Fantastic, I just received my new Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 tablet running the latest version of Android 4.4 (also known as KitKat) and, from just a few tests so far, I can see that this tablet is going to work out great for tethered shooting with DSLR Controller.
DSLR Controller is an Android app designed for tethered shooting between Canon DSLR cameras and Android based tablets. The app has such features as camera settings control, remote shutter release, image preview on the tablet screen, and both JPG and RAW file capture to tablet options. So in this post I am going to give a quick review of the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 tablet running DSLR Controller tethered to a Canon DSLR Camera.
First, I connected my Canon 5D Mark II DSLR camera to the USB cable that came with the camera when I purchased it. I then connected the USB cable at the other end to an “On The Go” (OTG) cable that I purchased separately. Then I connected the OTG cable to the Samsung 8.4 Pro tablet using the tablet’s USB micro port. I then powered on the camera and started up the DSLR Controller app on the tablet.
The first thing I noticed right away is that the aspect ratio of this tablet’s screen at 16:10 is just perfect for previewing shots on a tablet screen.
The pictures captured during tethered shooting look big, bright, and tack sharp on this tablet’s beautiful screen making it very easy to see all the fine detail in the photo. Pinching to zoom in to see more detail on a 25MB-30MB RAW file on the screen happens very quickly too and there is no lag. It really feels like the tablet was designed for tethered shooting and I don’t feel that the screen size of the tablet needs to be any bigger than 8.4″ for comfortable and convenient tethered shooting.
The transfer speed of files from the camera to the tablet via the USB cable connection is very good too since the tablet is packed with 2GB of RAM and a 2.3Ghz quad-core processor making it the most powerful Android tablet in the 8″ size class available to date. The controls of the app work great too and respond quickly to all touchscreen app commands.
The tablet packs an amazing retina quality screen of 2560×1600 pixel resolution which equates to 354 pixels per inch. When zooming in on a photo’s detail, the high resolution of the screen really shines because it lets you see a lot of detail when you need to check focus and sharpness within the fine detail of a hi-res photo.
The one disappointing issue I experienced though is that I am not able to save photo file captures to the 64GB Micro SDXC card that I installed into the tablet. I am only able to save image captures to the on-board memory of the tablet itself, which is not good because the tablet only has a total of 16GB of memory on-board, some of which is already used up by Android itself as well as other installed apps. But the 64GB Micro SDXC card is an excellent way to increase on-board memory in the tablet for storing data. You can get the same SanDisk 64GB SDXC card I bought here for only $36 with free shipping.
The reason you can’t save file captures to the Micro SD memory card is because Google has placed some access restrictions on the ability of its latest version of Android (KitKat). And this restriction prevents 3rd party apps from being able to write data to the SD memory card.
This is very unfortunate, but there are two possible ways around it I found. The first way is to “Root” your tablet, which is something like jail breaking/unlocking. Then once you Root you can remove the access restriction. But doing this could damage your tablet and will void your warranty from Samsung. So I don’t recommend it.
The better solution is to write your captures to the tablet’s on board memory and, when it fills up, then just move the files to your Micro SD memory card using the File Manager app within Android. Then, after you move the files and erase them from the tablet memory, you can continue shooting and capturing more files to the on board tablet memory again.
You should have about 8-10GB of free space of tablet memory I figure after you install all the apps you need. So this should be enough space to capture about 400 RAW files from a 22MP camera before you will need to move the files over to the SD memory card. That’s still not so bad actually. And hopefully in the future Google will address this issue and offer an update for Android that fixes the restrictions problem.
By the way, if you are planning on using the same Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 tablet and Canon DSLR camera setup I have then you will need to buy a small OTG cable with a USB Micro Connector like the one seen below. These cables cost only $1-$2 I found from sellers on eBay.
If however you have a Canon DSLR model with built-in WiFi like the Canon EOS 70D or the 6D then you won’t require any cable connections between your camera and the tablet for this setup. You can just shoot wirelessly tethered.
