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I need to take stereo images with good image clarity and close shutter timing.

USB web cams are an obvious option but they tend to have low clarity with lots of motion blur and synchronizing shutters from multiple cameras is not possible.

Modern action cams have API shutter control and good still image quality, but all that I have researched can only be controlled over their own wifi hotspot, preventing the processing computer from being connected to two actions cams simultaneously.

Tetherable point and shoot cameras are extremely rare, while DSLRs that support tethering start at around $500.

Is there a simple USB still camera available? Or an action cam or similar that allows USB tethering?

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If you do not require video level synchronization, you may be able to accomplish your objective by using a pair of Canon low-cost point-and-shoot cameras. I have a pair of mid-range Canon SX-200 IS cameras with USB connectors wired to a trio of 1.5v batteries and a switch.

The cameras have been loaded with Canon CHDK which is stored on the camera's SD card. It can be configured for auto-loading or manual activation (which I use) and has a tremendous script library. I've forgotten which feature I use that allowed the battery pack to trip the cameras, or if I needed it at all. I think I did, though.

The cameras are plugged into the battery pack. When the switch is held, it performs the auto-focus sequence, then when the switch is released, it trips the shutter on all the cameras plugged into the pack.

If you search for "trigger canon camera with usb" many results are available. My search results showed me that CHDK is needed to allow this feature.

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