How to Wirelessly Trigger the Sony a7R II While Shooting Tethered with Capture One or Lightroom

In this video, I’ve provided a solution for photographers who want the ability to walk around their set, wirelessly trigger their Sony a7R II and still retain the capability to shoot tethered (with a USB cable) to Capture One or Lightroom.

Workflow

Workflow is crucial when you are making a living as a professional photographer. While most of us love trying out new camera bodies, software, and other tools, there’s something to be said about having your own workflow that just works. When you introduce new tools and technology into your professional life, sometimes you may be forced into finding new ways of doing things. This is something that I experienced when I went from using a Canon 70D as my main camera body to a Sony a7R II.

The Transition From Canon to Sony

In mid 2016, I went from shooting crop-sensor Canon cameras (like the 70D) to a full-frame Sony a7R II. Why? For the same reasons a lot of people did. I wanted a full-frame camera, with really high resolution, better ISO performance, 4K video capabilities, focus peaking technology, in-camera apps, and the ability to use my Canon lenses (both my crop and full-frame lenses) on the same Sony camera body via Metabones adapter. Something I couldn’t do even on a full-frame Canon. It was the obvious choice for an upgrade.

Using the Sony a7R II over time, I started to realize that many of the things I loved about my Canon cameras were actually related to workflow. It just worked. It’s no surprise that Canon cameras are widely supported by many third-party companies and developers. Sony on the other hand, not so much.

I work full time as a commercial photographer. I mostly work by myself without an assistant, so it’s crucial that I work comfortably and efficiently. When I’m on set in my studio or on location I want two things: the ability to shoot tethered and the ability to wirelessly trigger my camera. Before shooting with Sony, I used to use an app called DSLR Controller by a developer called Chainfire. It allowed me to easily tether my Canon 70D to my Android tablet via USB cable. It is the best tethering app I've ever used on a mobile device. It took full control of my camera without taking away functionality from the camera body itself. It also provided a Live View mode and the ability to preview my high-resolution images right off the SD card without having to copy them onto the tablet first. 

DSLR Controller was the perfect solution for tethering in the studio or on location without having to rely on a computer, Lightroom, or Capture One. And because my Canon 70D has an input for a remote completely separate from the USB required for tethering, I was able to use wireless triggers (Yongnuo RF 603C) to fire my camera. So it was sort of like a CamRanger set up, without the Wi-Fi aspect (though DSLR Controller does have a system for that too). In my opinion, It was the ultimate way to work. Unfortunately DSLR Controller only works on Canon cameras, so my workflow had to change if I wanted to use the Sony a7R II as my dedicated full time camera.

Wireless Tethering Options For Sony

CamRanger

Not supported.

Case Air by Tether Tools

Not supported.

CamFi

Fashion/Celebrity photographer Frank Doorhof made a video recently talking about CamFi for Sony and upon checking out the CamFi website, I can confirm that on their homepage they have a scrolling banner that reads “The world’s first wireless camera controller for Sony.” I haven’t personally used this yet. But there may be hope. See Doorhof's video on CamFi below.

Sony Smart Remote App

Sony makes an app called Smart Remote Control available through Sony Play Memories. Overall, it works pretty well. It creates a direct Wi-Fi connection from your camera to your mobile device and works much like a CamRanger. It gives you control of your camera and a good working distance. But there are some caveats.

The biggest drawback for me is that if you want to preview your images after shooting, the preview resolution is terrible, even after adjusting the settings in the app. So if you want to check focus and make sure everything is crisp, forget about it. The only way to see better previews is to copy the files to the hard drive of your mobile device. And we all know how precious hard drive space is on a mobile device. The other issue is that when you are connected to the app, it limits the functionality on the actual camera body, including loss of the electronic viewfinder. In my opinion, this app is just not there yet. Maybe future updates will fix this.

Wired Tethering Options

Lightroom

Like many photographers, my entire postproduction workflow revolves around a Lightroom workflow. I’ve been a Lightroom user for a long time. I love the workflow and really dig what they are doing with LR Mobile. It does a lot of things including tethered capture, unless you’re using a Sony a7R II. Currently, Adobe Lightroom doesn’t support tethered capture with Sony cameras. So in order to use Lightroom for tethering with a Sony you can create a workaround. It can be done by downloading Sony’s Remote Camera Control app and setting up a “watch folder" in Adobe Lightroom, but it’s not my preferred way to work. Adobe, if you’re reading this, please add Sony tethering to Lightroom.

