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Let’s be honest, Wifi has been in our lives for some considerable amount of time now. It’s been around in it’s current form since 1997 and many of us had bought into the technology early in the new millennium to beam our internet connections to our laptops and other devices.
For photography though, wifi has been somewhat of a slow burner. Up until a few years ago, most top level cameras required large clunky boxes bolted on to enable wifi. These days these wifi units have become much smaller and easier to use, but in addition, many cameras, particularly in the mirrorless sector now feature built-in wifi, negating the need for an add-on.
Whilst we all know what wifi is capable of with our smart devices and laptops, what are the uses we can put to in our day to day photography?
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This is one of the most used options for wifi in photography. Rather than remove the memory card and plug it into a reader, the camera or wifi adapter, it will transfer the images directly to your computer over a wifi connection. This can be all of the images that you have taken during a shoot at one time, or individually as they are shot.
This can be advantageous not only to studio photographers working on a tight deadline but also to photographers in the field who can easily transfer images whilst travelling.
For cameras without built in wifi, there is an option for wifi transfer that negates the need for an extra add-on for the camera, wifi enabled memory cards. Companies such as Eyefi produce SD cards that actually incorporate the wifi technology within the card itself.
Simply put the card into the camera, connect to a local wifi network or create an ad hoc network and the cards will beam your images back to your chosen device in real time. The cards themselves are not cheap, but the technology has matured so that they are a fast and reliable means of transfer.
For photographers on the move there are now a number of wifi enabled hard drive options. These allow your images to be beamed directly to a drive, negating the need for a computer. These images can be previewed using a tablet or smart phone. This reduces the weight that a travelling photographer need to carry.
Tethering can be wired or wifi enabled and is a process whereby the camera can be controlled remotely using a laptop. Earlier incarnations of tethering required the camera to be attached by a USB cable to the computer but these days with a wifi adapter or wifi enabled camera you can beam wirelessly to a computer.
The big advantages are no cables to get in the way and a much bigger distance can be maintained between the camera and computer. Shooting tethered allows you not only to preview the image live on screen but also control many aspects of the camera from your remote position. These include focus, exposure and ISO.
When an image is shot, it is automatically downloaded to a folder on a computer.
Similar to tethering, Live View allows the photographer to use a smart phone or tablet to preview and control their camera. Although the images are not beamed to the device, the photographer can mount it to the top of the camera via a hotshoe mount and use it as larger viewing screen and touch screen controller.
It is particularly useful when shooting video especially if combined with a small form factor tablet such as an iPad Mini, where the device can become a form or preview monitor and remote control combined.
Another use for wifi in cameras is the ability to instantly share your images. This might be to friends and family on social media, or to a cloud drive allowing you to send shots instantly to a client or to your studio for rapid post production.
You would need to be connected to an internet-enabled wifi network to do this but as an alternative, you can also connect to mobile telephone signals and upload using 3G or higher.
Wifi is a mature product yet I believe only in it’s infancy for the photographic world. In the future I foresee a lot more interconnectivity between our cameras and our smart devices, the latter becoming a way to seamlessly control the former.