Pro Review: onOne DSLR Camera Remote for iPhone and iPod Touch

By Jack Reznicki, Cr.Photog.Hon.M.Photog., API

Don’t you just love it when software does what you want it to do, even goes beyond your expectations, and is relatively inexpensive? The new remote DSLR app by onOne Software for the iPhone and the iPod Touch is just that. A $19.99 app that lets you not only fire and control the settings on your Canon EOS camera (and very soon your Nikon) remotely but is also simple and elegant, with some neat surprises. Like an easy to use intervalometer. 

If you don’t want the extras, you can even get a simple version that fires your camera and reviews the images, for $1.99. Yes folks, no typo, just under 2 bucks.

You do need to have your camera tethered to a WiFi enabled laptop or even a small net top computer via USB cable for it to work. Once that’s done, you are set up on a private network connection directly to your camera. You pay for and download the app from the iTunes App Store, load it to your iPhone or iPod Touch. Then download and install the free DSLR Camera Remote Server software from the onOne website onto your computer, and off you go. Just remember to turn off your camera connection software, Canon Utility in my case, or the app will read “busy” when you go to connect. I was amazed and pleasantly surprised with how easy it was to install and have it running. None of the usual hair pulling.
 

200906we_iphone1.jpg

On a recent shoot for the Toys R Us Special Needs Catalog, I set up a Canon EOS 5D Mark II at the ceiling of my studio to capture a bird’s eye view of my shoot. While the camera was tethered, I was not. I could go anywhere and either take a photo and see it come up on my handheld iPod Touch, or I could set it quickly to Live View and get a real time motion view of what the camera saw. I could watch from my office, which assistant was working and which was napping. At any point, I could hit the “fire” button and take a photo. Too dark? Wrong white balance setting? Well, at a touch on my iPod Touch I could change the exposure, the white balance, the shooting mode from manual to automatic, change the EV, the ISO, even the color space. No need to pull out a ladder and contort my head to look at the camera settings. Or worry about how it might look later, as I can see it as it captures. Think of the great possibilities of shooting from remote. Like photographing from a bird blind, self-portraits, interacting with a child on set or shooting from hard to be at places, like behind a basketball backboard.

iphone-mockup-2.jpg

You also have the option to record your image files to the computer or both the computer and your CF card. I love redundancy, so I shoot to both.

During my shoot, since I was shooting and couldn’t be in two places at once, taking photos of me taking photos, the solution was the built in intervalometer. The controls are very simple to set. You set the total number of shots you want and at what intervals you want the camera to fire. One shot an hour, one shot ever 2 seconds? I set up my camera to take a photo every 30 seconds. One shot every 30 seconds is 2 shots a minute, 60 minutes to an hour, equals, if I remember 5th grade math, 120 shots an hour, times 6 hours of shooting will yield 720 shots. So I set the controls to take 800 shots to be safe. I will later take all the images and make a Quicktime movie of the stills. Fun to see us all on the shoot, scurrying around like super fast ants.

It’s easy, it’s quick, it’s simple, and it’s fun. What a pleasant surprise. Can’t wait to see what other apps come down the pike.

Coming soon, an upgrade to the onOne DSLR Camera Remote will have this interface:

FutureScreen.jpg



Cameras supported at this writing:
(* Indicates camera support for LiveView preview mode.)

Firewire Connection:
Canon EOS 1D Mark II, 1Ds Mark II, 1D Mark II N

USB Connection:
Rebel XT/350D/Kiss Digital N

20D
5D


Rebel XTi/400D/Kiss Digital X

Rebel Xsi*/450D*/Kiss X2*

Rebel XS*/1000D*/Kiss F*

30D

40D*

50D*

5D Mark II*

1D Mark III*

1Ds Mark III*
 

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Comments (20)

How cool is that?!!! Technology is a wonderful thing.

Carol Andrews:

Whoa! This is so awesome!Thanks Jack for the Review and Joan for posting this....will be sharing this for sure!!!

This one looks great. Now all I need is an iPhone.
This app alone is worth buying it.

Mike O.:

this app is almost perfect. if i would not need the computer it would be perfect. bluetooth dongle? should be possible iphone 3.0 SDK opened the ability to program for periphery.

I'm glad to see the Nikon versions are coming soon. Now if only OnOne would make a version of this app for Windows Mobile and/or Palm, they'd have all their bases covered!

