How to Use the Underrated FTP Transfer Feature on Sony Cameras

Photography Gear

The FTP transfer feature in the Sony α7 Mark III (and other newer Alpha models) doesn’t usually get a lot of attention. Sure, with all the modern technologies and apps, it’s easy to overlook this humble feature. But when it comes to transferring RAW and JPEG files, FTP can really hold its own.

In fact, it has several important advantages:

  • FTP is a mature, reliable, and well-supported technology.
  • You can use FTP to transfer photos to a local machine as well as a remote server. And since Sony α7 Mark III supports multiple FTP profiles, you can transfer photos to multiple destinations.
  • FTP servers are available for practically any platform, including macOS, Linux, and Windows. There are also plenty of open-source FTP servers available free of charge.
  • The FTP transfer feature in Sony α7 Mark III supports transfer of both RAW and JPEG files.

Installing FTP on Raspberry Pi

If you have a Raspberry Pi lying around, you can easily transform it into a dedicated FTP server for use with your camera. First, install the vsftpd server using the sudo apt install vsftpd command.

Run then the sudo nano /etc/vsftpd.conf command to open the vsftpd.conf file in the nano editor. Edit the configuration, so it includes the following parameters:

anonymous_enable=NO
local_enable=YES
write_enable=YES

This configuration disables anonymous access to the server, and gives the existing user access and upload rights. Save the changes, and restart the server using the sudo service vsftpd restart command.

FTP server on Windows

While there are several FTP servers available for Windows, you can’t go wrong with Filezilla FTP server. What it lacks in polish it makes up for in being simple to deploy and use.

Configure FTP settings

Before you proceed, have the following connection info ready:

  • IP address or domain name of the FTP server
  • User name and password

In case the FTP server runs on the Raspberry Pi, use the hostname -I | cut -d' ' -f1 command to obtain its IP address. The user name and the password required for logging into the FTP server are the same as the user account on the Raspberry Pi.

In your camera, press the Menu button and go to Network → Network1 → [FTP Transfer Func.] → FTP Server 1. Choose Display Name and give the profile a short descriptive name. Go one step back, and switch to the Destination Settings section. Configure the following settings:

  • Host Name – The host name or IP address of the FTP server.
  • Secure Protocol – Enable secure FTP transfers. Leave it disabled.
  • Port – The port number of the FTP server. If the FTP server runs on the default port 21, skip this field.
  • Directory – Set the destination folder on the FTP server. If you leave this field empty, RAW and JPEG files will be uploaded to a separate folder in the user home directory. The current date is used as the name of the upload folder.

Press OK to save the connection settings, switch to the User Settings Info screen, and enter the user name and the password in the appropriate fields. Press OK, and quit the menu mode.

To upload photos from the camera to the configured FTP server, switch to the viewing mode, press the Menu button and go to Network → Network1 → FTP Transfer. Once the camera has established a connection to the FTP server, select the photos you want to upload, press the Menu button, and choose OK.


About the author: Dmitri Popov is an amateur photographer and professional tech writer. He’s the author of the digiKam Recipes and Linux Photography. You can find more of his work on work on his website. This post was also published here.

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