Is it such a bad thing to have a strong sense of diminishing marginal returns from new camera gear, or is it more a sign of confidence and feeling you know what counts? I ask this because over the last week I’ve looked at a new Nikon, the D4s no less, and expressed disappointment that it didn’t have an articulated rear screen. OK, I’m sure that the D4s is as wonderful as it is beyond my budget, but shouldn’t a camera that does do almost everything also give you the opportunity to compose a shot with the camera held high above your head or resting at ground level? I really see this omission as disappointing.

So I’m less of a gear head than people might suppose, more a May than a Clarkson or Hammond. Yet every so often I encounter a piece of kit that really, really impresses me, which is why I post this screengrab of the CamRanger.

Unfortunately the loan was both at very short notice and brief, and I didn’t have a better use for it than testing it on the corner of the living room while sitting in the kitchen, at the back of the house and with no clear line of sight back to the camera. But CamRanger really felt like a polished solution, from the small iPhone-sized device that plugs into the D700 and wifi-enabled the camera, to how the corresponding iPad app quickly connected to the camera and accessed its crucial settings.

A day’s play isn’t a real test, but CamRanger is definitely worth a try if you have a need to remotely control a camera. I have been a fan of Capture One’s Capture Pilot, but it is for tethered shooting and so it means carrying around a computer. I hadn’t even heard of CamRanger until a month ago but immediately thought it might interest a friend who shoots performing arts. Fixation loaned him one and he loved it, setting up his third camera on a tripod in a different part of the theatre and capturing alternative views without moving away from his position. One interesting observation was that although an iPad is in his bag, he found he preferred to control the CamRanger from his iPhone.

What really impressed me was the level of control that CamRanger provided:

  • In the screengrab you can see the live view image – you just have to imagine the camera’s nestled in the corner of the net as Wayne Rooney goes one-to-one with the keeper. There is a fractional delay when you press the Capture button, but in such circumstances you would often be shooting a burst of frames.
  • Along the top you can see the images you’ve captured – shooting RAW+JPEG seems the best way to see results quickly
  • Working down the right side, you can see focussing controls –  but what I really liked about CamRanger was that you can focus the camera by touching the picture itself. This was very slick.
  • At the middle right you can see “A”, so the CamRanger is picking up the stored settings on my Nikon. Nice.
  • Below the A are all the main exposure settings including bias. Are any crucial settings left out? I don’t think so.

So the overwhelming feeling I had from CamRanger was that it was a very polished and intuitive solution.

Returning to my initial thoughts though, I should soon be getting my hands on a Fuji XT1. And what has it got – an articulated screen and built-in wifi….