and more expensive DSLRs. Loading remote control software on a UMPC is a great way to get a bigger, external screen to work with while at the same time avoiding having a full size laptop to deal with. As for the software, some cameras come with it on CD, but there are also third party solutions.
Video recording has also made it to DSLR cameras in the later years, and their immensely superior optics provide video quality that you can forget about on any point-and-shoot camera. The TV show House MD even filmed an entire episode with DSLRs once, both as a trial project but also because the episode in question had a lot of scenes in tight spaces. Not all DSLR cameras have video functionality yet though, including mine- the Canon 1000D. It does however have Live View, and a smart soul took that feature and turned it into a video recording mode with a program called EOS Camera Movie Record. It does require you to be connected to a computer which is actually doing the recording, and it also has a lot of other issues such as no audio, manual control of everything and limited resolution. It is however quite a proof of concept and produces some very nice videos if used correctly. ABi editor and forum admin Martin was the one who tipped me of this software, and he also has a video that is filmed using this software:
This specific software is Canon-only and requires Live View, but there might be similar software out there. There is also software to use iOS (and probably Android) devices as DSLR remotes, though you still need to be connected to a computer which then has a wireless connection to your tablet. If neither of these “tricks” are of any interest to you, there is still one thing you can do with your old UMPC: use it as a portable image viewer and hard drive. Since they have USB capability you can bring a high capacity 2.5″ external drive and use the UMPC as a transfer station.
For more of our tips on using your tablet as a photography tool, click here.