Capture One

If you’ve purchased a Sony camera, then you’re probably aware that you can get Capture One Pro for Sony at a discounted rate of $50. Just an FYI, Capture One Pro for Sony is simply limited to reading Sony raw and TIFF files only. It is, however, a great solution and it’s pretty much your only option if you want to shoot tethered with a Sony and do it the right way. Though I don’t currently use Capture One for processing my raw files, as I prefer Lightroom for that, I’ve since learned how to adapt Capture One tethering into my workflow and actually enjoy it. It’s simple and intuitive. Though I’d prefer to use DSLR Controller or Adobe Lightroom, I will stick to this workflow for now.

The Problem

The Sony a7R II does not have an independent input for a remote triggering system like the Canon 70D did. So if you want to remotely trigger your Sony a7R II camera with wireless transceivers such as the Yongnuo RF603C with the Vello shutter release cable for Sony, it relies on the USB input (or Multi Terminal as Sony calls it). The problem is that if you want to shoot tethered to a computer, it also requires the use of the USB input. This means you can either tether to a computer and not fire your camera wirelessly or fire your camera wirelessly and not tether to a computer. Not both.

The Solution

If you plan on tethering with Capture One (requiring the use of the USB) and you still want to wirelessly trigger your camera there is a solution: the Neewer 2.4 GHz Wireless Remote Control Pro Battery Grip. This battery grip has a built-in receiver and comes with a wireless remote control allowing you to wirelessly trigger your Sony a7R II without having to rely on the USB Multi Terminal on the camera. It has a really nice build quality, and performs like a battery grip should. But the absolute best feature is the wireless remote transmitter. Pressing the shutter release on the remote is exactly like pressing it on the camera. So if you’re using off-camera lighting, it will still fire your flash as long as you have your flash transmitter on the hot shoe of the camera, e.g., Cyber Commander from Paul C. Buff.

Not only was building a wireless system into a battery grip a great idea, it really helped solve one of my biggest problems with the Sony a7R II, and at a very reasonable price point too ($79.99 at the time of writing this). Currently, Sony’s official battery grip costs $348 on B&H and does not offer any wireless solution for triggering your camera. In my mind, this is something that Sony should have integrated into their product.

So there you have it. If you’re the proud or sad owner of a Sony a7R II, here is the solution to wirelessly trigger the camera while still retaining the capability to shoot tethered with a USB cable to Capture One or Lightroom.

Have you switched from Canon to Sony? How has your workflow changed? If you have any ideas, hacks, or products that would help other Sony a7R II users, please leave them in the comments below.

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22 Comments

Austin Burke's picture

And it's shipped. Great write up for a solution I've been needing after that last shoot I did. Went in tether and needed to wirelessly trigger but found out I can't tether to capture one and use the sony memories app to control the camera at the same time. Plus now I wont be changing batteries as often!

Brian Rodgers Jr.'s picture

Great to hear! I was stoked when I found this product. Who would have thought the solution to this problem was in a battery grip? The Sony smart remote app could be amazing, but they still have some work to do before I could use it on a full time basis. I'd love to, it's just not there yet

Michael Aubrey's picture

I've never tried, but couldn't you simply use Sony's phone app to trigger the camera?

Or is that not possible to do while also tethered (some dumb, "It's a feature, not a bug" sort of thing).

Brian Rodgers Jr.'s picture

Hey Michael, you can use Sony's App to trigger your camera while tethering to the Sony app. However, you can't use the Sony app (Sony Smart Remote) to trigger your camera if you're tethering into another program like Capture One or Lightroom. Unfortunately, The Sony app is still pretty limited in what you can do with it.

You can however, use this Neewer battery grip with remote to trigger that I mentioned in the article with your camera while connected to the Sony Smart Remote App.

Michael Aubrey's picture

Gotcha. That's unfortunate, though unsurprising. You'd think, given that Sony encourages the use of Capture One by giving it away for free, they'd have made that possible.

Ray Hardy's picture

you could use Capture Pilot with Capture One... not great but you have full camera controls and a pretty good preview.

Brian Rodgers Jr.'s picture

I know that Capture Pilot can control some cameras, but I don't think Sony is one of them. I'd have to test it to be sure. When I'm in the studio though, I'd rather just use my iMac tethered into Capture One and use the Neewer wireless trigger. I really wouldn't need another screen in front of me if I'm using an iMac to review my images. Do you know what I mean?

The other thing about Capture Pilot is that, it relies on having a wifi network connection. So if you're on location shooting architecture for example, you may not have access to a wifi network. I'm not sure if Capture Pilot allows you to use your cameras wifi as the access point or not. I'd have to test it

Ray Hardy's picture

I get the not wanting a second screen to lug around, but it can be handy if you have to mount your Sony in an odd or hard to reach location.

As for the network, it's best to create a closed network from your iMac or MacBook. That way you have way less interference. It's by no means a 100% solid app, (more like 35%) but in a pinch it can be a good option.

david shepherd's picture

Tethering in Capture One Pro??? Tether via USB???

