Are photographers ready for Wi-Fi?

19th Apr 2012 | 12:20

Are photographers ready for Wi-Fi?

Wi-Fi technology has been around for a while, but it's now becoming more available for photographers

Wi-Fi connectivity isn't exactly new, but it seems to have taken photographers and photography a while to get up to speed with it.

Over the last few years there has been a smattering of Wi-Fi enabled compact cameras introduced by the likes of Nikon and Sony, but they didn't really seize the imagination of the photo taking masses.

Meanwhile professional photographers could invest in expensive optional extras to allow them to upload images wirelessly. Canon's WFT-E6 Wireless File Transmitter, designed for the EOS-1DX, for example, is set to retail for £579.99, while the WFT-E4 II Wireless Transmitter for the EOS 5D Mark II sells for around £599, putting them out of reach of most enthusiasts.

There are plenty of Wi-Fi enabled printers around, but these have largely been seen as being useful for laptop users rather than photographer wanting to make prints direct from their camera.

Now, however, most of us have become acustomed to taking photographs on our mobile phones and sharing them with friends either by picture messaging or uploading them to social networking sites like Facebook. There must be lots of people who have decided to upgrade their image taking capability from a mobile phone to a dedicated camera and been frustrated to discover that they need to make a physical connection with a computer to share their images.

Wi-Fi for enthusiasts

With the announcements of Samsung's new NX line up and Nikon's WU-1a Wi-Fi unit for the freshly unveiled D3200, WiFi connectivity is set to be more readily available to enthusiast photographers and become part of mainstream photography.

Samsung NX20

Samsung has made the biggest step forward by incorporating Wi-Fi technology into the bodies of the NX20, NX210 and NX1000 (as well as in some of its recent compact cameras). The NX1000 even has a dedicated button to speed up connecting to a smartphone or a Wi-Fi network so that images can be shared, stored or backed-up.

Samsung NX1000

Naturally Samsung is hoping that this, and the 20.3Mp APS-C sized sensor that graces it's new NX range, will give its compact system cameras extra appeal for tech-savvy snappers looking to upgrade from a true compact camera or mobile phone.

Nikon WU-1a

With a suggested retail price of £54.99, however, Nikon's Wi-Fi adaptor for the D3200, which allows users to connect to smartphones and tablets, could become one of the most commonly seen camera accessories. After all, the 24.2Mp D3200 slots into the Nikon SLR range just above the D3100 which is one of the best selling SLRs of recent times.

Take control

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Nikon and Samsung have taken the Wi-Fi functionality a bit further than just transferring images. Both have free Android apps available, and iOS apps on there way, to allow smartphones and tablets to be used to control the camera.

As well as seeing the composed image on the screen, photographers can adjust key settings and trigger the shutter remotely.

Wildlife photography is one obvious application for this functionality, but it could prove useful for all sorts of situations - shooting from awkward angles and in bright sunlight for example, or snapping your kids while they are relaxed and playing rather than posing for the camera.

What next?

Samsung is the first manufacturer to have an interchangeable lens camera with built-in Wi-Fi connectivity. With its electronics background, wide-ranging product lines and Android know-how perhaps it will also be the first company to offer a CSC with apps to add extra functionality. These could add effects filters, or maybe even help set the lens to the optimum focus point using a hyperfocal distance app. There are countless possibilities.

If Nikon's new WiFi module takes off, perhaps the company will consider building the functionality in to its future cameras. And you can be sure that Canon will be keeping a very close eye on the situation.

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