Sunday, December 29, 2013

Cam Ranger - Easily send photos to your iPad! The ultimate Nikon D4 camera control device?

Baseball HOF inductees Tony LaRussa, Joe Torre and Bobby Cox
(Nikon D4, 24-120 lens, 1/200th @ 6.3 , 250 ASA) 

As my career has progressed from B/W film, to chrome film to negative film and now to digital, I've seen the growing need for quicker delivery of images. The photographer has to be more than just a photographer - you have to be a solutions driven problem solver to make your clients happy. Technology can often help you with this.
I have previously blogged about the Nikon WT-4 transmitter.
The WT-4 allows you to send images from your Nikon camera to a configured iOS or Mac/Windows computer. The Nikon transmitter is a good piece of equipment BUT it is way too expensive for what it is and it almost takes an IT professional to set it up. Also, the transmitter was tied to the brand, meaning the Nikon transmitters work only with Nikon, not Canon. This was once a problem when I booked an architecture shoot and I needed to use the incredible Canon 17mm Tilt shift lens. Of course, that required me to use a Canon full frame body and I didn't have a transmitter to use for that shoot. I had to tether it to my Mac Book Pro to get a preview. A new solution recently presented itself to me. The Cam Ranger. I decided to use this new piece of gear on my favorite shoot of 2013 - Portraits of the newest Baseball Hall Of Fame inductees at the annual MLB Winter Meetings. 

Retired Managers Tony LaRussa, Joe Torre and Bobby Cox had been elected to the National Baseball Hall Of Fame by the Expansion Era Committee. This was announced on December 9 in a press conference inside the Disney Dolphin Hotel. 
My job was to take the first official portraits of the newest HOF inductees. 
I had my studio set up with 2 Profoto 7B packs, a 5' Photoflex Octodome for the key light and a Profoto beauty dish for the kicker. The strobes were triggered by the Pocket Wizard X. I photographed each man separately but the important photo was the group picture. Everyone wanted the photo of these great friends together. The entire shoot lasted about 3 minutes and the Cam Ranger transmitted each JPG from the camera to the iPad. The large preview on the 9.7" iPad helped me spot potential shadows that I would need to correct. After each shot, the people from the HOF would  also comment on how good they all looked together. This positive energy really helped energize the group. It became easy to get them close and to smile.

Nikon D4 transmitting JPGs to my iPad 4 via the Cam Ranger. 

Now, if sending images to a device all the Cam Ranger did, it would easily be worth the money. however, as I learned, the preview function is only one of the features.

The Cam Ranger comes with the device, power cable, a USB type A to USB mini B, battery and carry case. The removable, rechargeable battery is easy to swap out. 
On the right, the small on/off switch is next to the micro USB b port (used to charge the device). On the left, is where you plug in your DSLR usb cable. The ethernet port is for firmware upgrade.

The Cam Ranger costs $299 and will work with both Canon and Nikon cameras*. The set up is very easy. After you download the dedicated Cam Ranger app to the device, you enter a unique code when you open the app. The code is located on the backside of the Cam Ranger. No more IP addresses, Target server addresses with the WT-4.  

The Cam Ranger has the ability to:
  • Send Preview images to a device (iOS or Android  device and Mac or Windows computer) for review
  • Use Live view for both movie and still images
  • Control exposure, ASA, focus and shoot photos (and movies) from your device
  • Set drive mode, white balance, metering mode, focus mode
  • Intervalometer for time lapse and bulb photography
  • Macro photography, focus stacking
  • HDR bracketing
I can see the remote camera feature very useful for me when I set up remotes at race finish lines. Often, these road races start so early that the finish line is in near darkness when you mount the camera. Now with the Cam Ranger, you can live view the image remotely, set focus and change exposure just before the finish. This is critical if the camera cannot be easily accessed. 
You can then hand the iPad to an assistant, and they can use the device to actually fire the camera. I will write another blog post about this feature once I shoot some of those assignments. 

*Cam Ranger  - Currently Supported Cameras:

  • D5000
  • D5100 
  • D5200 
  • D90 
  • D7000
  • D7100
  • D300
  • D300S
  • D700
  • D600
  • D800
  • D800E
  • D3
  • D3s
  • D3x
  • D4
  • Xsi
  • T1i
  • T2i
  • T3i
  • T4i
  • 40D
  • 50D
  • 60D
  • 6D
  • 7D
  • 5D Mark II
  • 5D Mark III
  • DS Mark III
  • 1D Mark IV
  • 1Dx


  1. Hi Preston, but you could have done this with the WT5 and Shuttersnitch too?
    Ok, there you cannot control the D4. But in this case, you only needed the ability to send the jpgs to the iPad for reviewing to the clients. Cool stuff.

    1. I used The WT-4 for over a year and it was good at sending images to the iPad. However, when I bought a new camera, I always had to go in and set all the variables in the camera again. I like that the Cam Ranger is pretty automatic in set up and it can be used with Canon cameras as well. (I use the Canon tilt shift glass). SO you get the same "wireless transmit" ability but you also get the ability to control your camera from a device. The added value makes this a clear winner.