Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Going wireless with the 5D mark III - the WFT-E7

 Regular readers will know I'm a big fan of shooting wirelessly to a laptop. My post on how to set up the Canon WFT-E4 is the most read on this site and has over 100 comments. The WFT-E4 fits the 5D mark II like a moulded battery grip providing dual controls for shooting verticals. This is an excellent design, with the only drawback being the transmitter is specific to the mark II. It simply won't fit on any other camera.

So the new 5D mark III takes a new transmitter - the WFT-E7. To their credit, Canon have tried to design the new one so that it fits all their cameras - you don't need to buy a new one every time you upgrade. Unfortunately, in the process thay have made some design decisions that make it almost useless for the way I shoot.

Instead of being a moulded grip, the WFT-E7 is a simple oblong block that attaches to the bottom of the camera using the tripod socket. While this means it can attach to any Canon camera, for me this is where thing start to go wrong:

- the transmitter is wider than the camera and sticks out the sides, making it very un ergonomic to handle
- the camera can no longer be attached to a tripod, as the tripod thread is now blocked
- the transmitter has to be connected to the camera using a USB cable!
These 'features' makes the WFT-E7 almost useless to me:

Firstly, I often use the WFT on a tripod. Sure you could have the WFT attached to something else as it now has a cable, but in that case I might as well be tethered directly to the computer. 

Secondly, the rest of the time I use the WFT handheld. The new WFT is so unergonomic it makes the camera awkward to hold and gets in the way. It also precludes the use of a battery grip if you do want dual controls for vertical shooting - it would have to attach to the tripod thread under the grip, which is exactly where your hand would go to hold it.

Finally, by connecting to the camera using a cable, it defeats the whole purpose of going wireless - avoiding having to have wires!

So I sent it back within an hour of receiving it.

Unfortunately the 5D mark III has not been designed with the small connection port on the base that the mark II had. This means Canon will NEVER be able to release an integrated grip type transmitter like the WFT-E4. Oh well.

Thankfully the mark III takes Eye-Fi wireless SD cards and they seem to work quite well. A full report on how to set them up and how well they work will come soon in a follow on post.