CamRanger is a product I have wanted to try for a while. I have had a long love/hate relationship with camera mobile apps.
About 95% hate and 5% love if I’m honest. Maybe 5% is optimistic.
The easiest way to describe the CamRanger 2 is that it’s a camera mobile app on steroids, using hardware to mitigate some of the problems encountered with mobile apps. It’s the mobile app manufacturers should have made in the first place.
That said, the CamRanger 2 isn’t just a mobile app. It allows for tethered use on Windows and Mac.
It’s probably a bit unfair on camera manufacturers to expect them to match the hardware in the CamRanger 2, but there is still a lot of room for improvement.
The CamRanger 2, as you probably gathered, is the second iteration of the CamRanger as the “2” moniker indicates. I never tried the original, so I can’t only give my perspective on where it is now, but I’ve noted the improvements provided by CamRanger.
It’s taken me a little while to get through this review as my unit arrived about a week before we went into COVID lockdown, closing skate park and most sporting facilities…my key locations for photography, but we got there in the end.
Let’s dive into the review.
Table of Contents
What is CamRanger 2?
- What every mobile app should be
- Advanced feature set should keep most users happy
- Range is insanely far
- Battery life can be limited due to USB charging issues on some brands
- Short standard cable
- Would be nice if presets were pre-populated.
The CamRanger Wireless Transmitter allows you to wirelessly control Canon, Nikon, Sony and Fujifilm cameras from up to 500 ft away, and view and share images via your mobile device.
You’re also able to backup SD cards and remotely access advanced features such as live view, touch focus, focus-stacking, intervalometer, HDR bracketing, photo capture, and movie recording.
CamRanger 2 Specs
- Release Type: Wireless: Wi-Fi
- Camera Connection: Various/Universal
- Wireless Frequency: 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz
- Interval Timer/Programmable: Yes
- Live View: Yes
- Mobile Device/App-enabled: Yes
- Shutter Modes: Bulb, Continuous, Single Shot
- Wireless Range: 500′ / 152.40 m
- Receiver Dimensions: 4.2 x 2.7 x 1.2″ / 106.7 x 68.6 x 30.5 mm
- Receiver Power Source: Battery
- Receiver Weight: 5.6 oz / 159 g
CamRanger provides the CamRanger 2 as a complete package with almost everything you need to get yourself going.
The only thing missing is an SD card and a USB compatible charger to plug your USB cable.
Inside the CamRanger 2 box, you’ll find:
- The CamRanger 2 unit,
- A rechargeable battery,
- A charging cable for the CamRanger 2,
- A data cable to connect the CamRanger 2 to your camera
- A hard case for ensuring the CamRanger 2 isn’t damaged while in your bag.
- Instructions specific to your model
The data cable is specific to the camera you use, and buyers can select their camera at the time of ordering. The CamRanger 2 supports a wide variety of cameras from Sony, Nikon, Canon and Fujifilm.
You can find a full list of the supported cameras here. I only have Sony, and I had no issues with both the A7iii or A7riii.
The quality of construction on the CamRanger 2 is excellent. It’s plastic, but it doesn’t feel cheap, and the overall quality of the product matches the price range.
This is consistent across all the components. Even the cable feels thick and solid, and nothing feels cheap and nasty. Sometimes an overall package can be spoilt by one or two cheaper elements.
One of the items I do like is the provision of a hard case. I think this is critical for these types of electronics.
If you’re anything like me, you will be putting it in a bag with lots of other accessories. My Godox X-Pro trigger looks like it’s been in a fight with Mike Tyson (while he was still in the biting phase) and I wish Godox provided a pouch.
Overall, there isn’t much to complain about with the construction other than the length of the data cable. I will cover in the setup and handling.
Setup & Handling
As mentioned previously, I don’t have a lot of success with mobile apps that attempt to control a camera.
For OEM mobile apps, there usually are a few common issues you encounter:
- They’re sluggish and unstable, crashing regularly.
- There is a lack of reliability with connectivity. Sometimes they connect to your camera; sometimes they don’t. Occasionally for no reason whatsoever, when there is a full moon, and the stars are aligned, it connects.
- There is limited capacity to edit camera settings. It’s shutter, aperture and ISO and occasionally a little more, but that’s where it stops.
- Usability is terrible.
- Updates often break, and it seems quality control seems like an afterthought.
Setup of the CamRanger 2 is somewhat complicated due to the changes required on your camera settings, but the instructions from CamRanger are comprehensive and do an excellent job of getting you through.
Most of the setup requirements are specific to the model of camera you have, so it is critical to follows these settings. If you follow this setup guide, setting up the CamRanger 2 is relatively problem-free, or at least it was for me.
The only issue I found with the setup was I got an error message which indicated that the camera was charging off the device, which would reduce battery life.
I had switched off the “charge via USB” setting on the camera, but this error continued. It didn’t seem to make much of a difference.
