I've only used Canon hardware to test any of the things I've done, but there's no reason it shouldn't work with anything gphoto2 supports. This is just a list of what I've tested out.

  • (dSLR) Canon 30D
  • (dSLR) Canon 350D / Kiss Digital N
  • (P&S) Canon PowerShot SX110

gphoto2 has a big list of supported cameras


Control script

For my thesis, I was controlling two Canon 350Ds. I discovered that each 350D does not seem to identify itself uniquely to the computer by standard USB. This meant that I could not assign the cameras unique port names with udev to use with gphoto2. Because I needed to differentiate the cameras on the command line, I had to work around this issue.

Turns out, many cameras have a way of storing information for use in EXIF tags. The ownername is a convenient tag for this and should be available on every camera supported by gphoto2. If you plug in only one camera at a time, you can set this using gphoto2 from the command line:

 gphoto2 --set-config ownername="foo"

This works around the uniqueness issue and makes the camera script relatively hardware-agnostic, provided the hardware can use the ownername field. I wrote a control script in Python.


  • running Linux
  • gphoto2 is in your $PATH
  • defaults to --capture-and-download
  • the script dumps images in the current path
  • provides default values for number of frames to collect and interval time

OSX users may be able to use this script with slight modification, assuming they install gphoto2 (eg from brew. Windows users, good luck. Your included camera software may support time-lapse settings and google suggests there are tools that help put this together, but I don't use Windows, so...

You can find the up-to-date code on Github

Pulling out data

I ended up pulling out timestamp data using R and the exiv2 utility, though you could just as easily use your favorite scripting solution. Since all I cared about was time, I used:

exiv2 pr -g Exif.Image.DateTime 

and dumped the output into R for processing. This probably could have been written nicely.