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How to use SharpCap with a DSLR

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#1 Rickster

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Posted 11 April 2019 - 06:45 PM

For those wanting to use a Canon DSLR with SharpCap...Here is how I do it.

Background:  You need an ASCOM driver to interface between your DSLR and SharpCap.  The good news is that last year a CN member created an ASCOM DSLR driver for his own use, and was kind enough to make it available as an open source project.  https://www.cloudyni...hl= ascom dslr  Robin then spent some of his valuable time tweaking it and SharpCap to work with Canon DSLRs.   The latest available version is only partially functional, and it has some pitfalls.  However, if you get the settings just right, most features do work.

 

You will need the ASCOM platform installed on your computer.  https://ascom-standa...oads/Index.htm 

 

Once the ASCOM platform is installed, go to https://github.com/vtorkalo/ASCOM.DSLR , click Download and unzip the downloaded files (if your computer doesn’t automatically unzip them).  Ignore the “Read Me” and the instructions at the bottom of the Github page.  Those are for developers only.  You don’t need to do any of that.

 

Find the DSLR.Camera Setup.exe file in the unzipped files, click on it, and follow the instructions to install the ASCOM DSLR driver.  It should be quick and easy.

 

Now then, I know I could tell you to use the following settings, only these settings, and no other settings.  But you won’t be able to resist trying the others, right?  Who knows?  Maybe I missed a great setting.  So, put a copy of the Setup file where you can find it, because you will need it when you select the wrong setting, Sharpcap freezes, and restarting doesn't help because the trouble maker setting was autosaved and will immediately freeze Sharpcap again on restart.  The good news is that you can get out of the trap by rerunning the Setup file.  It only takes a few seconds.

With that out of the way, here are the settings that I have found to work on my Canon T3/1100D and T4i/650D.  These were found through trial and error.  If you find a different combination that also works, or find error(s) in my settings, please share in this thread.

Connect your camera (USB), turn it on, and start Sharpcap.

 

In File>SharpCap Settings>General (upper left corner) set:   “Preferred Video Format” = AVI and “Preferred Still Format” = FITS  (Yeah.  I know.  Your camera outputs RAW or JPG.  Don't worry about it.  This works, somehow.  But JPG does not!)

 

Click Cameras> ASCOM camera driver for DSLR.  A dialog box will probably pop up asking you for some settings.  If you don’t get a pop up dialog box, then click on Options> Show (under Camera Controls, right tool bar) to bring up the dialog box. 

 

Verify or change the settings in the dialog box to:  Connection Method = Canon Sdk and Image Mode = Color 16.  Do NOT check the boxes for Live View Mode, Use external shutter or Enable binning.  Set the Save photos to where ever you want.  Set ISO to your most commonly used setting.  This will be Sharpcap’s default ISO setting. You can change this on the fly with the gain slider.  I left Trace on checked, but I have no idea what it does. 

 

Under Capture Format (right hand tool bar)  Set “Output format” to “FITS” and “Colour Space” to RGB48.  The Capture Area should automatically be set to the highest value for your camera resolution.

 

At this point, your camera should be automatically providing preview images.  The mirror and shutter will actuate with each preview image, and the image will display on the screen.  The image will not be saved to file.

 

Under Camera Controls (right hand tool bar) change the exposure time  to something more reasonable, like 15 or 30 seconds.  Note:  The exposure slider response lags.  The Quick Picks drop down menu works better.    You can also type in the time as a number.  The Gain will initially be set to your default value.  You can change the Gain at any time.  It will automatically select the nearest ISO. I haven’t found any good reason to change the Frame Rate Limit, so I leave it set to maximum.  The Options>Show was addressed above.

 

At some point you will probably want to pause the preview stream (stop the mirror/shutter from clacking).  The only way that I have found to do this is to close the camera (Camera>Close camera).

 

From here on, your DSLR should be working like an astro cam (but with a mirror/shutter). You should be able to Live Stack, take Snap shots, adjust Histogram Stretch, Polar Align, etc.


Edited by Rickster, 12 April 2019 - 12:08 AM.

