2018-10-16

Canon EOS-R

For background I have used most of EOS 1D MkII, EOS 1Ds MkII, EOS 1D MkIII, EOS 1Ds MkIII, EOS 1DX, EOS 1DX MkII, belonging to us and friends. The ones we have get used in the business, for everything from coverage of sports events we are sponsoring, to photographs of products for packaging and web sites. We do offer photographic service even, but I am not really a professional photographer myself. I do, however, have some experience using Canon high end cameras.

In most cases I also had the WiFI adaptor and a GPS adaptor. The latest 1DXMkII has GPS built in, and the separate WiFI adaptor does 5GHz as well. The package works well, we take product shots and they instantly FTP to the file server where we can view then and use them.

I now have an EOS-R. I knew it was a slight backwards step. It is Canon's new full frame mirrorless camera and a few features are not quite as good as the 1DXMkII, but it has some nice things like built in WiFi and higher resolution sensor.

I don't intend to do a review of the optical / photographic features. There are many such reviews by those far more qualified than I to explain and review. In summary, the EOS-R is Canon's new full frame (30Mpix) mirrorless high end camera, with a new "RF" mount but with EF adaptor, which works nicely. It is small and light compared to 1DX, but has an optional battery clip which I like (others may disagree) which takes two batteries (battery life being one clear area it lacks compared to the 1DX). It is slower to start up, which is a tad annoying.

What I want to do is address the network side. Being something of a network engineer and having coded network stacks from scratch, I like to think I am a bit of an expert in this area. However, I 100% accept that some of the issues I have had may be user error. I'll update this blog where that is the case, but with the caveat that as someone with experience of previous high end Canon cameras, user error really should not be happening, if designed well.

1. Bad: No IPv6 (as far as I can see). When Canon started designing this camera, the IPv6 specs had been around for a couple of decades and the current version of Internet Protocol is v6. I could rant for ages on this, but I'll gloss over for now - for most things we can cope using just IPv4.

2. Good: Built in WiFi. Nice to have, and something I have always had to pay for as an extra adaptor before.

3. Bad: Seems to only be 2.4GHz WiFi. But to be fair they sell a separate WiFi adaptor too, which I really hope is 5GHz, so someone wanting faster WiFi can take that option. Fair enough I guess, but I doubt they saved a lot making it only 2.4GHz these days.

4. Bad: No built in GPS. I am sort of in two minds over this. I like GPS. I had a separate GPS adaptor on much older models, and the 1DXMkII built in GPS was nice. However, Canon have decided they can link to your mobile phone for location instead. I cannot work out if this is an annoying bodge or a cunning technical solution yet. I do, indeed, normally have my phone, and it knows where I am. I hope it will do it over Bluetooth as otherwise I have to faff with changing WiFi on my phone to use camera as AP or some such which I don't want to do.

5. Bad: Broken bluetooth. I have no idea at this stage if this is just my camera or generally, but any attempt to pair a bluetooth device does not get as far as a list from which to pick - it crashes out with Error 70 (a shooting problem?!?).

6. Bad: Very unhelpful error messages. I decided to try the cloud service thing. I am not going to use it as it means all photos go to Canon, sorry. But I did test it. Initially I was using the wrong WiFi SSID (partly because it does not show UTF8 SSIDs and partly as it does not show 5GHz only SSIDs) which meant it hit a wifi with an http intercept and splash screen. The error was that I had to set the camera data and time! This is so unhelpful as (a) you have internet, set it yourself FFS, and (b) if you have connection problems over internet say so, don't invent an unrelated error! (c) I had set the date and time, to within a fraction of a second.

