In August of 2020 the news hit that Canon had become an official third-party integration partner to Google by enabling their new image.canon service to send photos to Google Photos. What does that mean for photographers? Is this the wireless workflow photographers are dreaming about?
What Is The image.canon Service?
Canon released a new cloud service they called image.canon back in February of 2020. There was a small news cycle in the photography media about the launch of the service, but such little fanfare it went mostly ignored.
When the news cycle revived on the image.canon service here in August of 2020 when Google Photos was added as a “connected service” to image.canon, I decided I needed to take a closer look.
Canon has said their goal with the image.canon cloud service is to enable a wireless workflow for photographers who shoot with Canon cameras. They want to enable photographers to take a picture and without any wires have that photo end up in photo cloud providers like Google Photos, Flickr, and Adobe Lightroom.
It really isn’t feasible to have cameras directly keep up with cloud services that deal with photos. Photo cloud providers are changing at a rate that is too fast. There is also the problem of how the camera would know how to sign into the photographer’s account at the cloud service.
The image.canon service solves these problems. The camera is setup with a free Canon ID account the photographer creates. The camera can then send photos to image.canon and photographers can “connect” image.canon to other cloud services and “transfer” images to them.
Can image.canon Be Used For Backup?
Absolutely not! Photographers should NOT think of image.canon as a cloud storage solution. Even though image.canon allows photographers to send an unlimited number of images to the cloud, this is not the purpose of the service.
Canon wants image.canon to be the hub where you send your images so that they can be delivered to other cloud services. To keep their costs down and provide this service for free to Canon customers, your images will only be stored on their servers for 30 days.
30 days after an image is sent from your camera (regardless of the capture date) Canon will automatically delete the images from their service. If for some reason you REALLY want to have a few images stored permanently at image.canon, every customer gets 10GB of storage and you can manually tag images you want to be put into that storage.
As of August 2020, there is no option to buy more permanent storage in the image.canon service.
You should also consider that of the 27 Canon cameras that can use the image.canon service, 19 of them can only send JPEG images to the image.canon service. Even if you configure your camera to shoot raw only, with those 19 cameras, only JPEG files will be sent from the camera to the image.canon service.
How To Setup And Use image.canon
The setup and use of the image.canon service is a little bit tricky. Especially the required step to connect your camera to your computer in order to get things going.
Due to the tricky setup, I have created a 50 page, 5,600 word, fully illustrated guide on how to setup and use the image.canon service over at my Photo Taco website. Here are the basic steps:
- Create a free Canon ID account
- Add the configuration of that account as a registered web service in your Canon camera through the EOS Utility on your computer
- Configure the “connection” information in the image.canon service with your account at Google Photos (requires Google One subscription), Adobe Lightroom (NOT Lightroom Classic), Google Drive, or Flickr. Enable the automatic transfer of images from image.canon to that connected service.
- Create a wireless configuration for the image.canon web service on your camera with a WiFi and password
- Connect your camera to a WiFi connection. Can be your home/office WiFi or a smartphone, just has to be a WiFi signal
- Send image(s) from the memory card in your camera to image.canon through that WiFi connection, and image.canon will “transfer” the image(s) to the connected service.
How Well Does image.canon Work?
I tested the ability to “connect” image.canon to Google Drive, Lightroom, and Flickr. I couldn’t do the test with Google Photos because I am not a Google One subscriber (I pay for enough cloud storage subscriptions I don’t need that one).
The image.canon service worked flawlessly with those connected services and my Canon 80D camera. I could take a picture, connect my camera to WiFi, send images to image.canon (which took about 25 seconds per image for high resolution and 6 seconds for low resolution), and instantly see them in Google Drive, Lightroom (cloud-service version, NOT Lightroom Classic), and Flickr.
The image.canon service worked very well as a way to wirelessly send images from the camera to those supported cloud services.
However, the image.canon service did have some challenges as I did real-world testing. When connected to my home WiFi I had no issues. The camera connected quickly, stayed connected, and sustained consistent transfer rates. The problem is most photographers don’t want to use image.canon with a home/office WiFi connection.
Most photographers want to use the image.canon service while away from their home/office/studio WiFi. They want to use their phone as a WiFi hotspot for the camera to use. My tests using an iPhone X to provide that hotspot had connection issues where the camera disconnected in the middle of things, had terrible transfer rates, and sometimes refused to connect at all.
Use Case For image.canon?
Given the limitations of storage and most cameras only being able to send JPEG images, what is the use case for the image.canon service here in 2020? That is a very good question.
I personally don’t have a strong use case for the wireless image.canon workflow for my photography work here in 2020. The process to send images is a little too cumbersome for it to be valuable to me and the work I do. Though it is close and I see good potential for the service in the future when wireless connectivity works better (maybe 5G?)
If the process was changed every time I pressed the shutter button my images automatically got sent to image.canon, that would have more value to me. That just isn’t very practical here in 2020.
There is one use case where I thought the image.canon service would work well. I shoot high school basketball and at half-time of the games I have always wanted to send out a couple of the best images I created during the first half.
I have used the Canon Connect app to get images to my phone so that I could use Lightroom mobile to do a few minor adjustments and share a few of those best shots to Instagram, but it takes long enough to get the images to the phone I haven’t had time to actually do those edits and share them.
The image.canon service isn’t any faster, it is probably slower actually. The thing that would be different here is that I could send the images to Google Drive and have a partner at home grab them, adjust them, and share them.
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- Facebook group is Master Photography Podcast
- Instagram account for the show is @masterphotographypodcast
- Find Jeff’s work at https://www.jsharmonphotos.com. Check out his Photo Taco podcast over at https://phototacopodcast.com where my latest episode is about how I shot the moon with a foreground. He is on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/harmon.jeff, Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/harmonjeff/ (@harmonjeff), and Twitter: https://twitter.com/harmon_jeff (@harmon_jeff)