Monday, January 3, 2011

Field Test - Canon 5DmkII+WFT-E4+iPad

In order to do a quick field test of the 5D mkII to iPad wifi setup I mentioned previously, I met up with my friend TJ who lucky for me happened to be in Tokyo last month.

We headed up to a park near the NHK building.  Being from Hawaii, I don't normally get to see trees with colors other than green.  We came across some red trees lining the back of one of the NHK buildings which I thought would make a good background.

I had TJ stand up on the wall and I fired up the 5D/WFT-E4/iPad combo.  I used a 70-200 f2.8L lens on the 5D to throw the background out of focus.

Canon 5D mkII iso200 70-200 f2.8L IS 1/80 @ f2.8

It was pretty overcast that day, so I setup an SB26 and a shoot thru umbrella on a stand to get some directional light.  This let me use a faster shutter speed which darkened the background and made the red leaves pop a bit more.

Canon 5D mkII iso200 70-200 f2.8L IS 1/125 @ f2.8

We got a couple of shots in before building security came by and said we could only continue shooting if we took down the lightstand.  Doh!  Time to change locations.

Canon 5D mkII iso200 85mm f1.2L II 1/200 @ f2

We next setup on the steps of a nearby bridge.  Here I tried out the 85mm f1.2L II lens that I had just picked up that morning.  A bit of a mistake to buy this lens, because ever since I put it on my 5D mkII, I haven't wanted to take it off. ;-)  It takes a bit of getting used to the extreme shallow depth of field you can get with this lens - you really have to be careful where you focus.  I've found I get the most success rate from using the center focus point, locking it on the eye closest to me, then recomposing.
Once you get the hang of this lens though, it's amazing what it does to backgrounds.

 Canon 5D mkII iso200 85mm f1.2L II 1/200 @ f2.8

Keeping an eye out for security, I decided just to use an on-camera flash this time- a 580EX dialed down about 1-1/3 stop.  Just enough to lighten the shadows a skosh and put a little sparkle into TJ's eyes.

We moved to a spot under the bridge where there was a lot of colorful grafitti art.  First tried using the 85mm, but because the wall was not wide enough I ended up using the 70-200 to compress the frame and make the wall fill the background completely.  Since we couldn't see security anywhere and figured that under  the bridge was far enough away from the NHK property, I took a chance and setup the SB26 again, this time without the umbrella.

Canon 5D mkII iso200 70-200 f2.8L IS 1/125 @ f2.8

Lucky for me, TJ is the kind of model that looks great no matter what kind of light you throw at her, and she was able to take the direct flash pretty well.  This gave us some much needed directionality of light.

We had hoped to shoot some Christmas lights in Shinjuku, but we finished too early in the day and they had not turned on the decorations yet.  We decided to just grab some Starbucks and chat while looking through the images on the iPad.

Canon 5D mkII iso200 70-200 f2.8L IS 1/400 @ f2.8

Field results from this session:

Setup was relatively quick.  It was much easier to get the 5DmkII/WDT-E4 to transmit to the Shuttersnitch app on the iPad via the wireless router than it was with my 1DmkII/WFT-E1 setup.  The extreme portability of the iPad made it simple to show the model the images as we were shooting.

During this shoot I was using version 1.1.9 of the Shuttersnitch app and 4.2 iOS on the iPad.  Unfortunately the Shuttersnitch app crashed several times while transfers were taking place, so several images only half-downloaded to the iPad.  When the app crashed and I restarted it, it was very unstable so I had to shut down the iPad and restart it.  In between crashes, about 50% of the images made it to the iPad successfuly during the shoot.  The rest of the images I ended up having to transfer to the iPad while we sat at Starbucks after the shoot. I've heard that 2.0 is much more stable, and I hope that the app is updated on the iTunes store soon.

For reviewing images, it's pretty good.  You can set star ratings for each image and zoom in to check focus. I wish they listed the filenumber in the header (right now it only shows exposure info).  Right now in version 1.1.9 the only way to see the filenumber is to press and hold the tiny thumbnail images on the bottom of the interface.