7. Bad: No direct Ethernet, but maybe not the end of the world given it has built in WiFi.

8. Bad: It will not do FTP. This is not Canon deciding that people do not want FTP because it is old (which is an issue, I agree), as they will do FTP if you buy a second WiFi adaptor. The firmware clearly has the FTP capability and you can even select which images to transfer via FTP in the menus, but not actually set up FTP at all. For some inexplicable reason, even on this expensive camera, Canon have decided to cripple the software to not do FTP over the built in WiFi, and I cannot see any sensible reason for this massive backwards step. It almost makes me want to send it back for this alone. After all, most other models I have used will do FTP over Ethernet - you only need the extra WiFi adapter to, err, do WiFi. They don't cripple the protocols you have without it.

9. Bad: I simply cannot get the file transfer to a Mac to work at all. I have tried more than one Mac. I have even tried with camera setting up an SSID and Mac connecting to it. I have tried following the exact steps as explained by Canon on twitter only to find the app does not have a "Pairing over WiFi" button as shown in the manual. Even where I have managed to get a pairing over WiFi option though different routes, nothing shows on Mac or Camera. The WiFi does work (I can ping the camera, and even transfer to my iPhone over WiFi). This was after having to pretend I had High Sierra not Mojave (as advised by Canon). I am not keen on a call with their support, but may have to. Whilst this really is not as good as simply doing FTP, it may allow me to bodge something together to make it work overall, but I bet it will only work when on same WiFi as my Mac and not (as with FTP) from anywhere on the Internet.

10. Bad: I hope this is user error. I cannot seem to find any way to make the screen and view finder work as a normal SLR. It has a manual mode to always be screen or always be view finder, or auto to switch to view finder when you move your eye to it. What I cannot find is view finder when my eye is there, and menus / display photos / preview of shot taken on screen but NOT live shooting on screen. Why? Well (a) I am used to an SLR not live shooting, and (b) the live shooting is touch screen focus (nice when you want it) but bad when you touch with your nose, etc, (c) its uses power showing a live screen for ages when I don't need it. I'd like that option and a simple button to turn on live shooting on main screen when I want it and not all the time.

I'll update with more when I have chatted more to Canon on this.

Update1: Went through in great detail, with pictures (so as to be helpful) with Canon on twitter and they have no clue on the bluetooth issue! They have gone off to check with technical support.

Update2: Using camera as a WiFi AP, I managed to "pair" over WiFi to the EOS Utility, and then it worked via normal AP, but sort of only once and then freezes on the Mac so badly I end up rebooting. It does work in the mean time, but no way I am rebooting every time I want to transfer files. And that still does not give the auto file transfer to Mac as that is a different app! As I said in the comments, just one, standards based, protocol for sending images as taken over IP - that is all I want, whether FTP, SFTP, whatever, even https posts FFS. Anything that does not mean special proprietary code on my computer that Canon clearly struggle to make usable or stable.

Update3: Just to clarify, I can connect to iPhone, using normal WiFi AP, with its normal IP addresses (IPv4), and does not even have to be same SSID, just same LAN. So I can grab images to iPhone, remote shoot, and so on. That is moderately slick. So that is some progress. Talking to my Mac is still a struggle. Bluetooth is a total bust still.

Update4: I reproduced the stupid "set date/time" error by simply redirecting the https that is used for the cloud services to something without the right certificate. I have yet to check if a self signed or faked CA would work. What a stupid error to report though, really!

Update5: I tried again, resetting everything on the camera and rebooting the Mac and re-downloading the apps from canon. Somehow, this time, the Image Transfer Utility was able to "pair" with the camera. In face the mac is not even on the same SSID (but is on same LAN). And before you ask, the AP is not set with any broadcast filtering set up. So I do now have auto transfer (when here) to my Mac, so I'll have to code some magic to send to my photo site.

Update6: New stupid. Yes the auto file transfer to my Mac works, but not when I take a picture, no. It happens later, if I turn camera off, and later turn on again, then it suddenly catches up all unsent pictures at that point. WTF - what the hell is the matter with Canon. These are the people that, on the 1DX, with FTP, will actually connect and login on pressing focus and hold the TCP connection open so that the file transfer happens the instant you press the shutter.

