I have to buy a camera for my daughter for Christmas but I have a problem: I do not know if the wifi (included in the camera) is useful. what do you think about it? is it advantageous?
It is advantageous for several purposes, mainly remote live view and remote trigger.
- Taking photographs on a tripod: usually when shooting far away objects with long exposure you use the 10-sec selfie timer to give the tripod+camera vibrations some time to die out, but when taking photographs of fireworks they happen instantaneously at a moment's notice so you cannot photograph fireworks with a 10-sec selfie timer and the only possibility is remote shutter release if you don't want to upset the balance of a tripod
- Taking selfies in a more professional way than holding the camera at the end of a selfie stick or facing a mirror
There may be also some benefit in transferring the pictures wirelessly without having to remove the card from the camera.
I wouldn't buy a professional DSLR / mirrorless camera without Wi-Fi and the possibility to remotely trigger it from a smartphone. Some other remote trigger than smartphone could be a possibility, but they are just ... old-fashioned.
But if your daughter isn't planning to use a tripod, then the Wi-Fi could be something she doesn't need. I see Wi-Fi and tripod heavily related: you need both or neither.
The answer, as usual, is that it depends. In fact, it depends on multiple factors: what does the camera support doing over wifi? And what kind of situations will your daughter use the camera in?
On the first point: some cameras only support downloading photos over wifi. Some support remote triggering (i.e. using an app on your phone or computer to tell it when to take a photo) and maybe also controlling basic parameters without needing to use the buttons on the camera. And some have very advanced controls, allowing you to see a live stream from the camera's sensor, choose where to focus, etc.
On the second point: suppose that the camera only supports downloading photos. Whether or not this is useful depends greatly. I have a Nikon D5300 with built-in wifi, and 95% of the time I prefer to eject the SD card from the camera to copy the photos onto my computer. The rare occasions that I use the wifi to download photos are when I'm travelling: my main subject is wildlife, and after a day hiking and shooting I'll have between 500 and 1000 photos. Downloading previews to my tablet allows me to use the evenings or the journey home to makes notes of the best photos so that when I transfer them to my computer at home I already know which ones I want to post-process and upload.
If your daughter is a social media user, she may want to transfer the photos to her phone and upload them as soon as she takes them. I don't have personal experience with that use case, but I understand that it's generally frustrating: most phones don't have great support for simultaneously operating a wifi connection with no access to the Internet and an Internet connection over the mobile phone network. Unless the camera has direct support for uploading to social media (which would require the wifi connection to be from the camera to the phone – I don't know whether any cameras on the market support this), it's probably not worth spending much money to enable this specific use case.
I found wifi on camera useful for me for these applications:
- Sharing photos to social networks right after taking. It's like sharing photos from smartphone, but from diffirent lens, and i do not want long process of copyng photos at desktop computer at night.
- Use wifi as remote trigger for book photocopyng.
Wi-Fi isn't exactly an essential feature, but there's a number of uses for it:
- If you're taking pictures to post them on Instagram or other social media, Wi-Fi allows the camera to transmit pictures to your phone as you shoot. This eliminates the need to physically connect the camera or memory card to your phone or laptop to transfer files, which can be cumbersome or impossible to do in the field. Likewise, Wi-Fi functionality allows you to easily download photos to your phone after the fact.
- The camera can transmit a live-view feed to the phone, and you can use your phone to control it. This can come in handy if you need to put the camera in a particular location and you need to take pictures from a different position.
- Some Wi-Fi-enabled cameras, such as those made by Panasonic, can even connect to and send pictures to an SMB (network) shared folder, whether on a Wi-Fi network or directly to a computer. This can be useful in a studio or on location when you want to be able to edit photos immediately after shooting. However, it can take some technical expertise to set up, especially if you want to send directly to a PC away from a Wi-Fi network; you might to look at my blog post on how to do this.
WiFi on a dedicated camera is not useful.
- It's glitchy.
- It's slow.
- There's no web browser.
- It disconnects your phone from the internet.
- It's an additional drain on battery, which decreases the number of photos that can be captured.
I tried it once with my main camera. Too unreliable and slow to be useful as a remote control or trigger. The range is limited compared with normal WiFi, and it takes too long to connect. People get fidgety and start leaving when the wait is too long.
I used it a few times on another camera because it's the only way to apply firmware updates. It obviously wasn't well thought out because it's impossible to download the update on the phone via WiFi while the camera is connected. I ended up using my data plan. It failed multiple times and didn't save the downloaded files, so I burned through lots of data to get it to work.
WiFi on a phone with a built-in camera is useful for browsing photography related websites, such as this one, not for anything directly related to the camera itself.
I use the WiFi connection on my camera for remote shooting, for transferring images to my phone when I'm not near my laptop or want to send them instantly, or for uploading them from camera directly to Flickr (in the case I have just a few images that I want to directly post, and continue shooting, without taking out the card).
Remote shooting has some limitations, with my camera at least -- you have to set shooting mode in advance, this cannot be done from the Canon Connect app. Zooming has to be done from the camera, not from the app. It's still useful.
I don't know how serious your daughter is / will be about photography. It might well be, that for her the ability to upload will be the most useful, or that connecting the camera to the phone will be just too much of a hassle. Depends of on the camera. So research the options.
The usefulness of WiFi in a camera is mostly a question of what your requirements are.
As already mentioned, some use it for remote shooting, where you can use a smartphone/tablet to control the camera and/or see on the screen what you would usually see on the camera screen. For me, this is not really necessary, but nice to have.
Another feature you will usually find, is the ability to transfer files from the camera to e.g. smartphone/tablet. This I find far more useful, if I want to post a picture straight away, instead of having to go through my usual workflow on my PC. I can simply transfer to my iPad, do light editing there and then post to social media. This is really convenient, but it could be done with an SD card reader that can be attached to your smartphone as well.
Still, nothing beats a SD card reader attached to a PC.
For some folks wi-fi is a gimmick. For others, an indispensible feature. It depends on whether you need to use it or not. But a few functions that wi-fi capability in a camera are useful for are:
Remote shooting with visibility from the camera sensor. Most wi-fi enabled cameras can be used with a smartphone (or tablet) app as a wireless remote. The app will give access to focusing the camera, adjusting exposure settings, and taking the shot. This can eliminate the need for a cable remote or 3rd-party wireless remote.
Geo-tagging photos. The phone's GPS location data can be sent to the camera and embedded in image file EXIF.
Transferring photos between the camera and a phone or computer, making camera photos accessible for posting on social media, email, or texting. Wi-fi, though, is much slower than a card reader and RAW files may not be useful on a phone. However, if you shoot RAW+JPEG, and, say, use smaller JPEGS, you can have the best of both worlds: small fast JPEG for now on the phone; RAW for later on the desktop box.
Wireless printing directly from the camera. I often use my Fuji X100T's playback menus to shoot a fast little print to my Instax SP-2 in social or street shooting situations, so I can hand off mini polaroid as an icebreaker. I keep the big RAW file for later on the computer and making big prints with my Canon Pro-100.
But whether this is useless, must-have or something in between really does depend on the individual user's needs.
Christmas is over, but my answer might be useful for similar situations.
As many said before: it depends.
Try to figure out her desires and needs. As her mother you probably already know about them.
If the daughter is a child, then she might prefer to just shoot and share pics. Instead of a camera consider a smartphone with a sufficient on-board camera. It usually has WiFi included.
If she likes to do more with photography: as first camera a compact camera or a smartphone are the best way as interests still evolve.
If she is more serious about photography and has already gone her first steps, then she probably has some needed features and/or cameras in mind. The best support here would be financial.