First tests 52
Photography News Issue 24 absolutephoto.com
Review by Will Cheung How we capture photographs and movies is evolving all the time, fuelled by manufacturer innovation and user ingenuity. The Manfrotto Digital Director is a fascinating innovation with plenty of potential in the right hands. It’s an electronic device that is Apple MFi (Made for iPad) certified so it’s fully compatible with an iPad Air and works with most Canon and Nikon DSLRs – see the specification panel here or go to Manfrotto’s website for the latest information. The Digital Director incorporates a dedicated microprocessor and works in conjunction with the free dedicated app. The combination works together to let you view the live image as well as letting you adjust key functions via the USB connection. Once you are happy you can take the picture or start recording remotely and download the result to the tablet – the results stay on the camera’s storage too. Getting the unit working with your camera is very easy. It takes four AA cells and an AC adapter is supplied in the box too. On the unit’s base, where the battery compartment is accessed from, is a 3/8in screw fitting so the unit can be mounted onto a stand or accessory armlike those in theManfrotto range or tripod – an adapter is needed to fit 1/4in screw fit devices. Also here is a USB interface, an on/off switch and the AC adapter socket. The iPad Air simply slides into position so that the unit’s Lightning connector slips into the iPad’s socket. A simple slider secures the tablet into position. Plug the USB into the Director and camera and you’re ready to go. To ensure correct operation, turn on the tablet first, then the Director and then finally the camera. A very short while later, you’ll be viewing on the iPad what the camera lens is seeing and you’ll Manfrotto Digital Director £399
£399 Camera compatibility
Canon EOS-1D X, 1D C, 5D Mark III, 6D, 7D Mark II, 70D, 60D, 1200D. Nikon D4, D810, D800, D800E, Df, D750, D610, D7000, D5500, D5300 iPad compatibility iPad Air & iPad Air 2 Mountingmethod 3/8in universal mount Power supply 4x AA cells Battery life 15 hours Maximumworking temperature 40°C Supplied cable length 1m USB cable Dimensions (wxhxd) 26.4x17.9x4cm Weight 290g without an iPad, 861g with an iPad In the box Manfrotto Director, AC adapter and plus 1m USB cable Contact manfrotto.com
cable. Because my cable was quite short, I used a 3m extension USB 2.0 cable and that also gave me the chance to check functionality with a longer cable. In fact, I tried the unit with two 3m cables joined together and the Director’s responsiveness was just as quick as using a shorter cable. The Director is fun to use and intuitive; it is like having a huge remote control. Everything worked more or less instantly including the shutter release and there was minimal shutter lag. If there was anything slow performance-wise relative to using
a DSLR up to the eye it was focusing as you are using the camera’s live view AF. One thing to bear in mind is the burden on the camera battery. It will drain relatively quickly because the image is fed to the Director via live view, so make sure you have a spare if you are planning a long shoot. The Director itself lasted well on a set of AA cells – 15 hours is claimed. With the AC adapter in use, the iPad is charged via its Lightning socket. However, if you have rechargeable AA cells loaded in the Director they are not charged via the Lightning connection.
also have remote control of the camera’s main settings. This includes aperture, shutter speed, exposure compensation and ISO, but there’s also white-balance, drive control and a degree of AF control. The specifics can vary depending on the camera – for this review I used a Nikon D800 via its USB 3.0 connection. The supplied cable is mini USB fit so I reeded a USB 3.0
The Manfrotto Digital Director is a neat ingenious device that is easy to use. The question is, do you need one? The answer, as ever, lies in what you do in your imaging. It works really well in the studio, whether you are shooting stills or video, and if you are shooting outdoors remotely, although you are limited in range because it’s not wireless. It also might have a use for training where you can see the results immediately and on a good-sized screen too.
TheDigital Director interface The app displays a Gallery on the iPad, where you can categorise and filter your shots. You can also view (and in some cases alter) camera settings, such as exposure compensation, ISO, shutter speed, aperture and the histogram.
Pros Intuitive in use, works well, fast Cons Price, not wireless
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