Canon EOS 5D Mark II wirelessly shooting the Space Shuttle with an Apple iPad

by planetmitch7 Comments

Using your Canon EOS 5D Mark II (reviews) from a remote location (even miles away) via an Apple iPad is indeed possible using the Canon WFT-E4 II Wireless Transmitter! Several months ago, we found this blog post by photographer and filmmaker Scott Audette and we've also recently gotten an inside look at the process from our friends at Canon.

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First, a video demo

It might be easiest to understand if you watch this video that Scott put together to show the the iPad connected to the Canon EOS 5D Mark II… and there's more description as well on Scott's blog post that you should read as well.

Canon 5D Mark II and the ipad, oh my! from Scott Audette on Vimeo.

Check out as I use a Canon 5d Mark II with the WFT-4e II as transmitter at the Kennedy Space Center for the launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis. The video is NOT slickly produced as some of our other ones but shows us using a ipad to checkout the camera at the pad from 25 plus miles away. And we are only using air cards for the transmissions.


Here's the story contributed by Canon:

Few news events are as thrilling as the launch of a NASA space shuttle. From the thunderous ignition of its rocket engines and boosters to its meteoric ascent into earth’s orbit, each launch is history in the making. Now, as the last few scheduled missions of the nation’s nearly 30-year space shuttle program draw near, their historic significance becomes all the more important.

Scott Audette is a veteran photojournalist who uses Canon’s EOS 5D Mark II Digital SLRs to capture images of shuttle launches for the Reuters news agency. For the shuttle’s next launch, his equipment will also include Canon’s WFT-E4 II A Wireless File Transmitter and an Apple iPad to help remotely control his EOS 5D Mark II and view its images from several miles away. Best of all, Audette’s system will enable him to download and email Reuters full-resolution launch jpegs almost instantly.

“The ultimate goal in news photography today is to deliver pictures to the client faster than anyone else,” Audette explained. “In the past decade this business has gone from being one of hours to one of seconds. Today, with the Internet and new media, it's all about whose picture appears first on newspaper web sites, as opposed to their print editions. This business also demands that you do things in the most efficient and cost-effective way. The new connection options and enhanced controls of Canon’s WFT-E4 II A Wireless File Transmitter enable me to remotely control my 5D Mark II camera, and then log-in and choose the one or two frames to send to the client, pull them off the camera, and then email them just a few minutes later.”

Canon's WFT-E4 II A Wireless File Transmitter is designed to provide several different connection options for users to remotely connect, view and control the EOS 5D Mark II and quickly transmit image files from the point of capture – via a wireless or wired connection – to virtually any location accessible via the Internet or other data network. It is the key to tying together the technology Audette chose to use as part of his shuttle-photography system, which – in addition to his Canon EOS 5D Mark II DSLR – also includes a battery-operated laptop, mobile broadband “air card” cell-phone connection, broadband router, and Apple's new iPad tablet computer.

At a shuttle launch earlier this year Audette had configured his EOS 5D Mark II and WFT E4 II A Wireless File Transmitter for remote access via the Internet, and it was then that he decided to experiment with yet another piece of equipment to remotely connect and fire his EOS 5D Mark II via the Internet. “I was in the lobby of a hotel in Titusville, Florida with my colleagues from the other wire services and a friend from Apple,” Audette recalled. “I asked if I could borrow his iPad and see if I could control my Canon 5D Mark II, which was attached to a Canon WFT-E4 II A Wireless File Transmitter and the other gear 26 miles away in the front window of our trailer at the Kennedy Space Center. We instantly dialed into the camera and were able to control it and take pictures with it. Everybody’s faces went blank as they realized what a game-changer this was for remotely capturing and transmitting images, and we knew it would be perfect for the next shuttle launch.”

Deciding to put his brain-child to the test, Audette used his system for the May 14 blast-off of the shuttle Atlantis, and he achieved the results he was seeking. He conserved power in the 5D Mark II DSLR’s internal battery by using a Canon intervalometer to wake the camera twice each hour, during which time he could control and test the camera. A sound trigger ensured that the camera would capture the launch itself.

“Once I saw that I could use Canon’s WFT-E4 II A Wireless File Transmitter for this purpose, I realized it opened up an unlimited opportunity to put cameras in unique places where they could never be placed before,” Audette enthused. “As long as your camera is powered, awake, and connected to the Internet you can control it and access its pictures.”

Expanding New Media
In addition to news, Audette uses his Canon EOS 5D Mark II DSLR to shoot both stills and HD video of professional sports. Recent assignments have included directing and shooting a video open for an NHL hockey team.

“The reason I got that gig is because the client likes the look I can get with the 5D Mark II,” he noted. “I am primarily a still photographer, but as the business evolves, so do I. Canon’s 5D Mark II is revolutionary because it enables still photographers to participate in creating new media by capturing both still and HD motion images fairly easily for the same assignment.”

“The early digital cameras made pictures that lacked depth, color, and feeling,” Audette continued. “Today’s digital cameras with Canon’s DIGIC processors, however, enable photographers to create images that look organic and natural. I own lots of cameras, but 90 percent of the time I reach for my 5D Mark II. You can’t beat it. The quality is stunning. The files are beautiful, the video is beautiful, and it’s exciting. Best of all, it lets you concentrate on being a photographer again.”

Isn't that just cool? We'll have another story or two about controlling your camera in the near future.

Canon article submitted by Holly Kowalzik, PR Assistant, Marcomm Group

(Photo credit: snap from Scott Audette (with permission))

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  1. All the videos in your posts are showing up as the magic lantern one in the RSS feed.

  2. A nice… I remember this…. good refresh and nice to hear from Canon in regards to it all.

  3. If you need a laptop to make this work why buy the wireless transmitter when DSLR Remote (iphone app) will do the same?

    1. Author

      The difference is that with the onOne DSLR Remote software, you have to tether the camera to a laptop which has the server software running. In the setup Scott has shown, the camera has the wireless transmitter (which has the server software in it) attached to the camera and is running off the camera battery. Imagine having a laptop sitting next to the camera at the shuttle launch and how long the battery on that would last! (not long enough I imagine).

      We’ll talk about the onOne software in another post

  4. Would be tragic if someone went and ripped off that unattended camera while you were out shooting wirelessly at the restaurant with the guy who can’t focus while shooting video footage of you there. Sound was blaringly loud too.

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