There is not much else to say other than that this tablet is beautifully designed and is ideal for tethered shooting, or did I say that already? The tablet is thin, light weight and fits comfortably in one hand as it is only 1/2? wider than most 7? tablets. This is because Samsung put a very narrow bezel at the edges on this tablet in order to keep it from becoming too wide for single handed use. So this leaves your other hand free to control the camera, which is great. With a larger and heavier 10″ or 12″ tablet, which requires both hands to hold, it would be much more difficult to comfortably hold the tablet and shoot at the same time.
Between shots I also discovered that the tablet fits comfortably in the side pocket of my cargo pants. So when I pick up my tripod to move to another shooting location I simply put the tablet in my pocket, leave the cable connected between the tablet and the camera, move the tripod, and then pull the tablet out of my pocket and start shooting again in an instant at the next location. All very fast and easy.
The only downside I can see to using this tablet for tethered shooting is that the tablet battery may only last for 4-5 hours of tethered shooting before you will need to recharge it. But you can turn off the tablet between shots to conserve power. Otherwise, I don’t think you will be disappointed at all if you buy this tablet for the purpose of tethered shooting with a DSLR camera like I did.
If you have any other questions about using this tablet for tethered shooting with the DSLR Controller app for Android please feel free to post them below and I will do my best to try to answer them. If you are a Nikon shooter you can use another Android app called DslrDashboard, which is a free program that works with both Nikon and Canon cameras, and offers very similar functionality to DSLR Controller.
Also, if you would like to read more about the process of “Tethered Shooting With Your Canon DSLR And Android Tablet” please click here for my other detailed post on tethered tablet shooting.
*UPDATE #1 / 19-March-14* – I just did some more extensive shooting with this new Samsung Tab Pro 8.4 tablet tethered to my Canon 5D Mark II and I was very pleasantly surprised (when you put the screen brightness at about 80% on the tablet) that the captured previews on the tablet screen show the exposure almost perfectly. So what I am suggesting is that you can use the tablet screen to shoot in live view mode and pretty much know the correct exposure by just looking at the tablet screen whilst you don’t really need to meter the light at all. Just look on the tablet screen using live view, adjust your camera settings so that the onscreen exposure looks right, and shoot. It’s excellent.
*UPDATE #2 / 13-June-14* – Samsung just announced a slightly different and newer version of this tablet. A new model called the Samsung Galaxy Tab S (8.4) will be available soon. It will be slightly lighter, thinner, and faster (with 3GB of RAM) than the existing Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 tablet. It will also have a different, hard plastic finish on the back, and a new Super AMOLED display. This should mean the colors will be more vibrant, brighter and the blacks should be deeper on this new model than the old one. I don’t anticipate any real difference though in terms of how the two tablets will perform when shooting tethered with DSLR Controller. The existing 8.4″ tablet is great for tethered shooting and so should be the new one.
*UPDATE #3 / 10-July-14* – Excellent News: The latest release of DSLR Controller, which is version 0.99.5 released on 9 July 2014, is now able to save both JPG and RAW file captures to the external SD memory card on tablets and smartphones running Android KitKat 4.4. As per the above article, this was not possible on the previous release of DSLR Controller (version 0.99.4 released 20 December 2013) which could only save files to the internal memory of an Android device running KitKat 4.4. So if you have DSLR Controller installed already then make sure you update your app to the latest version (for free) to gain full support. You can go here for a full list of the changes and updates being supported by the latest version.
*UPDATE #4 / 7-August-14* – I just posted a new article about How To Tether Your Canon DSLR Camera Wirelessly To Your Android Tablet using a portable wireless Wi-Fi router. You can go here to read the post.
*UPDATE #5 / 21-October-14* – Unfortunately it seems this tablet model is now being phased out by Samsung after only being for sale on the market for a short time. The replacement as I mentioned is the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4″ Tablet, which is nearly the same model, but has an improved AMOLED screen. Amazon is offering the new Tab S 8.4″ model here for $370 with free shipping which is a great value.
*UPDATE #6 / 16-July-15* – I just posted a new article about How To Shoot Tethered Video With Your Canon DSLR And Android Tablet. You can go here to read the article.