Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Using Sony α6500 in Linux

While the Sony a6500 probably works rather out-of-the-box in Mac and Windows, using it with Linux requires some additional configuration, which is not quite obvious.

In the following, I consider downloading images with DigiKam and computer control of the camera with Darktable to take sequences of photos.

This does not cover how to take video with the camera or how to control it through the network interface. Those tasks you can do with an Android phone, so it's not so critical.

Downloading Images

Connecting Sony a6500 (ILCE-6500) to Linux did not seem to work at first, as DigiKam said that mounting with "mount -t "exfat"" failed. I tried updating gphoto2 and such, but it didn't help. DigiKam doesn't seem to be able to connect to the camera as a camera, but only as a mass storage.

Apparently, support for exfat SD cards is not included in standard Kubuntu/Ubuntu, but requires installing the exfat handlers.

$ sudo apt-get install exfat-fuse exfat-utils

See Read an exFAT SD card.

Computer Control

Support for a6500 comes in libgphoto2 version 2.5.15. It is not yet available in stable repositories, so you need to add the following repository.

$ sudo apt-add-repository ppa:mutlaqja/libgphoto2

- Switch camera from Auto or other to PC Control.

Now you can get the abilities with gphoto2:

$ gphoto2 --port usb: --abilities
Abilities for camera             : Sony Alpha-A6500 (Control)                 
Serial port support              : no
USB support                      : yes
Capture choices                  :
                                 : Image
                                 : Preview
                                 : Trigger Capture
Configuration support            : yes
Delete selected files on camera  : yes
Delete all files on camera       : no
File preview (thumbnail) support : yes
File upload support              : yes

While you can take photos command-line with gphoto2, it's much more convenient with a GUI such as Darktable.

Install it:

$ sudo apt-get install darktable

Then just go and click to capture an image.

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