LENSBABY'S

Steve's Digicams


Harbortronics
DigiSnap 2000


Review posted 4/17/01
updated 6/18/02


DigiSnap 2000
Shown here at actual size


See the DigiSnap 2000 firmware update and DigiSnap 2200 info


The $120 DigiSnap 2000 by Harbortronics is a wired remote control for digital cameras. It works via the camera's serial port and can be used to take single pictures or a sequence of timelapse shots. It connects to your camera using the same serial port cable that you use for image downloading to the computer. Instead of plugging it into your computer's serial port you plug it into the DB-9 connector on the top of the DigiSnap.

The DigiSnap 2000 is a significant upgrade from the original DigiSnap 1000 in that it now controls the zoom lens and allows for the color LCD to be used on Nikon Coolpix and other digicams.

By hooking the DigiSnap up to your computer you can program it to take a series of shots with any time delay required. You can easily capture timelapse images of things or even use the camera as a surveillance device, capturing images automatically at preset intervals. It "wakes up" the camera, takes the shot and then puts the camera back to sleep again. Camera settings are saved between exposures.

The frame below shows the configuration menu of the DigiSnap. This is accessed by using any PC terminal program you want. I used the HyperTerminal program that comes standard with the Windows to "talk" to the DigiSnap.


*****       www.Harbortronics.com           *****
DigiSnap 2000  Firmware: April 8,2001, Version 1.0
Main Menu

Operating Mode: Single Picture

Simple Time-Lapse Settings
   # of shots: 004
   Interval (HHH:MM:SS) 000:00:10

Commands (enter a single letter)

M - Set Operating Mode
T - Configure the Simple Time-Lapse settings
A - Advanced Time-Lapse Configuration Menu
C - Camera Configuration Menu
O - Operation Menu
S - Switch Menu
Q - Quit (Save Changes, Shut DigiSnap off)


The serial communications are carried out at 19,200 baudrate so you can use a very long cable run between the DigiSnap and the camera. Tha manufacturer has tested it with a cable as long as 700 feet!

The Camera Configuration Menu lets you enable Nikon-specific features for the 880 or 990 models. This include; shutter half-press, bulb (single shot or time-lapse) and setting a specific bulb duration.

Other settings useable for most digicams are enabling or disabling the color LCD, the camera's switches and specifying the zoom step size. You can view the entire DigiSnap 2000 User Manual to get a better idea of how flexible it really is.



DigiSnap 2000

Here's the DigiSnap 2000 connected to a Nikon Coolpix 990 camera. This camera and the earlier Coolpix 950 has been extensively tested with the DigiSnap 1000 and the new 2000. The Coolpix cameras are well suited for remote control with the DigiSnap.

The DigiSnap uses a command protocol shared by many cameras and camera control programs available through the internet. If your camera can be controlled by CamerAid (Mac), PhotoPC (Unix, Windows), CAME (DOS), etc., then it should be compatible with the DigiSnap.

Want to know if the DigiSnap will work with your camera?  The folks at Harbortronics have a test program that runs on PCs and was written in QuickBasic. It may or may not work on some newer computers. You can download it and try it for yourself.

DigiSnap.exe




DigiSnap 2000 Firmware Upgrade

10/15/01:  Harbortronics announces availability of a significant update in the DigiSnap 2000 firmware. If you own a DigiSnap 2000, 2100, 2200, or 2500, you are welcome to email Deborah at HarborTronics for a free update. The firmware may be updated by the user via connection to a PC compatible computer.

We have made some improvements, and added several new features.

  • Improved overall operation with the Coolpix 995
  • Improved long term timelapse using the Nikon extended protocol.
  • Per request, added optional FastSnap feature, whereby a camera is optionally kept in Half-Press mode until the
  • DigiSnap is triggered, yielding a very short shutter delay (for cameras that support the extended protocol).
  • The DigiSnap will now shut down immediately when camera is turned off (for cameras that support the extended protocol).
  • Per request, implemented a FocalLength switch function where the camera zoom can be set to a programmable value.
  • The DigiSnap will now automatically recognise if a camera will support the extended protocol.


NEW - DigiSnap 2200

Harbortronics is also proud to announce availability of the DigiSnap 2200, which adds a connector for external trigger, and includes the new FastSnap feature. This model is intended for use with the Pocket Wizard(tm) RF synchronizer units for sports photography, but may be also used for any application requiring external triggering.


Steve's Conclusion

Last year we reviewed the DigiSnap 1000 with the Nikon 950 and were disappointed that it didn't allow the use of the color LCD -- the new DigiSnap 2000 eliminates that problem. The DigiSnap 2000 can be used as a wired remote control for triggering the shutter and controlling the zoom lens - just like the MC-EU1. And better yet it can be programmed for a wide range of time-lapse functions, something the MC-EU1 can't do. Check on the Harbortronic's web site, there's a document that describes the DigiSnap 2000 compared to the Nikon MC-EU1.

I've been using a MC-EU1 for many months to control the 990 while on a tripod and it works fine but it really seems to eat those expensive lithium button batteries, I keep two or three spare in the drawer at all times. The DigiSnap 2000 is powered by standard AAA size batteries which are readily and inexpensively available everywhere.

When using it for time-lapse work, you program it beforehand while connected to a computer. It is not connected to the computer when in actual use so it is very easy to place the camera and the DigiSnap in outdoor locations without risking damage to an expensive laptop or the like.

If you need the ability to trigger the camera from a distance or wish to do timelapse photography, the DigiSnap performs beautifully. I can't say that I tested it with a 700 foot cable but it worked as advertised on a 12 foot serial cable for me. The Harbortronics folks are working on an even more advanced unit, the DigiSnap 2500 will have an infrared receiver and will work with common TV remote controls.

If you're even considering the Nikon MC-EU1 for the Coolpix 880 or 990 then I would highly advise that you think about buying the DigiSnap 2000 instead, it offers more control, the ability to easily extend the serial cable length and it's firmware upgradeable.




The DigiSnap 2000 is available now from Harbortronics for $120.00 or $145 if you need the Nikon serial cable (does not come with the 990).

Buy the DigiSnap 2000








Skydiving with the DigiSnap 2000



DigiSnap 2000

Here's a real-world application of the DigiSnap 2000, controlling a Nikon 995 mounted on a skydiver's helmut. Needless to say, these folks need their hands for other things during a jump.



DigiSnap 2000

A closeup of the DigiSnap 2000 and Nikon 995 with a wideangle lens on the custom mount.



DigiSnap 2000

Another view of the whole rig, ready to fly!   Thanks to Marc for providing me with these great pics of his setup.



DigiSnap 2000

Want to see more?   Visit Marc's www.clustermaster.com web site, he's got lots of skydiving pics posted there.







Some great time-lapse samples at
Digital Secret's DigiSnap 2000 review







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