Why Wireless Tethering Will Improve Your Photography


As a photographer, shooting tethered is one of the best ways to improve your photography skills. Tethering helps you zoom into the details of your shots on a big screen so you can make adjustments as you go. It also encourages collaboration by keeping your photo subject or client engaged if they’re on location with you. In this article, I’ll explain what tethered shooting is and why wireless tethering with an app like CamRanger is the best choice.

What is tethering?

By definition, tethering is when a mobile device shares its internet connection with another device. This can be done through Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or a physical connection cable (e.g. USB). Many mobile phones can tether to share their Wi-Fi with laptops or tablets. Similarly, cameras can tether as well. But in the case of tethered shooting with a camera, the purpose is to transmit images from the camera directly to another device such as a laptop computer or tablet.

CamRanger Wireless Tethering 11

The cheapest and most efficient way to shoot tethered is to use a wired connection. All you need is a standard USB cable that connects to your camera and tethering software such as Capture One, Adobe Lightroom, or DSLR Controller. Wired tethering is very cheap, and it’s extremely quick. There’s practically no delay between pressing the shutter on your camera and seeing the resulting image pop up on your screen. Get more info and a detailed step-by-step guide to wired tethering here.

What is wireless tethering?

However, the main disadvantage with wired tethering is the cable. It can easily get unplugged from your camera or laptop and mess up the tethered connection. The cable can also be a hazard on set, causing you or your photo subject to trip over it. This is where wireless tethering can come in handy. If you shoot on location and can’t be bothered with a cable limiting your movement, wireless tethering is an option you may want to explore.

When you tether wirelessly, you plug a device such as CamRanger into your camera and use it to create a wireless network. Any device such as a laptop or tablet can join that wireless network and your images are transmitted wirelessly every time you press the shutter button. You can even remotely control the camera from your tethered computer or tablet.

CamRanger Wireless Tethering 10

Why CamRanger is the Best Wireless Tethering Device

There are several wireless tethering devices available, and I tried many of them out in search of the one that would work best. My devices requiring connectivity included a Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 6D cameras, Android smartphone, and Apple laptop computer. Although it’s the most expensive, CamRanger is my wireless tethering device of choice. Here’s why:

1. Minimal stuff in the box

The contents in the CamRanger box are very minimal, consisting of just a few cables, a case, simple instructions, and the unit itself. I really loved the zippered case with a carabiner that easily fit all of the items. One thing that would be nice to have is the CamRanger hot shoe mounting device, which has to be purchased separately.

CamRanger Wireless Tethering

2. Intuitive setup

After unboxing CamRanger, setup is pretty simple. Begin by downloading the CamRanger app to your tethering device of choice. Currently, you can download the CamRanger app for iOS (iPhone and iPad), Android devices, Kindle Fire, and both Mac and Windows computers.

Next, switch on the CamRanger device so that it broadcasts a Wi-Fi signal. This might take a minute or two. Then connect your tethering device, with the app installed, to the CamRanger Wi-Fi network using the CamRanger’s serial number as the Wi-Fi password. Boom! You’re ready to shoot!

CamRanger Wireless Tethering 01

CamRanger desktop app allows for wireless tethering and remote camera control.

3. Compatible with Canon and Nikon

CamRanger will work with both Canon and Nikon DSLRs. For a full list of compatible cameras, check out their website.

How CamRanger actually works

Whenever you shoot tethered with CamRanger, the device stores image previews in a cache on your device. The actual files are still written to your camera’s CF or SD memory card like usual. While the wireless transfer of images can definitely be slow, this process can be sped up if you change your camera preferences to shoot in JPG only, or RAW + JPG. Transferring JPG images goes much faster than RAW images.

Another huge benefit of CamRanger is the option to switch the app into Client Mode. This allows you to hand your tethered device over to your client to preview images created in real time, without allowing them to remotely control your camera so you can keep shooting. It’s a clever feature that really adds value.

