Goodbye Tether Cords: Testing out the New Case Air Wireless Tethering System [Review]

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

  • Connectivity
  • 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

Conclusion

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.

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25 Comments

It'd be nice if manufacturers of these types devices (wireless tether, gps, etc) created them with a "hot shoe pass-through". I don't know if it's technologically possible but it'd be nice to not have to choose between a wireless tether and wireless flash transmitter for instance. I could see studio photographers wanting both simultaneously.

yeah. that would be great. right now I am using this:
but it is a hassle....and you need a cable to the camera

Agreed. My Lighting trigger takes the hotshoe so I couldn't consider the CASE.

Awesome setup Peter.

Yeah. Kind of. That image is from Tethertools. I am using a Camranger (clone) with a different trigger. BUT it is still a lot of stuff dangling on the camera. A more compact solution would be nice. But I am still hoping that someone produces something like that in the future...maybe tethertools themselves....?!

Anonymous's picture

I think this would be great for remote camera shots of sensitive or dangerous wildlife. For instance, I shot some baby alligators a while back. I used a 600mm lens and had someone watching the mother to make sure she didn't come towards me, but it wasn't the smartest thing I've ever done. I would love to have mounted a fisheye on a remotely triggered camera and waited for them to come close to get more of an environmental portrait, too. I think this kind of device would be ideal.

I haven't tried it, but doesn't CamRanger offer the same functionality?

Justin Berrington's picture

Yes but it's twice the price. I don't think it has the ability to use a separate panning device but who cares when the panning looks as bad as it did in the video with this device.

Nick Pecori's picture

Justin is correct, it is double the price. I did not want to mention/compare them since I haven't tried out the CamRanger system.

The camranger is essentially this:
https://www.amazon.com/TP-Link-Wireless-Portable-Compatible-TL-MR3040/dp...

So much cheaper. For the app I use QDslrDashboard.
Works like Camranger. Software does not look so slick but only costs 1/10th of Camranger. Although their software is well thought out I guess. You are paying them for the software essentially.
But my setup works also quite nice...

Thomas Starlit's picture

There are several very similar devices on market and it would be nice to see a comparison. CamFi, Camranger etc. CamFi, for instance, is even cheaper than the Case Air and has been on the market 12 months or so. The apps appear very similar between the two (Case Air / CamFi)

Pete W's picture

I also would like to see a comparison review ...

I bought the CamRanger when they were the only ones offering WiFi tethering and have been very happy with it's software and it's general usability on an iPad Mini. One complaint I have with the Ranger is the limited and awkward mounting system. And yes indeed, the price is way too high especially since they are NOT the only ones offering this kind of hardware now!

Dan Howell's picture

I wish people wouldn't confuse the terms previewing with tethering. not only is wireless 'tethering' an oxymoron, wireless does not offer the same functionality as tethering into a capture application like Literoom or Capture One.

John Teague's picture

Two other CASE Remote devices have been around for a few years that do most of the same things described in the article. They're just a little larger in size. However, I've been disappointed by them. As noted in the article, connectivity can be a big problem. The CASE device is putting out a WiFi signal that my Android phone is supposed to receive; however, about half the time my phone reports that it is connected to the device's WiFi signal but the CASE app on my phone doesn't recognize the signal the phone is receiving. Connectivity became so unreliable on shoots that I quit using the CASE Remote. Instead, I use a camera, a Nikon D750, with built-in WiFi. The Nikon phone app that controls the camera is rudimentary (allows focus control but not exposure control) but at least it always connects.

What does it need the hotshoe for again? Unless I'm shoot natural light, my hotshoe would be occupied with my flash or trigger. I would buy a wifi device if I could find something good. Looks like i will need a 5d4 or d750 to get reliable wifi transfers.

Just because that's the 'official' way to mount it. I get around this with similar device by velcroing them to the side of my flash trigger.

Sounds good.
I have the CamRanger (and a Bescor head to which it talks for panos), but I found the wireless to be unreliable, so went over to the ddserver shareware, which I love.
I made a short write-up here : http://frozentime.se/blog/?p=370

Zoli Tarnavölgyi's picture

Does it work with LR mobile on a tablet? I search for a good option to being tethered on a shoot, just to check focus. So I need the ability to zoom in the photos, appearing on a device. I didn't find the solution so far..

Sal Sued's picture

Say I wanted to use my iPhone 7+ as a monitor for my Ronin... Is the Live View fast enough?

Mike Mahoney's picture

I've used the Cam Ranger and Bescor motorized head for a few years and have found it to be a great tool. I frequently use it to control a remote DSLR video cam while I'm operating another cam. It provides a live view of the remote cam to my Ipad. It's not perfectly smooth video, but it's definitely usable for framing the shot and making camera adjustments. Reliable range seems to be about 100 ft, but I've gone further with success. I use a lanyard to hang it from the tripod, so there's no interference with the hot shoe. The Case Air's functionality seems very similar in a smaller package and the price is great.

Studio 403's picture

I just bought the wireless tether tools and it sucks. Just using the lowest setting of jpeg, takes about 5 sec to transfer. I was led to believe there is a live view before I pull the trigger on the app. NOPE. I think Teather tools misleads when they talk about "live view". Its only live after you shoot not before. Sending back, Bad, bad tether company

Nick Pecori's picture

There's live view before. Not sure why you were having issues. Let the tether tools team know.

This is not much different than the CamRanger but for 1/2 the cost. I have used the CamRanger often and find the connectivity problematic at times. If you want to shoot with two cameras then connectivity becomes a pain because you have to try and reestablish connection again and if you have a client waiting it is not a fun experience. I recently saw a German alternative to the CamRanger at CES but you could only transmit to your phone. Not practical for use with clients. I will wait until the wifi transmitters are smaller and more stable.

Do you think this would work well in a fast paced studio environment? We have to shoot about 100 plus products a day.

Nick Pecori's picture

Yes, I used this for a commercial advertising on-the-go production and it worked relatively well