After making the required changes to your camera, the initial connection involves:
- Inserting an SD card in CamRanger 2.
- Attaching it to the hot shoe on the camera.
- Downloading the app on your tablet /phone.
- Connecting to the faster 2.4 or 5G network, you’re on your way.
Once you are set up, it becomes quick and easy to use it any time you have the need. Attach it to your camera and ensure the battery is charged.
Switch on the CamRanger 2, and once the Wi-Fi network is activated, you can connect on your device and start taking photos.
The 2.4GHz network has a longer range but is much slower; the 5GHz network is the one I’d recommend unless you are shooting from extreme distances.
The CamRanger 2 is sizeable, larger than a flash trigger, but still small enough to mount on the hot shoe without feeling awkward or too large. There is a CamRanger Mini, but the CamRanger 2 isn’t large enough that I’m overly concerned with the size.
The CamRanger 2 does allow you to charge the CamRanger during use. If you have the camera on a tripod, you could run a battery pack to the unit for extended sessions.
I like the design they’ve used with hot shoe attachment with the cable attachment being short; it keeps cable tangles to a minimum.
My only minor annoyance with this short cable is that it is a little too short, which seems to cause the device to twist in the hot shoe. It’s a minor annoyance, though, so it’ll only be a problem if you are OCD.
The CamRanger 2 is feature-rich. There are also too many features to list everything, so I’ve tried to list the important ones.
The CamRanger 2 supports Mac, Windows, iOS and Android. Yes, as I mentioned earlier, this isn’t just a mobile app, you can use it on a PC or Mac as well.
- Liveview of what sensor is seeing
- Downloading full raw file (to SD card)
- In-app editing and sharing of images to social media.
- Multi-camera control (with Mac or windows)
- exposure mode, shutter speed, aperture, ISO, white balance, white balance temperature, focus mode, image format, image size, capture mode, exposure compensation, exposure bracketing – camera dependent.
To put that into perspective: You can adjust settings on your camera as you need to, take the photos, distribute them, all without leaving the app.
There is also a client mode that removes all the settings adjustments from the screen. This can be used in studio environments where you want to take photos using the camera and have them sent to a device where your client can review them.
This offers a myriad of use cases. It could be used for models to show them what the outcome is while you take photos. It could also be used for parents/clients, or reviewers watching over a shoot to check the outcomes.
There are two additions I want to mention here, which I think will appeal to users: The first of these is the range. It’s football field distances we are talking about here, which is incredible.
The second is the focus stacking, which will make this a powerful addition for macro photographers.
Are there any things missing? The CamRanger 2 allows for the use of presets. It would be great if CamRanger incorporated some default presets for a variety of photographic use cases.
The CamRanger 2 allows you to save presets. It would be great if CamRanger included some default presets for a variety of photographic use cases, so users didn’t have to create these.
This would make it more appealing if people want to experiment with areas outside of the typical genre. I don’t think it would be particularly challenging to incorporate these presets.
As an example, I haven’t done any Astrophotography before, but I know sports because it’s my genre. If I wanted to experiment with Astra, it would be great to have some default starting settings.
Value for Money
There isn’t a lot of options in the market to compare the CamRanger 2 to so making a price comparison is a little complicated.
That said, at a shade over $350, I would say its a reasonable price point for those who need this type of device.
CamRanger also offers some additional options at the time of purchase. These include spare batteries and mounting brackets.
There are some lower-priced options like Arsenal, but these are really in the same league as the CamRanger.
I can’t help but feel some of these offer lower levels of reliability, which is exactly the reason for having the CamRanger.
- How to sync CamRanger?
To sync your CamRanger, you’ll need to follow these steps:
- Make sure the camera is awake
- Check that the USB cable is connected
- Ensure that both the camera and the device are fully charged
- Head to the CamRanger app
- Ensure that any FTP transfer or image sharing is activated
If your CamRanger is transferring the data successfully, you’ll notice that it’s blinking rapidly. If the blinking is irregular, there’s an error.
CamRanger 2 Review | Conclusion
It isn’t possible to list all the use cases for the CamRanger 2, so you really have to decide if this is applicable for you or the type of photography you do.
If you’re a heavy mobile or tethered user and frustrated with the standard offering, the CamRanger 2 makes a lot of sense.
CamRanger is suited to those who work in a studio environment, sports and extends out into astrophotographer and macro with focus stacking capability.
For me, the camera fits in a nice place where I can get close to the action but still, have the level of control required to get the photo.
Typically this would be nearly impossible with the OEM mobile app or using a timer.
Like most items, it’s not perfect, but the issues are relatively minor. Nothing stands out as a show stopper for the kind of photography I do, and issues like the USB charging relates to the camera, not the CamRanger 2 itself.
It’s hard not to like the CamRanger 2; it’s become a permanent fixture in my workflow and an essential item for my sports photography.