Shooting tethered with the Leica M9          
    Freeware for PC/Windows 7          

M9Tether can be remotely controlled (version 2.0 or higher) through an iPod (most likely also through iPhone or iPad).

Note that it's M9Tether being controlled, not the camera directly. You still need a PC in between running M9Tether.

For remote control you will need:

  • iTunes on your PC.
  • the Apple Remote application for iTunes on your iPod (you can download that one for free through the App store)
  • 'M9Tether: The Album' loaded in iTunes.
'M9Tether: The Album' is a collection of silent MP3s and you'll find it in the installation folder of M9Tether (only if you downloaded version 2.0 or higher). Assuming you didn't change the folder during setup, that should be something like 'C:\Program Files\M9Tether'.

The MP3s can be found under the folder 'The Album'

If you have trouble locating the album, you can also download it here as zip file.

Note: I'm currently working on a more dedicated remote, which will work in conjunction with the still to be released M9Tether version 2.3... at that point 'M9Tether: The Album' will be dropped as a remote possibility...

Installing 'M9Tether: The Album'

First thing to do is to start iTunes and place the MP3s in your libary, like you would do with any other song. Note again these MP3s do not contain any sound, they're silent.

CLOSE iTunes after adding the MP3s (verify that iTunes has saved them properly by searching for M9Tether within iTunes).

Now start up M9Tether and click the Remote button after selecting iTunes in the drop down under 'Remote'. Note that when 'Mouse' is selected in the drop down, this won't work.

iTunes should now open (note that iTunes is a slow resource hog: opening might take a few seconds, be patient).

If iTunes was already running this won't work: make sure no version of iTunes is running before you click the Remote button in M9Tether

Locate 'M9Tether: The Album' in your iTunes library.

Now if you play the 'Shoot' track, the camera will shoot (isn't that the stupidest thing? :-) ).

Try the remote (else it's all pretty useless)

If that all works, start your remote application on the iPod, connect it to your library, select 'Now playing' or browse to 'M9Tether: The Album' and you have remote control.

Note that the 'Shoot' track will play until M9Tether is finished with the transfer.

Do not click on the 'Pause' button, since that will lead to another photo once the first one is processed
. Wait till the 'Play' button comes back, because Pause won't pause anything.

Apart from the 'Shoot' track, there's also tracks to set the ISO, Format and Exposure Compensation. You will see M9Tether adapt the values when you play the tracks.

Don't get confused with the 'real' tracks on the iPod. If you sync iTunes, 'M9Tether: The Album' will also be on your iPod to play (unless you deselect it for syncing). Obviously playing the tracks directly on the iPod won't work. You need to play the tracks through the Apple Remote application for iTunes since it's the tracks in iTunes on the PC that control M9Tether.

Although it's quite possible to control every option of M9Tether this way, I've chosen to keep the track list simple - also because there's no clear visual feedback: if you inadvertently start the wrong track you won't notice it - thus including only the most necessary options and not everything. If you feel you only need the shoot command, or will never go beyond a certain ISO setting, you can simply delete the tracks you don't need (be aware that if you didn't consolidate your library in iTunes, you might be deleting the originals).

I also developed a version that could set the album artwork to the photo taken. That partially worked. If the album didn't have any artwork set, the photo also showed up on the iPod. That was a nice bonus. Until it turned out that after that one photo, the iPod wasn't refreshed. Deleting or changing the artwork in iTunes didn't lead to an update on the iPod after a second or third shot. So I dropped that idea. You can't see the remotely shot photos back on the iPod, although I'm still trying out a few other tactics to get around this limitation.

I've also seen apps that are able to turn the Windows desktop into a remote desktop on the iPod. That might also work, although my experience with those apps wasn't very positive (navigating a desktop on that small screen was difficult).

Some considerations

  • Do not change the name of the tracks.

  • Do not change the album name of the tracks (if you do, the command will fail).

  • Do not close iTunes directly but close it through the button in M9Tether or by closing M9Tether. Closing iTunes directly does work, but that will lead to a delay of about 10 seconds.

  • If you open iTunes the regular way (and not through the button in M9Tether) the command tracks won't work, also not after clicking the Remote button in M9Tether (that will lead to a notification about a failed initialization after a delay of about 10 seconds). iTunes needs to start fresh through the Remote button of M9Tether and 'iTunes' selected in the drop down under the 'Remote' heading.

  • On a slow WIFI network or through a router setup, there might be lag, leading to a delay between clicking 'Play' and the camera taking a picture. I get the best results when the iPod is directly connected to my PC (tested up to 20m, shooting without any noticeable delay).

  • Fastest way to get to the album in iTunes is to create a smart playlist and let it search for album name. Fill in 'M9Tether'.
If you want to replace the MP3s with music or sounds you can. That might be useful if you want some audible feedback of what's happening. Just fill in the proper album name ('M9Tether: The Album') and rename the title of the song to the right command name. Do make sure though that the 'Shoot' command MP3 has a length of 90 seconds (not shorter), else you might get into trouble on long exposures with noise reduction. Note that file name and song name are not one and the same. M9Tether looks at the song name within iTunes, not at the file name of the MP3.

The iTunes opened by M9Tether is fully functional and can also be used to play songs from other albums. They won't trigger the camera.

How it works

M9Tether 'listens in' on iTunes - using a set of commands provided by Apple, specifically for PC/iTunes - and whenever it notices iTunes starts playing a track, it looks at the track name and the album name. If the name is a recognisable command and it's a track from the M9Tether album, M9Tether will execute the command internally.

This whole setup was tested on iTunes version 10 on Window 7 and on iTunes version 8 on Windows Vista with an iPod Touch 2nd generation running the Apple Remote Application for iTunes. Both versions of iTunes were working properly. I cannot guarantee this will work on older versions (lower than 8) of iTunes.

Why this way?

I needed a remote solution for a specific problem: mosquitoes! I was thinking how to utilize an already existing remote. The Apple remote for iTunes came to mind. It works pretty flawlessly and has some built in security, so your neighbour cannot fire off your Leica. Then, after investigating the scripting possibilities of iTunes, it turned out the whole setup was a viable idea.

I might still develop a more dedicated app some day (in fact that's what I'm trying at the moment).

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