DSLRemote for iPhone and iPod touch

In order to be successful in this business you need a lot of tools at your disposal. I mean not only physical tools like gear and software, but also intangible tools like a positive attitude and a penchant for keeping clients happy. Also, the ability to keep clients in awe of you is always a big help. I’ve stated here many times that I’m not a gear head. I’m perfectly willing to spend money on necessary gear. But my bar for what I deem necessary is very high. It’s a rare day when I’ll go buy something just because I think it’s cool or fun. Last week I made an exception to my “˜not unless it makes my work better” rule and purchased DSLRemote Pro for my iPhone.

DSLRemote allows the user to control most Canon and Nikon DSLRs directly from an iPhone (or iPod Touch.) The trick is that the camera must be tethered to a wi-fi enabled computer. That computer needs to be running a copy of DSLR server (which is a free download.) The download and installation of the server software were quick and painless. My initial tests were in the studio where I have a wireless network running. Subsequent tests using an ad-hoc network went smoothly as well.

I connected my Canon 5d to the computer, turned on the camera then launched the remote server application on the laptop. The server found the camera straight away and asked where I’d like to save the files (as opposed to on the cf card in the camera.) The server software also gives the option to save a duplicate of the image files for import into Lightroom. It’s important to note that when running the DSLR Server software you’ll not be able to run the manufacturer’s remote capture software. You can still use Aperture, Lightroom or other application to view your images, but you won’t be able to control the camera from the computer.

With the server software up and running on the laptop I launched the DSLRemote app on the iPhone. The first screen comes up asking me to identify the computer and camera I’d like to access. For our initial test we only had one tethered pair up and running so there was only one option. After selecting our networked computer we were directed to the meat of the application, the control window.

The user interface is dominated by the image display area with a large fire button and smaller control buttons filling the rest of the screen. Tapping the fire button fires the shutter very quickly, There’s certainly a bit of shutter lag but it’s much quicker than using the space bar. Once the image is shot the display screen shows them image in about five seconds on my system when shooting raw. When shooting in Large Fine Jpeg it took about 2 seconds. The app takes advantage of the built in accelerometer in the iPhone. If you rotate the device, the view will rotate as well, allowing for a better view of horizontal images. Viewing vertical images is a bit cumbersome as it requires you to rotate the iPhone to the horizontal position, wait while the os catches up, then rotate the phone again to an upside down position.

The app is available in Pro and Lite versions. Both will allow for remote firing of the camera, review of shot images, battery status and memory remaining (number of shots.) The Pro version also allows for control of shutterspeed, aperture, iso, light balance, image quality (raw, jpg etc.) and exposure compensation. There’s an intervalometer (which can be used as a self timer) and an auto-bracketing scheme. You can also indicate whether or not the camera should save images only to the computer, or to both the computer and the camera. On cameras with a live view function you can view the veiwfinder via the app. Once of the nicest features of the pro version is the zoom in feature. While reviewing a recently shot image, double tap the area you’d like to zoom into and the app will show you a 1:1 view — great for checking focus!

All in all this is a great app for impressing clients when on a shoot. I used it recently and had the client take the phone from my hand and walk it in to her boss to show her how cool we were! At $19.99 for the pro version, it’s a bit on the pricey side for iPhone apps, but the lite version is $1.99. Still, 20 bucks to have a client go “Wow!” is well worth it in my book. Remember, it’s all about keeping clients in awe.

You can learn more about DSLRemote here

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