EOS Utility 3
© George Cairns
The release of Canon’s Digital Photo Professional (DPP) 4 software in mid-2014 was accompanied by an updated version of its EOS Utility software – version 3. EOS Utility 3 acts in tandem with DPP 4 and enables you to download images from a camera’s memory card to your computer, remotely control the camera to capture new images or edit camera settings, such as the image owner’s name. You can then organise and process the imported images in Digital Photo Professional 4. EOS Utility 3 features improvements to form and function and the increased integration between Canon’s two free apps helps to streamline the shooting, importing and editing process. Indeed, you can now launch EOS Utility 3’s Live View window and remote camera shooting panel from within the Digital Photo Professional workspace, which allows the two packages to work together as a tighter team. CPN writer George Cairns takes a closer look at the capabilities of EOS Utility 3 and how it works alongside DPP 4...
Remote control via a WiFi connection
If you have a WiFi-enabled camera, such as the Canon EOS 6D, then you can enjoy using EOS Utility 3’s remote shooting capabilities to capture and import images into Digital Photo Professional 4 without physically tethering your camera to a computer. In this article we’ll look at how the EOS Utility 3 software enables you to control a wide range of camera functions from the comfort of your computer screen, whether the wirelessly-linked camera is in a studio or even outdoors… if your router’s WiFi signal will stretch that far!
By controlling a tethered camera using the EOS Utility you can fine-tune colour, exposure and focus during the shoot, which will reduce your image processing time at a later date. By changing your camera’s aperture remotely during a shoot you can overcome focus problems that would be hard to fix using Digital Photo Professional. We’ll show you how EOS Utility 3 software enables you to take control of a range of camera functions…
You can, of course, tether your Canon to your computer via a cable and use EOS Utility 3 to take control of your camera, but by using a WiFi link you will have much more freedom. You’ll need to enable WiFi on your Canon camera (if it supports this feature) and connect it to your home network (which is a similar process to connecting a smart phone to a WiFi router). Go to your camera’s WiFi function menu screen and choose Connect to remote control (EOS Utility). When you choose ‘Connect to Device’ in your Canon’s menu option a computer icon will appear on your camera’s display, indicating that it is ready to connect wirelessly to a computer.
When launching EOS Utility 3 on your computer you’ll be given the option to pair a compatible WiFi-enabled Canon camera over WiFi/LAN. The EOS Pairing Software window on your computer will display the Canon camera connected to your home network. Once you’ve paired the camera and the computer via WiFi they should then talk to each other happily at any time in the future. You can now launch EOS Utility 3 and take remote control of your camera. This is where the fun begins.
To generate remote shooting images for this article we connected a Canon EOS 6D DSLR to a home WiFi network. As an iMac was also connected to the network we could pair the camera to the computer. This enabled us to sit indoors by the computer and use EOS Utility 3 to remotely trigger our camera’s shutter when a bee or butterfly landed on our outdoor target – a flower.
Getting started: three key options
As soon as you attach a camera to your computer it will launch EOS Utility 3 and you’ll be presented with a re-organised menu screen. Here you can choose to download images to computer from the camera’s memory card, activate remote shooting or tinker with the camera settings (such as adding your owner’s name, copyright information or registering lens aberration correction data). As you roll your computer’s mouse over each of the three options a text description will clarify each command’s function.
You can set EOS Utility 3 to launch automatically as soon as your computer detects a connected Canon camera. You can also activate EOS Utility 3 from within Canon’s Digital Photo Professional 4 software, by clicking on the new ‘Remote shooting’ button. After specifying a folder to store captured images, the ‘Camera Control’ panel will open. Here you can manually trigger a connected camera’s shutter thanks to an extra release button within DPP 4.
EOS Utility 3 and DPP 4 working together
Here’s a detailed look at how Canon’s EOS Utility 3 and Digital Photo Professional 4 software can work together to help you to capture, import, edit and share your photographs. Once you’ve linked a compatible Canon camera to your computer, and fired up EOS Utility 3, click the ‘Remote shooting’ option in the EOS Utility start up menu screen; the shooting window will now appear. Here you can adjust a host of camera properties and settings (such as aperture and shutter speed) and tinker with menu commands (such as choosing a particular Picture Style).
Click the shooting window’s folder icon to launch the EOS Utility ‘Preferences’ window. Here you can designate the ‘Destination’ folder to store all of the photos imported using EOS Utility. While you’re in Preferences, you can register Digital Photo Professional as the linked software. This will cause DPP 4 to launch automatically when you shoot remotely using EOS Utility 3.