Update7: Mirrorless it going to be hard to get used to - I pick up camera and hold view finder to my eye, and blackness initially - I even have to press something to see am image - that is so strange. Yes, it wakes up and I can then see something, but that is just weird, and I guess a feature of mirrorless.

Update8: Apparently the "Auto send images to computer" is designed like that, such that to to "auto send" the images you have just taken you have to "manually" turn the camera off and back on a gain. What the hell is wrong with Canon?

Update9: Apparently it can transfer to computer as you shoot, but only as "remote shooting", but that is misleading as in remote shooting mode you can shoot using camera. But to get to that is multiple menus and so on to get to it. Also, having got to the menu once, I cannot again - the camera says it is connect or not, but the EOS utility just offers pairing over wifi and does not list the camera now. Buggy as hell. There seems no way to just pick up the camera, take pictures, and have them transfer automatically as taken if you are on the local WiFi - it is hassle whatever you do with this camera. Nightmare. Canon used to be good, I thought, anyway.

Conclusion - going back for refund.

P.S. It is probably worth adding a few points. There are many ways to use a camera. I choose to have images stored on a server where they are backed up, and sorted in to albums and so on. The server links to geo-tagging as well, and presents images in different sizes or full size. For some, storing only on a local computer most of the time would be fine. For me, the server is in a data centre not next to me, so, for example, we have a shooting table at work for product shots but no computer is there, we take shots knowing they are on the server and use that later. So that means the EOS remote shooting would not work as you have to select on camera and then on Mac, so need the Mac there next to camera. That seems not to work for me over WiFi, but I know it does work over USB and if the Mac was there I'd use USB instead of WiFi to be honest. The way of working I have may be a minority - it is where I can simply pick up the camera and press the shutter and take a picture, and anywhere within the known WiFi we have in both offices and at my house I can be confident that, within seconds, even fractions of a second, the image is safely stored on the photo server where I can access it (even from my phone). Elsewhere I can connect to a local WiFi or even the hotspot on my phone, and it will transfer. If shooting away from these WiFI, it is a couple of buttons when I return to send all unsent images. This is fast, and easier than taking the card out, as that would mean then doing a file transfer from my Mac to the photo server which is a lot more manual that simply letting the camera do its thing. I am not fussed if not FTP, they have FTPS, and I'd be happy with any standards based file transfer, even just an https post to nominated URL would be great - please do that Canon - you basically do that to a fixed URL for your own Cloud system - just let me put my URL in instead. Canon used to support this way of working - heck they still do as FTP (and FTPS) is still a feature even on the EOS-R, but oddly, unlike other cameras where it was a standard feature even without having to buy the WiFi module, for the EOS-R you have to buy the WiFi module to use it, even though YOU ALREADY HAVE WIFI BUILT IN! It is also a big WiFi module (not like the little WTF-E8).

P.P.S. Wex photographic have been great, as always, and it is a bit of a shame that they had a faulty (bluetooth) unit.

20 comments:

  1. Just another unmaintainable IoT device ("the S stands for security"). FTP, in 2018, ffs. We have SFTP now. Or the thing could just present a USB mass storage interface, which works with everything and doesn't need any credentials stored on the device.

    Will they upgrade the 802.11 to WPA3 when WPA2 is completely cracked? Not a chance.

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    1. Well, yes, SFTP would be fine, indeed any actual published standard protocol would be find by me.

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    2. RevK's new camera probably does work as a USB mass storage device. My Olympus E-M10 does. I don't use it that way as taking the SD card out and sticking it in the laptop transfers the photos a lot faster, and without fiddly cables in custom connectors at the camera end.

      RevK appears to value every photo taken being immediately transferred over wifi to a server, and in a business environment where you want to check the picture quickly to decide what others to take I can see that is a big benefit.

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    3. Oly have gone with usb C on the Omd 1 Mk 2. Much better. The WiFi transfer is proprietary but someone on github has reverse engineered it which is helpful.

