Introduction to Wireless Workflow with Micro 4/3rds Cameras

wireless posterShooting wirelessly from your camera to your iOS or Android device is no doubt the future of capture. Small Camera Big Picture is pleased to present the first in a multi part series on Wireless Workflow for Micro 4/3rds cameras.

The future starts now.

Wireless workflow for working pros

Imagine shooting wirelessly to your iPad which your client has in their hands. They rate the images as they’re downloaded and when the shoot is over you email the selects to the client so they can begin working on rough comps.

When you return to your office you sync up to your Lightroom catalogue and begin the color work to bring the images to a nice, clean baseline for retouching. When your client gives you their picks you send the files over to your retoucher or into photoshop if you do your own retouching.

Wireless for fun

You’re on vacation with your family. It’s a beautiful road trip and you want to share the photos you shot on your camera with your family and friends. As you walk around the sites taking beautiful photos your camera is sending the shots to your smart phone in your pocket (or tablet in your bag). While taking a break you edit the shots down to your favorites, enhance the ones you love and upload to your drop box backing up your work. Next you upload your favorites to the social network of your choice for all to share and comment on.

Challenges faced when shooting Micro 4/3rds on assignments attended by the client.

With the launch of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 the Micro 4/3rds system has firmly established itself as the leading mirrorless camera system for serious photographers. However, for the working professional there are some areas of the system that are lacking, one of those areas being workflow.

With traditional DLSR systems such as Canon or Nikon and even Olympus 4/3rd cameras, the ability to tether the camera to a laptop or workstation has been around for years.

Being able to tether your camera to the computer has many advantages, here are a few:

  • Ability to shoot directly to a large screen to check focus, exposure and composition
  • Shooting directly into your preferred raw processor of choice saves time
  • Helps tremendously with art direction
  • Ability to backup as you shoot
  • Option to place and trigger the camera in areas where it would otherwise be difficult to shoot such as a high location
  • Ability to add pre-processing effects such as contrast and color treatments as the files are rendered in your capture program
  • The wow factor when your images are seen on a large Cinema Display

Unfortunately with Micro 4/3rds cameras there are no proper tethering solutions but your client might want to see the photographs as you capture them. Showing the back of the camera to the client every few frames breaks up the pace of the shoot plus they are seeing an unfinished image.

Also, If your client sees a particular image on the cameras screen they like its not practical for them to choose their selects this way.

Using a tethered workflow builds value with your clients. It’s the standard for studio and most location shooting. Not shooting tethered can lower the perceived value a photographer has in the eyes of their clients.

The solution is to think outside the box

Photographers are creative thinkers and as such we like to use our creativity to solve problems. Developing a workflow for todays Micro 4/3rds cameras is like any other challenge so lets tackle this problem creatively.

We will quickly examine how the wired workflow for most photo shoots operate and explore current technology, utilized by Micro 4/3rds cameras, that can help solve the problem of not being able to tether.

Using a USB cable, the workflow would look like this:

Camera > USB > Workstation with C1Pro >Render out selects >Send selects to client >Client makes picks >Files go to retouching >Files delivered to client

Pretty straight forward and understandable why this is the standard. Wired workflows are common because they work but a wireless workflow will separate you from your competition if you execute it properly.

Since we cannot (as of this writing) tether a Micro 4/3 camera to a computer with a usb cord perhaps we can do this another way. Most Micro 4/3 cameras take advantage of wireless file transfer of photographs using the Eye-Fi card. With the Eye-Fi card the camera sends jpegs or raw files (or even video) to the computer as you shoot thus eliminating the need for a tethering cable.

Using an Eye-Fi card to replace the USB cable, the workflow would look like this:

Camera >Eye-Fi >Workstation with C1Pro >Render out selects >Send selects to client >Client makes picks >Files go to retouching >Files delivered to client

Not much of a difference in theory however all settings being equal using the Eye-Fi card to replace the USB cable in a traditional tethered capture system has more disadvantages then advantages. Lets take a look.

wireless_workflow_chart1

As you can see if you are going to shoot tethered in the traditional sense it is best to stick with a USB connection. Problem is, that is not an option with the Micro 4/3 system so we got to think outside the box.

