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Insights & Thoughts

DSLR WiFi Connectivity: Valuable Feature or Marketing Gimmick? [Opinion]

By Anthony Thurston on October 28th 2013

In today’s market more and more cameras are getting wifi integrated into their bodies, and for cameras without built in wifi there are many options out there for controlling your dslr via wireless accessories. So what is all the hub bub about these wifi features and are they good features or not much more than marketing gimmicks?

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The answer here is very subjective, but I wanted to share my thoughts on the issue. I recently traded up (in my opinion) from an old Canon 7D, which does not have any wireless control capabilities beyond an IR remote, to a brand new full frame Canon 6D. One of the new features on the 6D that caught my attention was the built in Wifi connectivity, its something that I noticed and thought was neat but  I figured I would never use.

This is probably similar to what many of you think when you hear about wifi capabilities. I can say that after playing with it a bit at home and on a few shoots over the weekend that it is actually quite useful. In my case I was shooting a few seniors over the weekend, normally on my shoots the parent/adult ends up standing around bored (when im not having them hold a reflector for me, haha) or sometimes even just go wait in the car for the senior and I to do the shoot.

Since I wanted to try out the new wifi I pulled out my tablet (a Galaxy Tab 2 10.1) and let the parents watch on my tablet as the pictures came in. They were able to see in real time what the results of the shoot were. This probably sounds like a nightmare to some of you: what if you take a bad shot and they see it, what if this or what if that. Bottom line, they know you are not perfect and in the end they will enjoy the experience more so I say go for it.

DSLR Wifi Features

I feel like anything that can improve the experience for the senior or the parent (who has the $$ after all) is a win. In my case for both shoots that I used the wifi/tablet combination the parents and seniors thought it was awesome that they were able to see the images on a relatively large screen (when compared to the camera lcd). I even had the senior rate a few of her favorites right there so I could get a better idea of what sort of shots she liked from the shoot.

This is obviously just one implementation of wifi integration  and the abilities of each camera’s wifi integration vary, but if this is any indication as to how things are going I am pleased. It was really nice to see something that I assumed was a marketing gimmick actually turned out to work well and be a valuable feature.


I am not even touching on the ability to download images from the camera to your phone/tablet to share via social networking or email, send directly to a printer, etc. All of which are neat features as well, that for me I really haven’t needed to use yet. (I am working on a full review/overview on the wifi capabilities of the 6D, so stay tuned if you want more specifics on it)

So in my humble opinion, is the WifI connectivity on a DSLR a valuable feature or marketing gimmick? I say it is  a valuable feature to have as it gives you – or your client/assistants/etc – the ability to view images, control the camera, and make your life easier during a shoot. Are you going to use this in every niche of photography, no… not at all. But in my situation, where shooting portraits is a big part of my shooting time it turned out – surprisingly – to be a great feature and a way to differentiate the experience at my shoots from other local photographers (and that, as we all know, is a big part of the battle).

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I want to know what you think on this. Do you have a camera with built in wifi, or a camera with a wifi add-on? If so what are your thoughts on it, does it work well for you and do you find it useful? Share your thoughts in a comment below.

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Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Gary

    Do any of you use an Eye-fi sd card? You can use them in most cameras and don’t have to worry about your older camera not having built in WiFi. You can send raw or jpeg directly to most smart phones, tablets, pc’s. I have a Nikon d600 with dual sd slots. I shoot raw on card one and jpeg to my eye-fi card in slot 2. Faster upload to your chosen device that way. I use the jpegs to upload to Facebook and delete when done, then use my raw files to process in Lightroom.

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  2. Nick

    3 Scenarios where I found my Canon 6D wifi to be very useful.

    – I had to take a long exposure of a street view at night to capture the night life architecture and moving cars. I climbed up a 20 foot ladder in the center of the street, secured my camera up there, and climbed down. Now my Camera is secured up high, and I was able to capture my image from my IPAD. This was great because the time of year was mid winter and I was freezing, and if I lingered on the ladder I would have caused a little camera shake.

    -Engagement session. No need to bring ladders anymore! I now hook my camera on a monopod, and will strap the IPHONE to my wrist and use it to fire my camera.