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    4. I don't like the size and weight of the E-M1 nor the very large hand grip. I chose the E-M10 deliberately for its small size/weight and near flat hand grip. Alas Olympus appear to have ruined the E-M10 MkIII so it isn't clear what I'd buy if my E-M10 died.

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  2. It appears to be a requirement in the spec that all Camera wifi implementations are utter shite. I have an Olympus E-M10 mirrorless micro four thirds camera. The only way to use the wifi is to have the camera create a base station, and then have my iPad connect to that SSID and transfer things using the App. While this is happening my iPad is divorced from the internet. Using the GPS requires my iPad to be on all the time and connected to the camera's base station, which is also a non starter. There is no bluetooth in the camera. I don't have a smartphone but even if I did this is all so shit I still wouldn't use it.

    All I really want is GPS (and Glonass and Gallileo etc.) in the camera itself so it geo tags every photo as I take it. I don't actually want to use the shitty wifi, I put the SD card in my laptop to transfer the photos.

    I regard it as highly misleading, possibly Trading Standards levels of misleading, that I was sold a camera as having a geo tagging feature when it quite clearly does not in and of itself. And even if used with the extra device (a smartphone) that this feature requires, it works so badly I can't imagine anyone actually using it.

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    1. It's a sign of the times. Camera developers want to compete with smartphones but don't have a clue how to. Give them a few years and they'll all come with 5g baseband boards with built in glonass too.

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    2. Yes, and you'll be able to install apps on them such as Snapchat and WhatsApp.

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  3. You should try the Fuji App piece of junk ....

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    1. Do you have to download a 'download tool' before you can download it? (and is it many gigabytes in size?)

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    2. No. Its certainly in the Android app store - sorry don't know about Apple. Approx 10Mb from the Play store here https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.fujifilm_dsc.app.remoteshooter&hl=en

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  4. Interesting RevK you say mirrorless is going to take some getting used to. I had the opposite experience. I had several Pentax 35mm film SLRs, then an Olympus E420 DSLR, and across several decades I never really got comfortable with the optical viewfinder or the focussing patterns on the screen. My Olympus E-M10 was a revelation the moment I started using the electronic viewfinder, it instantly clicked with a "this is how it is meant to be" moment. So much more information can be made available in the viewfinder while shooting (eg. live histogram), and in dark conditions the viewfinder can be brighter than the scene so you can see what you are taking. The colour balance affecting the viewfinder is great too, I can see what the camera is going to do. I also use the viewfinder for checking shots I've taken, no more squinting at a rear panel display I can barely see in bright sunlight. There is no way I could go back to an optical viewfinder, I am glad to see the back of the awful things.

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  5. I see you are taking it back. To be fair to Canon, they are not currently pitching the EOS-R series as a replacement for their top end cameras like the 1D. I expect it will be at least a year or two before they try, and with a new mirrorless model which hopefully has these sorts of issues ironed out.

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    1. I thought we had got to that to be honest, full frame, new lens mount, and not cheap. Canon have loads of cheap consumer mirrorless cameras. But clearly I was wrong and maybe you are right - maybe they will have something more "pro" later. But to be honest, design decisions to make crappy user interface and software make no sense, and run the risk of alienating people.

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  6. You should know better than buy into v1.0 of anything Adrian :)

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    1. I am currently waiting for iOS 12.1.1 or thereabouts before I dare upgrade my iPad. Until then I am sticking with iOS 11.

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    2. YEah, like a few years ago when they replaced the default maps and sat nav from Google to their own rubbish apple version!! I was so mad!

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  7. You shouldn't have to buy an extra to make a built in feature work, but would one of those WiFi SD cards help? Bypasses the buggy canon software...

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    1. In functionality, yes, although the eye-fi ones go via them, so not ideal. But they are probably not fast enough as SD cards to cope with 4k video sadly.

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    2. It would almost be sane if their cloud system had the option for it to FTP or transfer to my server (as eye-fi do). Though I am still uneasy giving canon all my images.

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