CamRanger Wireless Tethering 11

In practice, there are a few limitations of CamRanger to be aware of. First, note that wireless tethering still has a limited range of about 100-150 feet. If your camera and connected device drift outside of this range, you risk losing connectivity. Second, CamRanger does have a decent battery life of 5-6 hours by itself, but using it in conjunction with Live View on your camera can drain your camera batteries quickly.

CamRanger Positive Features

  • Very easy to setup and start using immediately
  • Built-in features include focus stacking, bracketing, and intervalometer
  • Minimal pieces, so it is easy to travel with
  • Lets clients easily see my images and give feedback
  • Reduces time in post-processing by making real-time adjustments when shooting
  • Eliminates the long, hazardous USB cable needed for wired tethering

What about built-in Wi-Fi?

If you have a camera with built-in Wi-Fi, you can probably remote control your camera and perform some tethering functions. As an example, I have the Canon 6D DSLR which has Wi-Fi connectivity. This is great for wirelessly transmitting images to my mobile phone and for doing some remote camera control via the Canon Camera Connect mobile phone app. However, no such app exists for my laptop, so I cannot wirelessly connect to my computer without using another device and USB cable. This is why I still use CamRanger to shoot tethered from my laptop, even with my Wi-Fi enabled camera.

CamRanger Alternatives

There are a couple of other popular CamRanger alternatives that also permit you to do wirelessly tethering. I tried both of these options out and found they weren’t nearly as comprehensive or reliable as CamRanger.

In Conclusion

Do you shoot tethered? What do you think about the pros and cons of wireless tethered shooting? Let me know in the comments below!

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Suzi Pratt is an internationally published Seattle event and food photographer. Her photos appear regularly in Eater and Getty Images. She is also a blogger who teaches others how to run a successful photography business.

  • Sorry Suzi, but the paragraph titled : What about built-in Wi-Fi? is factually incorrect. The EOS 6D can use the Canon EOS Utility software for Windows and Mac computers to give remote control over the camera’s built-in WiFi. It actually provides greater control and flexibility than the Camera Connect App does.

  • debbie.flores

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  • garcia davis

    The tehtering connection is something i have tried and i must say it has the capacity of good photography. But the only problem i seem to have with it is the cable possibly removing which can cause damage to your work. I really dont accept this for photography work.

  • I don’t care about the blatant sale here. But the 6D part is misleading. You can do this perfectly with 6D’s built in wi-fi.

  • I have a camranger which I use with an Android tablet. Drives me nuts! I went and bought A TPLink mr3040 router for $40 (the same one camranger uses) and installed the QDSLR version firmware that is free to download from their website. Does everything the camranger does and more but this actually works. Plus, the camranger costs about $300. QDSLR cost the price of the TPLink router, $40.

    Maybe I should sell the camranger, anyone wanna buy it?


  • Thanks for the comment, Brian. I hadn’t tried using EOS Utility as I typically shoot tethered with Capture One or Lightroom. I tried wireless tethered shooting with the Canon 6D and EOS Utility program today and it definitely worked, so thank you for the tip!

    My only observations:

    1. Canon 6D Wi-Fi + EOS Utility drained my Canon 6D’s battery significantly quicker than shooting tethered with the CamRanger.

    2. EOS Utility doesn’t offer the client sharing features that CamRanger does. In particular, I love CamRanger Share, which allows clients to view the images or live feed of the shoot from their own device.

    Other than that, EOS Utility + Canon built-in Wi-Fi is a solid alternative solution for tethering.

  • Thanks for sharing your hack, Adrian! If I were even slightly tech-savvy I might your method, but will stick to what I have for now. Still, great tip for anyone else out there 🙂

  • Thanks for the comment! Brian mentioned that this was possible using Canon EOS Utility, which I hadn’t considered using before (usually I go straight to Lightroom or Capture One for tethered shooting). I tried EOS Utility and discovered that it is indeed possible. A couple of reasons why I still think CamRanger has a slight edge, but definitely a workable solution in EOS Utility.

