LS Pro Buttons

User Manual

LANC Shepherd Pro Wired Remote for Stereo Photography
with Twin Sony Digital Cameras
and an External Flash.


Quick Start: Plug a LANC Shepherd Pro cable into each camera ACC port, and plug the flash into the LANC Shepherd Pro. Press the LANC Shepherd Pro On-Off button to power up the cameras, and turn on the flash. Check that the shutter sync displayed on the LANC Shepherd Pro is less than the expected shutter speed (for proper flash sync), and re-power up if needed. Make sure that both cameras are set up the same way. Press the shutter/focus lock button down half way to allow the cameras to set focus and exposure. Once focus lock is obtained, press the shutter button down all the way to shoot digital stereo with flash.

Attaching a Sony Flash: Simply plug the flash cable into the LANC Shepherd Pro "Sony Flash" jack, and start shooting. Caution: The HVL-F32X has a smart shoe, and having this smart shoe attached to a camera hot shoe will interfere with the flash operation of the LANC Shepherd Pro. The HVL-F32X flash can still be mounted on a camera hotshoe, but use a piece of electrical tape, cardboard, or other means of insulating the flash from the camera hot shoe, and use the cable included with the flash for connection the LANC Shepherd Pro.

LS Pro Jacks Attaching a Generic Flash: The LANC Shepherd Pro needs a 3.5mm (1/8”) mono audio “miniphone” style plug for the generic flash jack, which is the same shape plug used by Walkman or iPod headphones, and by Pocket Wizard wireless flash transmitters and receivers. By convention, the tip of the connector is positive and the base negative. This plug is commonly available (Radio Shack carries them), much more reliable than the PC connectors, and flash sync cords for the Pocket Wizard are widely available using this exact “miniphone” connector. For example, search for "pocket wizard cable" at B&H Photo. A cable for a Vivitar flash would be B&H# WICVM1 and a cable for a SunPak flash would be B&H# WICSM1.

Paramount Cords (www.pccords.com) can make a custom cable for you, and I would suggest a custom cable with a right angle molded miniphone 3.5mm plug (#15) on one end, a female hotshoe adapter with ¼-20 threaded mount (#33) on the other end (but a custom plug for your flash could be substituted for the hotshoe adapter). The hotshoe adapter includes a male cold shoe on the bottom, so you can mount the flash and adapter back on one of your camera hotshoes if you want, or use the ¼-20 threaded mount to secure the adapter to your camera mounting bar. With a one foot straight cord, this will cost about $35, and will work for any flash with a hot shoe. The LANC Shepherd Pro provides high voltage protection (up to 400 volts), so no need to add high voltage protection to the cable.

If you already have a PC cable for your flash and some way to mount the flash, you can use a “PC Female to Miniphone Adapter”, available from B&H Photo, B&H# WIPCFMA, for about $15. Plug the PC cable into the adapter, then plug the adapter into the LANC Shepherd Pro generic flash jack.

Flash Photography With an External Flash: As long as the shutter speed of the cameras is less than the shutter sync, the microprocessor control of flash sync will insure that the flash pop will be seen on both exposures. For a detailed discussion of the logic behind the microprocessor control of flash timing, see the stereo flash photography page here. There is no need to monitor the "M" master or "S" slave indication on the LANC Shepherd Pro display while using an external flash with the LANC Shepherd Pro. The cameras will recognize the flash unit through the LANC Shepherd Pro, and the flash modes on the camera can be used to control the flash (off, automatic, forced on, and slow sync).

Wiring Diagram Caution: In the camera setup menu, using an external flash refers to using a flash on the camera hotshoe. So in the setup mode of the cameras, choose "Flash: Internal" to use an external flash with the LANC Shepherd Pro.

Care and Feeding of the LANC Shepherd Pro: The LANC Shepherd Pro does not contain a battery, as the little power required is provided by the cameras.

Caution: The LANC Shepherd Pro cables are very flexible, but will not tolerate tension; Please do not allow the LANC Shepherd Pro to hang by the cables. Velco tape can be used to support the module, or a support plastic or aluminum block or angle can be glued to the back of the LANC Shepherd Pro to allow bolting the LANC Shepherd Pro to a mount.

