A General Purpose Approach to Remote Viewing of PAP Images

March 29th, 2012

I’ve been working on a PAP page today that will list resources for doing Pole Aerial Photography. While I was researching systems for viewing the images you are shooting when your camera is up on a pole, I was thinking about how messy the problem is in that there isn’t one common solution that works for all small cameras that you are likely to put up on a pole. Then it dawned on me that there is a single system that will pretty much works for any camera that uses a SD memory card.

The solution is the Eye-Fi Pro Wi-Fi SD card and the iPad ShutterSnitch application. In the video Terry talks about a  mobile Wi-Fi hotspot because. The video on the right shows you how the whole thing works. In the video Terry talks about needing a mobile hotspot which you no longer need because the Ey-Fi has a direct mode that talks directly to the receiving App. This direct mode was added after the Ey-Fi card came out. I’ve heard many photographers talk about how they already use this technique to let their clients view images as they are taken. So I’m thinking many photographers are likely to already have many of these components or be thinking about getting them.

Here’s what you need:

  1. iPad/iPhone or Android device.
  2. ShutterSnitch iPhone and iPad App ($15.99) or use the free Eye-Fi App available for iPhone/iPad/Android.
  3. Eye-Fi Wi-Fi SD card.
  4. The camera you use must use a SD memory card. I’ve worked hard to find a way to do this with my 5DMKII and have struck out completely with SD to CF adapters! Eye-Fi doesn’t work with CF cards! But it works great with my little Canon G9 that I use for PAP.

The beauty of this approach is that every time you trigger your PAP camera the image will show up in the ShutterSnitch App in about 10 to 15 seconds. Faster for small files longer for RAW files. And this is all gear you can use in other ways. That is, there are plenty of reasons to have a mobile hotspot and seeing your shots on a iPad could be very useful in other situations than just shooting PAP. Many photographers do this just to have a quick high-res view of their images as they shoot them. Also, most cameras you are going to use for PAP will use a SD memory card so all this will work fine.

It’s too bad there isn’t such a general solution for electronic shutter releases. Mechanical shutter actuation is the only general solution I’ve found so far.

21 Responses to “A General Purpose Approach to Remote Viewing of PAP Images”

  • Hi larry,

    I use a device called “Gigtube wireless” apx $200 . http://www.aputure.com/en/product/gigitube_wireless_digital_viewfinder.php

    The devise attaches to the hot shoe mount of the camera, and plugs into its remote shutter release port, and mini usb port. The monitor is down below and you are able to view what the camera sees via RF frequency, and hit the shutter release… the devise weighs next to nothing and has worked great for my pole photography. Both transmitter and receiver are rechargable. The only dray back that I have found is the LCD monitor is hard to see in sunny days.

    Hope this helps

    Brian

  • I have posted lately on this subject as I have to replace my current system on a 20 mtr pole. This system is not suitable as there is no liveview so you cannot see what you are shooting. Like Brians comment above I am leaning towards an aputure system on a wireless pan/tilt head. My only problem is how to zoom lens.

  • Larry – thanks for the great website and blog. I’ve been a longtime follower, but rarely comment enough.

    I actually just bought the Pro X2 today, and running through my research & setup, you can ditch the expensive ShutterSnitch app, and instead just turn your X2 into Adhoc mode. Essentially, while in the field (literally) with no wifi around, you can easily connect and sync your photos/videos/raw from camera to iphone/ipad/android, with the free Eye-Fi app found in all markets.

  • I have both the Gigtube wireless and the EyeFi card/iPad app. The Gigtube Wireless has a problem with battery life, so bad that it’s not worth using. The problem with the EyeFi solution in this application is that you don’t see the composition until after the photo is taken. It is better than bringing the camera down to look at the review, but I’d still want something with live view to speed up the process.

    I currently use a home made wireless video transmitter/receiver that works very well, but most people would rather purchase something off the shelf. Aputure now has an updated version called the Gigtube Wireless II. The claim is that they’ve solved the battery life solution, but I’ve yet to get my hands on one to test it out.

    The best solution with a G series Canon is to tilt the screen down. I can usually see it well enough to frame the shot unless I’m trying to get the shot from 30 feet up, but in that case I use the wireless video transmitter.

  • Larry I have allready told you in the past.
    You don’t need to create an hotspot on your device.
    Eye-fi released a free firmware upgrade – they call it “direct mode” – that let’s you create the add-hoc network from the SD card itself.
    So you only need:
    - a camera with an SD slot or a CF to SD adaptor (mine works fine in the Nikon D300)
    - a wireless trigger, I use Phottix Plato
    - an Eye-Fi Pro X2 card. I think you can also use the Mobile X2 cards now.
    - an iPhone or iPad
    - an app to review the photos. I prefer Shuttersnitch over Eye-Fi’s application.

    I have a handhold 30ft pole with an iPhone cradle attached to it in landscape mode, eye height. I don’t even touch the iPhone. Actually I can’t because I need both hands to hold the pole. Under my right hand I have the wireless trigger to shoot.

