Wireless Tethered Shooting With Canon Cameras

How to create a wireless tethered shooting setup using the built-in Wi-Fi of Canon cameras.

Wireless Tethered Shooting With Canon Cameras

The aim of this post is to explain how to set up wireless tethered shooting with a Canon Camera using the built-in Wi-Fi. I am using a laptop with Microsoft Windows 10, a Canon 6D as camera, the original Canon EOS Utilities for transmitting and displaying the latest picture, and finally Adobe Lightroom for culling.

The hardest part in the whole process unfortunately is to get your camera paired with your computer. Before we try to setup the network you first have to install the EOS utility on your laptop.

Get and Install Canon EOS Utility

You should have received a CD that contains a version of the Canon EOS utility with your camera, however as this is probably already outdated I recommend to download the latest version from the Canon website.

Visit the EOS Utility website, select your camera model (Canon 6D in my case), download the installer and follow the instructions.

Establishing the Wi-Fi Connection

All three connection types share one common prerequisite. Your computer's firewall must allow the incoming network requests from your camera, that announces its presence on the network (UPnP - Universal Plug and Pray). When you launch the Canon Utilities for the first time you are asked to modify the Windows Firewall policies to allow these incoming requests, which you absolutely should do. However in case you have another third party personal firewall installed on your computer (e.g. McAfee Host Intrusion Prevention Firewall) make sure to configure this properly as well. In general you will have to grant the process 'C:\Program Files (x86)\Canon\EOS Utility\EOSUPNPSV.exe' the right to receive UPnP network traffic. How this is done depends on your personal firewall, so I cannot explain these steps here.

Using Wi-Fi, there are three ways to connect your Canon camera to a Windows 10 computer:

Wi-Fi infrastructure: You connect the camera to an existing Wi-Fi network - the same to which your computer is already connected. This is the easiest way, however it presumes that the network routers allow the camera to publish its presence in the network. In typical private home networks this should not be a problem. However restrictions may be in place for public and corporate networks. 

Mobile hotspot: In this mode a Windows 10 laptop creates an ad hoc Wi-Fi hotspot. Unfortunately with Windows 10 this only works, while your laptop is connected to a wired internet connection.

Hosted Wi-Fi network: This is what you will want to use on-the-go as this allows you to perform tethered shooting wherever you are with your Windows 10 laptop and your camera only without the need for any Wi-Fi or wired networking infrastructure. But your laptop must support this.

Wi-Fi Infrastructure

Before trying to connect your camera to an existing Wi-Fi infrastructure check that the built-in Wi-Fi is able to communicate with it. Typically the built-in Wi-Fi modules in cameras do not support the latest standards. For example the Canon 6D (and even the current 5D Mark IV) cannot connect to Wi-Fi networks that operate on the 5 GHz frequency band using the built-in Wi-Fi. So your Wi-Fi access point must allow a connection on the 2.4 GHz frequency band.

As said above here I am using the Canon 6D as an example, however any Canon Camera that has a built-in Wi-Fi should have a similar setup process.

First ensure that the wi-fi option is set to Enable. To start the connection select Wi-fi function.

Next select Remote control (EOS Utility).

Select Find network.

Select the wireless network with the appropriate name (SID). In my case my network is called aperturized.

Select the password key format. Most likely it will be the 8-63 ASCII characters in your case as well.

Then on the next screen enter your password. I am not showing this screen for obvious reasons here ;-)

After that select the IP address settings. If unsure, select Auto setting. Most likely your network will assign the network IP address automatically via DHCP and you can ignore all these technical network terms in case you do not understand these. Select Manual setting in case your network does not have a DHCP server and you need to specify the IP address of your camera manually.

Once your camera has connected to the network, which can take a while, you can start pairing the camera with your computer. Hit OK on that screen.

Now you see the pairing prompt on your camera.

