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Infobank

Image download: Wireless transmission

 

The back of the EOS 7D with the WFT-E5 unit fitted.

Canon produces a number of Wireless File Transmitter (WFT) units to enable the wireless sending of images from EOS cameras to a WiFi enabled computer or access point. The first unit was the WFT-E1 for the EOS-1Ds Mark II, EOS-1D Mark II and the EOS 5D. The more recent units are the WFT-E2 for the EOS-1D Mark III and the EOS-1Ds Mark III; the WFT-E3 for the EOS 40D and EOS 50D; the WFT-E4 and WFT-E4 II for the EOS 5D Mark II; the WFT-E5 for the EOS 7D; the WFT-E6 for the EOS-1D X and the WFT-E7 for the EOS 5D Mark III and other future mid-range products. The WFT-E2 II unit was launched for use with the EOS-1D Mark IV and is backwards compatible with the EOS-1D Mark III and EOS-1Ds Mark III.

All models after the WFT-E1 offer three connection modes – HTTP, FTP and PTP for various working methods. The WFT-E6 and WFT-E7 feature the most advanced working methods and run on 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g and 802.11n networks for the fastest wireless transmission currently available. Units from the WFT-E5 onwards are also compatible with the DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) and allow remote camera control using an HTTP browser even on a ‘smartphone’, like an Apple iPhone.

For control of more than one camera, the WFT-E4 II, WFT-E2 II and all models since the WFT-E5 provide the option for linked shooting where a master camera can trigger up to 10 slave cameras, with the correct attached WFT units, from up to 100m away.

WFT units since the WFT-E2 also feature an ethernet port for direct cable connection to a network, as well as a USB port for connecting an external hard disk or GPS unit. The WFT-E5, WFT-E4 II and WFT-E2 II USB ports are compatible with Bluetooth dongles, while the WFT-E6 and WFT-E7 have a built in bluetooth module, so a GPS unit can be attached using a Bluetooth connection for automatic wireless geo-tagging of images.

The WFT-E6 and WFT-E7 both offer wireless time synching between other WFT-E6 or E7 units connected to other cameras. For situations where you may shoot with more than one camera, this allows you to synch the time and then put captured images in the order in which they were taken after the event.

Network basics

There are two types of wireless network that are important to understand if you intend to use the WFT-E1, ad-hoc and infrastructure.

An ad-hoc network is for single computers or small networks. It allows the WFT-E1 to connect directly to a computer - a point-to-point or peer-to-peer connection. If you are in a studio and you want to send JPEGs to a laptop that is not connected to a network, you will need to use ad-hoc mode.

Unfortunately though, ad-hoc networking is only a low speed connection. With the WFT-E1, this means a maximum transfer rate of 11mbps (mega bits per second). If however, you are sending your images via a wireless router, or network hub, to a computer, you will be using infrastructure mode. This is a much faster connection. With the WFT-E1, in optimum conditions, you can reach 54mbps.

IP Addresses

One of the most confusing parts of networking is the IP (internet protocol) address setup. Every piece of hardware on a network will have its own unique IP address. This is its location on the network. If you think of it as a house address it becomes much clearer. It is made up of four sets of up to three digits from 0 to 255.
For example: 123.456.789.321
Following the house address analogy, the first three digits − ‘123’ - in this example, are the country. The next three - ‘456’ - are the town. After that, ‘789’ is the street name, and finally, ‘321’ is the house number.

For different devices to communicate on the same network, they all need to be in the same street. In other words, the first three sets of digits should all be the same.

Within the IP addresses, there are two different types. Global addresses allow communication between devices, or nodes, across different networks, while private addresses only allow communication across the same network. The private IP address ranges are:
192.168.0.0 to 192.168.255.255
172.16.0.0 to 172.31.255.255
10.0.0.0 to 10.255.255.255

By default, most routers tend to be set as 192.168.0.1. Initially, it is worth using this as your default network address and then changing if you need to once everything is set up and working correctly. When building a network, you need to plan how it will be organised. The simplest method is to assign a range of IP addresses for each type of hardware.

