Like many photographers, Alan Lawrence appreciates the convenience of being able to control his DSLR wirelessly from a tablet and instantly save images to it. The problem, as he sees it, is that the options for doing this are limited and costly. That’s why he’s come up with a way to hack your own Wi-Fi tethering setup together for less than $40. It works with both Android and iOS devices, and it doesn’t matter if your camera doesn’t have built-in Wi-Fi.
Before diving in, it’s worth noting that this will require a bit of work, but if you’ve ever updated firmware on a device before, or changed network settings on a router, then you should have the knowledge you need.
The main component Lawrence uses is the $30 TP-Link MR3040 Battery Powered 3G Wireless router, but the trick is a bit of customer firmware from DslrDashboard. You’ll also need a computer with an Ethernet port, as well as a USB cable compatible with your camera. The firmware must be installed with the router hard-wired to your computer via Ethernet, but that’s the most difficult part. After that, log into its control panel like any other router to set up the Wi-Fi network.
From there, the router can be disconnected from you computer and attached to your camera via USB. You can now connect to it from your mobile device. The last step is the $9 DslrDashboard app (called qDslrDashboard on iOS). With it, you will have full control over your Canon or Nikon DSLR.
Sure, it’s not the most elegant solution — Lawrence lists out no fewer than 19 steps on his blog — but once completed, it should work nearly as well as off-the-shelf Wi-Fi tethering products.
If you have a spare $300 lying around, you’ll get a little more functionality out of a Camranger (a popular wireless tethering tool), but Lawrence believes the TP-Link router is actually the very same hardware being used by Camranger. For those of us who just need the basics, this $40 DIY job looks pretty good.