As a photographer and photo editor, my favorite social media platform is Instagram. It's an oasis in the social media desert where images are actually valued. Their value is counted by tiny red hearts, comments, and—the most valuable of all—followers.
Among the people that I follow are many professional photographers who take photos using their pro camera rigs and post them after editing them on a computer and sending themselves the image. Not really "insta," is it? But what if you could take quality images in real time with a much nicer camera than the one built into your phone? Would you get more likes or even more followers? Enter WiFi-enabled cameras.
In a nutshell, WiFi cameras work like regular cameras, but what makes them good for use in tandem with Instagram is that they can communicate with your phone via WiFi connection. All you have to do is download an app that syncs the camera and phone and like magic, you can save images directly to your phone's camera roll. Along with two other InStyle.com photo editors, I tested out some of the best WiFi cameras on the market that will help you to amp up your Instagram feeds.
After spending several weeks with each, here is what we found:
1. Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX100 IV, $948
Tested by Naomi Driessnack, @naomidriessnack
I had the chance to play with Sony’s RX100 IV camera to see how much it could upgrade my Instagram game. Even though I am a photographer and carry a big DSLR with me, I find myself using my iPhone to take quick snaps of skylines, dogs, pretty shadows, and the little beautiful things around me so that I can share them quickly with friends or post to Instagram. Sony’s tiny digital camera is such a fun hybrid between a DSLR and an iPhone.
The photo quality is beautiful and even though there are several ways you can manually change the settings, the automatic settings are more than adequate. The size of the camera was extremely convenient for quick photos of street scenes, coffee cups, and puppies. Instead of the time-consuming process of uploading the photos to my computer, editing through way too many, and then posting them to social media (or emailing them to my mom), I was able to quickly share my camera photos on my phone in just a couple of steps.
I downloaded the Sony PlayMemories Mobile app, connected to WiFi, and transferred the images directly to my camera roll on my iPhone. This whole process took less than five minutes to accomplish, which is embarrassingly much shorter than it took me to figure out a caption. As a sweet bonus, I definitely received substantially more likes than usual for my 'grams.
Get the Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX100 IV here.
2. Samsung NX500 (with 16-50 mm Lens), $598
Tested by Sarah Balch, @sarahlizbalch
As a photographer, even when I am shooting images to be shared through Instagram or Facebook I tend to use my DSLR— which can be cumbersome. I recently took a trip to Las Vegas and it was the perfect opportunity to test out the Samsung NX500.
The camera has a great manual settings option that I chose to shoot with of most of the time, although the automatic setting works well. I did take advantage of the back screen that you could move seamlessly to use in “selfie” mode, as I like to call it, or angle in several several directions to set up a specific shot. Another great feature is its touchscreen, which means I didn’t have to perform a combination of button presses or scrolling clicks in order to select a desired option.
I had never used a WiFi-enabled camera before, but it was surprisingly intuitive. After downloading the free app, I was able to connect my the camera to my phone and easily select and download my images onto my iPhone within minutes.
The wireless transferring was perfect even when I was walking along the Strip, laying poolside, or visiting the Grand Canyon—far from my laptop. I was able to share with my friends and family virtually and immediately, which is perfect for my Instagram feed.
Get the Samsung NX500 here.
3. Canon PowerShot G7 X, $649
Tested by Alex Reside, @alexreside
I began my photography career with a Canon DSLR almost 10 years ago, so I was pretty excited to try out the Canon PowerShot G7 X, which packages specs and features that are way more powerful those of my first bulky SLR camera into a tiny camera body.
Immediately after unboxing it, the camera felt familiar to me and had the Canon-y touches that are so familiar to me. Right away I was impressed by how insanely fast it is upon start up. You press the on/off button and it's ready to shoot. I also really enjoyed spinning the "clicky" ring around the lens on the front of the camera while thumbing the touchscreen on the back to change the aperture and ISO on the fly. The motion took some getting used to in manual mode, but after a few minutes I felt like a pro. If manual isn't your thing, the auto settings are really good too. The back is a touch screen with tap-focusing similar to an iPhone.
The best part of the camera is definitely the sensor. It's a 1-inch CMOS sensor with a DIGIC 6 Image Processor, which sounds like something out of Star Trek, but what you need to know is these features allow the camera to perform very well in low lighting. I'm sure you are familiar with how horrible shooting with a cell phone camera in low light can be—there isn't a Instagram filter in the world to save your photo.
As far as the WiFi is concerned, it's equipped with a tiny button on the side that looks like a phone. After you install the app and pair the phone, you tap this button and it loads the images right up on your phone for review. I even got it to work while hiking in the middle of nowhere:
Get the Canon PowerShot G7 X here.