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Gadget Bag: Look! No Wires!
Built-in wireless features have most often been found in the compact camera market, frequently viewed as a way to quickly share photos with social-media networks.
But now the technology has taken on a wider scope, with manufacturers bringing the technology to higher-end cameras, triggers and card readers, and incorporating additional creative control and design. To this end, photographers are now able to use wireless features in every step of the workflow, picking and choosing which wireless features best adapt to individual needs.
Olympus OM-D E-M1
Typically, most wireless technology has followed the schema of using a proprietary app on your smart device to connect to your camera for viewing and transfer of photos. This is still the norm with many, but some manufacturers are adding control functions to the app, or eliminating the smart device intermediary and integrating apps ability in the camera itself.
Using a QR code for quick connection, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 mirrorless camera (www.getolympus.com) uses the IO Share App for asset and transfer, but takes wireless control a step further, giving you the ability to preview composition, make basic setting adjustments and use live-touch autofocus, as well as trigger the shutter from a distance. You can transfer images to up to four different smart devices. List Price: $1,399.
Sony (www.blurb.com) has taken the smartphone-as-viewfinder concept to the extreme in the QX line of compact Lens Style cameras. Relying exclusively on wireless or NFC connections to turn your smartphone into a real-time viewfinder, Sony has completely removed the optical viewfinder and LCD screen from the back of the DSC-QX100 and DSC-QX10 cameras, while maintaining a high-quality sensor identical to the RX100 II. In doing so, creative options multiply. While you can physically connect the QX camera to your smartphone for a traditional camera feel, shooting with the two parts separated provides the ability to capture new angles and perspectives in a fluid, organic and comfortable way. Additionally, images are saved to both the camera’s internal SD card and the smartphone for instant sharing and backup. Estimated Street Price: $500 (DSC-QX100); $250 (DSC-QX10).
Breaking away entirely from the smart device-as-controller concept, the Samsung Galaxy NX (www.samsung.com) uses an integrated Android 4.2 Jelly Bean Operating System for 3G/4G and WiFi connectivity. This makes it possible to upload and share your images to social media directly from your camera, as well as download additional Android apps. The app functionality gives you the ability to edit photos and videos from the Galaxy NX before sharing. You can also upload to Dropbox to access your assets from any smart device or computer. Estimated Street Price: $1,599.
WiFi Memory Cards
So far, built-in WiFi technology has been confined to compact system cameras and smartphones. But for DSLR shooters who are craving the convenience of wireless control, WiFi SD cards may be the solution you’re looking for.
These WiFi SD cards look and work just like other SD cards in that they save your images to the card as you shoot, and if you choose, you can use a card reader to retrieve your photos and videos. But these cards also have built-in WiFi capabilities that connect to your computer, tablet or smartphone while the card is still inserted in the camera from a distance, giving you the ability to view and transfer your files without touching the camera itself.
While this wireless capability is appealing to anyone who doesn’t want to risk safety by running cords through a location site, the ability to both view and transfer files wirelessly from your workhorse camera is also a particular benefit for wildlife photographers working with camera traps, so that you aren’t disturbing your setup or the peace of the environment. In a similar fashion, for underwater enthusiasts, transferring files wirelessly reduces the number of times you need to uncase your camera from the housing, thereby reducing the probability of flooding your gear.
Eye-Fi 2 GB Wireless Card
The Eye-Fi Pro X2 card (www.eye.fi) uses a free app to connect to your iOS and Android devices and connects directly to your computer when the camera is turned on. When out of wireless range, it creates its own WiFi connection for smartphone and tablet delivery, with a range of up to 90 feet outdoors and 45 feet indoors. It’s also one of the few cards to transfer RAW files wirelessly. Estimated Street Price: $89 (16 GB).
The Flucard Pro (www.flu-card.com) shares assets between smartphones, tablets and computers, as well as other devices using Flucards. It uploads to a server to create more memory space on the card as well as back up your files, from which you can also share, organize and print your images. Estimated Street Price: $52 (8 GB).
WiFi Remotes & Viewers
The ability to trigger and control your camera from a distance is important for catching wildlife in their natural environment, setting up unique angles in tight or uncomfortable spaces, and gathering time-lapse images. For cameras not already WiFi-enabled, this is all possible with a corded trigger, but the freedom of physical mobility to set up a base camp, scout nearby locations, move between cameras or simply take in the neighboring scenery with all your camera controls in hand is a time-saving perk. Many wireless remote triggers use different wireless mediums and give different levels of remote control.
Hähnel Giga T Pro II
The Hähnel Giga T Pro II (www.rtsphoto.com) uses the 2.4 GHz worldwide radio frequency, transmitting through objects such as walls and floors at up to a 100-meter range. This trigger can be programmed for a self-timer delay, an interval mode for time-lapse, including a burst mode, as well as single and continuous shots. The backlit remote is particularly useful for visibility during night shoots. Estimated Street Price: $93.
Compatible with over 300 different camera models, the Triggertrap 2.0 (triggertrap.com) smartphone app connects to an SLR camera using the Triggertrap WiFi-enabled dongle. Triggertrap then allows you to control settings, including basic shutter control, intervalometer with bulb ramping for sunrise and sunset time-lapse capture, Sensor Controls for shutter release based on sound and vibrations, and DistanceLapse for shutter release based on distance, perfect when driving, biking or boating. These controls, including time-lapse, may continue to run in the background when your phone is using another app or when it’s locked to save battery power. When you’re in a location without WiFi capabilities, the dongle connects to your smartphone via the device’s Personal Hotspot mode. List Price: $31 (Dongle Kit); the app is free.
CamRanger (www.camranger.com) offers complete camera control, photo/video viewing and high-resolution file transfer for Canon and Nikon DSLRs at up to a 150-foot range. Connecting to your camera via USB, it then turns your iOS device into a control pad using its own WiFi connection, making it particularly useful in remote locations. Detailed camera controls, such as live touch focus, exposure bracketing and white balance, are easily adjusted, along with HDR and intervalometer settings. List Price: $299.
WiFi Card Readers
Once you’ve shot your images, sans cables, it’s natural for your focus to shift to image transfer, viewing and sharing capabilities. There are now a handful of small, pocket-sized wireless readers that provide their own wireless connection, making these tasks simple to do on location. Utilizing proprietary apps, each device has the ability to connect to multiple mobile devices at once. Through this connection, not only can you conveniently transfer files between the card and your smart device, but you can also view and share photos and videos on the card or device.
Kingston’s MobileLite Wireless (www.kingston.com) is compatible with iOS and Android devices, and includes USB, SDHC/SDXC and microSD readers. It can also be used with your computer as a wired reader. With up to five hours of continuous usage, it can stream three videos to three separate devices. With a built-in battery, it can be used as an emergency phone charger. List Price: $59.
The SanDisk Connect Wireless Media Drive (www.sandisk.com) connects to your computer, tablet and smartphone and reads SDHC/SDXC cards. In addition to being a reader, it also has its own internal memory, making it a convenient on-the-go storage device. It streams up to five different HD videos to separate devices at the same time and operates for up to eight hours of continuous streaming on a single charge. Estimated Street Price: $79 (32 GB); $99 (64 GB).