Launch the EOS Utility and click on the Pairing over Wi-Fi/LAN button on the bottom left. When asked, whether you want to update the Windows firewall rules to allow required network traffic, choose Yes. You should be able to see your camera listed here. Click on its entry in the list and select Connect and the most critical part of the whole process has succeeded. Congratulations!

Unfortunately pairing always must be done through that error prone detection via UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) which requires the camera to broadcast its presence throughout the whole network. This is like someone screaming to a crowd of people to make everyone aware that he has arrived. Imagine everyone in a large crowd of people would do that and you get an idea why larger networks or public Wi-Fi hotspots do not like this and will suppress such network traffic. But also personal firewalls on your PC will suppress this by default to avoid possible security issues. Therefore in case you cannot see your camera listed, try to temporarily disable all personal firewalls - even the windows firewall despite its rules have been updated (this solved the problem for me). In case you still do not see your camera listed, check that your camera still shows the 'pairing in progress' screen. If this does not help as well it may be the network itself that suppresses the network and you are out of luck and you will have to try one of the other alternatives below.

I really would wish that you could simply enter the camera's IP address as an alternative to the automatic detection to force a direct connection from the computer to the camera. Hey Canon! Are you listening?

OK, anyway let's hope the pairing has succeeded on your computer. The screen on your camera will change now and display the computers name. Confirm the pairing on your camera.

Next you can save the current settings so that next time you do not have through the whole process, but simply have to call the saved settings. I recommend to change the settings name to something that you can memorize.

Now you come to a screen that I find very confusing. It says "Exit wireless LAN function" and you may ask yourself how to continue now.

The answer is: You don't continue with this screen. Do not click on OK as this would stop the Wi-Fi connection of your camera. Ignore this screen! All is set up and you can continue configuring the tethered shooting. I recommend to half-press your shutter now to go away from this screen and simply keep the connection running. Scroll down to Tethering with EOS Utility on how to configure and start tethered shooting.

Mobile Hotspot

In case your Windows 10 computer is wired to an ethernet internet connection, it can create a mobile hotspot your camera can connect to. Unfortunately in Windows 10 this is actually restricted to sharing an wired ethernet internet connection only. Unlike in Windows 7, where you can create a mobile hotspot even without internet connection this does no longer work in Windows 10 without an actual public internet connection through the wired ethernet that you can share. Don't ask me why Microsoft restricted that with Windows 10 - I don't get it :-(

Creating a mobile hotspot is easy. In Windows 10 open the Windows menu and simply search for 'mobile hotspot'. This should find 'Change Mobile Hotspot Settings', which will open the screen below:

Creating a mobile hotspot with Windows 10

On the top toggle the switch to on and use the edit button to configure the network to assign a name and password.

Now follow the exact same steps as for Wi-Fi Infrastructure above. However when selecting the network to connect to on your camera select the network with the name you have just entered on the Mobile Hotspot settings along with the password specified there. Once the camera is connected an additional connected device will be listed:

Continue with pairing as described above. Note that even though your camera is now directly connected via Wi-Fi to your computer and not through a Wi-Fi router, personal firewalls on the computer still can prevent your camera from showing up on the available cameras for pairing list.

Hosted Wi-Fi Network

When you are shooting on-location and still want to have a tethered Wi-Fi setup, but there is neither Wi-Fi infrastructure available that allows a connection between camera and laptop nor the laptop can be connected to a wired internet connection so that the mobile hot spot functionality of Windows 10 is an option, your last change for wireless tethering is a hosted Wi-Fi network. In this mode the built-in Wi-Fi adapter of your laptop simulates a fully functional Wi-Fi router. Once properly set up this works just like the Wi-Fi infrastructure connection as describes above, just without any dedicated Wi-Fi routers.

The first problem: your laptop's built-in Wi-Fi adapter might not support that at all. Press the key WIN-X to launch a menu that allows you to start an elevated, administrative command prompt by selecting Command Prompt (Admin).

 In the command prompt type netsh wlan show driver:

Check the value of Hosted network supported. If this is not 'Yes' and shows 'No' like in the screenshot above you are out of luck. In this case the remaining options are to use tethering via USB cable or if you still really want to shoot wireless on-location bring your own Wi-Fi router with you.