Power Up Sync: The LANC Shepherd Pro device enables digital stereo photography with highly synchronized exposures, without modifying the cameras in any way. A big part of this goal is to have the camera electronic command cycles synchronized (reasons for this are a lengthy discussion in itself), and the LANC Shepherd displays the degree of sync while the cameras are powered up. The LANC Shepherd Pro also helps synchronize the two cameras'electronic cycles by powering the cameras up at exactly the same moment. By providing a camera "on" command at the same time, the cameras usually power up very closely in sync. Perhaps the cameras need to clear the cobwebs, but it seems that the first power-up often is way out of sync, and subsequent power-ups are closely in sync. If the sync is adequate for the shot, one can take an exposure immediately. If not, one can wait for the sync to drift to a more optimal interval, or cycle the power again. The controls on each camera continue to work as usual when this device is being used, and this device can be used as a wired remote for a single camera as well.

Power-Up: I find it best to have the camera mode selectors on "playback" on the Sony DSC-V1 while powering up initially, then changing the mode to one of the photo modes once I have good sync. This way, I can rapidly power up and down the cameras without the longer time required for the lenses to motor out and back in. The LANC Shepherd shows the degree of sync in fractional seconds and in milliseconds (one millisecond is 0.001 sec). Once I have the cameras in sync, I change to one of the exposure modes, and I'm ready to shoot. Caution: When the cameras are attached to a battery charger or external power, the cameras are in some sort of stand-by mode for charging, and cannot be synchronized by the usual LANC Shepherd power button. The cameras have to be on battery power for the power-up sync to function.

Offset Power-up: This technique allows one to compensate for a pair of cameras (video or still) that consistently power up at a sync offset from zero. This technique also significantly improves the probability of an on-sync power-up even if the cameras usually power up with good sync. The technique involves powering up one camera, then using the LANC Shepherd Pro to power up the other camera. Since the sync of the first camera is known, this technique improves power up sync probability by 200%.

Sony HVL-F32X
Sony HVL-F32X
Using the Sync Display: The two sets of numbers on the LANC Shepherd display mean the same thing—they are just different ways of indicating the same interval of time. The interval displayed is the difference between the electronic command cycles of the two cameras, but typically this is the same as shutter sync for these cameras.

The top number is the fractional seconds, so 1/1000 means 1/1000th of a second, or 0.001 second. The bottom number is milliseconds or msec. 1000 milliseconds equals one second, so 1/1000 second is one millisecond. So if the top number is around 1/1000s, the bottom number should be around 1.0 msec. Most of the timing in photography happens on a millisecond scale, and I end up using the millisecond display almost exclusively, but I included the top number for comparison of the shutter sync to the shutter speed. I think that as long as the shutter sync is less than about one tenth of the shutter speed, disparity of the stereo images related to shutter sync will not be noticeable. So if the camera selected shutter speed is 1/100, then a shutter sync displayed on the LANC Shepherd of 1/1000 or smaller (say 1/2000, 1/4000, etc) will result in images with no noticeable motion disparity.

Most of the time, the cameras will sync on power up to less than 1/2000 (top display) or 0.5 msec (bottom display), and shutter sync will be excellent for typical point and shoot photos to a shutter speed of 1/200 or slower (say 1/125, 1/60, etc). If I use shutter priority mode on the cameras for really fast action with a shutter speed of 1/1000, I will want to work a bit to get the camera sync display to be as good as I can get it, say around 1/10000 (top) or 0.1msec (bottom).

The "M" for master or "S" for slave indicates which of the two cameras should trigger the flash when an internal flash is used on one of the cameras. With an external flash plugged into the LANC Shepherd Pro, one can ignore completely the "M" and "S" designation.

Sony HVL-F1000
Sony HVL-F1000
How Synchronized Is Enough? I've taken and processed thousands of stereo photographs with the LANC Shepherd, and I can say with absolute certainty and authority that . . . it depends.

