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Remote Shooting: Using Your Laptop as Monitor and Control for Your Canon DSLR

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Did you know you can use the free EOS utility software to turn your laptop into an external screen and control panel for you Canon DSLR? In this tutorial, we will take a deep look into the features available in the remote shooting panel and how you can utilize them fully.

Plug in your camera

Plug your camera into your computer using the USB to A/V out. Just like if you were transferring images. Make sure your camera is switched on at this point.

Open up EOS utility

Open up the EOS utility application. Select the option "Camera options/Remote shooting." A small thin menu will appear. At the top of the menu, you will see the current camera settings along with the battery life.

If shooting still images you need to find the "Live View Shoot" button. If you are shooting video, click the button next to it shaped like a camcorder. The menu is very similar on both Windows and Mac computers.

White balance

The white balance is very similar to the standard modes on your camera. You can select through all the normal modes or use a custom white balance. The Canon utility has a function which allows you to take a test shot which will then work out the white balance perfectly. For 90% of photos and videos, this feature is all you need.

For more information about white balance have a look at the tutorial by David Appleyard "How to Get Perfect White Balance". I shot the image below so that you can see the difference that white balance plays when taking your photos.

Focus modes

You have three separate focus modes you can select from. They are all very good, but all targeted for different uses. Here's a quick explanation of each of them:

  • Quick mode - Quick mode is the simplest mode to understand and use. Simply hit the "on" button and the software will then focus. It is best for still shots without a lot of layers that may confuse the camera. You also have the choice to choose automatic, manual or manual selection, which allows you to choose which area of the scene the camera is focusing on.
  • Live view -Live view follows the action and will focus on the main object in the scene. I have tested it out on a number of objects and it works very well.
  • Face detection live view - Performs the same function as live view, but instead of focusing on the largest object it focuses on faces in the scene.

Quick tip: I found that Canon USM lenses work fantastically quick and are much better than the cheaper lenses when working with auto focus.


The EOS utility gives us a large histogram to use when shooting stills. The histogram shows you the distribution of the shadows, midtones, and highlights. For more information about histrograms have a look at Daniel Sone's tutorial "How to Use the Histogram".

You can click on the RGB button to get the seperate graphs for all three colours (red, green and blue).

Shooting stills

If shooting stills, you can have your photos automatically saved to your computers hard drive rather than transferring them yourself. Simply select the folder in which you'd like them to be saved and then hit the shoot button in the EOS software or on the camera.

The other settings are pretty simple to work out if you understand the camera modes, but I've mapped out a diagram of the different functions just in case.

Other options

In the live view panel, you have a number of other options.

1 - Allows you to place an image over the video. You will also get access to a opacity slider so you can merge the photo into the video. A nice feature if you need a marker at the start of a piece of footage or need to merge from a previous scene.

2 - Turns on and off the AF grid. The grid will appear the same way as it does in the viewfinder of your camera.

3 - Turns the video 90 degrees counter-clockwise.

4- Turns the video 90 degrees clockwise.

5- Allows you to choose between a 3x3 or 6x4 grid.

6- Allows you to change aspect ratio grids. Useful when shooting between two objects. This feature also switches them on inside the camera as well, so make sure you turn them off when you are finished.

7- Turns the hstrogram on and off. Please note this is not available when shooting video.

8- Allows you to view a section of the image at full resolution to check for the sharpness.

A quick word to Nikon users

If you use a Nikon camera then I am afraid its not quite as simple for you at the current time. Nikon currently sells a product called "Camera Control Pro 2." It's a little over $200, so its not the cheapest option for laptop camera control.

Thanks For Reading!

Hopefully this has helped you in partnering up your laptop and camera and I hope technique comes in use for you soon. If you already knew how to do this, please share your tips for setting the system up in the comments. And if you're a frequent user of this system, tell us what situations you use it for!

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