Wireless control of Canon EOS DSLRS – Terry Branford

One of my favourite photographic website’s is “slr-lounge” (http:// www.slrlounge.com/). I check it regularly, and in early December I saw an article on a cheap way to achieve wireless operation of Canon DSLR’s (Nikon users can disregard the rest of this article- sorry). This item (http://www.slrlounge.com/diy-wireless – control-canon-dslr-50) described a system that used an existing android app (dslr controller – http://dslrcontroller.com/) and a battery operated wifi router to enable full control of your Canon slr via wifi. I was somewhat interested.
TP Link TL-MR3040I have been using the Dslr controller app for about 12 months to tether my Canon 1000d to a Nexus 10 (android) tablet. I have found it reliable and useful in a tabletop situation, but using its timelapse and HDR capabilities is a bit hard when on location and connected to the camera by a 2 Metre(max) USB cable. This is a disappointment, as you have preview/revi ew, focus, aperture, iso, style controls and quite a bit more available (including HDR and an intervalometer). The software is available from the Google Play store for about $10.00, but there is a free version to check that it works with your camera.
The wireless application combines the app with a TP-Link TL-MR3040 wireless router, which is smaller than your average cigarette packet and battery powered to boot. I  imediately hit EBay, and got one from “OIT Mall”, an Australian site on EBay, for the sum of $49.95 (postage included) brand new. This unit has an USB connection to connect to an internet dongle, and the smart alec’s at DSLR Controller have adapted the unit to use the USB to connect to a Canon DSLR (check their website for compatible models). This allows a tablet computer running the DSLRController app to use wifi to connect with the router
and thus the camera. In normal operation the router is controlled from a web browser (internet explorer, chrome, etc), and one of the available options is to update the software. DSRL Controller have made available a free file (http://dslrcontroller.com/guidewifimr3040.php) that can replace the internal router  software and turn it into a wifi receiver.  It appears that TP-Link have based their unit on OpenWRT firmware, which is open source (read freely availabl e, free) and easy to modify. The router has 2 software versions, version 1 or version 2, which require different downloads. The firmware version, as well as the wifi network name and password, are printed on a sticker in the battery compartment.
After downloading the file to my small laptop, I fired up my new router, connected to its wifi (rather than our home wifi) and opened the web page by typing into the address bar of my browser and logging in with the user name of “admin” and the password of “admin”. I went to the “System Tools” page and selected “Software Update”. I then selected the new file that I had downloaded, hit the “Upgrade” button and the router did the rest. After a couple of minutes it powered off and rebooted. The wifi setting had changed, a new one called “DSLRController” appeared. I logged on from my tablet  computer using the password “dslrcontroller” and plugged the USB cable from the router to the camera.
All that I needed to do then was start the DSLRController software. It found the camera, and showed its settings and preview straight away. There is very little shutter delay, but it takes around 10 seconds to download and display each shot (I shoot RAW, it might be quicker for JPEG). The live video preview has a delay of a few tenths of a second. I found it quite easy to operate. My camera provides only manual focus but later cameras are meant to be able to auto-focus on parts of the picture  elected on the receiver touchscreen. To use the unit is a bit cluncky, due mainly to the receiver taking about a minute to boot up. The sequence is
1. Turn on receiver.
2. Plug in to camera via usb.
3. Turn on or wake up camera.
4. Select “Dslrcontroller” as the wifi network on your tablet computer or android
5. Start the DSLRController app.
I have yet to flatten the battery, but it is meant to last 4-5 hours. Overall, a very worthwhile accessory, especially for activites like light painting and long exposure shooting.

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