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#2 Howie1

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Posted 11 April 2019 - 07:46 PM

Thanks heaps Rick. I shall go try it out as soon as the skies clear. Great info. Cheers.


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#3 ronh_pm

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 07:47 PM

Thanks heaps Rick. I shall go try it out as soon as the skies clear. Great info. Cheers.

Cant get any of my three Canons to connect using SharpCap 64 on two different Win10 64 installs using a few different cables.

I probably have some odd drivers hanging around from who knows when.

Thanks for the heads up. I will try again next time I do a fresh Windows install.



#4 Rickster

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 08:34 PM

Two things to check: 

 

1.  Do you already have a program installed such as EOS Utility that is automatically recognizing the camera?  If that is the case, Sharpcap won't connect until you close that program.

 

2.  Is the camera and lens (if attached) set on manual?  Last night I was checking one of my cameras.   It had a Canon auto focus lens attached.  I couldn't get it to connect to Sharpcap on either of two computers.  It also wouldn't connect to EOS Utility.  I finally figured out that if I switched the lens to manual focus the camera would connect.

 

FWIW  I run mine on Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Ultimate.  And I use the latest Sharpcap.


Edited by Rickster, 15 April 2019 - 08:35 PM.

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#5 naji

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Posted 24 May 2019 - 08:14 PM

I have a T2i and I was not successful in making it work following your guidelines. Once I select the canon camera it takes two exposures and fails on the third one. What's interesting, is the driver works fine in PHD2. I do have the pro version of SC.

 

It would be nice to get this working....


Edited by naji, 24 May 2019 - 08:16 PM.


#6 Rickster

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Posted 24 May 2019 - 11:35 PM

That's curious.  I haven't seen that before.  For me, either it works or it doesn't. 

 

You say you have the Pro version of SC.  Is it a recent version?  I think Robin recently  tweaked SC to work with this driver.  Are you running Windows 10?

 

Good to know that it works with PHD2.  I hadn't tried that because I have to use an off axis guider (due to flex issues). 

 

How fast were you able to refresh images in PHD2?  I typically see a 7 to 15 sec delay for the RAW to FIT conversion plus download when using SC (depending on USB cable).

 

PS.  I was browsing another forum and saw that a couple of other guys had gotten it to work using my instructions (so I am not completely crazy).


Edited by Rickster, 24 May 2019 - 11:37 PM.


#7 naji

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Posted 25 May 2019 - 01:11 PM

Yes it is the latest version and I'm using windows 10, 32 bit version on my laptop.

 

With regards to PHD2, I just tested the driver by taking a bunch of exposures to see if it's going to crash. 

 

I'll try your instructions again, and just to verify, you are using the latest version of SC and the latest version of the EOS driver. If not can you please advise where to get the driver you are using.

 

TIA



#8 naji

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Posted 25 May 2019 - 03:25 PM

Update:

Installed latest version of SC on Desktop running Windows 10, 64 bit. I already had the ASCOM suite installed. I installed latest version of DSLR ASCOM driver. Connected camera to PC and turned it on. EOS utility came on, so closed it. Launched SC and selected the camera. It started taking exposures, and past the 3 limit... I adjusted the Color Space to Raw16, Ouput was defaulted to FITS so left it alone. 

 

It seems everything is working fine now. go figures... 

 

I'm going to clean laptop and start with a fresh install of SC and Driver to see if it will make a difference.


Edited by naji, 25 May 2019 - 03:26 PM.


#9 Rickster

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Posted 26 May 2019 - 01:25 AM

waytogo.gif 



#10 Rickster

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Posted 26 May 2019 - 10:54 PM

Go here if you want to use jpg files.

 

https://www.cloudyni...t-ii-jpg-files/



#11 Cobalt5120

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Posted 28 May 2019 - 06:10 PM

Thanks for the info.

 

I have a Canon XSI (450D) and it seemed to work fine.  As soon as I selected the DSLR from the cameras menu, the camera shutter opened and immediately started taking continuous 1 second snaps.  I was then able to select live stacking and the stacking seemed to work as my camera was pointing to a photo on the wall.  I did have to unselect "align" photos as there were no stars to align but clearly SharpCap was getting the photos from the camera and doing something with them.

