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How Can You Get CamRanger Functionality on Sony Mirrorless Cameras?

June 5th, 2018

Tim asked the following:

I’m currently using a Nikon D750 for my real estate photography but I really want to make a change to a mirrorless camera. I like the Sony A7III, but the problem I’m facing is trying to find a quality remote control. I use an extension pole for the exterior shots so the remote control device needs to be able to change the camera settings, offer exposure bracketing, have a live histogram, and work with a smartphone. Basically, all the great qualities of the CamRanger. Any suggestions?

There are at least two options that I know of:

  1. The Sony Smart Remote App. This free Sony App in the PlayMemories library gives some of the CamRanger functionality but not all.
  2. The CamFi Wireless Remote Camera Controller:  This addon hardware/software appears to give most of the CamRanger functionality on Sony mirrorless cameras. The video above gives more details.

Does anyone out there have first-hand experience with either of these options?

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14 Responses to “How Can You Get CamRanger Functionality on Sony Mirrorless Cameras?”

  • I had correspondence with the manufacturer of this product a while ago. I asked when they will bring a version for the Sony A7/9 series out. They informed me in no uncertain terms they have no intention of providing a Sony version! OK I thought, don’t then – anyway, I don’t need you!

  • Just watched the video. If one has to drag a laptop for the shoot around it rather defeats the purpose of this piece of equipment. I saw this being used by Mike Kelly together with an iPad. If one needs a laptop instead of an iPad then it is a waste of time,

  • Using the CamFi Wireless Remote with a Sony a6000 provides no live view functionality. That was the deal breaker for me. However there is Live View functionality with the a6300 and a6500. Moreover, I have found good functionality, including Live View and Touch Focus, using the Sony Smart Remote camera addon to the a6000 and the PlayMemories mobile app on an iPad mini. I use these when doing pole photography. I put the a6000 at the top of the pole then wifi-connect to the ipad (or iPhone). To use the iPad hands-free I use a clamp and iPad holder connected via connected an articulating arm from RAM Mounts.
    https://www.gpscity.com/g/gps/l/2/rapb121ap8.jpg

    Check your camera’s compatibility quotient with Camfi here: http://www.cam-fi.com/en/spec_camera_list.html

  • You might take a look at Qdslr. I use it with a Sony a6000 connected to the camera’s built in wifi. It gives me complete control of the Sony menus. If the a7III has WiFi it may be just the ticket.

  • I have CamFi, but I’ve only used it on my Canon T5. I have given thought to trying it on my Sony a6000, but my experience in using it with the Canon left a sour taste in my mouth. Routinely, the CamFi would fail to auto-bracket on the Canon. I still don’t know if this was a software issue with the CamFi, a firmware issue, or even an issue with the camera itself being an older model and not working well with the CamFi. I’m lucky it worked at all, and I could at least do light-painting if I had the time to do it.

    As to hardware required to use CamFi, there is an iOS app for iPad and iPhone. In fact, I wasn’t even aware there was software for a laptop (although I suppose it wasn’t a huge stretch to make software for a Mac laptop). The apps are the same for either, except that that the iPhone app of course was designed for the smaller screen–despite this, it’s a little clunky to use on a small screen and it’s much better to review the photos on an iPad screen. The USB cord for connecting to the camera is relatively short, limiting options to mount the CamFi on anything other than the camera’s hot shoe unless you have a longer USB cable lying around, and if you don’t, the hot shoe is the only real option which basically prevents you from mounting a flash trigger. If you’re using Sony a6 series mirrorless, I imagine that if you buy a smallrigs cage you could mount the CamFi in the cold shoe on the smallrigs (because that cold shoe isn’t good for much else besides a mic anyway, if you’re doing video). The CamFi battery life is absolute crap–I think the battery life you get is actually shorter than the time it takes to charge up.

