Once in awhile you come across a piece of software that's too good to be true. And when it's free on top of being great, well... you can't help but feel a little guilty.
Wait, what? Sofortbild.
It's basically a freeware version of Nikon Capture. And it works. Boy does it ever work.
I'd stumbled upon it by chance about a year ago, but didn't really have a need for it at the time; Aperture 2's built-in tethering was enough for my needs and working fine. Plus, it was a very basic beta application. Promising yes, but not quite there yet.
This all changed last week when I decided I was fed up with Aperture 3's dismal tethering support. I don't shoot tethered very often so while I was aware of the problems, it hadn't been much of a hindrance so far. This time however, I wanted this feature to work - and it still wasn't cooperating (with all the latest updates). We're talking Hanging City. Shoot a few pics, hang on import. Force quit. Shoot a few pics, hang on imp... well, you get the idea. I tried changing cables, various lengths etc. No go. And I knew Aperture was the culprit (the LR demo had no problems, nor did DSLR Camera Remote).
Off I go
So I went looking for this strangely named app again. I'm really glad I did.
Not only does Sofortbild work, but it has an impressive feature set that includes bracketing, interval shooting, timer shooting, an inspector with histogram, EXIF, even GPS if your camera supports it.
AND: while you can use it on its own, it can send the pics directly to an Aperture project. Fast. Without hanging or crashing. Would you look at that.
Using Sofortbild and Aperture is seamless. A short delay for the import but that's it. You can even keep Aperture in full-screen mode while Sofortbild quietly does its work in the background. It's also much more robust: powering down the camera simply makes it disappear from Sofortbild's window, without any hiccups. Power it up again and it's back, ready to shoot. And since Aperture isn't controlling the camera itself, it doesn't complain and follows along - very different from it's flaky native tethering feature.
Also different from Aperture: when connected my D300 switches to PC mode and doesn't write files to the memory card.
Here are some screenshots for you:
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Now, why is an independent developer able to achieve all this - with a beta application no less - and not Apple? Beats me. Of course to be fair, they do have a lot more on their plate. But still, it's a basic feature that should work. Period.
For the moment Sofortbild only supports Nikon DSLR bodies but there are plans for other manufacturers as well. And while it's free, you can make a donation.
As far as I'm concerned this is one dev who truly deserves it.