If you are lucky and your laptop supports hosted networks follow the steps on this website to launch a hosted network: http://www.redmondpie.com/create-ad-hoc-wifi-hotspot-in-windows-10-heres-how/. Once this is successfully started continue with the set up just like described above for the Wi-Fi infrastructure.

Tethering with EOS Utility

Congratulations! You have managed to successfully pair your camera with EOS utility. Now you can simply start remote shooting and fire away.

Well, not so fast!

First open the preferences, open the tab Destination Folder, and set the destination folder, where the tethered images shall be stored. Remember this folder - we need it again later for setting up Lightroom. For remote shooting I do not create subfolders, which makes it easier later to configure Lightroom.

You are shooting in RAW, right? In case you don't: stop reading right now, go away and leave, learn about the benefits of shooting in RAW and come back later.

However shooting tethered RAW has one major drawback: The huge RAW file must be sent over the slow Wi-Fi module of the camera to your computer. Even with a wired USB connection this is not really fast - with Wi-Fi it's slooooooow. Therefore I suggest to shoot in RAW+JPEG and only transfer the significantly smaller JPEG as a preview. Later you can then download all the RAW files using your card reader.

On the Remote Shooting control panel you can change several camera options. Below the ISO setting you can control how EOS Utility will download the pictures.

Changing the download settings (marked in red)

Select 'Computer and camera memory card' and the check the option 'In RAW+JPEG mode, only transfer JPEGs to the computer'.

With these settings enabled you are still shooting full sized RAW, however only JPEGs are transferred to the computer for previewing the results. The only thing that is left is to enable RAW+JPEG in your camera. As your camera is connected with EOS Utility you can change this right in the EOS utility on the computer.

Change the image quality by clicking on the button left to the button you have just clicked to set the download options and then choose RAW with a lower resolution and lower quality JPEG, which is sufficient for a preview. For me a medium sized and medium quality JPEG is good enough. Note that the JPEG versions will be thrown away later anyway as there is still the full quality RAW on the memory card that will be downloaded later. However the file size of the JPEG is small enough to be transferred to the computer in a few seconds, typically less than 3 seconds on my system.

Fire your first shoot and you should see a window opening showing this image.

First wireless tethered shoot.

Typically I use this EOS Utility preview window for displaying the latest shot as this is the fastest. However this does not work for culling and selecting the shots. This will be done with Lightroom.

Lightroom

Lightroom itself can tether via USB cable only. However it can also watch a folder for changes and automatically import the images and that is the feature that we will be using here.

Start Lightroom and select File > Auto Import > Auto Import Settings...

Select the destination folder that you have configured in the EOS utility above as Watched Folder in this dialog and configure the destination folder in your Lightroom catalog. In my case I also apply a Develop Setting to the tethered files, which applies the lens correction. This can be also very useful to automatically apply a development preset to give a better impression of the final look of the image in case you are tethering for clients that may have their difficulties to see the difference between the unedited image and the final outcome.

Now when you shoot a picture, it is automatically transfered via Wi-Fi using the EOS Utility application into its target folder. Lightroom is watching that folder, sees that there is a new file, automatically imports it, and applies the configured settings. While you can use Lightroom's loupe view also to display the current tethered image, note that this takes a few additional seconds due to all the involved overhead.

You can now use the JPEGs to apply the initial ratings to the image (typically I use stars here). Of course the draw back of this process is that I will import the final RAW files later from the camera and will have to synchronize the ratings manually later. However this is done without time pressure later.

Alternatively you can still shoot in RAW only and directly import the final RAW files into Lightroom, but this will be much slower than just syncing a smaller JPEG preview. So this depends on the requirements of your workflow.

That's it. In the end this is another post that turned out to be way longer than originally planned, but I hope you will find this useful. Please post a comment in case you have corrections or an idea for improving this workflow.