Command-K from the computer should trigger your camera. I think Live view works too. I use this with a D810 and its the best solution, even besting your suggestion just a bit. Great article and I will look into this if I switch to Sony.

Brian Rodgers Jr.'s picture

Hi David,
I'm aware of the keyboard shortcut Command-K and yes it does trigger the Sony. Live view also works great. And I use that shortcut when I'm in front of the computer. However, the whole point of this article is that the Neewer battery grip that I mentioned comes with a built in radio receiver and a wireless remote trigger. As a commercial photographer with no assistant, I need the ability to move freely around my set and trigger my camera wirelessly. The Neewer battery grip used in tandem with Capture One allows me to do just that. Right now, it's the best solution I have found for shooting tethered with the Sony. Cheers!

Adam W's picture

I use qDslrDashboard wirelessly on an Android tablet together with a D610 and a tp-link mr3040 running the dd server openwrt firmware. It works fantastically. Also, it's compatible with Canon, Nikon and Sony. Here's a set up tutorial https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Our-AxmrDJM

Brian Rodgers Jr.'s picture

Thanks for the comment Adam! I actually downloaded qDslrDashboard a while back and if I remember correctly while it did work on the Sony, I had to use another app to preview/view my images because this app didn't have that functionality built in. I'll have to take another look at it because I know that these developers are always working on new things. As of right now though, I have found Capture One & the Neewer battery grip for the Sony a7R2 to be the best tethering solution. Though personally, I'd much rather tether to a tablet for ease and portability. Thanks again!

Here's another solution. Ive tried it. It works just not great for mac. But ipad has worked and I haven't tried with PC
I've asked about mac app and they said by the end of april

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0163L89LG/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o08_s...

Brian Rodgers Jr.'s picture

Hi Didri,
Thanks for the comment. I actually mentioned the Camfi system in the article and also linked a video from Frank Doorhof about it. I haven't personally used it yet, but it looks like it could be a solution. There are two things that I don't like about it right off the bat though. 1.)The fact that I have to plug another device in to my camera and find somewhere to put it (I'd rather have the ability to use the camera's own wifi if possible) and 2.) the signal distance stated on their website is only 50 meters which is about 164 feet. Sounds like a good amount of distance until you start shooting architecture or a large industrial environment. Most radio triggers will work up to around 300 feet.

I'm definitely going to look into the Camfi system further though. Cheers!

So tethering disables Sony's remote? Bummer. And by remote, I mean the RMT-DSLR2.

Brian Rodgers Jr.'s picture

I don't own the Sony RMT-DSLR2 remote, however that should work just fine when tethering to a program like Capture One or Lightroom. The problem with it though, is that it's not a radio frequencey remote. It's simply infrared, meaning line of site. I mentioned this in the video as I tried a Vello remote to trigger the camera while using Capture One. It works, but not great. Not only is the Sony remote line of site, but the sensor for this is in the front of the camera, not the back.

When you are using the Sony Smart Remote app to tether, you cannot use Sony app to trigger the shutter of your camera for use with Capture One.

Dominic James's picture

Interesting read and info (your link to the Neewer is broken by the way). Shame it's a battery grip that works and not just a 2.4ghz transmitter as the USB cable for tethering powers the Sony via Capture One, never needed more than a single battery when shooting this way. Would also solve the issue when filming on a gimbal. Hmmm, need to research 2.4ghz remote transmitters more. Thanks for the write up, very interesting. Dominic

Brian Rodgers Jr.'s picture

Hey Dominic,

I fixed the link to the Neewer battery grip. Thanks for letting me know about that. If you're just looking to trigger the Sony A7R2 camera wirelessly and not tether, you can use the Yongnuo 603's alongside the Vello shutter release cable to do just that. It works great. Until you want to tether. Because again, tethering to Capture One means that you need to use the USB port on the camera. That's why the Neewer batter grip is great. Because it has a built in radio receiver and a wireless radio transmitter, allowing the use of tethering shooting via USB.

Cheers!

Hi, I normally do not post anything, but I was so intrigued by the video, but yet so annoyed by where we are in technology that I felt an obligation to create an account just so I can chime in.

I tend to be talkative so please read at your leisure.

My goal is simply to shoot wirelessly and to use my EVF on my Sony A7RII while having the photos sync to my tablet so if any clients are in studio they can see the photos as I shoot or I can check critical focus on key shots or I can simply give the model feedback on poses. Note: As many of you currently know, you can use the remote capture app and play memories app to connect to your cellphone, but it hijacks your EVF.

