Goodbye Tether Cords: Testing out the New Case Air Wireless Tethering System [Review]
Do you live tied down? Weighed down by the ball and chain? Feel like you're living with a leash on? No, I'm not talking about your love life, I'm talking about that tether cord attached to your camera. In-studio or on-location tethering has become a necessity, especially if you're working with clients. The thought leader in their cable tethering technology, Tether Tools, has created their latest product, Case Air, to help make photographers live free again.
Recently, we had a commercial shoot for a upcoming video campaign for the holidays. We were on a very tight schedule. Setup and breakdown time for each location was crucial and everyone needed to be on the same page as we were shooting. Not expecting how this product from Tether Tools would pan out, the Case Air was crucial as our creative team looked on while the production was in progress. We had a iPhone 7 Plus with the Case Remote app on-hand as our tool for tweaking composition, exposure, focus, and reviewing footage.
The Case Air eliminates cords and even more to help any photographer's workflow, whether it be landscape, portrait, product, etc. As mentioned earlier, I really did not know what to expect from this wireless tethering system. To be honest, I had lower expectations in the beginning. But to much of my surprise (not being paid to say this), the Case Air proved me wrong and kicked ass.
This system is a game-changer for natural light and landscape photographers especially. I've never really had the opportunity to try out my run-and-gun, natural light style photography with a tether before Tether Tools asked me to try the Case Air out. The ability to show my clients photos on an iPad instantly is long over due.
What Is It and How Does It Work?
The Case Air System is a small and lightweight Wi-Fi remote that helps photographers take photos and videos. It's able to run on mobile, tablet, and computer devices (both Android and iOS, Windows and Mac). When I say it's lightweight, it's probably smaller than the size of a standard garage door opener remote to put it in perspective. The battery lasted around six hours while using it's photo and video options. To charge the Case Air, it requires you to plug-in to a USB port. They do mention (though I have not tried) that you're able to use it with an external power source (like a battery pack) if desired. It is made out standard plastic and attaches to standard hot shoes.
While the Case Air (above) acts as a messenger between your camera and the remote, the key to this whole system is the Case Remote app (below). This app for me was the deciding factor if this is a legitimate product I would recommend to someone. As mentioned earlier, the app available on all standard mobile, tablet, and computer operating systems. Cool. To much of my surprise, the app is free. Awesome!
The connection works similarly to a GoPro where you connect to the Case Air's Wi-Fi. I need to mention that I did have a few instances where it simply wasn't connecting. After a few re-boots of the app I usually was able to finally connect okay but it did become a little irritating that the app was not connecting to my camera right away. Once the app is opened, you are presented a portal where you'll be using most of your time in the app.
There is a learning curve once you connect your camera to your device, but not too steep. But for the most part getting comfortable with UI didn't take too long, maybe two or three times using the app.
There are a plethora of modes you can perform from the app that you can see below. You can create time-lapses, bracketing, record video, bulb mode, shoot in HDR, etc. You have the ability to run Live View, establish focus points, make simple adjustments (aperture, shutter speed, ISO, etc.), the ability to watch full screen, and finally the shutter button. For this review I primarily used the default and movie modes. Other cool features about the app is that it's shows green focus peaking highlights in Live View, which I thought was awesome!
The ability to view images may be one of the only aspects of the app that could use immediate improvement. Ideally you're able to view images (even raw) in real-time as well as playback video. When using the mobile app, playback was on the slow side of what I'd prefer. The video files would take a bit to even start playing back. I really enjoyed using this system, but that is the biggest drawback I had in my opinion.
Now like mentioned earlier, this app is also offered on desktop. There have been methods found on "tethering" this app to Lightroom. While it isn't the traditional method of tethering to Lightroom itself, there is a workaround in the video below:
What I Liked
- User Interface - It took about two or three times using the app to get acquainted with the Case Remote app's UI
- Lightweight, Simple Design
- Price - $150
- Several Useful Modes - You can create time-lapses, bracketing, record video, bulb mode, shoot in HDR, etc.
- Focus Peaking and Live View
What Needs Improvement
- Slower Playback
- Video (Movie) Mode
The Best Part About Case Air
The best part about the Case Air system is that it is constantly being improved with downloadable application updates. Since having this system they have updated several nitpicks about the product that needed improvement. This showed me that Tether Tools is listening to us, the consumer. This product will continue to improve the longer you own it, which usually doesn't happen often.
What Kind Of Photographer Is This Best Suited For?
Really I can see any photographer benefiting from this system: in-studio, travel, family portraits... you name it, but when I really think this is a game-changer for these kind of photographers:
- Natural Light Photographers - As a natural light photographer, I never really thought of tethering as a possibility until trying the Case Air
- Landscape Photographers - When taking landscape photos, sometimes you may find yourself in tight, awkward spots. With this you can see everything live on your tablet comfortably
- Product Photographers
While some cameras do offer the wireless shooting mode, not all do. The Case Air wireless system is a remote that shows potential as a different way to shoot that some photographers never thought of. The ability to not only trigger a camera but to view in Live View and to make adjustments on the fly can be very useful to many photographers alike. While there are some drawbacks that may need attention, but are fixable; the best part is they listen to what the consumer has to say. I'd definitely recommend the Case Air to fellow photographers.