Shortly after Canon announced the specs for the 7D Mark II, I started scouring the web to see if there were any reviews from the early beta testers like DP Review. As I was making my way through all of the posts I started to see all of the trolls making their way out from under the bridges where they normally hide, waiting to pounce on any new technology. I read through numerous comments and found a fairly balanced reaction to Canon’s new offering, with lots of people being excited about the new features, and quite a few who did nothing but gripe about what the camera lacked or didn’t do. One of the comments that I found interesting concerned the lack of in-camera wifi. Being an owner of a Canon 70D with built-in wifi I can certainly understand the coolio factor of the wifi. But for this camera, not having wifi really comes down to two things, signal and usability.
First off, from what I have been told by some reliable peeps, the ability to include wifi on a non-plastic body is difficult to say the least. The 70D is a plastic composite body and has no problem allowing for the transmission of wifi signals through the body to a waiting cell phone or tablet. On the other hand, the magnesium armor of the 7DMkII is a very poor transmitter of signals and I’m sure that Canon, like any manufacturer, didn’t want to put out a product that wouldn’t live up to the performance its less expensive sibling. I know, you are saying, “Hey, what about the built in GPS, doesn’t it use an antenna to receive position signals from satellites?” Why yes it does, but it’s not the same kind of signal as wifi and Canon was able to include an antenna on top of the viewfinder where it can point up at all those satellites.
Even if they could get an antenna to make a decent wifi connection, there’s one more reason why it doesn’t matter for this camera and that is that wifi in a DSLR is just clunky. One comment that I read said that since this camera is sort of aimed at sports shooters that the lack of wifi was really doing the photographer an injustice because they could be using it to send images to their editors from the sidelines Take it from me, if the wifi in this camera was to be anything like the 70D, it would be pretty much useless to any sports photographer.
If you don’t have a camera with wifi, here’s a quick rundown on how it works. First you have to set up the wifi on the camera by activating your own little hotspot. Then you have to connect your device (cell phone, tablet, etc.) to the camera’s hotspot to complete the connection. Now you are free to send images to your device through the cameras interface, which has to be activated and synced up with the app on your device. Then you can mark the images you want to transfer and start moving them from camera to device via the wifi hotspot. Once the images have transferred you would then need to break the connection so that your device can then connect to a 4G connection so that you could actually upload the images to the Internet location of your choosing. So can you see why this would not really be a handy tool for someone running up and down the sidelines? Wifi connectivity is nothing new and there are quite a lot of options but to do it any justice, there needs to be a large device tethered to your camera that allows you to transmit to a dedicated receiver located elsewhere and usually operated by another individual. Certainly not a tool for the common man. Most guys running the sidelines are a solo act and just don’t have time to jump through all of the hoops of wifi transmission.
Photo by JM Rosenfeld
While the omission of wifi from the 7D MkII is at first seen as a missed opportunity by Canon, the truth is that the inclusion would have been nothing more than a cute little parlor trick that you could use to entertain your friends with via Twitter and Instagram. DSLR wifi is far from the useful tool that would be used by active sports photographers and until it can live up to the features and expectations of our smart phones, I think it was probably best to leave it to the 70D. Better not to have it than to serve up some less than useful version of wifi that would not meet the expectations of the masses.