  • jessica_lacy

    I was paid 104000 dollars last 12 month period by doing a web based task and consequently I was able to do it by w­orking in my own time f­o­r several hours on a regular basis. I used work opportunity I found out on the web and so I am delighted that I was able to make such decent money. It is genuinely newbie-friendly and I am so grateful that I discovered out regarding it. Have a look at what I do… http://www.cat.org.uk/snip/93439

  • dnsfoig

    I am in the market to start wireless tethered shooting & wondering which way to ‘jump’?
    Has anyone any experience with TP-Link mr 3040 with Mac IOS 10 platform as the dslr dashboard seems to be for Android devices. Thanks

  • Joe Treleven

    Thanks for sharing Suzi. I had a CamRanger and now have a Tether Tools case air. I don’t like either one due to the fact that their so SLOW in transfer to either a laptop (MacBook) or tablet (iPad). And slow in scrolling through images on the iPad – showing clients on the spot. My iPad is old, but, does that even matter? I know the technology is still pretty awesome, but, waiting for a raw file to show up after the click instead of almost instantly through a cord is still the way to go for me. Instant gratification here!

  • rt83021

    You mentioned about “However, no such app exists for my laptop, so I cannot wirelessly connect to my computer without using another device and USB cable” Check out http://digicamcontrol.com/
    I can use it on my lap top (Dell) via WiFi and the Nikon WiFi adapter, with my D5200. And it works better and has more options, than shooting tethered with LR.

  • Mark Bolen

    Just received and am very disappointed with the length of the USB cord from camera to CamRanger. It’s so short you can’t use it in your pocket and shoot.

  • Interesting hack. Went to their website though and didn’t find any firmware listed for QDSLR. Can I verify what website you went to? Was it this one? http://www.tp-link.in/download/TL-MR3040.html. If I can find this firmware that you’re referring to then I may try this option instead of the pricier Camranger. Thanks for the tip.

  • I was paid 104000 bucks past 12 month period by doing an on-line task and consequently I was able to do it by w­orking in my own time f­o­r several hours each day. I utilized work opportunity I stumbled upon over the internet and therefore I am thrilled that I was capable to make such decent money. It’s genuinely newbie-friendly and therefore I am so grateful that I discovered out regarding it. Have a look at what I do… http://libr.ae/zk4u

  • william gaffney

    Canon Camera Connect;
    Another non-effort from Canon. Stone age crudeness in the interface and functionality of this app. Used with my 5dsr $4k camera that didn’t come with a 5dollar wifi card built-in…Pathetic from Canon yet some how what we’ve come to expect.?

  • I’ve used the TPLink method as Adrian has stated for years and it works beautifully! I did the hack -very simple if you can follow instructions – and then use the wifi version of DSLR controller -vastly superior to Canon’s software and most others out there. You can even do remote focus stacking with it! I also made my own hot shoe bracket for the TP link! I use it with my smart phone or my tablet. Attached is an example of my setup. Sorry for the quality. It was taken with my cell phone but you get the idea. I spent $40 for the TPLink, $10 for the flash bracket and another $25 for the tripod bracket/holder for the tablet. Way less than just the Cam Ranger itself! https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5c787a5ae0094d27f2f4bdb286cfeb844f2a2ccbb1fb0505b131728f456f3dd8.jpg

  • I can’t think of a single camera company who has managed to make a decent Wi-Fi app yet. Sad 🙁

  • Interesting, I actually think the CamRanger USB cord is too long! I can stick it in my pocket and still have too much excess cord. Maybe they send out different cord lengths!

  • Go to the QDSLR site. The firmware is free to download there

  • Silver Eagle

    What about the best …. Toshiba flashair…. and the free FlashAirSync app for mac?

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