Spectolar: Overview

Spectolar is a software for automatic tethered shooting. It registers movements via the webcam and shoots pictures using a thethered DSLR camera. The program is written in python for linux. It uses wxPython, openCV and gphoto2. You can download a debian package or the source code as ZIP archives.

The program is licensed under GNU General Public License. It is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but without any warranty. Please read the following help carefully before you start the program.

Required hardware

For minimal settings and testing purpose you just need a computer with a debian linux distribution installed (tested on Ubuntu 20.04) and a webcam. Pictures taken via webcam are always of bad qualitiy and hence for documentation only. The recommended hardware set consists of a webcam and a professional DSLR camera. The usual setting would look like this:

This program uses gphoto2 for communication with your digital camera. For a list of compatible DSLR cameras that can be controlled via cable see the documentation of gphoto2 or type ‚gphoto2 –list-cameras‘ into a terminal.


For standard installation just download the debian package, unzip it and open the .deb file with your software installation. The software depends on the following packages: python3-wxgtk4.0, python3-opencv and gphoto2. On Ubuntu 20.04 or similar distributions these packages will be installed automatically. You can start the software from your normal task center or by typing ’spectolar‘ on the command line of your terminal.


For a preview of the webcam click the first button in the toolbar. This could help setting the focus and adjust the position of your webcam. You can then start taking pictures by clicking the button ‚Photos‘. Make sure that your digital camera is plugged in but not mounted (right click on the camera icon to unmount it). For most cameras it is important to switch of the standby mode. Set the time to the highest value possible. I have tested this program with a Nikon Coolpix P900 and a Canon EOS 2000D. The Nikon P900 is a bridge camera and should be switched of, gphoto2 will turn it on. The EOS 2000D has to be switched on and timeout and auto focus have to be disabled. In case of trouble try gphoto2 from the command line.


By clicking on the button ’settings‘ you will get a window with the two tabs ‚general‘ and ‚advanced‘. You can change the path to the directory where the images will be saved. Per default it is the directory ‚Spectolar‘ in your home directory. There is also a slider for the threshold. A higher value means that there has to be more movement till a picture is taken. You can choose the webcam, the number of pictures to be taken in a series and the delay between the pictures and after a series.

The second tab contains fields for the frame rate of your webcam in FPS, the delay for the reset command ‚gphoto2 –reset‘ (0 for no reset) and the option for the measuring fields. Setting this to ‚3 x 3‘ will divide the webcam preview like this. Any movement over the threshold in each of these fields will cause a picture to be taken.

For testing purpose you can switch the mode to ‚Webcam / Webcam‘. With this option the program won’t need a digital camera (DSLR) and save the preview picture from your webcam into your image directory. It is highly recommended to leave the settings for width and height at 0. This would use the default values of your webcam. Wrong resolutions will let the program crash!

The settings are stored in a text file with the name ‚.Spectolar‘ in your home directory. You can edit this file with an editor or delete it to restore the default values.

Contact and download links

If you find any bugs you can contact me via email: richard.rode@univie.ac.at.

Debian package: https://unsertiergarten.files.wordpress.com/2021/01/spectolar.zip
Source code: https://unsertiergarten.files.wordpress.com/2021/01/spectolar-src.zip

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