Field Test: Case Air Wireless Tethering (and my remote camera blues from Saturday’s NFL Playoffs)
Hi Gang — and welcome to a totally awesome Monday! On Saturday, I shot with the Falcons Crew (three of the best guys, and lights out shooters, you’d ever want to meet: Jimmy Cribb, Michael Benford, and Lynn Bass) for the NFL Divisional Playoff game between the Falcons and the Seahawks (and the Falcons rocked it with a big win!).
I brought my standard remote camera rig (more on that in a moment), but I wanted to try something new for shooting goal line stands from really down low, which is a remote camera rig (Platypod Pro Max, 3leggedthing Airhed Neo Ballhead) but I did it by controlling the shoot from my iPhone using Tethertools “Case Air” Wireless Tethering System.
The advantage is that I can set the rig down on the ground, and then see a live view of the field from my iPhone. I can change settings, set my focal point, do a time lapse, and even fire the camera all from my iPhone. The images go straight into my phone, so I could share them almost instantly if need be. Here’s a closer look at the rig:
Above: The Case Air is that little unit sitting on top of my camera, in the hot shoe mount. It plugs into your camera’s mini-USB port (well, on my camera anyway, which is a 5D Mark III), and that’s the whole set-up hardware wise. Then you download the free Case Air app for your iPhone. The Case Air creates its own closed wireless network which you connect to (just takes a few seconds), and then you see what your camera is seeing, right on your app.
Above: The Falcons are lining up for an extra point when I took this shot using the Case Air. It was at that moment that I realized that a 14mm lens is WAY too wide for this task. Needs to be at least a 24-70mm, which is what I’ll try next week. This way, I can keep my 70-200mm ready for a pass to either edge, and the Case Air covers the center of the field (though I’m set up off center here, I won’t be next time).
We’re generally not allowed to lay down in the end zone (kneeling is fine), and the PocketWizard Route that I use for the player intros would work here too. It’s probably more responsive than the Case Air, but without lying on the ground (which I do in rare instances), the Case Air gives you a perfect way to set-up and focus the camera before the play. I can tell you — this is probably the last thing the folks at Tethertools ever imagined this being used for, but I wanted to try it anyway.
PROS: It’s super lightweight; it’s very cleverly designed, and all connects in seconds, and in the studio and for this field test I had zero problems getting it to work. I just hooked it up and it worked. The software is great, and the whole thing is fun, and I can go straight from my iPhone to the Web. Social Media folks for teams would eat this up! Plus, it’s only $149, which is around the price of just 1 of the 2 PocketWizard Plus IIIs that you’d need to fire a remote camera in an environment like this.
CONS: It was never designed for this. It’s really for wireless tethering in the studio or for portraits on location, or for a second camera behind the bride and groom during the ceremony. Because everything’s moving via wireless, the images have to transfer from the camera to the iPhone, so if you shoot a burst of images (like we do in football) you don’t see the results right away — you see a spinning status wheel as images are coming in, so you have to wait a minute to see if you “got the shot.”
Speaking of PocketWizard Plus IIIs
My regular remote camera shoot for the intros, which is usually a no-brainer at this point…wasn’t.
Above: My standard rig (except this was my 3rd camera, so it’s a Canon 5D Mark III — usually a Canon 1Dx). PocketWizard Plus III on top sitting in the hot shoe mount. Connected to my camera’s Remote Shutter Release port via a cable. 14mm lens on the camera (perfect for this); an Oben ballhead (got it from B&H), and a Platypod Pro Max plate holding it all steady.
Above: You can see my small rig over on the right, to the left of that Falcon’s logo, which soon will be spitting out fire and smoke, which is one of the reasons why you need a remote camera — you might burst into flames.
Above: Here’s the view from the camera itself. I do lots of test shots before the players come out to make sure everything’s working. The position seems pretty perfect, and it’s firing off test shots (I can see the little light on the top of the PocketWizard, and I see the image appear on the back of the screen, so even though I’m not down there on the ground, I can see it’s firing.
Above: I have a PocketWizard Plus III with me out at the center of the field to trigger that remote camera; it’s in my Hot Shoe mount, so when I fire my camera, it automatically fires the remote. At least, that’s the way it’s supposed to work, but on Saturday it only fired once — just this one picture above, and it never fired again. I have no idea why. Maybe I knocked the remote as we shifted positions after the cheerleaders came out, and the connection wasn’t solid — I don’t know — but I only got this one shot, which is pretty much worthless. This same exact rig worked perfectly at the Dolphins game down in Miami just a few weeks ago. The shame is — the positioning was on the money (at least I know for next week, right?).
Above: This was taken with my main camera with a 70-200mm — I darkened the scene except where I put that red circle so you can see where my remote camera was positioned. Oh well, it happens.
So, as far as Remote Cameras go, it was a miss and a single. I proved the Case Air can work even in an environment I doubt it was ever designed to work in, but I used a wide lens and didn’t have the one I needed with me. Luckily, I get to try again for the NFC Championship Game in Atlanta next week.
So, that’s a little behind the scenes, and a field report on the Case Air. Here’s a link if you want more details on it (and I give it a big thumbs up overall for an affordable, solid wireless tethering system.
Hope you all have a great Monday (yes, it’s Monday and it’s going to be great!). :)