 

Should be fun  testing out polar alignment in about two months, which is my estimate based on the forecast of my next clear night.  smile.gif


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#12 Maxchess

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 12:40 PM

Many thanks

This works for my old Canon 450D, but not for my newer Canon 2000D.

Have yet to try with polar alignment, which is why I wanted it.


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#13 Thrifty1

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 07:15 AM

I did get this to work with my Canon T3i on Windows 7 - could not get it working consistently on Windows 10 for some reason.

I run Windows on a MacBook via Parallels. This is a 10 year old MacBook so Sharpcap with my DSLR ran pretty slow. It would only take about one shot every 30 seconds due to the time it took to download and process each shot. Looks like I’d need to upgrade to a newer computer to have this work better.

Running Sharpcap on this computer with my Revolution Imager 2 works great. The DSLR just too much for it to process or the DSLR driver taking up too much of the processor.

#14 astromusic

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Posted 24 July 2019 - 12:20 AM

Hi,

 

This seems to work really well with my T1i (500D) in the "Preview" mode - it keeps clicking away and showing the preview frames properly (all well and great!)

 

It also works fine when I am trying to do Polar Align (I don't have the Pro mode, so I cant do the final step, but the first two steps work fine, and it is able to "Solve" the stars with both frames 90 degrees apart). Again, so far, so good!

 

However, what I can't get to work at all (and I have tried it on 2 different Windows 10 machines, same result) is the "Live Stacking" mode. When in this mode, the bottom status bar says "Memory: 3 of 3 frame buffers in use" (usually only 1 is in use), and then it just stops. ONCE in a while, it works fine, and stacks it, but this happens about 1 attempt in 10 (subjectively). I have tried to limit the Frame Rate to 1 per minute even (just to slow things down), but that doesn't help either. I have tried this on a real Windows laptop (4GB RAM), and on a VM on Mac as well (tried 4-5-6-8GB RAM allocation, no dice).

 

Screen shot attached for when it stops.

 

Also, those that got stacking to work consistently, can you please post what version of Windows, how much RAM, and what version of SharpCap (32 or 64-bit) you are using? Thanks!

 

Capture.PNG


Edited by astromusic, 24 July 2019 - 12:00 PM.


#15 Rickster

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Posted 24 July 2019 - 07:45 PM

This won't help you much, but I didn't have any trouble stacking with Sharpcap Pro, Windows 10 Pro, and a Dell T7500 workstation having a 12 core 3ghz 64bit processor and 72gb ram.  

 

I don't recall ever seeing SC use more than one memory buffer.  Using 3 sounds like a good clue for someone who knows what that means (not me).

 

Sorry I couldn't be of more help.



#16 astromusic

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Posted 25 July 2019 - 11:55 PM

This won't help you much, but I didn't have any trouble stacking with Sharpcap Pro, Windows 10 Pro, and a Dell T7500 workstation having a 12 core 3ghz 64bit processor and 72gb ram.  

 

I don't recall ever seeing SC use more than one memory buffer.  Using 3 sounds like a good clue for someone who knows what that means (not me).

 

Sorry I couldn't be of more help.

Just out of curiosity, are you using the 32-bit or 64-bit version of SharpCap?



#17 jmrp

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Posted 28 July 2019 - 10:41 AM

I am writing to ask if there is more progress with Canon ASCOM DSLR support - I have read that some people have had success with Canon T1,T3i and T5 - but many people have reported failures - I have tried the latest updates for ASCOM 6.4, Canon ASCOM 6.3  and Sharpcap 3.2.6062  without success for the  Canon Rebel XS and Canon 70D cameras -  yet both Canon EOS utility and EOS-MovieRecord work well - any help would be appreciated



#18 Rickster

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Posted 28 July 2019 - 05:13 PM

I am using version 3.2.5958.0



#19 astromusic

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Posted 05 August 2019 - 12:16 PM

I am writing to ask if there is more progress with Canon ASCOM DSLR support - I have read that some people have had success with Canon T1,T3i and T5 - but many people have reported failures - I have tried the latest updates for ASCOM 6.4, Canon ASCOM 6.3  and Sharpcap 3.2.6062  without success for the  Canon Rebel XS and Canon 70D cameras -  yet both Canon EOS utility and EOS-MovieRecord work well - any help would be appreciated

Can you post what works, and what doesn't, so people can suggest?



