Tether Tools Case Air – A First Look
The Tether Tools Case Air is a wireless tethering system that we are very excited to be carrying at The Camera Store. The Case Air creates a WiFi network allowing you to connect your camera to your device. It is compatible with iOS, Android and PC’s. Once connected you can control your camera through the Case Remote App, then you can adjust settings to your liking as needed. The device is primarily suited for studio shooting. The Case Air plugs in to the camera’s USB port and creates a Wi-Fi hot spot that is not dependant on an existing wifi network. The Case Air allows for a wireless connection up to 150ft to your tablet, smartphone, Mac or PC. Once connected you can take advantage of live view, check focus peaking, RGB histogram and grid, control video, and even do specialized tasks like bracketing for HDR, time-lapse shooting, and focus-stacking.
Tether Tools recommends shooting small JPEG + RAW and to set the app to downloading all the small JPEGs, and not downloading the RAW files. The camera’s card will house the RAW, and Alex and I found that shooting this way was excellent in terms of speed. We also liked the fact that the Case Air includes focus stacking and all of this comes in a reasonably priced package, $209.87 (as of this writing). The natural comparison here is the CamRanger, which comes in at $379.95. We feel that the Tether Tools Case Air would be an excellent choice at its price point, and would work well in a studio portrait session or while doing landscapes in order to ensure critical focus is reached.
Alex and I tested the Case Air on a Canon 5D Mark IV, and installed the app on iOS and Android (8.1) devices. It was relatively simple to set-up. But, we occasionally came across small hiccups when trying to connect our device to the Case Air. Most connectivity issues were solved by restarting the app and refreshing the connection while following their FAQ (turning off all other applications and putting the devices into airplane mode). Tether Tools also has a support hotline that is available to help if there are any major hiccups in installation.
After the initial setup – we found that there were multiple features that we loved about the Case Air in a controlled environment such as a studio, where the Case Air will really excel. Focus peaking is one such feature for the device, and that combined with a quick file transfer really helps make the Case Air very attractive. Focus peaking in the studio or for landscape work functioned very well with each device we tested the Case Air on. (For those who are unaware – focus peaking highlights what is in focus on the sensor with a red, blue, white or green outline that tells an artistic director or photographer what parts of the image are in focus.)
With all of that being said, there were some hiccups that came along with the device; but, one disclaimer we want to put forth is that software issues do not equal hardware issues. We feel that the software for the device is a little slow and input can have a bit of delay or lag between actions. That being said, again we need to point out that software updates are constant for the Case Air, and a new update has just landed as of August 31st.
After testing on a second generation iPad, several iPhone 5’s, an iPhone 6 as well as an Android 8.1 device it is clear that the more powerful the device – the better the overall performance of the application. Tether Tools does say that it works on every platform – which isn’t untrue, but we would have appreciated a minimum spec list which would assure users that the performance they were getting would be satisfactory before spending the money on a tethering device such as this. The second generation iPad’s processor could barely handle commands quick enough and there was a noticeable delay between every single action we tried to perform. As we progressed through generations of technology though, this problem became less and less of an issue. These cons aside, the Tether Tools Case Air is a great and much more affordable alternative to the CamRanger, and with a host of good features – will be absolutely critical to any artistic director working in the studio.