Every now and then companies come up with new products, new ways of approaching the market and new ways for us customers, to spend our money. It feels like we are kids in a giant toyshop and all we can do is be mesmerized by the vast amount of toys and gadgets we are surrounded by. But wait a second; are all of these products really worth our money? Are they really useful or are we just victims of good marketing?
These are the questions I ask myself every time I go to a photography store and look at all the items they have to offer. Not only do they make you believe that some accessories can change your life but also, there is a desire to buy everything you see simply because it looks good.
While this applies to a variety of products I see on a daily basis, I finally found one that makes me feel like “This is exactly what I need!” You’re probably wondering, “What is he talking about?” Well, I’m talking about an innovative device that I recently had the chance to enjoy, the CamRanger.
What is the CamRanger you may ask? It is a small wireless router that allows you to send images from your camera to a portable device like an iPad, iPhone, laptop or any other Android phone or device. If you’re familiar with Capture One and its tethering mode, then you’ll immediately know what I‘m talking about. Let’s go into more detail…
You see, the CamRanger is basically a small Wi-Fi router that you connect to your Camera via its USB port, then all you have to do is download the free application for your device (in my case IPad 3) and you’re set. Once you’ve downloaded the app on your device, you can launch it and activate your CamRanger via the internet by typing in your activation PIN that is found on the back of your CamRanger. It’s really simple to set up and will only take you 5 minutes (or less).
When I first opened the box it was packaged in, I thought it would be a bit annoying to carry it around, but once it’s connected to your camera you realize it’s not that much of a problem. The CamRanger comes with a small pouch that gives it an extra layer of protection and you can easily put it in your pocket, mount it on your belt, or even come up with other creative ways of carrying it around (and it’s very small).
What about its use? What does it offer?
I personally found the CamRanger’s interface really easy to use. Not only does it tether your images, but you also have a variety of options and adjustments that you can make to your camera settings. Basically, as mentioned earlier, this is a mobile version of Capture One. As seen on the previous image, you can change your camera’s settings, switch to live view (imagine!) and even navigate through other options like HDR, Time-lapse or Micro Focus Adjustment. Something I found quite amazing is that I could see, in live view, how my settings would affect the image’s exposure as I was playing around with the shutter speed and other settings. This apparently does not work with all the cameras, but it worked fine with the D700 I used on the day.
The most important part for me, when shooting portraits, is to get my focus right and this is something the CamRanger does really well. Tapping once on the part of the image where you want to focus, adjusts the focus accordingly and tapping twice allows you to zoom in to see if your focus is right. And that’s not all! Once you’ve zoomed in you can actually adjust the focus even more by using arrows. It really has everything you need to control your camera wirelessly, and I’m sure, with time, they will come up with additional functions.
I do lot of portrait work, so during my portrait sessions I tend to move around quite a lot, making sure I get the right angles and this is probably when the CamRanger finds its limit. Why limit? Simply because every time you try a different angle, it means you have to adjust your camera, which will probably be on a tripod and that’ll be time consuming. But then again, it really depends on your personal style. If you shoot with a tripod a lot you will enjoy the wireless controls it offers, but if you don’t then you will probably just use the CamRanger as an image viewer, which at the end of the day still remains quite a flexible tool.
Just like every device it has it’s own limitations and imperfections. I shoot quite fast and move around a lot, so I found the CamRanger quite limiting for how I shoot. I think that it’s a device that would really be more efficient for studio work, landscape photography or for any kind of still photography.
As a portrait photographer the CamRanger comes in really handy for image viewing, because not only do you get to view the images on a bigger screen but also, your client gets to see what images you are getting as you are shooting, which is really important, especially when doing some commercial work. I personally find it amazing as a tethering tool. I’ve used other tethering methods in the past and all I can say is that the CamRanger is the best device I’ve had to use thus far.
At the end of the day, such a device is limited to your own creativity, there is so much you can do with it. I believe it’s a must have in your photographic arsenal.