I agree Mike O, I would buy this in a heartbeat if the computer was not necessary! I usually have a remote camera at weddings, but I'm shooting blind with everything pre-set. Being able to see the images would be perfect.

Pedro Saenz:

I wonder if this will be coming to the Palm Pre? Or should I just stop wishing?

Will this work using the wireless file transmitter (WFT@) from Canon?

This is going to be great for close ceremony shots while I'm out of the
way. now if my i phone would just
cook dinner. sweet.

Hi there. This is Mike Wong from onOne. Joan asked me to respond to the questions here so here goes...

@Mike O.: This is a common request and one that we at onOne would love to make happen. Unfortunately, I don't foresee this happening. Even if we had a dongle attached to the iPhone or iPod Touch, you'd have to have something on the DSLR that could receive the command from the iPhone.

@Betsy Finn & @Pedro Saenz: We do not have any plans to develop this app for the Palm or Windows Mobile platforms. It's pretty much going to stay on the iPhone and iPod Touch. Sorry.

@Bev Michel: Yes, this will work with the wireless file transmitters from Canon and we're testing it with the Nikon wireless file transmitters as well.

When do you think it will be available for Nikon? This would solve so many of my problems during the ceremony.

Jim,
Part of it will be up to how quickly the Apple app approval process goes. I'm crossing my fingers for before Aug. 1 for the Nikon version.

Kim,
Don't rule out using a notebook computer if it would make a huge (revenue) difference in the shots you could get.

--Joan

Thanks for posting this, I have been eyeing this app in the App Store, but not sure it if was worth it. I think I will give it a try. For $20, you can't beat it!

Larry Miller:

Mike Wong:

Is the onOne DSLR Camera Remote compatible with wireless USB SD cards like Eye-Fi or Lexar's Shoot-n-Synch, so that the "tether" between the camera and the computer can be wireless instead of a wire?

I would appreciate it if you could reply to my e-mail as well.

Thanks

Larry

Mike Wong's response to Larry Miller:

"Wireless SD cards like the Eye-Fi do not have access to the camera's control bus which allows messages like "shoot" or "change the shutter speed", etc. The USB connector in the DSLR does have access to the control bus as well as supported Wi-Fi grips or add-ons. As such, the DSLR Camera Remote relies upon either a USB connection or a Wi-Fi connection between the camera and the computer running the DSLR Camera Remote Server. With the Wi-Fi connection, it needs to be one of the camera manufacturer's wireless transmitters like Nikon's WT-4a or Canon's WFT-E4A."

Awesome write up Jack! The program definitely was a great addition to any photographers camera bag. Now I just wish I had an iPhone!

@Kim Larson - Epson just added tethering to their P-7000 and P-6000 Photo Viewers that doesn't need a computer and includes a fire button.

I have this and hooked it up to my laptop and tried to use it as a remote camera at a wedding reception in San Francisco. Problem I was having was reception from the hotels wireless. It would skip packets and not take pictures unfortunately. I tried to setup an adhoc connection but it didnt know how to find the server in that mode. Its a great too to have in studio though.

@San Francisco Wedding Photography - I've had this same problem where setting up the ad-hoc connection can sometimes be a problem. I'm not sure if you were using an iPhone or an iPod Touch, but here is a link to how I've solved the problem when using an ad-hoc network to ensure I get a connection to the server.

http://www.ononesoftware.com/blog/2009/09/08/iphone-3gs-dslr-remote-and-ad-hoc-networks/

Ed:

Mike, I just came across your app and think it's great. Do you have any plans to update the capabilities of the software to allow for more bracketing stops (AEB)? As you may know, most Canon cameras only allow 3 stop bracketing (compared to Nikon's 5 stops) and this is a HUGE problem for Canon owners. If you can figure out a way to allow at least 5 stop bracketing so we can capture up to 5 exposures of each shot, you would have a completely new audience.

david kiel:

As a landscape photograher, I'm very dissapointed with this app. I carry enough equipment deep out into the wilds, that I don't want to add a laptop to my load, but would like a small device that allows me to remotely control my DSLR.

SO, IF THEY MADE IT SO YOU COULD USE THE APP WITHOUT A LAPTOP, THAT WOULD BE A REAL TOOL. Connect the IPod directly to the camera and make all the adjustments, set up an HDR sequence, control the camera, shoot just at the right moments while casually looking at the Ipod screen - that would be a cool tool.

Hint, I would buy that.

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