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Photography using Nikon Wireless Tethering to an iPad

It has been a busy month for me which has, unfortunately, cut into my blogging time.  The benefits of this, however, will soon be realized as I have a bunch of new stuff to write about here.

The Nikon WU-1b Wireless Adapter

First and foremost:  I have upgraded my camera to a shiny new Nikon D600.  With the new full frame resolution and low light capabilities of this unit, photography is entering a whole new dimension around here.  One additional toy I picked up when I bought the camera was the WU-1b wireless transmitter.  This little Wi-Fi transmitter plugs into the D600 or the Nikon 1 V2 camera body and allows you to transmit the images to a tablet, smart phone.  A previously released version (WU-1a) connects to the D3200.

Nikon WU-1b wireless adapter

Until I opened the package I never realized how small it is.  In fact, by the time you take the case and connectors into account, it makes me wonder why it was not built into the camera body like Canon does.

The unit plugs into the USB port on the side of the D600 and once attached, is hardly of notice during shooting.  Of course, with it sticking out of the side of the camera, some care needs to be taken to not bend anything, but I had no issues with it getting in the way during a recent pin-up shoot, and it was not loose and stayed nicely in place all morning.

WU-1b installed on my D600.

Once installed, the next step is to get it to transmit to something.  My original intent for this adapter was to use it to transmit images to my iPad during photo shoots.  This is a better medium to show people the photos being taken of them than by having them squint at a small jpeg on the back of the camera.  As a side note, once this is connected to your camera, you will not be able to review images on the camera as that becomes disabled.

Connecting Wirelessly

Getting the WU-1b talking to my iPad is very easy.  Once installed and the camera turned on, you only need to go to the iPad’s settings for Wi-Fi, locate the Nikon WU-1b and select it as the Wi-Fi network for the iPad to connect to.

The WU-1b effortlessly shows up as a Wi-Fi network for the iPad or computer to connect with.

Once connected, however, you will need an application to view the images the camera transmits.  So far I have located two apps for the iPhone/iPad.

Apps for viewing the images you send

The first one is the app that Nikon has developed called the WMAU (Wireless mobile adapter utility) app.  It is originally designed for an iPhone (and I believe there is an Android app) and the latest version of the app will only run on IOS 6.  I got the IOS 5 version installed on my iPad and it is functional.  What can I say except that Nikon should stick to making cameras as the iPad version of this app sucks.  The screen resolution is designed for the iPhone and does not take advantage of the iPad’s screen real estate effectively.  Within the app you have the option of  controlling the camera remotely and using the iPhone or iPad as a Live-View screen (kind of cool), or viewing images stored on the camera and sharing them via email etc.

The second, and more functional app that I located for the iPad is called ShutterSnitch.  It costs about $15, but it is well designed for the iPad and they are constantly updating and upgrading the app for new cameras and transmitters.  In fact they had recently updated the software for the D600/WU-1b pairing at the time I purchased it.  The app will download EVERYTHING, so if you shoot RAW or RAW+jpeg (as I have started to do for portrait sessions) it will take forever.  You can tell the app to only download jpeg images and if you make the jpegs small that the camera produces in the RAW+Jpeg setting, download times to the app are only a matter of a few seconds.  My initial “production” trial of the setup at a Pin-up shoot last weekend worked pretty well.  I lost connection at one point well into the shoot, but I think I may have filled the available ram of the iPad.  Further testing is in order, but it is a great way to allow people to view the photos in a photo session.  One thing I am going to try is to connect the iPad to an HDMI TV via an adapter I have and allow people to view the images on a big screen during a shoot.  The app will also allow you to select and email images or share them on sites like Facebook or Flickr.

There is not yet any app for directly connecting the WU-1b output to a computer.  The computer will see the wireless adaptor as a Wi-Fi signal, but once connected there is no way to retrieve images from the camera.  One promising app that is Soforbild.  The present version does not support the D600, but they have recently added D800(E) support, so hopefully the D600 will be coming around soon.  I have reviewed a previous release of Soforbild connecting my D300 via cable and it can be read here.

I am excited by the possibilities offered by wireless transmitter technology in photography.  As new apps are developed and old ones improved, it will become so much easier to tether to more than a bulky lap top.



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