    -Weddings: Just recently set up a sparkler shot that included all of the bridesmaids and the bride and groom. I was able to to get them all set up on one side of the swimming pool, while my camera was on the other side of the pool capturing their reflection in the water. I ended up lighting their sparklers, so it was great being able to be near them and still see the image I am getting when I take a picture, without having to walk back around the pool to see the screen. Also, everyone else loved seeing the picture too. :)

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  3. Didrik

    I have the weye feye and I love it. I use it for lightpainting. I’m able to set up my camera and never have to go back to it. I have live view where i can change everything including focus. Which saves me so much time in the dark stumbling around.

    I have my iphone stapped to my forearm with a black piece of fabric to cover the screen while the shutter is open.

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  4. Peter Mills

    I find myself using this to remote review my images post-shoot. Very helpful as the smartphone has much better resolution than the camera LCD. I am also beginning to set up my Canon 6D to shoot tethered to my laptop for indoor lightboxing and studio work.

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    • Anthony Thurston

      I also reviewed the images from the shoot, after the senior and parents left I just sat in the car and listened to the radio while I went through and did some quick rating. Made the workflow go much quicker when I got home.

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  5. Jay

    I love the idea of my camera having wifi connectivity. I will be upgrading my camer really soon, and this feature is definitely something I am going to look for. I was sure that I’d be able to trigger my camera using my iPhone and wifi, which is great. I bought myself an iPad mini and a card reader so that my clients could look at the photos right after each session, but it’s not very convenient because the photos take a while to download. Just like you Anthony, when I upgrade my camera I will be using the wifi feature to display the photos directly on my iPad. Pretty neat, in my opinion!

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  6. KristeenMarie

    I’m guessing my Mark III doesn’t have this feature – right?

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  7. Cassi

    I will be 100% sold once the cameras have GPS tracking abilities. My dslr got stolen while I was in Barcelona this summer, and it would’ve been awesome if I could have done a camera equivalent of “find my iphone.”

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  8. Matt Mikulla

    I have found the Wifi feature of the 6D to be extremely useful and powerful.

    Scenario 1. I was shooting some longer exposure landscapes that integrated car light trails in my image. There were stop lights out of the image controlling the flow of traffic.

    To time the shutter release correctly to get a good stream of traffic I walked around a corner to see the stop light change and triggered the shutter release from my iPhone.

    Scenario 2. I had to do some product photography last week. I set the camera on a tripod and connected it to EOS remote capture on my laptop wirelessly and had lightroom watch the folder.

    No USB wire to trip on and the images moved from the camera to the computer at a reasonable speed.

    The one thing that holds this technology back is Canon’s poor software development.

    Connecting the camera to your computer (Mac) is confusing. You have to run a tool in the background at login that watches for the camera. Their instructions do not say this. I had to search around on the web before I figured it out.

    The IOS app is fine for changing settings, adjusting focus and triggering the shutter release. However, you can’t set an exposure longer than bulb.

    Why in the world would they not build in a feature to set the exposure to a selected length of time? You still have to tether a remote to the camera. Such a waste of potential.

    The future of cameras is software integration. All cameras are good enough now. Canon needs to get it together.

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    • Anthony Thurston

      I can tell you why they didn’t allow you to input longer exposures, it would basically mean that no one would buy their overly priced intervelometers. Classic Canon.

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  9. NewbieJones

    I know this might sound silly but do you have to shoot JPG for this to work?

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    • Matt Mikulla

      You can shoot Raw. The image previews and images that can transfer to your phone/tablet might be JPG. Not sure about that because I haven’t used it that way.

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    • Anthony Thurston

      Nope, I shoot in RAW always. The image preview sent to your phone/tablet is a jpg file, but the RAW remains on the camera and can be downloaded to the tablet (i believe) if you need to. The JPG it sends to your phone/tablet is not full res, but it is large enough that I was happy with it.

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    • Michael Stagg | Light Scribe Creative

      Yes, you can shoot Raw. I’ve done so using the EOS utility. The images load slowly but you can view them on your computer as you shoot, no problem.

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