Manfrotto Digital Director
Turn your iPad into the ultimate digital SLR camera accessory
Manfrotto describes this accessory for connecting your iPad Air (there are different models for the original Air and the Air 2) to your Nikon or Canon SLR as a “workflow management processor”, which deserves some sort of award for being the most astonishingly boring description for an exciting new bit of tech we’ve ever heard.
The Digital Director is a cradle for your iPad, and connects to its Lightning port. It then connects to a compatible camera using a USB cable, and, via the accompanying app, gives you a live feed of the camera’s view and control of its functions. But not in some middling way, like most camera companion apps. Manfrotto has been working with Canon and Nikon to get direct access to their pro cameras’ innards, to effectively recreate almost the full controls of the cameras in the app. You can’t change the camera’s shooting mode from the app, but aperture, shutter speed, focus and much more can be adjusted live on the touchscreen, with the live view showing exactly what you’ll get on the iPad’s lovely big, detailed display. The app even adds some excellent features such as focus peaking, ensuring you always get the right part of the shot in focus.
Shots you take can be viewed right away on the iPad, and you can rate images as you take them (though these won’t carry over to management software such as Lightroom, sadly), and have them uploaded to an FTP server.
While this is all phenomenally exciting for things like video work or macro photography (the included one-metre USB cable means you can stay well back out of the light for this kind of shooting), the Digital Director isn’t perfect. We’ve already mentioned its trouble tying in with Lightroom, but also it lacks true depth of field preview – when you change the aperture setting, the brightness of the image is adjusted to simulate the image’s exposure, but the aperture isn’t actually closed down, so you can’t see how depth of field changes.
Is it worth £400? If what you’ve read has you excited at the possibilities, you may have already made up your mind, and we think you’ll enjoy using it. But it’s a lot of money, is limited to certain cameras, and isn’t quite a home run yet. Ali Jennings & Matt Bolton
Digital Director enables your iPad to talk directly to and control certain DSLR camera models from Canon and Nikon.
The Manfrotto Digital Director contains its own processor for instant image processing.