A Compact Camera Running Linux? What’s Not To Like!

One of the devices swallowed up by the smartphone for the average person is the handheld camera, to the extent that the youngsters are reported to be now rediscovering 20-year-old digital cameras for their retro cool factor. Cameras aren’t completely dead though, as a mirrorless compact or a DSLR should still blow the socks off a phone in competent hands. They’ve been around long enough to be plentiful secondhand, which makes [Georg Lukas]’ look at a ten-year-old range of models from Samsung worth a second look. Why has a deep dive into old cameras caught our eye? These cameras run Linux, in the form of Samsung’s Tizen distribution.

His interest in the range comes from owning one since 2014, and it’s in his earlier series of posts on hacking that camera that we find some of the potential it offers. Aside from the amusement that it runs an unprotected X server, getting to a root shell is fairly straightforward as we covered at the time, and it turns out to be a very hackable device.

Cameras follow a Gartner hype cycle-like curve in the popularity stakes, so for example the must-have bridge cameras and compact cameras of the late-2000s are now second-hand-store bargains. Given that mirrorless cameras such as the Samsung are now fairly long in the tooth, it’s likely that they too will fall into a pit of affordability before too long. One to look out for, perhaps.

Simple Samsung NX Remote Shutter Release From USB Cable

Samsung makes some nice cameras, but they have fallen into the trap of building proprietary controllers. Their NX models, for instance, have a micro USB port rather than the more usual 2.5mm socket for triggering the camera remotely. What’s a hacker to do?

[Niels] did some poking around, and found that it is pretty easy to trigger these cameras remotely, because Samsung simply moved the standard connections for half-press and full press of the shutter onto the USB socket: ground D+ (pin 3) and the camera focuses, then ground D- (pin 2) and the shutter is triggered. In his Instructable, he covers how to build a simple remote from a micro USB cable and a couple of switches.

Don’t feel left out if you have another type of digital camera: there are plenty of ways to build a simple shutter release switch with a few simple parts, or ways to put a microcontroller in control for more sophisticated shoots.