Cheat sheet: In-camera Wi-fi

For most of us, Wi-Fi makes life a bit less cluttered and that little bit easier, and it’s hard to imagine having to return to a life tangled in snaking cables. Camera manufacturers have been a little slow to react, with Canon being the first to launch a DSLR with built-in Wi-Fi (the EOS 6D). But what was once seen as a ‘nice to have’ option is becoming a standard feature. There are a number of accessories on the market that can bring Wi-Fi to cameras that don’t have it, but having built-in Wi-Fi adds convenience – it’s one less thing to have to fork out for, and certainly one less thing to potentially lose.

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Wi-fi: What's the point?

Being able to send an image straight from the camera to be printed on a Wi-Fi enabled printer or to display it on a TV is handy. But it’s the prospect of sharing images online as you take them and being able to control your camera and take pictures with a mobile device that makes things interesting.

Being able to change settings and shoot remotely using a smartphone can enable you to get shots that would be too difficult or impossible to achieve if you had to stay stood behind the camera. 

For instance, it opens up the possibility of placing the camera down and retiring to a safe distance in order to record images of skittish wildlife. Documentary photographers equipped with cameras that lack fold-out LCD screens may appreciate the fact that they can position their cameras at a low level or in other awkward positions and use a wireless connection to frame their shots without having to look through the viewfinder or rear monitor. And landscape photographers may appreciate the ability to instantly share scenics that have been synced to their smartphone.

Read more: Cheat sheet: Landscape photography checklist

Then of course there’s the prospect of shooting in a studio with the camera wirelessly tethered to Lightroom – so no more trip hazards – or using a camera manufacturer’s own software for remote Live View shooting and making use of a large monitor to check focus and composition up close, as well as triggering the camera remotely for shake-free shots. 

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Connection challenge

As you can see, there’s plenty to get excited about with built-in Wi-Fi. But it’s not an entirely seamless experience. The initial set-up process can be tricky; the key is to follow the instructions on the back of the camera and on the device in the order that they appear. When you first activate the camera’s Wi-Fi, you’ll need to create a nickname so that you can identify the camera on a Wi-Fi network. Many of the Wi-Fi functions require a connection to a network, be that a public one or your own internet connection at home, although you can turn the camera into a Wi-Fi access point when you want to control it directly.

Depending on your camera model, you may have to run through a number of steps each time you pair your camera with your phone in order to share an image you’ve just taken. You may have to disconnect and reconnect to Wi-Fi, quit out of the camera app on the phone and relaunch it, and more. That being said, the benefits of built-in Wi-Fi unquestionably outweigh the niggly drawbacks.

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