Initially, I insisted on absolutely perfect synchronization, and indeed, some situations require it to be so. On the other hand, some subjects become more lively and interesting with a bit of "retinal rivalry" produced by a mildly out-of-sync stereo pair. I suspect that as long as a most of the photograph shows no disparity, a small portion with disparity can enhance the appeal of the stereo pair with some subjects.

As a general guideline, I suspect that a displayed sync greater than 1/10th of the shutter speed will be potentially noticeable for average photography. For example, for a shutter speed of 1/250, a sync greater than 1/2500 (0.40 msec) will produce just noticeable disparity for an average city street corner with wind, people walking, and slow moving cars. Action photography, with considerably faster motion and shorter shutter speeds, needs to have a sync proportionally better, and I generally try to take these photographs with as good a sync as I can achieve (on the order of a 0.01 msec or 10 millionths of a second).

In the end, the LANC Shepherd Pro allows really a remarkable degree of synchronization if it is required, and allows sync time to be a stylistic choice for stereo photography as well.

Zoom: The zoom buttons can be used to adjust the zoom of both cameras at the same time. For stereo photography, the zoom has another function beyond decreasing the field of view of the photograph--it can have the effect of decreasing the stereo base (distance between the cameras). By stepping back and zooming in, there will be less depth effect for a given field of view. The cameras will receive a zoom command at the same time from the LANC Shepherd, and will adjust the zoom while the buttons are held down. There is no feedback from the cameras about the current focal length, so synchronization of zoom between the cameras will degrade with more zoom adjustments--after a few adjustments, it probably is best to reset the zoom by taking the zoom to a stop, then back to the desired focal length. Typical accuracy for my cameras is less than 1% image size difference between the two cameras for zoom adjustments, which I can easily correct if needed with my computer graphics program, but accuracy of the zoom will depend on how well the cameras are matched. Ideally, the cameras would have close serial numbers for the best chance of power-up sync and matched zoom.

Vivitar 850AF
Vivitar 850AF
Exposure: Once the cameras are in sync, and both cameras are set up the same way to take a picture, press the lock/shutter button half way down, wait for the cameras to achieve focus and exposure lock, then press the button all the way down to take a stereo picture. To have synchronized shutters, it is important to first press focus lock for a moment, wait until the cameras are fully locked (focus, shutter, aperture), and keep the focus lock down until the shutter is pressed. The cameras show a green dot that stops blinking, and sound a beep when the focus lock has been achieved.

Self-Timer: Digital cameras all have this feature on their own--set the timer, and then the photographer has ten seconds to scramble back to the group before the exposure--but this feature with stereo cameras will typically take an exposure seconds apart. With the LANC Shepherd, press the red "Timer" button to start the countdown, and again if needed to abort. The count down is displayed on the LCD. At three seconds, the LANC Shepherd initiates focus lock, and at zero on the counter, the LANC Shepherd triggers both cameras at exactly the same time for a synchronized exposure.

Interval Timer (Time Lapse Photography): This feature allows taking stereo photographs at set precise intervals. The interval time adjust requires holding down the shutter button half way during the period of time needed to make the adjustment. With the shutter button held down half way, bring up the adjust screen by pressing the red timer button. Press "zoom in" or "zoom out" to make the adjustment. The interval can be adjusted from 2 seconds to 24 hours. Then release the shutter button to save the new zoom rate to memory in the LANC Shepherd and start the timed exposures. Press the red timer button again to abort the interval timer if needed.

For interval times greater than about one minute, the cameras may shut down automatically because of inactivity. One can either plug in the battery charger to each camera, or one can plug in a dummy 3.5mm (1/8") stereo plug into the video output of the cameras to prevent the automatic shutdown.

During the interval timing, the hours:minutes:seconds remaining before an exposure is shown on the LCD display. Since the subject will presumably move very little during the interval timing so that sync is less of an issue, the sync is not displayed during the interval timing.

Sony HDR-FX1
Sony HDR-FX1
Video Camera Support: The LANC Shepherd Pro senses the type of device attached, and uses the appropriate commands to control twin video cameras, just as does the LANC Shepherd. The LANC Shepherd Pro does not at this time provide support for an external flash used with video camera still image capture.