For example, all routers in your network could be in the range 192.168.0.1 to 192.168.0.10. You could then assign all computers on the network IP addresses in the range 192.168.0.11 to 192.168.0.20. All your WiFi units could be set to the range 192.168.0.21 to 192.168.0.30 and so on through your hardware places.

This is only a guide. If you need more than ten IP addresses for a particular type of hardware, move the ranges around. The important point to take from this is that all the hardware on the network should be in the same range of IP addresses.

It is possible to allow your IP addresses to be automatically assigned using DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) but initially it is easier to work with known values.

Once you have decided on your network IP addresses, you need to name the network connection, or SSID (ESS-ID). This is the Server Set Identification that you decide on. It allows communication between appropriate nodes on a network.

Wireless File Transmitter WFT-E2

Wireless File Transmitter WFT-E2

Smaller, lighter and more versatile than the WFT-E1, the WFT-E2 also enables wireless image transfers to computers and remote FTP sensors. Support for HTTP means that picture editors can connect to the EOS-1D Mark III over the internet – allowing them to view, select and download images from the camera’s memory card moments after capture. PTP connection mode enables two-way communication between the EOS-1D Mark III and a computer for wireless remote shooting with the supplied EOS Utility software.

Responding to feedback from Wireless File Transmitter WFT-E1 users, Canon has expanded the functionality of the Wireless File Transmitter WFT-E2 to support two-way communication via peer to peer (PTP) and HTTP protocols. Remote users can trigger the shutter button or download images from the camera via an internet browser window, dramatically reducing the time it takes from capture to publication. The Wireless File Transmitter WFT-E2 offers users a much greater degree of security by allowing up to four types of WEP encryption as well as WPA2-PSK, which supports high security AES encryption.

USB host functionality means photographers can shoot directly to external storage media on longer shooting assignments. The unit also supports recording of GPS data. When connected to a portable GPS device, the location and time of capture is automatically added to each image as EXIF data.

Requiring no additional batteries, the Wireless File Transmitter WFT-E2 fits neatly onto the side of the EOS-1D Mark III and offers the same degree of weather resistance.

FTP Servers

Once your network is configured with IP addresses, you need to setup an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) server. An FTP server allows you to transfer files between nodes on a network. In this case, it is between the WFT-E1 and your computer.

Windows XP, Windows 2000 and Mac OS X all have built in FTP servers, though when you installed Windows XP or 2000, you may not have installed it as an option. This is easy to correct, but you may need your Windows disc.

FTP servers in Windows XP

If you already have the FTP server installed on your computer, you can skip the following steps concerning this part.

  • Ensure your computer is connected to the network or has a wireless card installed and active
  • In the Start menu, choose Settings, then Control Panel then Network Connections
  • Find the Local Area Connection for the adapter you want to use. Double Click this and select Properties
  • Select the Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) and choose Properties
  • Enter the IP address and subnet mask appropriate for your network. If you are using the sample numbers given above, this will be 192.168.0.11 for the IP address and 255.255.255.0 for the subnet mask. If you have a DHCP server, you can leave this as Obtain an IP address automatically
  • From the Start menu, select Control Panel then Add/Remove Programs. You must have administrator access to do this.
  • Select Add/Remove Windows Components
  • Scroll down to Internet Information Services (IIS), click the check box and then click Details
  • Find the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) Service and click the check box, then click Ok (you may be asked for your Windows disk at this point)
  • Once this is installed, go to Start, Settings, Control Panel, Administrative Tools, then select Internet Information Services
  • In the FTP Sites section, right click on Default FTP Site
  • In the FTP Site tab ensure it is called Default FTP Site
  • Next, click on the Security Accounts tab and ensure that Allow Anonymous Connections is ticked. This will mean your login details to the FTP site will be Username: Anonymous, with the password left blank
  • Go to the Home Directory tab, and in the box next to Local Path, type the location of the folder you want the files to go to, alternatively you can browse for the folder on your computer
  • Ensure Read, Write and Log Visits are ticked, then click Apply and then Ok. Your FTP server is now set up and running

Windows 2000 users should also find that these steps will work, though some of the names might be slightly different.

FTP servers in Mac OS X

Fortunately in Mac OS X, the FTP server is already installed by default.