Also to be fair to the Micro 4/3 system none of the current cameras were even designed for professional use and abuse and the small body size does not really lend its self to studio or location work with tethering. To me it just does not make sense with the current offering of Micro 4/3 cameras to even think about tethering to a computer via USB with such a small body. One of the features of shooting small cameras is the freedom of movement and if I have to connect to a computer with a USB cable I’d rather just shoot a large camera such as a Phase One which is more suited for the slow pace that shooting tethered via USB brings.

Micro 4/3 cameras really lend themselves to shooting smaller, lighter jobs where you need more freedom of movement, speed and perhaps even need to be a bit incognito. If you’re going to shoot something like a run-n-gun band shoot without a permit shooting with a Micro 4/3 camera is perfect.

But what if you are like me and really love shooting with your Olympus so much that you are hell-bent on figuring out a workflow that works with the OM-D E-M5 while satisfying the needs of your clients?

This is where we get creative developing a workflow that is a head of its time, portable, fast and one that will impress your clients and friends.

Developing a wireless workflow from the future

In order to develop a solid workflow we need to look at current technology and also what technology is coming in the near future.

Today the computer industry is moving away from mouse and keyboard. More and more devices are using touch screens and tablet computing is fast becoming the new personal computer. A feature that both the tablet computers like the iPad and cameras like the Olympus OM-D E-M5 share is wireless connectivity.

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 can take advantage of all the features of the Eye-Fi Pro X2 card. With the Eye-Fi Pro X2 card you can shoot to both the memory card and to a wireless device such as the iPad (or laptop) if needed. No additional network is required. Simply power up the camera, make the connection and shoot.

Read other sections of the Wireless Workflow -

Introduction to wireless workflow

Gear and Setup

Workflow – Professional and Enthusiast/Social Media

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About Giulio Sciorio

Since 2009, Hybrid Photography pioneer Giulio Sciorio has been blending still + motion & sound with his photography. Giulio is a Lumix Luminary, commercial photographer and founder of SmallCameraBigPicture.com - the resource for everything Hybrid. A portfolio of Giulio’s hybrid work can be found at GiulioSciorio.com.

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10 Responses to Introduction to Wireless Workflow with Micro 4/3rds Cameras

  1. drac August 16, 2012 at 2:56 am #

    Nice article, looking forward to the others. I been waiting a while for this and was going to mail you and ask for it. Do you know if it will work with a G2 also. I’m only a amateur and my pockets aren’t deep enough for a OMD currently.

    • Iain Simmons August 16, 2012 at 4:11 am #

      Apparently yes:http://support.eye.fi/cameras/panasonic/lumix_dmc-g2

      There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of cameras that aren’t compatible… Here is where you can check each camera.
      http://support.eye.fi/cameras/

      I’m loving this wireless workflow with my E-PL1! Though I’m just going from camera > eye-fi > Android smartphone > web/instagram.

      • Giulio Sciorio August 16, 2012 at 6:16 pm #

        Hi Iain,

        thanks for leaving a comment. Glad to hear you’re digging shooting wirelessly with the E-PL1. Eye-Fi told me that their cards work really well with Android. What has your experience with Android been?

    • Giulio Sciorio August 16, 2012 at 6:15 pm #

      Thanks for reading and commenting Drac. Looks like Iain answered your question before I could get to it.

      Let me know how the Eye-Fi card works out.

  2. Felice August 20, 2012 at 6:14 am #

    I want to shoot video with my omd. Can the eye fi card playback video on the ipad as a useful larger viewfinder? I would love to know if that’s possible, because mini lcd that fit on the camera shoot are so darn expensive.

    • Giulio Sciorio August 20, 2012 at 12:37 pm #

      Once you transfer the file yes it will play back video but think about how long transferring video over WiFi takes before you decide if thats the right workflow for you.

      If you need to work fast then reviewing video on a external monitor is the way to go.

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