    PlayMemories is nice, although I’m told that only recently have they added support for remote shutter release in RAW. Unless I’m misremembering, they previously only allowed you to shoot in JPEG or RAW+JPEG when using it for remote shutter release. I did like that you could take a photo with PlayMemories and send it directly to your phone if you wanted to share a high-resolution photo via mobile for whatever reason. My experience with it is limited, but my phone’s app didn’t scan the QR code to connect and wouldn’t work with the proprietary wireless (sort of like Bluetooth) functionality on the Sony camera, either. Updating the camera firmware and the app can be frustrating. I have found that Sony has other apps available that you can install on the camera which can fulfill some other common functions we as real estate photographers might want to use.

    In short, either can be a pain in the butt to get working and eventually use, but PlayMemories takes my vote over CamFi, if only because it doesn’t require a black box you have to mount and connect to the camera with a short USB cord, or figure out what you’re willing to forego using in favor of the CamFi such as a flash when your mounting and connection options are limited.

    I’ve heard other photographers say that it can slow you down to use either of these options unless you do light-painting for large rooms. I can attest to that. Most times I got frustrated using CamFi or PlayMemories because of the time it took just to get it set up and carry the iPad around, and eventually stopped in favor of just shooting the rooms a different way that didn’t require a wireless remote shutter release.

  • I used Camranger with a D600 prior to switching to Sony and currently use Sony’s app which meets my needs despite it’s limited capability. CamFi looks interesting, particularly the newly released CamFi Pro which has several advantages over the original. Back to Sony, my usage requirement is very simple remote operation with viewer, and even then it is limited to just pole photography, or the occasional group shot/selfie. While I tried both Camranger and Sony as 100% remote operation during a shoot, it was just awkward, doesn’t fit my style, and slows down workflow…so just special applications like on a pole. I typically don’t use focus stacking (remote or on camera) or HDR (remote or on camera) so those are not important features to me. The CamFi Pro does look neat with the hotshoe mount vs the L bracket arrangement the original, but obviously couldn’t be used with a flash trigger, but with the usb based signal connection the hotshoe appears to be a passive mount only and could be mounted anywhere to accommodate the flash trigger. Don’t know how it does with video operations, but hotshoe mount is a great position when balancing a stabilizer. Be careful when reading reviews as people will whine about not doing some function ignoring the fact that that particular model camera wasn’t designed in it’s firmware to do it anyway. Or the classic talking about able to do with some other software such as Lightroom or Capture One ignoring that those are wired tethered, not wireless.

    On the Sony remote app…it’s free, gets the job done for my limited requirements, but has significant room for improvement and yes Camranger (and CamFi) excels in features. Two most frustrating parts of the Sony app is getting an error message when pressing menu as you want to exit the application. Apparently it is in the wrong phase awaiting the next shot and have to half press the shutter release, then menu, and when the ‘exit’ option appears, quickly press the OK button before the “exit” disappears. The other thing is it’s tendency to remember the last session’s setting rather than adjust to the current camera setting when starting, but is adjustable back to current conditions after starting, unlike changing from
    A to M which requires oncamera adjustment, blocked requiring exiting and restarting. By default it is jpg (and always .jpg to the phone) even if camera is set to RAW but setup will allow to save jpg+RAW to camera’s SD card. You just have to know to make that adjustment. Finally, there is a related app to transfer files to an external device, either as shot or group quantities. Don’t use it as it is 100% of photos taken and significantly slows the workflow waiting for transfer. If you want a single file or specific files for quick transfer to your phone, you can use a third option to do that but it is located under the wireless menu group vs the app menu group on the camera.

  • A software company that can come up with Cam Ranger functionality to wirelessly tether Sony, Fuji, Canon, and Nikon cameras (that have built-in WiFi) to a tablet (not a laptop) will make themselves a fortune just in software sales. Anyone listening 😉

  • I use Cascable with my Sony a7rlll.
    There is limited functionality but it give you the basics.
    https://cascable.se/ios/

  • I’ve never used CamRanger, only heard it talked about (mostly favorably) in our circles. Which makes me wonder, why the snub to Sony? I can only imagine that they were working out deals with camera manufacturers and Sony wasn’t interested, or Sony is working on building much of the same functionality as the CamRanger into the cameras so they figure why even make it work with Sony.

