I recently started experimenting with focus stacking, particularly with long range landscapes, and macro images – so it was indeed kismet, when I was afforded the opportunity to review the new Vello Extenda Wi-Fi DSLR controller for Canon/Nikon https://bhpho.to/2sZHuOI. Frankly – I was skeptical, because the deciding factor in choosing my Canon 6D, was its on-board Wi-Fi, and the EOS remote app for my smart phone. I use the feature regularly, most often on a Maven adapter mount, with a 10 ft pole…so I’m a bit jaded. I don’t get to review new products like this often, so I was eager to dive in.
The Vello Extenda comes with a built in shoe adapter mount, a USB charging cable for its internal battery, and a mini-USB connector for the camera – so I reviewed the brief instruction manual and plugged it in to charge while I downloaded the Android app and the app for my Windows laptop. Setup was beyond simple… Once the unit had a reasonable charge, which was quite fast, I had enough charge to work in 15 minutes. I mounted it on the camera, plugged it in the side port, and turned on the power to the Extenda and DSLR. After about a 30 – 45 seconds, the unit was generating a Wi-Fi signal, and both my phone and laptop were able to make strong connection (tip, you have to disconnect from the usual Wi-Fi that you use to connect the Extenda).
Once connected, the app opened to a user-friendly interface that allows user control of all the normal camera settings, with the additional features of controlling shutter and video functions depending on camera, auto and manual focus in small increments (vary by lens), time-lapse, focus stacking, live view, touch focus, exposure/aperture bracketing, intervalometer, plus remote browsing of images on the camera, and ability to transfer to laptop OR cell phone. There is even a port to allow transfer of power to a cell phone, if you are running low on juice! My first test was to find the limit of the Wi-Fi connection – The Vello website states a 162 foot range (50 M) – so I mounted the camera with Vello Extenda on a tripod aimed at flowers in my back yard, turned on the cell phone app, and started walking thru my house, to the front yard. Now, in fairness, I did not measure how far I went, but the signal was strong enough to reach thru my 3000 sq ft house – with only the smallest amount of latency of the live view picture.
In the Extenda app on mobile device, you just tap the screen to select a precise focal point – in fact, there is an image zoom that allows it to be even more precise…my camera does not have a touch screen, so this was a novelty for me. I found that this feature was pretty fast, and very precise – I might even try using a touch stylus for even tighter control. In these first shots, I just tried the basic functions of changing camera settings, the focus features, and finally, transferring an image to the cell phone – although not as instantaneous as wire tethered shooting, it was acceptably fast for what I might use it for.
My initial impressions were that it is simple, straightforward and reasonably priced, at about $125. By the time I had used the Vello Extenda, for 2 test shoots, I already knew that I would buy one for myself when I was done testing. I see this as an indispensable tool that can make my life easier – and may open doors to things like remote photos of birds and wildlife. Part 2 of this 3 part review, will be about how useful this was on an outdoor head shot session for a client, and using the focus stacking feature.
Patrick Rapps Is a event photographer in Phoenix Arizona.