Using Remote Live View
If you have the camera tethered nearby (such as via a cable to your laptop/computer), then you can see the Live View display on the camera body. However, if the camera is linked via WiFi, and isn’t close to hand, then you’ll then need to click the shooting window’s ‘Live View Shoot’ button to launch EOS Utility’s useful Remote Live View window. Here you can see a direct feed from your connected camera’s Live View display. This live video feed is larger than the display on your Canon camera’s LCD, which makes it easier to check if the subject is in focus. It’s particularly rewarding to see the live video feed from a WiFi-connected camera that’s in a more distant location, such as a garden.
The Remote Live View window features controls that enable you to alter a wide range of camera settings from the comfort of your computer. In our example workflow the tethered Canon EOS 6D was set up on a tripod to capture bees and insects pollinating garden flowers. We were able to adjust the aperture remotely on our housebound computer to experiment with different depths-of-field, so that we could capture an insect in sharp focus against an attractive background bokeh. As it was difficult to predict which flower a bee might land on, we found it was particularly useful to be able to tweak the focus using the controls in the Remote Live view window’s ‘Focus’ panel. We could click the cursor on a particular flower to focus on it, for example.
To ensure that your subject looks sharp you can use the Remote Live View window to digitally zoom in on the image, as you would if you were operating the Live View function of the camera directly. You can then tweak the focus more effectively and then zoom out to view the sharper composition. To increase your chance of capturing certain subjects such as wildlife, you can activate the camera’s ‘Drive’ mode from the shooting window’s LCD-style display.
As with your camera, you can access White Balance presets (such as Daylight, Shade etc.) from the Remote Live View window. As a bonus the Remote Live View window has an eyedropper tool that makes it much easier to create a Custom White Balance setting. Simply click on an object that should be white (or a neutral grey). The eyedropper will sample the colour and warm up or cool down the colours until it creates a tint-free white. As a result all of the other colours in the image will be corrected (or balanced).
The Remote Live View window also helps you to analyse a shot’s composition, courtesy of its ‘Compose’ panel. Here you can overlay existing photos with the Live View and mimic their composition. You can adjust the opacity and size of the overlay using sliders. You can also turn on a series of overlay grids to help your image adhere to various composition methods such as the ‘Rule of Thirds’. You can even customise the grid mesh and change its colour. Employing a denser grid is useful in order to help you spot converging verticals or barrel distortion in architectural subjects, for example.
Once you’re happy with the focus you can go to the shooting settings panel and adjust attributes such as shutter speed. The shooting settings panel is designed to look like a typical camera’s LCD display: just click the mouse on an attribute such as such as shutter speed or aperture to alter it. You can then scroll down to change the selected attribute with ease. Any changes that these tweaked settings produce will be reflected in the Remote Live View window. You can also experiment with different White Balance settings to bring out your subject’s true colours and select a Picture Style to suit your subject matter.
Recording video clips
As well as capturing stills, you can trigger the tethered camera to record video clips and adjust various video-related properties such as sound. The built-in microphone on most DSLRs is vulnerable to wind noise, especially when filming outdoors. You can use the Remote Live View window to activate a Wind Filter that is designed to reduce some of the frequencies in wind noise.
Thanks to the combination of Remote Live View and the shooting settings panel you can get your shots looking their best in relation to colour, tone, focus and composition. Once you’ve tweaked the camera settings and are happy with the image preview in the Remote Live View window, you’re ready to trigger the release button.
Transferring and saving images
You can set up EOS Utility 3 to transfer images straight to your computer as you shoot remotely, which can speed up the image importing process. If you’re shooting using a WiFi-tethered camera link it might take a while to wirelessly transfer every RAW image as you shoot, so you have the option of saving the captured images to the camera’s memory card instead of the computer. You can then plug the camera into your computer via cable at a later date and transfer the images much more quickly. You can even shoot simultaneously in JPEG and RAW formats and choose to transfer the lighter JPEG version to the computer, while storing the RAW file on the memory card.
After the shoot you can use EOS Utility 3 to peruse the card’s captured images and selectively tick thumbnails to download the photos that seem most successful, while leaving less successful images on the card. This option to indulge in some selective quality control is another way to speed up your workflow.
By using EOS Utility 3’s remote shooting features you can spend time fine-tuning camera settings during the shoot to get more correctly exposed, sharper, shots that feature accurate colours. You can preview shots on the tethered camera and re-shoot as soon as you spot any problem. By overcoming problems during the production stage you can avoid creating extra time for fixing problems with colour, tone and focus in Digital Photo Professional’s digital darkroom. This makes EOS Utility 3 an invaluable asset in the photographic production pipeline.
- NB: This article is based on using the features of EOS Utility version 3.0. Other versions may vary.