Wi-Fi is the wireless network technology that laptops and tablets use to connect to the Internet. Some new cameras, including the Canon 6D and Canon 70D, support Wi-Fi. Ethernet accomplishes the same thing as Wi-Fi, but uses a cable and transfers images quite a bit faster. Top-end cameras such as the Canon 1D X allow you to connect them to a network using an Ethernet cable. Additionally, you can buy overpriced accessories to connect other camera bodies to wired and wireless networks. Connecting your camera to a network is useful for tethering, which is the process of instantly transferring images from your camera to a PC or mobile device. Tethering is useful in several different scenarios:
- A casual photographer could transfer a picture to his or her smartphone so he or she could post it on Facebook without going back to his or her computer.
- A photojournalist could transfer a picture of a crime scene directly to his or her editor.
- A portrait photographer could transfer pictures to a PC so the customer can preview them immediately.
- A fashion photographer could allow an art director to examine the pictures as they’re taken on a computer display, so the art director could provide immediate feedback.
- A commercial photographer could examine the pictures on a PC to verify that the images meet the stringent quality requirements.
Most casual photographers won’t ever need to tether their camera, but many professional photographers do need to do so. If your camera has Wi-Fi or wired Ethernet built in, you can install an app on your mobile device, PC, or Mac to receive and preview pictures you take in real time. If your camera does not have tethering built-in, you can probably add an Eye-Fi or Transcend SD Wi-Fi card and accomplish the same thing. If your camera takes CF memory cards, you can use the SD Wi-Fi cards with an inexpensive adapter. Wi-Fi can also provide remote viewing and remote control of your camera. While cool, I have yet to find a practical application for this.