Monday, 5 October 2015

Wi-Fi on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mk2. What's it Good For?

There is a 1969 song by Edwin Starr with the opening lines - “War. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing” (come on, sing along now). Unfortunately, that’s kinda the way I feel about the Wi-Fi capabilities on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mk2.

When I decided to get an Olympus micro four thirds camera, Wi-Fi functionality was low on my priority list. I’m not a Tweeter, a Face booker, or an Instagramer. I don’t take photos of my breakfast to upload instantly to social media. So why would I want that kind of functionality in my ‘serious’ camera. Short answer – I don’t.

Recently, however, I was invited by my local camera club to give a presentation on portrait photography. I planned to do a ‘live’ shoot, to talk about what was happening, and why. It would be technical for those who wanted that sort of information, and at the same time visual – more hands-on, for those who learn better by ‘doing’.

Then it occurred to me. Wouldn’t it be great if I could take a shot and have it appear on my laptop as soon as I had taken it? And hey – my E-M5 Mk2 has Wi-Fi, so I must be able to do it. Right?

Wrong. After a little reading up in the subject, it appears to me that the Wi-Fi is only compatible with the Olympus Android or Apple app for cell phones and tablets. Even then, you can only use it to send images to these devices manually, after you’ve shot them and they are on the camera. You can’t send them ‘on-the-fly’ - directly to a device. Bummer.

It also seems that you can’t even use the Wi-Fi to download from your camera to your computer wirelessly after a day’s worth of shooting. You can use the app to control the camera remotely, transfer files once they are taken (jpegs only), and geotag the images with location information. But as far as I can tell, that’s it. Pretty limited for serious image applications if you ask me. Great for Facebook fanatics I guess. J

You can accomplish direct download to a laptop or computer via Wi-Fi, but it requires an additional piece of gear (doesn’t it always). You need to buy an SD card that has its own Wi-Fi hot spot built in, so that once the information is written to the card, it is sent wirelessly to the laptop/computer. Great. Fantastic. Very helpful. But if an SD card can do it, why can’t the Wi-Fi on my E-M5 Mk2 accomplish the same thing? After all, it also creates its own Wi-Fi hot spot, so it should be achievable – shouldn’t it?

For 'proper' Wi-Fi transfer.
get a Wi-Fi SD card
Am I missing something here? Is this a hardware thing, or something that could be achieved in a firmware upgrade? I honestly don’t know. But with technology where it’s at today, I wouldn’t have thought it would be too much to ask? If a $60 Eye-Fi SD card can do it, why can’t my $1600 camera? Then Wi-Fi would actually be handy as a photographic tool, rather than what it appears to be at the moment on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mk2 – a social networking gimmick. Just saying…..

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