Although the Newwer battery grip is interesting, the problem is that there is still a wired usb that limits the way that I normally shoot which is off tri-pod and all over the place hi,lo,back, forth, side to side... You know how it goes... multiple angles shooting with a prime lens (Sony 90 mm f2.8).

Buuuuut I do not want to be rude and hijack's Brian page, buuuuuuuuuut there is a solution and I am convinced that if we all get together and those photographers who have Sony's ear fight on our behalf, we can get the greatest feature that would fix this wireless tethering issue.

Before I say it...

Imagine this for a second... Whether in studio or on location, you shoot the photo and it is automatically shared to your cellphone and/or bigger screen tablet so everyone can see. And of course, you have LightRoom mobile on your android tablet that you can sync back and forth to your desktop while autosharing directly from your camera into your tablet into LightRoom mobile.

Is not that the solution?

Then if you agree...

Then Samsung has the answer!

Check out the features of the Samsung Smart Camera App. Sure, you can do the remote viewer thing, but for me the most remarkable feature has to be the 'autoshare'! That would solve our wireless tethering problem if we had that app!

How does this relate to Sony?

Solution: Sony needs to license the Smart Camera App from Samsung, call it their own Sony Autoshare app or what have you, make the tweaks so the wifi feature will work specifically with the Sony A7RII, then we will be in business!

Much better long term solution than buying another battery grip just to use infrared on the front. Also, much better than the camfi or the qdslr solutions as there should be no additional gear to buy or even better, this would be a solution developed and/or provided by Sony so we would not have to pony up 10 bucks for an app from a third-party that may or may not work.

Well....Thanks for sharing the battery grip idea, but I still believe that there has to be a Sony autoshare app in the works considering Samsung had developed their app... I think back in 2014 so Sony is long over due...

In either case.... Just my 2 cents...

Have a nice day.

Edits/Note: Samsung's autoshare feature still would allow us to use the EVF. Also, Sony A7A7rii using playmemories and remote camera app are not compatible with the Samsung Galaxy S2 tablet.

Oddly enough, if u r in great shape, u could use the Sony A7rii with playmemories app and remote capture and sync to a Samsung Galaxy S5 cellphone. U will need to use the A7A7rii monitor to frame your shots so u better be in shape as the remote capture hijacks your EVF.

Oh... the point. .. If you install LightRoom mobile on your cell phone, then you would likely not need the Newwer battery grip....

Unless u need the larger viewing screen hence the major benefit of the autoshare feature.

Brian Rodgers Jr.'s picture

Thanks for the Comment Mark!

Just a quick note, the Neewer battery grip is not infrared. It's controlled by radio frequency, which obviously is much more reliable.

I agree, I would love the ability to tether wirelessly. And I think the Sony Play Memories Remote app does a pretty good job of that, it's just not perfect by any means. It's a drag that the EVF no longer works when using the app. That's been a huge complaint for many owners of this camera.

I would honestly love to see Lightroom Mobile as a wireless tethering solution for any camera. Hell, I'd love for Lightroom to simply support tethering with the Sony A7R2.

I'll have to check out the Samsung Smart Camera App.

Cheers!

Peter Guyton's picture

Brian,
I often shoot tethered to CaptureOne with a Nikon D810 and I use CaptureOne Pro for everything (no LR) and it works well. I've been considering a move to Sony but understand that the multi-port connection is limited to USB 2.0 speeds (lame, lame, lame). There's a youtube video of a photographer using an A99 ii tethered to CaptureOne and his images take 4 to 5 seconds , sometimes more to appear in Capture one (see Minute 7:00 here https://youtu.be/Zs7PjfIirD8

). That may be fine for some folks, but it would drive my nuts.

On the other hand, my D810 has a USB 3.0 port and my images appear in one second. If I shoot with a client in the studio, that's a big deal for me as waiting 4 or 5 seconds for each image is like Chinese water torture.

I write this because I hope Sony will get the message that USB 2.0 is just a deal breaker in some instances and they obviously need some additional ports and tech. A9 looks great for sports but still is only USB 2.0 from what I read.

Brian Rodgers Jr.'s picture

Hey Peter,

I agree, USB 2.0 speed isn't the fastest and may not have been the best choice when they released the Sony A7R2 back in June of 2015. For me personally, it's not a deal breaker. I don't feel like it's that slow. However, it would have been great if they had included USB 3.0. But at the end of the day, there is no perfect camera on the market. I love my Canon cameras too, and they are not perfect by any means.

When I bought my Sony A7R2, I was also considering the Canon 5DSR. Both are awesome cameras, but for me, I wanted 4K video capabilities, focus peaking, and the ability to use my Canon full frame and crop sensor lenses with an adapter (something even full frame Canon camera's don't offer).

So yeah, there are caveats with just about any camera you purchase.

Cheers!