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I want to have cell-phone style photo automatic backup from Canon SLR to Online or Disk

This is the intended flow:

  • Take pictures with a Canon 5d
  • Take no other action, and continue using the SLR, leaving it on.
  • In the background, automatically, the photos appear either in a folder on my computer, or in google photos.

Note that this is the way iPhone and Android handle photo sharing/uploading: It's fully automatic with zero manual steps: 1) take photo 2) wait 3) photo is online. This is the workflow I'd like to reproduce.

Example use case

  • Be in my office, within wifi connection range
  • Take a bunch of pictures with the camera
  • Set the camera down
  • Go to my internet connected desktop computer
  • Relatively soon the photos appear in a folder on disk, or in google photos

Options and solutions considered

  • Removing the SD card and putting it into a card reader => This requires stopping working with the camera, and requires further manual action to initiate the file transfer to the storage location. This doesn't satisfy the "automatic" requirement.

  • Wired solutions + custom software listening for a connection - nothing found so far, but there should be something - some kind of USB connection between the camera and computer, after writing and running software to listen for new connections and initiate file copying automatically? It's still unsatisfactory since it would restrict mobility of the SLR while copying is taking place.

  • Canon Wireless File Transmitter WFT-E8A - this seems to be expensive, finicky to set up, and is not automatic. Videos I've seen look to require manually sending photos one by one, and it doesn't seem to support automatic transferring.

  • Ideally I expect to have a small device to plug into the camera; whenever a new photo appears on the memory card, it'd be replicated to a specific folder on my computer, running on the same wifi network. It's okay to have to install software to listen for this new device to connect and initiate the copying. Such a device may exist - I just don't know the name, and that's what I'm looking for.

Background

  • This is not a technological limitation, because phones costing <600$ can do this directly to gphotos over wifi.

Related

  • How do professional photographers do this? Are they really stopping work, removing the card, inserting into the reader, waiting for software to automatically copy the photos?
  • To clarify this, I realize that the current situation may involve on-site, no-wifi shooting. But at the limits it's still surprising to me. Consider the case of shooting in movies - is it really the case that on a movie set, they'd pause shooting, take the memory card out of the video camera, insert it into a computer, transfer files? of course not. At a certain scale you want all backups to be automated; you also need to parallelize work as much as possible. The fact that mid-tier professional photographers don't do this is not proof that it shouldn't be done or wouldn't be useful for certain work styles.
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  • I see other questions getting at the same thing but they are incomplete or do not currently have working solutions. Dec 30 '21 at 22:14
  • You are misunderstanding how a professional works when on a job - they just keep shooting photos. If the card is (close to) full, they pop both the cards out (duplicate writing for safety), pop the next ones from the set of 10+ they have in the camera bag in and carry on shooting. Any copying or whatever else happens when the shoot is over, because they're paid to shoot photos.
    – Philip Kendall
    Dec 30 '21 at 22:47
  • Plenty of professional photography is done in places where Wifi isn't available (nature, street, sports...)
    – xenoid
    Dec 31 '21 at 1:44
  • It looks like the wireless attachment for the 5d is the WFT-E7A. According to the manual you can either have the thing send files to an FTP server ("With FTP transfer, you can automatically transfer each image to the FTP server as you shoot"), or the camera itself can act as the server, allowing you to "view images recorded on a memory card in the camera and download them to a computer." Quotes are from the manual. Dec 31 '21 at 13:49
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    @DavidRouse The WFT-E7A is only compatible with the 5D Mark III. The WFT-7A Version 2 is also compatible with the 5Ds, 5Ds R, and 7D Mark II. The compatible unit for the 5D Mark II is the WFT-E4. The compatible unit for the original 5D was the WFT-E1.
    – Michael C
    Jan 1 at 12:47
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In short: There is no easy solution, that is always on and will not need dedicated setup and extra steps. But I will elaborate common similar solutions. Some of them will not be available on you camera.

Cable Tethering

This is the most widespread use of quick photo transfer in the professional sector and is used by many studio photographers. You simply hook up your camera to a tethering capable software via usb and start shooting.

