For several years now, Camranger has been pretty much the only choice if you want to tether your Nikon, Sony or Canon DSLR wirelessly to your phone or tablet.
While the Camranger is a worthy device that allows you access to all your camera settings remotely as well as instant viewing of your images, even in live view, the $299 price tag seemed excessive (to me, at least). By the time you add extras such as the USB cable, mount, etc, you’re approaching $400 not including your tablet.
Recently I discovered a $40 alternative. All you need is a $29 TP-Link MR3040 Battery Powered 3G Wireless Router and a $9 app called QDSLR Dashboard for Android or iOS. If you go to DSLRDashboard.info, you can download new firmware for the router that will turn your $30 device into a $300 Camranger, with virtually the same functionality. When I got the TP-Link router, I was surprised that it appears to be the exact same device used for the Camranger, just rebranded (it’s the same case, etc).
You will also want to pick up a 1-foot USB cable to attach to your camera. For my Nikon D810, I needed a USB-3 Mini cable.
Here are the steps to create your wireless tethering device…. Since I am using Windows 10, that’s what I’m describing here. I’m sure if you Google your OS, you can find what you need.
1. Download the TP-Link MR3040 ddserver OpenWrt Firmware here. If your TP-Link only has a two-way switch, you’ll want the V1 version. The B&H link I listed above is for V2 so you should be fine. Note where you downloaded this file.
2. Plug the TP-Link directly into your computer’s ethernet connection. Make sure the router’s battery is fully charged or that you have the device plugged in with the adapter.
3. Flip the switch of the router to 3G.
4. Access the router’s control panel by typing into a browser 192.168.0.1. Once there, you will type in a user name/password of “Admin”/”Admin”.
5. Once in, click on System Tools/Firmware Upgrade.
6. In firmware upgrade, choose the file that you downloaded in step 1 above.
7. When the firmware is upgraded, the router will restart. When it restarts, you will lose the connection because the firmware changes the IP address.
8. Once restarted, type in 192.168.1.1. Now you will have access to the new OpenWrt firmware.
9. Now, in the Open WRT password login. It’ll warn that there is no password. Simply type any password into the password and log into the router.
10. Pick another router password. This will be the admin password.
11. Ignore SSH – Hit Save and Apply
12. Go to System/System
13. Pick Sync with browser to set the time
14. Create a wireless network
15. Click on Network/Wifi
16. Enable the Generic SSID (mine was already enabled)
17. Edit Settings
18. Under ESSID change the name of the network from OpenWRT to whatever you want to call it.
19. Check the LAN button under network.
That’s it. Download the app to your tablet or phone, connect to the new wireless network (I called mine DSLR Dashboard) and you can now completely control your camera from your device as well as see images instantly as you take them. When using my iPad for tethering, while RAW files work fine, they are huge files on my D810 so I shoot in RAW and JPG so that the JPG files transfer instantly.
There you have it. Enjoy!
About the author: Alan Lawrence is a commercial, real estate, and event photographer based near Seattle, Washington. He’s the founder of the Seattle Photography Club. You can find more of his work and writing on his website, blog, Twitter, and Flickr. This article was also published here.