  • Oh and by the way… If you can set up your camera to shoot in both RAW and jpg. That way your RAW files are stored on the card and only the (small resolution) jpegs need to be transferred to Shuttersnitch. This will let you review much faster than 10-15 seconds. In can see them coming in on my iPhone in about 2 seconds or less :-)

  • @Anton- Yes, I remember our discussion about direct mode now. I believe I also updated my Eye-Fi Pro X2 card to work in direct-mode… I’d forgot about the direct mode update. It appears that my G9 is talking directly to my iPad. Thanks for reminding me!

  • I have a 50ft tall mast and use my DSLR with DSLR Remote Pro. This allows you to take a preview image, before you actually shoot it. DSLR can be used while shooting interiors to, so that you can see what you’re shot looks like on a laptop screen before you move on to the next. The mast is heavy and hard to lug around, but you can get some amazing shots with at 50ft tall mast, and mine is portable.

  • @Schmanke- Thanks for reminding me about the Ey-Fi App working on Android. I have the Ey-Fi App too but never use it and forgot that I had it because I like the ShutterSnitch App so much.

  • We also use the G-9 for elevated photography. It takes great pictures – I have a wide angle and a telephone lens for it! (also have an underwater case as well). I tried the SD wi fi card and was semi-OK with the results. The new Canon 5DMark3 has a slot for SD – I wonder if the wi fi SD card will work with it?
    Suzanne

  • There will be another solution, but only available in.. a few days.
    You can stream a REAL live view feed with GoPro’s WiFi BacPac.
    http://gopro.com/hd-hero-accessories/wi-fi-bacpac-remote-combo/

    So if you allready have a GoPro, add the BacPac and mount it in your cameras hotshoe. You will probably need to set in in the narrow or 90 FOV and than tweak the alignment a bit with what your camera will snap.

    Now let’s see what GoPro’s App for that will be. I guess it’s both iOS and Android.

  • @Suzanne- Ya, I was wondering the same thing about the 5DMKIII SD slot.

    @Anton- Sounds very cool. I’ll have to check that out.

  • OnOne Software has a program called DSLR Remote that works with the iPhone and iPad and certain Nikon and Canon models. It allows live view and control of camera settings remotely. It does require a pc for running the server software. You can carry a laptop in a backpack to act as the server.

    Of course, if you are from the Middle Tennessee area, the simplest solution would be to call me and let me take care of your elevated photos. ;)

  • Seeing what I am shooting from my 12 meter pneumatic mast (mounted on my Van) has always been my biggest issue. I am using a very lightweight Olympus E510 DSLR with a super wide 9mm (18mm equivalent) lens and fire it with an inexpensive (about $45) Vivitar radio transmitter. The Olympus uses CF cards, but I would be willing to try the Eye-Fi Pro X2 card in an adaptor. I don’t have an I-phone or I-pad, but I do have an I-Pod Touch.

    Do you think this combo might work? Because the lens is so wide, I just estimate the angle, shoot in RAW and most the time I am ok. The problem is when it’s windy and have to lock down some of the masts, to keep it from bending. Then I am not sure what I am shooting, without lowering my mast and looking in the camera. What ever I buy, it has to be extremely lightweight.

  • I just guess. Pixels are cheap.

    Give myseld enough crop room on the sides. Raise mast to the middle (about 12 feet) Lean forward and a series of shots as I pull back. Raise to the full 18 feet and repeat.

    Haven’t really seen what looking for in the wireless, live view so let the above suffice until I find it.

  • @Eric- I’ve tried two different SD/CF card adapters… neither work on my 5D and I’ve read a lot about people trying to use adapters… I don’t know why but they just don’t work… don’t waste your money.

    @Brian & Lee- Thanks for the info on the GigaTube Wireless.

    @LarryG – Yes, many people do this with short poles. I find it easy to set a timer on my G9 to shoot three shots and beep in between shots and then move the pole slightly between each shot… 90% of the time I get at least one good shot.

  • @LarryG Have you ever tried running all those images through Microsoft Ice and see what it stitches together? I have had some neat random results. Microsoft Research Image Composite Editor (ICE) is Super fast output and has a Lightroom plug-in for free.

    http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/redmond/groups/ivm/ice/

  • I have no direct experience but the Hahnel inspire seems a cost effective solution.

    http://www.hahnel.ie/index.cfm?page=dslrremotecontrols&id=65&pId=65

  • Hey Larry,

    I use a Pro X2 card with my iPad and an CF adapter with my 5DMII for portrait sessions and it works fine. I use it in direct mode, and show clients raw images in real time. I turned off the RAW transfer (takes too long) and I transfer the lowest res JPEG. Takes about 2-4 seconds. Found the adapter on a private retailer. If you’re interested, I’ll look it up and get you the site.

    Adam

  • Great info on this topic. I was wondering what poles or monopods people are using? I had a 30 ft light stand but too heavy and blew over in the wind! I use a 6ft monopod now and I am up a 6ft ladder much more porable and safer! But could use another 5ft or so, any tips?

    Thanks, great site Larry!

  • Has anyone tried the new Canon Powershot 320HS Wi-Fi camera. I have been trying to find out if it offers a live view mode.