Pentax FluCard O-FC1 Review
On this page, we will take a look at the two main features of the FluCard: Remote Capture mode (wireless tethering) and Image View (playback) mode. Our walkthrough guide from the previous page continues here. Before you proceed, make sure that you have your browser open to the main menu (Step 6 on the previous page).
The Remote Capture mode is accessed by pressing the corresponding button from the main menu screen. When you enter Remote Capture mode, you should briefly see the following message on your camera's LCD screen:
Pentax K-3 FluCard activation message
Note: Make sure your camera is set to the single shot drive mode and that it is in either P, Tv, Av, M, or a user mode.
The first time you start Remote Capture you will see a screen similar to the one below, where live view may be disabled.
Remote Capture screen with Live View off
Note: if your screen does not show all these buttons, hold your device vertically instead of horizontally, or if on a PC, shrink the size of your browser window until the buttons show up.
To enable live view, tap on the greyed-out LV button near the lower-left corner of the screen. After a short delay, the screen will come to life:
Remote Capture screen with Live View on
Now, let's take a look at the various other buttons and panels that you will see on the screen. Buttons you can press are labeled in red, while informational fields are labeled in green. Some of the buttons are very small, so when using a touchscreen, you will need to be careful where you tap.
Remote Capture diagram
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The bar at the top of the screen allows you to access the menu, settings, and other shooting modes; the remaining controls are at the bottom of the screen. Tapping on the shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation, or ISO buttons, if active, will bring up a native dropdown menu allowing you to change the respective setting,
When the camera is in tap-to-shoot mode (as shown below, controlled by (13)), the camera will first focus on the area you tap, then it will capture the image. When it is in tap-to-focus mode, it only focuses on the area you tap; you must then press the shutter release button (14) to capture the image.
Changing the K-3's aperture setting via a Samsung smartphone
In addition to the buttons that control camera functions, there is also a zoom button (3) which allows you to magnify the portion of the live view image around the focus area. Tap the button to zoom in, then tap it to zoom back out again. One limitation of this feature is that you cannot pan while zoomed in; you must first zoom out, relocate the focus area, then zoom in again.
Zoomed in (focus area originally centered)
Even though the remote control interface offers a tap-to-focus option (13), there is no option to switch to manual focus, even when tap-to-focus is disabled. After you press the shutter release button, the camera will always autofocus prior to releasing the shutter unless the physical switch on the camera is set to manual focus. (2) does not allow you to change the AF mode; it merely indicates what the camera is set to.
A thumbnail of the previously-captured photo is shown in the lower-left corner of the screen, and any other photos taken during the current Remote Capture session can be reviewed by tapping on the thumbnail (15).
Reviewing images taken in Remote Capture mode
Photos in the list will be displayed alongside with basic EXIF data. Tapping on any thumbnail will pull up the full-size image which can then be downloaded.
Tapping on "Image View" in the main menu or (2) in the Remote capture screen will take you to the Image View mode where you can review all the photos on the FluCard. This mode will work with the card inserted into the K-3 as well as just about any other camera or device, such as your PC or an older Pentax or non-Pentax camera.
Image View screen
In this mode, (1), (5), and (6) have the same function as in the Remote Capture mode.
As you can see, the playback interface is rather straighforward. The ability to collapse all folders at once is helpful when there are many on the card, and the ability to view smaller thumbnails makes it easier to browse the card when dozens of photos are present.
To download a photo, it is enough to tap on a thumbnail, which will then open up the full version in a browser window. Once the full version finishes loading, use the browser "save file" dialog to save it. If you're on a PC, this would mean right-clicking on the file and selecting something along the lines of "save image as". Dragging-and-dropping will also work on most dekstops. On smartphones, you may need to keep your finger on the image for several seconds until a context menu appears. In other words, saving a photo wirelessly from the FluCard is just like saving any other photo you might encounter while browsing an ordinary web site. Note that the FluCard offers no facility to download multiple files at once, or to copy the entire contents of the card. It also isn't possible to delete files remotely.
When viewed in a smartphone/tablet's landscape mode or in a desktop browser window that's wide enough, the FluCard app shows a larger live view images and a limited number of controls (shutter release, tap-to-focus toggle, and the focusing area). The difference between the horizontal and vertical orientation is illustratted below:
The live view image is always up-sampled to match the size of the window, although this is not accompanied by an increase in resolution.
To wrap things up, here is a video demonstration of setting up and using the FluCard.
As of the writing of this review, the following restrictions apply when using Remote Capture mode with the Pentax K-3:
- The drive mode must be set to single shot (if it isn't, you will be prompted to change it)
- Movie mode and interval shooting are not supported
- The camera cannot be in USB/HDMI mode
- SD2 must be used as the primary card slot (if it isn't, you will be prompted to change it)
File duplication is still possible, as is saving RAW files to SD1
The camera's shooting mode can be changed using the physical mode dial while Remote Capture is enabled. The shooting mode field on the screen will be updated accordingly, and any shooting parameters that can be changed will be highlighted in blue. You cannot change the shooting mode remotely at this time.
In Image View mode, only files on SD2 will be viewable/downloadable. Only sub-folders within the DCIM folder on the card and scanned for images.
Disabling The Card's Wireless Features
The initialization of the FluCard's Wi-Fi is disabled when the card is inserted into a non-compatible SD slot of a camera which otherwise supports the card, such as the SD1 slot of the K-3. When inserted into the proper slot of a compatible camera (i.e. the K-3's SD2 slot), the Remote Capture functionality can be disabled via the camera's setup menu (as showin in screenshot on the previous page).
In other cameras and on PCs, an option to disable the automatic Wi-Fi initialization is shown on the FluCard's setup page, which needs to be accessed via a wireless client. When auto-initialization is disabled, the Wi-Fi feature will only come on when "control image" on the card is marked as protected. Another control image is used to reset the card's settings. For details on working with the control images, see the official O-FC1 operating manual.