I think once the app developer gets Shuttersnitch to a more stable version, I'll be using this setup more often.  As it stands right now, I can't recommend it for serious work yet.

***Edit - the developer of Shuttersnitch has released version 2.0 of the app which seems to be a LOT more stable.  You can now see the filenumber in the header and while testing it out on a later photoshoot, it did not crash.  Reviewing the images was still a bit wonky - sometimes when swiping through the images, it would jump back to the first image.  But it's way better than the previous version.


Kahulani Make-Up said...

gorgeous and informative, thank you Todd! See you soon, it is a New Year!!!

Brian said...

Hi, I wondering about the wireless shooting to the ipad with the wft-e4. Can you shoot RAW-small jpeg and only transmit the jpeg? keeping the raws on the card? i have an art direct wanting me to do this but am afraid of losing RAWS during the shoot. I would have an assistant load RAWS to the laptop from cards and the ipad would only for quick review of jpegs and ongoing art direction.

also what battery powered wifi router did you use and what was the battery life like?

Brian said...

Thanks this info could be huge. I'm finding it in anyones's posts.

MacGyver said...

Aloha Brian,

Yes, you can set the WFT-E4 to transmit only the JPGs and keep the RAWS on the card for. That is how I currently have it setup.

I send a medium res JPG to the iPad for review in the field, then plug the card into a card reader on the laptop after the shoot to load the RAW files. It's faster than trying to transfer the RAWs wirelessly.

For the router, I used the Aluratek 3G Portable Wireless Router USB Cellular Router, which you can get from Amazon or B&H Photo. The battery life is about 4 hours, I think.

I have an earlier blog post that goes into more detail of the setup. Let me know if that helps.

Brian said...

Many thousand thanks! An art director that I'm shooting with in couple of weeks called me from a location shoot she was on today with a different photog who was using this set up. She was in loved and asked if I could provide the same service on our upcoming shoot. I called my Canon and spent a couple hours researching this via google. You've now answered all of my questions. I saw that router on B&H but am concerned that the 4 hour built in battery may not get me through a full day shoot.

I was also looking at this router since it has removable batteries and you can purchase spares.

What do you think? ...and by the way, what was the best you found to carry/mount the router to an assistant?

Seriously, thank you.

Brian said...

sorry for not proofing that last comment. It's late haha.

MacGyver said...

That router looks good as well.

The Aluratek also has a replaceable Li-ion battery - an NP-120, which you can also find on Amazon or B&H (it's the same battery that's used in several digital cameras).

Regarding carrying the router, I found reception-wise, it's best to keep it close to the camera, so I'll usually keep it in my pocket or in a pouch on my camera belt. The iPad I also keep nearby so the model and MUA can take a look at it.

BTW, one thing to keep in mind if you are shooting outdoors, is that the iPad screen can be hard to see in bright sunlight. I usually try to keep it in the shade or bring a big towel or something to help shade the screen to see it better.

Brian said...

That's a great point about the ipad in bright sun. My art director was shooting in sunny conditions on the side of Mt Hood today and said the glare was horrible. At least until the assistant fashioned a three sided hood out of black foam core and gaffer tape. But then she said the ipad became difficult to hold.

She suggested a handle like this in conjunction with a make shift hood.

MacGyver said...

I was thinking of getting this to help shade an iPad or laptop on location:

Brian said...

Yeah, that's similar to the hoodman item I found.

The only thing is that (as I think about it) once you start adding stuff like this the portability feature of the gets killed. Like you might as well use a MacBook Air in the situation.

I was wondering, can you set the WFT to transfer raws via a cable to the tethered computer and also transmit small jpegs over the wifi network to the FTp? i thinking that in studio, I could tether to my work station as usual and the art director could follow along wirelessly on a laptop or ipad while answering their email. Most art directors lately seem to be slammed and are ofter taking calls or emails for other projects while on set with me.

What do you think? Would that setup work?

Brian said...

btw, here's the hoodman item i found. I think the shape might work better for the ipad.

MacGyver said...

Honestly, I've never tried it that way yet, although that does sound like a good idea. Will have to try that out the next time I shoot in studio.