  • From the Apple select System Preferences
  • Click on Network and then select the built in Ethernet from the Show Box
  • If you need to assign an IP address to the network adapter for a network with no DHCP server, select Configure IPv4 Manually
  • Enter your IP address and Subnet Mask
  • Click Apply Now
  • Go back to System Preferences and from the Internet & Network section, click Sharing In the Services tab, look for FTP Access, select it and Start the service
  • If you are using Mac OS X firewall, then you will have to make sure that FTP Access is allowed through the firewall
  • For a Mac OS X FTP server, the login username and password are the same as the computer login and password

The WFT-E1 setup utility

Included with your WiFi unit is a CD containing a small utility to make setting up the WiFi unit as easy as possible. Unless you are very confident with setting up the WFT-E1 using the menu system on the camera, it will be quicker and easier to use it.

When you open the utility, there will be three tabs:

  • TCP/IP settings
  • FTP settings
  • Wireless LAN settings

In the TCP/IP tab, select Use the following IP address. It is easier to setup using known values and then moving on to using DHCP once everything is working.

The IP address should be that of the camera, i.e. the IP address that you have decided the camera and WiFi unit should have. The subnet mask will be 255.255.255.0. You can leave the Gateway as 0.0.0.0.

Now move to the FTP settings tab. The target server IP address should be the IP address of the computer on which the FTP server is running. The Port should be 21. Tick Use passive mode and Overwrite same file. Under User, the Login Name for PC will be anonymous and the Password should be left blank. For Mac computers, the Login Name and Password will be the same as the computer hosting the FTP server.

In the Wireless LAN settings tab, you need to set the SSID, for example WFT. Then select your connection method. This should be ad-hoc for a direct link to a computer, or infrastructure if you are accessing the FTP server through a network router. If you select ad-hoc, you will also need to select a channel. Both the computer and the WFT-E1 must be on the same channel to communicate.

Once set, you can decide on using WEP or TKIP encryption to protect your data as it is transmitted, or no encryption if you are in a safe environment. It is easier to get everything working without using encryption and then add encryption afterwards.

With all the settings made in the WFT-E1 utility, you need to transfer them to the camera. Insert a Compact Flash (CF) or Secure Digital (SD) card into your card reader and click save settings in the utility. Select your card and save the settings file to the root directory of the card (i.e. not in a folder). Transfer the card to the camera and go to the menu settings. The Wireless LAN setup menu is only available with the WFT-E1 attached and turned on. Select the wireless LAN menu and load the settings from the card to the camera.

Once done, turn off both the WFT-E1 and the camera. Turn the WFT-E1 back on, followed by the camera. If you have done everything correctly, you should now be able to shoot and the images will be sent directly to your computer.

Which files to send?

In an ideal environment, using an infrastructure connection, the transfer rate is 54mbps. This equates to roughly 6.75MB/sec and means a RAW file will take 2.5 seconds or more to transfer. While this may not sound like a long time, unless you are shooting very slowly, it may be frustratingly slow. In reality, reaching the full 54mbps transfer rate is not likely as there are too many factors that can affect it. As such, it is probably best to send JPEG images to your computer for review, whilst the RAW files stay on the card. If all you need to do with the images is review then on screen, the even the medium or small JPEG files are likely to be enough.

Camera compatible?

The WFT-E1 is currently compatible with the EOS-1Ds Mark II, EOS-1D Mark II, EOS-1D Mark IIN and EOS 20D. Visit http://web.canon.jp/Imaging/wfte1/wfte1_firmware-e.html for details of the latest upgrades.

Outside the studio

The WiFi unit is very useful in a studio environment so your clients can see the equivalent of a Polaroid proof on a large screen almost immediately. However, this is not the only place the WiFi unit has uses. Some major sports venues are installing wireless networks so that photographers can transmit images back to base with the minimum of effort.

TCP/IP settings in the WFT-E1 utility. Here you can assign an IP address to your camera/WiFi unit so that they can communicate with your computer.

FTP server settings in the WFT-E1 utility. This will help you to set up your camera to communicate with the FTP server or your computer.

Wireless LAN settings in the WFT-W1 utility. Here you can set the SSID, the network type and any encryption you might want to use.