Control Your Camera Easier With DSLR Controller

This past Christmas, I bought my first DSLR — a Canon 550D. Since then I really haven’t put the camera down. And as well as experimenting with shooting, I’ve been constantly looking for apps on my Android device to link with photography. In fact, I found quite a lot of photography applications and each one services a different purpose. However, one caught my eye from the onset: DSLR Controller.

As the name suggests,DSLR Controller allows you to control nearly every element of your DSLR. This is one of the most exciting apps I’ve used all year, so read on to find out how powerful it actually is.

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Overview and Compatibility

DSLR Controller is developed by Chainfire, a group better known for their SuperUser and root tools on the Play Store. The elephant in the room when it comes to this app is the pricing: the app costs $7.99, which is normally pretty steep. I probably wouldn’t have paid that much if I didn’t have some gift card money left on my account. However, this app isn’t just good, it’s truly brilliant. Having complete control of your camera without even touching a button is somewhere between a dream and science-fiction.

Compatibility is going to be an issue for some people though. I currently use the app with my Nexus 7 and Canon 550D, and after buying the app everything worked fine. However, this may not be the case for you. To quickly test your compatibility download “Remote Release (USB)” first, a simplified version of the app that will tell you whether DSLR Controller will work for you before purchasing. The app should work mostly in these cases:

  • Canon fameras from Q3 2008 (Canon Q3 2006 and onward cameras might work with reduced abilities)
  • Most Android devices running Honeycomb (3.1/3.2), Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0) and Jelly Bean.

However, even if your device doesn’t fall under these it may still work, so for a complete list of compatible cameras and devices click here.

Setting Up

Once you have the app downloaded on a compatible device, the next step is gathering the correct cables. For my setup I use my standard USB to A/V out cable, and an OTG cable. If you have read my previous article, Nexus Media Importer: A Savior For Nexus Users, you will remember that an OTG cable was used there too. I would also recommend using some kind of tripod to keep the camera steady. Below I’ve shown a quick picture guide of my setup.

Camera, USB A/V cable, Nexus 7, OTG Cable, Camera Mount.

Camera, USB A/V cable, Nexus 7, OTG Cable, Camera Mount.

As you can see you, don’t need a lot of kit to get this to work. Its likely the only purchase you will need to make is the OTG cable, which costs around $3. Another piece of kit that could help would be a mount for your tablet/phone — you could attach this onto the side of your standard tripod to integrate everything together.

My complete setup.

My complete setup.

Even though my setup works, every single person that uses this application probably sets it up in a different way. If you do a quick Google Image search for “DSLR Controller” there are hundreds of different setups and some of them are pretty cool. Some of my favourites are when a phone is attached to the top of the camera with a mount. DSLR Controller is used by many professional photographer and film makers, showing that it is a very adaptable application.

Running Through the Controls

DSLR Controller isn’t a complicated application. Everything you could ever need is there at the touch of button and after a few minutes experimenting, you should be able to work out what does what. To use the DSLR controller it’s recommended that you either go into Mannual, Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority modes.

In order to show you what the app is capable of, I’ve taken a screenshot and numbered the interface buttons, and will explain them individually below.

The regular interface for DSLR Controller.

The regular interface for DSLR Controller.

1. Shows you whether you’re in Autofocus (AF) or Manual Focus (MF) mode. In manual focus, arrows appear on the screen to give you the ability to move the focusing to perfection.

2. On the histogram button you can quickly view a RGB or Greyscale representation. This appears as a small box in the top corner and is great for keeping track of your shooting.

3. Magnification. It’s easy, and while it won’t change your actual photo, it still lets you search around your frame easier.

4. Overlay, perfect if you’re fond of using the rule of thirds grid.

Easily use Overlay.

Easily use Overlay.

5. The shutter button.

6. Here you have a range of settings to alter what you would like to be able to remotely control with the app.

The different settings you can alter.

The different settings you can alter.

7. An indication of the battery level of your camera.

8. How many pictures you can still take. I love this as it means I’m always keeping an eye on my camera’s capacity.

9. ISO changing.

10. Exposure.

11. Aperture settings.

12. Shutter speed settings.

Finding the correct shutter speed is simple.

Finding the correct shutter speed is simple.

13. Auto-Lighting Optimizer.

14. White Balance.

The white balance settings.

The white balance settings.

15. Drive mode setting, changes from single shooting to continuous instantly.

16. Picture Style.

17. Auto-focus mode settings.

Once you’ve finished changing all the settings and perfecting the shot you can press the shutter button. Once taken, the app will decode your picture and show it to you on the screen. Here you can view a lot of details, including histograms, camera type, lens type and the exposure settings. You can also choose to delete the picture straight away.

The post-capture details screen.

The post-capture details screen.

Only Beta?

Now that you’ve seen all of DSLR Controller‘s fantastic features, I’ll remind you that this app is still in Beta. Hopefully, this means that even more functionality will be added in future updates. The developers have already done a fantastic job and I highly commend them for it. They’ve designed an app that is perfect at achieving its main goal.

DSLR Controller is a fantastic innovation for uniting Canon and Android devices, and controlling your shots remotely without risking moving your camera while pressing a button. I can’t wait to see what the future of the app holds when it goes into its final release version. How about you, do you own a DSLR camera? If so, is DSLR Controller one of your go-to apps?


DSLR Controller allows users to manipulate every part of their camera from their Android device, before taking a photo. For photographers, it a fantastic must-have application.