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I'm looking into purchasing a camera. The online specs usually include a field named "Wi-Fi builtin", but rather than expanding on the details, it gives a binary Yes/No answer.

What sort of features does this typically include? (If you are tempted to close the question as too open-ended, let's pick a sample camera model, the Canon - EOS Rebel T6i. What "Wi-Fi features" does it and similar camera models have?)

Does this mean if I input my username and password into the camera, it will automatically upload pictures to Google+ when I take them?

Or are the Wi-Fi features more advanced and usable by a software developer, such as allowing me to take pictures remotely from the command line, or allowing access to the camera storage as a network share?

  • 2
    Also, with some fiddling that will definitely void the warranty, can I hack the firmware to run Doom on my DSLR? – IQAndreas May 14 '16 at 23:33
  • as far as "developer", it'd be really interesting to connect to the wifi network from a Pi or 8266 type device, rather than needing built-in software. – tedder42 May 17 '16 at 17:44
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What sort of features does this typically include?

Typically, any camera with wi-fi capability can basically be a wifi hotspot, so you can use an ad hoc network between the camera and a smart phone or tablet to transfer photos from the camera to the device, use the device's GPS positioning to geotag photos, or to establish a remote control path to the camera's basic functions. A mobile app on the smart device handles the communication.

Does this mean if I input my username and password into the camera, it will automatically upload pictures to Google+ when I take them?

Not exactly, it's a bit more of a pain. You have to turn on the wi-fi in the camera (continual use would run down the battery), then connect to the camera's network on a smart device. From there, you can transfer images to the smart device, and use a mobile app to upload the pictures to your social media of choice.

A special case in wi-fi features that I use is the one that Fuji's building into its cameras to send pictures directly to its wi-fi smartphone instant film printer, the Instax SP-1 from the camera menus. However, that only works with my Fuji X100T. With my Panasonic GX-7 or Eye-Fi card, I have to do a wi-fi/app dance as follows: connect iPhone to GX-7/Eye-Fi card, use Panasonic/Eye-Fi app to transfer photo to camera roll on iPhone, switch wi-fi network to Instax Printer, open Fuji Instax Share app, print photo from camera roll.

Or are the Wi-Fi features more advanced and usable by a software developer, such as allowing me to take pictures remotely from the command line, or allowing access to the camera storage as a network share?

I can't answer that, but given that the Canon app can, it's possible. But exposure of the Wi-Fi functionality through the C-language EOS Digital SDK (EDSDK) may not exist, judging by this stackoverflow question.

Also, with some fiddling that will definitely void the warranty, can I hack the firmware to run Doom on my DSLR?

Well, the Magic Lantern guys have ported Arkanoid (see also this youtube video). So, there's always a possibility, if you go Canon. ;)

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What sort of features does this typically include?

For Canon cameras (or the 6D at least), the camera can connect to an existing network or create a network of its own. You can then transfer photos from the camera or use Canon's software to control the camera.

Does this mean if I input my username and password into the camera, it will automatically upload pictures to Google+ when I take them?

It's not automatic, but you can select and upload photos and videos from the camera Canon Image Gateway to certain supported web services, including:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Google Drive
  • Flickr

You can also e-mail photos or store them in Image Gateway (up to 10GB). And Canon seems to have a new image sharing service called irista, but I'm not sure it's available in all markets or usable on all models.

Or are the Wi-Fi features more advanced and usable by a software developer, such as allowing me to take pictures remotely from the command line, or allowing access to the camera storage as a network share?

Those aren't features of WiFi so much as they are features that could be exposed via WiFi, and they're not available out of the box. Canon does have an SDK for controlling EOS cameras, but you have to jump through a hoop or two to get access to it. You can get an idea of what's possible by looking through the reference for EOSFramework, a Cocoa framework that works with Canon's SDK. It's not clear whether you can connect to the camera via WiFi using the SDK.

If you're just looking for an automation solution for personal use rather than developing a new product, the path of least resistance is surely to use one of the supported services. For example, once your photos are uploaded to Flickr or Google Drive, you can use the well-supported APIs that those services provide to do whatever you want with the images.

  • Or email as that way you don't depend on an API that may not be stable. – Chris H May 15 '16 at 7:19

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