Remote camera control

Gear I use: CamRanger Wireless Transmitter

Testing the CamRanger in my home town of Edinburgh during the Edinburgh Festival Fireworks

Testing the CamRanger in my home town of Edinburgh during the Edinburgh Festival Fireworks

I first took notice of CamRanger when I saw the wireless transmitter device being used in a video posted on YouTube by German action sports photographer Lorenz Holder. He was using the CamRanger to trigger his camera remotely using his iPad, which was also replicating what his camera was seeing (similar to Nikon’s Live View).

Naturally, I was curious (not just because Lorenz’s work is excellent) but because, as part of an on-location workstation I was setting up, I was interested in technology that would enable me to capture images on location and immediately view them on my laptop or iPad without the need for a tethered cable. CamRanger, I’ve found, is such a device. It offers a number of other solutions (e.g. off-camera live view as Lorenz was using above - plus the ability to adjust your camera settings as you view the live view - as well as focus stacking for macro photography) but I mainly use it for its ability to share and rate images on-location so I or an Art Director can confirm we’re capturing images that meet the client’s brief.

CamRanger is simply a small plastic Wifi router. It works by generating its own Wifi signal - in town or in the backcountry - that you can connect your mobile device, tablet or laptop to. Plug the CamRanger device into your camera using the USB cable provided, switch it on to generate a Wifi signal and then, once the devices are paired, you can control your camera or share images to a third party device using the CamRanger app.

These are the CamRanger features I find of most value;

1. Sharing images on my iPad - Client Mode on the CamRanger app provides you with the ability to take photos and have your images display as high-resolution JPEGs on your (or a client’s) iPad. To do this, you set your camera to shoot Raw files + Basic JPEGs and make sure the CamRanger app is installed on the iPad and Client Mode is switched on (Note - Client Mode is not available for the iPhone). You can then simply hand the iPad to the client or Art Director and ask them to use the in-built Rating system (1 to 4 stars) to mark up their preferred images for selection or for further review.

2. Sharing images on multiple iPads or mobile devices - Separate from the CamRanger app is the CamRanger Share app. You can download the CamRanger Share app to a number of separate devices and then use the main CamRanger app to wirelessly shareimages to multiple people, e.g. a Creative Director and an Art Director or an Art Director and the client. A nice feature of the Share app is you can selectively share images and only share the images you choose.

3. Sharing images on my laptop - US-based photographer Von Wong provides details on his website for how to synchronise CamRanger with your laptop and import images into Adobe Lightroom using the ‘watched folder’ functionality.

The reasons I prefer using my laptop (as part of my on-location workstation) rather than an iPad or iPhone are;

a.) I can use the full-screen option in Adobe Lightroom to view images more clearly

b.) I can have a backup - I carry a Tethertools USB cable in case the wireless approach doesn’t work (it’s not yet not worked but I like the comfort of an alternative option)

c.) I can backup images on location to a portable hard drive using an automator script or GoodSync software. So I have a copy of my images on card, on my laptop and on a hard drive before I’ve even got home.

4. Camera LiveView - Sometimes, when shooting landscapes, you don’t want to or it’s difficult to look through the viewfinder. LiveView on the CamRanger app allows you to position your camera anywhere within a reasonable distance and view the composition directly from your iPad or iPhone.

What I like about CamRanger

  • It’s small and lightweight - which is always a bonus when I have to carry gear into remote places

  • The ability to be able to review images on a bigger screen - all images have a tendency to look in focus on a small LCD screen

  • It forces me to shoot slower and really think about the work I’m producing - valuing quality over quantity

  • It enables me to receive sign-off for images on location - meaning I can focus on these images in post-production and deliver work quicker for my clients

What I’d like to see improved

  • A proper full screen view on the iPad - rather than a 7/8th view with a logo along the bottom

  • Pinch and zoom - The CamRanger is always reminding me to double-click to zoom in on images on playback

  • The ability to set Client Mode on the iPhone - simply because it’s more lightweight to take outdoors than an iPad

  • Longer battery life - I find using the CamRanger chews through my Nikon D4S camera batteries much quicker than normal. The CamRanger battery life I find more than sufficient but I carry a spare just in case