To counter the rise of the smartphone's instant photo taking and sharing capabilities, we're finally seeing digital compact cameras taking the plunge with more direct sharing capabilities built directly on the camera. If you ask us, it couldn't have come sooner. Several digital camera brands are taking this route for some of their more premium compacts.
To find out more about how these cameras function, we were lucky to have spent more time with Canon and their product managers for their latest range of IXUS digital compact cameras that incorporate Wi-F capabilities. Not only do they have Wi-Fi, but also a brand new user interface which lets you share photos and videos through the air, including the ability to share on popular social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Here are four ways the new IXUS cameras can share photos and videos using the built-in Wi-Fi:
Take note that at this point of time, the firmware and software on Canon's Wi-Fi equipped cameras aren't capable of logging onto Wi-Fi hotspots that require web authentication, such as Wireless@SG, T-Mobile, Boingo and more. However, they are compatible with standard home or office networks that just require the WEP or WPA passphrase (or passcode). With the Wi-Fi compatibility aspect covered, we move on to show you how the above mentioned four options can be used to share your images and videos stored on the camera.
When using the new Wi-Fi-enabled cameras for the first time, users will be prompted to key in a nickname with which the camera will be identified with. This enables two Canon Wi-Fi camera users to share images between them. Of course while there are only a few models that are Wi-Fi capable now, this figure should dramatically increase over time as newer Canon cameras are launched in the market and thus increasing the chances of using the Camera to Camera Sharing option.
For example, if a user of Camera A wishes to share a photograph with Camera B, he can tell his camera to start broadcasting a Wi-Fi signal. Camera B's owner can then log onto Camera A's Wi-Fi network by choosing Camera A’s nickname (which means both users should be aware of their camera's individual IDs). This functions as a security check to prevent unauthorized access. Once logged on, Camera B can send and receive files from Camera A and vice versa.
Only two cameras can be on the same network sharing files; this again helps prevent unauthorized access by limiting support for more cameras simultaneously. The camera that logs onto the network first will be granted access. Both cameras can only share and receive files from each other; they cannot browse each other's stored files for privacy reasons.
Ever wanted to view and download images from your camera without having to hook it up to your PC? Well, Canon has this covered with the Canon CameraWindow program. All users need to do is to log onto their home wireless network and launch the CameraWindow utility on their PC or Mac. This utility allows users to browse and download images on their camera and doesn’t require the camera to be tethered to their PC. This ease of use is made possible after the initial utility installation and configuration to recognize your camera wirelessly - steps that you would have done when you first acquired the camera. After that, the wirelessly transferring files is a cinch - no cables nor ejecting the SD card is required.
Unfortunately, even if you enable Wi-Fi within your home network's range, the cameras don't show up as an external storage option on either the Mac OS X or Windows OS the way they do when you connect them directly through USB. You will need to use Canon's CameraWindow utility to interface with the camera wirelessly. This is very much like the need to have iTunes software for various manageability options for your iOS devices.
Similarly, users can also share files from the new Canon cameras to their iOS devices with Canon's free Camera Window app. By logging onto the iPhone’s Wi-Fi hotspot, users can view and download files taken on their Canon compact camera. No news on an equivalent Android app yet, but Canon did acknowledge that it's the next step for them.
Canon has also provided a cloud storage solution for Canon camera users. The Canon iMage Gateway requires a serial number from any Canon camera upon registration (it does not have to be the new Wi-Fi models and thankfully it recognizes pretty old models from a few years back as well). Once users have registered an account, they are given 10GB worth of storage space to populate with their images and videos.
The iMage Gateway is how the new IXUS Wi-Fi cameras post images and videos to Facebook and Twitter. The camera sends the file to the iMage Gateway, which will then generate a link that is automatically posted to the user’s Facebook wall or Twitter feed together with a thumbnail. Friends can then access the image or video by accessing the link, which will redirect them to the iMage Gateway-hosted file.
Posted links are made public by default, as you can't set privacy options through the camera. But even though members of the public can see and click on iMage Gateway links on your Facebook page, they will only be able to see previously shared images on your iMage Gateway account. In other words, if you have 100 images on your iMage Gateway profile, and only ten were previously shared on Facebook, only those ten images can be seen. You can however change privacy options at a later time when you're logged into the Canon iMage Gateway on your desktop or notebook system to manage your stored online content.
The Canon IXUS 510 HS and 240 HS are the new IXUS cameras which have built-in Wi-Fi capabilities. Watch for our reviews of the new cameras and their Wi-Fi goodness, coming soon. For now, you can check our news update for the product specs, price and full feature information.