  • I have never used a CamRanger either but I have used my iPhone and Lenovo tablet with both my GoPro and Canon 80D using the free apps from both manufacturers with little problem once they had connected to the camera. I recently bought a Sony A-6500 which I love but am also very disappointed in the Sony app to my iPhone and Lenovo tablet. Sure it gives me a larger screen to establish my verticals and horizontals and I can start and stop the video recording, but that’s it. I would love to know either a 3rd party app or other solution to be able to remotely manage the settings. I mainly use the Sony on a tripod and/or a slider but do to my old eyes, the 3″ screen on the Sony and the Canon for that matter is just not big enough for me to read the read outs and settings let alone make sure verticals are vertical.

    So I am just using the Sony for my stills instead of for video for which I actually bought it. The gold lining is I am thrilled with the still images which took me by surprise. Larry knows I favor HDR, but with the range the Sony captures, I am being able to use just one image about 80% of the time and then just open up the shadows which really cuts down on my post.But I do want to use it for both. And for that I need that remote wifi connection that gives me access to the controls and settings, not just stop/go. Any and all suggestions will be welcome by me too.

  • The Camranger is an indispensable product for my work. Its functionality with my Canons is rock solid. Yes, I would like to see a few changes such as crop ability to preview to clients, pinch zoom and the ability to remove the video button so I don’t inadvertently activate video mode when trying to shoot.
    I also contacted the authors of Camranger and was told they had no plans to support Sony cameras.
    My guess (and it is only that) is that Sony will not release the API or demands steep licensing fees for it. I also think that accounts for the lack of crop and zoom functionality in that they involve code licensing fees.

    As Ron notes above, anyone implementing Camranger functionality using built in Wifi for a range of cameras will score big.
    Sadly none of the manufacturers have any decent software for their built-in Wifi capability.

  • I shoot with a Panasonic G7 (go ahead and laugh – it works well) and it has a nice fold out viewing panel. When properly set up, the camera can shoot five frames in about a half a second. So, for up hill shots, I fold out my viewing panel and point the panel down. I turn on my custom setting for the fast five shot bracket and hoist the camera as high as I can on a fully extended, collapsed tripod. I use a remote wireless trigger to fire the frames. It works like a charm and is simple, cheap and quick. The only difficulty is days with cloudy bright skies or days when the sun is very nearly aligned with the viewing panel – it blinds me. I use this technique now in about 50% of the houses I shoot for at least some of the exterior shots. With practice I’ve become able to get my alignment and aiming nearly perfect in every bracket.

  • Interesting Kickstarter solution.

    https://witharsenal.com/

  • For pole photos, I just use Playmemories. Set the camera mode dial to Auto, and shoot RAW. The rest can be done in LR. Process each file for the home, then just change the sky exposure and create another set, then paint the two together in PS like you do with the rest of the photos. Not all pics need a second version, usually just the backlit angles.

    Doing bracketing on a pole complicates the process, because it’s pretty hard to keep a pole still, and the longer exposures can blur. It’s just as easy to create multiple versions of the same RAW file to treat different parts of the image for daylight pics.

    I’m not even sure you need the histogram. Sony cameras will base the exposure on somewhat on where you place the focus point, and they are pretty smart about color balance and exposure. For night shots, I’ve gotten used to sticking with a tall tripod vs a pole. Too much wind where I am to trust multiple frames to be useful.

    I’ve never found a “perfect” setup for any of the brands of camera I use. (Sony, Canon, Nikon, Samsung) There is always something amiss, even with Camranger, which still doesn’t let you switch between Memory Mode to Manual Mode without physically touching the camera. Thank heavens PS allows us to easily align images later.

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