Some software will directly load the images into the editing process (Lightroom, Capture One) some might just dump the files into a folder (most of the camera's own software). You can then set-up any other software to upload, process or backup the data. But you will need a computer and a cable.

Tethering over WIFI

Some recent cameras included tethering over WIFI. So you either have the receiving end in the same WIFI network or use a ad-hoc network created by the camera to connect and transfer the data. This usually only works with the software provided by the camera manufacturer.

This is very limited by the bandwidth of the network and might be too slow if you want to transfer many raw images quickly, but it might be useful if you just want to transfer JPGs.

To my knowledge the canon 5d does not have that feature built in.

Tethering via dedicated solutions

There are solutions to provide tethering with better support. One of these is CamRanger. I have seen this used by a photographer to quickly transfer photos to an ipad, where they could be seen and processed further. This solution supports many canon cameras. However, it is rather expensive.

https://camranger.com/product/camranger-2/

WIFI SD Card

In the past there where WIFI SD cards available. I found one such under the name of eye-fi. I have never used one of these and cannot say if they are useful (or even still available).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-CyKSbeN-g

WIFI/ethernet FTP transfer

Some specialized sports cameras include an option to integrate the camera directly into a network via ethernet jack or WIFI and to connect to FTP servers to send the files over the net. This is usually only a feature in cameras that will be used in high volume photography or sports photography where speed is of the essence to quickly make photos available to image agencies. However this is probably the closest thing to what you had in mind.

Backup only

If the main concern is the backup part in the field, another option would be a a second set of cards and then quickly drop the current card in a device like a gnarbox which will automatically transfer the content to a hard drive while you use the second set of SD cards to continue shooting. Although this makes sure you have a local backup, it does not provide any of the automation that you described, you can access the files on the gnarbox from a phone. Note that the device is pricey.

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  • I just saw an Eye-fi card on Amazon. There was also an equivalent called "FlashAir" from Toshiba, and a "FluCard" from Pentax. I've never used any of them either.
    – Peter M
    Dec 31 '21 at 17:09
  • Having seen Eye-Fi cards in action some (maybe 10 or so…) years ago amongst a group of fellow photographer friends, they did work very well for Nikon DSLRs and would wirelessly transfer image files to tablets or computers. Canon DSLRs however simply did not work, no matter what we tried. We never figured out what the issue was, whether they simply didn’t work in a Canon camera or the camera construction blocked the wifi signal from the card, I don’t know.
    – John
    Jan 2 at 21:38
  • @John Interesting, because I seem to recall reading more than a few reports/reviews from Canon users that said they worked for them. Canon even provides (or did provide: depending on who you ask some say the 7D Mark II has been discontinued) what is basically the same thing with the EOS 7D Mark II, the WE-1 Wi-Fi adapter that fits in the SD card slot.
    – Michael C
    Jan 5 at 2:13
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Note that this is the way iPhone and Android handle photo sharing/uploading: It's fully automatic with zero manual steps: 1) take photo 2) wait 3) photo is online. This is the workflow I'd like to reproduce.

If that's the experience you wish to have, here are the kinds of setups you need to use:

enter image description here

That's about it.

Interchangeable lens cameras don't really offer anywhere near such a seamless experience.

Also, note that among your suggested solutions, the Canon WFT-E8A is only compatible with the Canon EOS 1D Mark II and the EOS C300 Mark II camcorder. It's not compatible with any model of Canon's 5D series (5D, 5D Mark II, 5D Mark III, 5Ds/5Ds R, 5D Mark IV, or EOS R5). The WFT-E7A (good luck finding one now) was compatible with the 5D Mark III. The WFT-E7A Version 2 was also compatible with the 5D Mark III as well as the 5Ds, 5Ds R, and 7D Mark II. The WFT-E4 was compatible with the 5D Mark II. The WFT-E1 was compatible with the original EOS 5D. The 5D Mark IV has a built-in WiFi radio (though with less functionality than the external WFT series).

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