Power-up sync works the same way as with still cameras--again, the cameras must be on battery power to sync properly with the LANC Shepherd power button. Turn on the cameras with the mode switch set to "camera" (not playback mode), and use the LANC Shepherd to turn the cameras off. Then power up the cameras in sync using the ON button on the LANC Shepherd. The LANC Shepherd functions work the same whether recording to tape or to memory stick.

The red "Record" button on the LANC Shepherd toggles on or off video recording.

The LANC Shepherd can be used for still photo capture on Sony video cameras so equipped. Canon video cameras do not provide support through the LANC port for still image capture. Press the shutter/focus lock button down half way to capture an image, and press the button all the way down to save the image to tape or memory stick (depending on the cameras capability and mode setting).

The zoom rate with video cameras can be adjusted with the LANC Shepherd. The zoom rate adjust requires holding down the shutter button half way during the period of time needed to make the adjustment. With the shutter button held down half way, bring up the adjust screen by pressing "zoom in". Press "zoom in" or "zoom out" to make the adjustment. Then release the shutter button to save the new zoom rate to memory in the LANC Shepherd. Zoom rate can be adjusted from 1 (glacial) to 8 (mach).

Sony DSC-V1
Sony DSC-V1
Flash Photography With Internal Flash: Since both cameras must be configured the same for exposure sync, both flashes must fire, but one flash must be blocked for best flash synchronization and best stereo quality. The LANC Shepherd indicates which flash to leave open to the subject, "M" for the right master camera cable or "S" for the left slave camera cable.

Sync with an internal camera flash generally works well as long as the sync is less than about half the shutter speed (for example, if 1/500 sec shutter, sync less than 1/1000 sec). In reasonable light, I often use the regular flash mode to fill in shadows, and this works quite well and reliably to at least 1/500 sec exposure with the Sony DSC-V1. Using flash as the sole light source in darkness does not work as reliably. So I just use the regular flash mode in reasonable light with excellent results.

The shutter priority, and manual modes share some limitations when using them with flash. I find that they work reasonably well with flash as long as the EV (exposure value) hovers around zero and the subject has at least moderate contrast. The EV gives an indication of where the exposure is relative to those values the camera would choose in automatic mode without flash. If the exposure depends at all on flash to bring up the exposure to a reasonable level, I have trouble getting flash sync in these modes where shutter speed is specified. I can reliably predict the absence of flash on one of the exposures just by listening to the difference in shutter beeps, despite the high degree of sync displayed on the LANC Shepherd.

The work-around is to use either the fully automatic mode, the program shift mode, or the aperture priority modes. These modes also work well with an external flash plugged into the LANC Shepherd Pro. The program shift mode is a bit frustrating to use however, as the camera will not let me choose a shutter/aperture combination that is outside a zero EV, it will not let me choose a shutter speed slower than 1/30 sec, and it requires the metering to be centered on the subject for an adjustment. Flash sync with these modes is, however, amazing.

Sony DSC-V3 Mount
Sony HDR-FX1 Sony HDR-FX1
Crossed View Parallel View
Mounting the Cameras: Here are a few tips:

The digital camera lenses are not necessarily aligned with the camera body. The lens on a digital point-and-shoot camera is mounted on an internal chassis, and the external camera body is just a shell. So count on shimming the cameras once they are mounted for proper stereo alignment, particularly if the cameras are not both mounted in the same orientation (such as over/under, bottom to bottom, etc).

Think about which parts of the camera you will need to access easily when planning your camera mount, or make provisions for limited access. Rather than have to remove my cameras from the mount for access to the memory sticks, I bought large capacity memory sticks right off. I have actually never removed the batteries or memory sticks from my pair of DSC-V1 cameras.

John Hart put together a detailed web page here showing how to get started in stereo digital photography, including a nice mount for a pair of digital cameras, and detailed instructions for using available software to process the images into stereo pairs . . . really an excellent review!

Best Regards,
Rob Crockett
Copyright © 2008. All Rights Reserved.

LANC Shepherd Pro Home
Digital Stereo Photography Home