#20 jmrp

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Posted 05 August 2019 - 02:56 PM

Astromusic - as I mentioned both Canon EOS Utility and MovieRecord work well for both Canon Rebel XS and Canon 70D cameras (liveview,focus, ISO and F-stop changes) - but not Sharpcap - I have tried Sharpcap ver 3.2.5958, 3.2.5986, 3.2.6062 - I have also tried the options suggested by Rickster - I connect the camera by USB to the computer (MSI Leopard Intel® Core™ i7,8GB RAM,64 bit OS) - open Canon EOS Utilty , exit then start Sharpcap - after selecting the "ASCOM camera for DSLR"  option - Sharpcap flashes what appears to be one screen (?) which is  immediately replaced by the Sharpcap screen - pauses - then exits Sharpcap with no error displayed - after each failure I have uninstalled and reinstalled new version - with these Sharpcap versions I have installed the latest version of ASCOM 6.4 and Canon ASCOM 6.3



#21 Rickster

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Posted 05 August 2019 - 06:41 PM

jmrp,

It seems like both your cameras should work.  They are in the middle of the pack of cameras that do work.  Are you sure that EOSU is dead?  If not, it will hold on to the camera.  I can think of 2 things to try.  Task Manager to kill EOSU (obviously).  The other thing is that you could try both of your cameras at the same time.  EOSU can only tie up one.  That will leave the other free for SC.  I have run one DSLR on EOSU and a second on SC, at the same time. 



#22 Rickster

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Posted 05 August 2019 - 07:18 PM

Also, to anyone still having trouble.  Try swapping out your USB cable.  Sharpcap is known to be sensitive to USB cable quality.  I happen to have one cable that wont work at all and one that causes SC to hang up.



#23 jmrp

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Posted 05 August 2019 - 09:21 PM

Rickster - I have tried all three of your suggestions - task manager confirms EOSU closed by selecting "quit" option in EOSU - connecting two cameras - only one shows in task manager and is closed after selecting quit - I have also tried different USB cables - all without success - getting frustrated but still willing to try anything new



#24 AnhDuck

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Posted 07 August 2019 - 05:18 AM

Thank you for posting this thread. I didn't want to spend $300-$400 CAD on autoguiding just for precise polar alignment.

 

I tried this with a canon SL2 (200D) and it worked perfectly. I was able to polar align using my DSLR + 300mm lens and a star tracker.

 

Initially there were some issues with my camera disconnecting and connecting, but it only happened on my desktop computer; my laptop was fine.


Edited by AnhDuck, 07 August 2019 - 05:25 AM.

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#25 jmrp

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Posted 09 August 2019 - 04:40 PM

I am interested why Sharpcap does not connect with certain Canon cameras - I have read on this forum that Canon XSi,T1i,T2i,T3i, T5i
and Canon SL2 are reported to connect and work with Sharpcap (sometimes)? - yet as I have said earlier my attempts with Canon Rebel XS and
Canon 70D have not been successful - I have tried the last three versions of Sharpcap - interestingly only the Canon 70D is recognized
in Sharpcap as seen by the message in the bottom left corner "connecting to camera ASCOM camera driver for DSLR" - however as with the Canon Rebel XS (which does not show this message) Sharpcap exits with no error message - it is noteworthy that  this message appears with Sharpcap version 3.2.5958.0 but not version 3.2.6062.0 - does anyone know if these problems  maybe related to Sharpcap or the Canon ASCOM driver - I did not mention before that I am running the 32 bit version of Sharpcap and Windows 10 64 bit Home edition - could this be the source of some problems?




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