My adventures with Nikon's WU-1a Wireless Adapter.

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by TheLost, Apr 26, 2013.

  1. TheLost
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    TheLost Well-Known Member

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    While walking back from lunch today i stumbled upon an elusive WU-1a adapter. I've been toying with the idea of buying one but they come in-and-out of stock at Amazon, B&H and Adorama sporadically and i've never got around to pulling the trigger... until now.

    First thoughts.. Brilliant move on Nikon's part!! I am going to loose this thing in a few hours.. then i have to buy another one!! $$$ cha-ching nikon! its soo small..

    [​IMG]

    ignore the horrible picture from my phone

    Its about the size of a dime... Even the case is small (about the size of a quarter). I expect this little toy to be lost in my bag, house, desk before the weekend is over.

    My plans for this wifi adapter are three fold:


    1. My daughter as a swim meet out of state the same day my son has his indoor football championship game. I'm going to test the usefulness of using a DSLR on social media (facebook/twitter updates w/pictures real-time for my wife during my sons game*). If it works out i may start using it during the high school games i shoot to provide 'near real time' updates from the field to the teams booster club social feeds.
    2. Remote Triggered Bird system. Put the camera next to one of our bird feeders in the back yard (covered with a rain cover to protect from bird-droppings)... Wait on the patio for a target to flutter in.. Take the picture remotely.
    3. Nerd Toy!
      1. Create my own mobile apps so i don't have to use Nikon's crappy software.
      2. Create a desktop app to control the camera from Windows/OSX wirelessly.


    I haven't even used it yet but IMHO its about $20 more then its worth... I'll be more likely to replace it after i loose it for $39 vs. $59.

    Does anybody else use one of these adapters (WU-1a or WU-1b)? What are your thoughts? Gimmick? Tool? Toy?





    * Excuse used to purchase! :sexywink:
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  2. sandollars
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    sandollars Member

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    I understand if you shoot raw, this thing is useless. Is this true?
  3. Derrel
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    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Good post dude!!!!! I love the near-real-time football updates idea--and I bet the boosters and parents would too. THAT sounds cool! Please keep us updated.
  4. 480sparky
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    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator

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    I wanna try the WU-b2 on the D600, but no one can get one in stock. I've heard it's a hit-and-miss proposition as to whether they work with your device or not.
  5. TheLost
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    TheLost Well-Known Member

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    It depends on what your trying to do...

    Nikons software lets you do two things: 'Take Photos' and 'View Photos'.

    'Take Photos' lets you remotely take a picture from your smart phone/tablet. The only things you can control from your phone/tablet is the focus point (touch the live feed on your phone/tablet to select focus) and shutter (take the picture). If you have your camera set to RAW f/2.8 1/500 ISO400 then that's the picture your going to get. If you don't like those settings you have to walk up to the camera and change the settings. If your camera is set to RAW... your image will be saved as RAW.

    'View Photos' lets your browse the saved images on your camera from your phone/tablet. It doesn't matter what format (RAW or JPG) and you can see all SD cards in the camera (if your using a D7100). From my short test it looks like if you select a RAW image to download to your phone/tablet it gets transferred as JPG. I think this is what your talking about when you say its 'useless' for raw.


    This is where my summer 'me' time will be spent.... The only reason you cant do more with the WU-1A is because Nikon is too lazy to create a better mobile application.

    When you plug your Nikon camera into your computer with a USB cable your computer talks to it using PTP (Picture Transfer Protocol.. Picture Transfer Protocol - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia). You can then pull off all the images (RAW & JPEG) and even control the camera (live view, shutter, apreture.. etc).

    When you connect to the WU-1a with your phone or tablet it uses PTP/IP (Picture Transfer Protocol over IP). In theory you can do everything over IP you can with USB, only the transport method has changed. Since you can pull RAW files off your camera with a USB cable you should be able to pull them off with the WiFi Adapter. A few people have tested this with good results using a D800 (a camera not supposed to be supported by the wifi adapters!)

    My goal is to create a 3rd party app that will do more then just 'take picture / view picture' :)

    Microsoft, Google and Apple all have PTP built into their API's but they seem to lack the ability to change the transport layer (they all expect a USB connection). Sooo.. i have to create my own PTP library using 'wifi' as the transport layer... sounds fun right!! :lmao:


    Until then... my bird feeders are loaded and i'll try to snap some 'candid' shots today. I plan on doing some tests to see the range of different devices (iPhone 4 & 5, Galaxy S2 & S3, Nexus 7, Kindle Fire HD 7, iPad 1 & 2 & 3 & Mini). I'll post the results so people know what to expect from their device.
  6. sandollars
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    sandollars Member

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    Thanks for the explanation. Hmmm. i might have to grab me one of these just for fun!
  7. TheLost
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    TheLost Well-Known Member

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    I can see why Nikon's wifi adapters get a bad reputation... the software and documentation is horrible!! (i'll post a picture of the MAP sized trash that comes with the adapter).

    However... I was able to take a picture of my daughter, download it to my ipad, edit it in iphoto, and upload it to my wife's facebook page in under 2 minutes. While sitting on the deck enjoying an evening beverage.

    Nikon needs to 1) improve the software 2) improve the marketing 3) lower the price (you can buy wifi chips for electronics projects under $10!).
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  8. TheLost
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    TheLost Well-Known Member

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    Week #1 update....

    I've only had a few minutes to play with the WU-1a this week but so far i'm impressed.

    Range: Not bad at all! It really comes down to the device your using to control the camera. Using a Kindle Fire HD (a device with GREAT wifi reception) i can sit on my couch inside the house and take pictures outside with the camera in the garden (~40 feet with a stucco wall in the way). The iPads (1,2,3 & mini) are hit or miss from this location... sometimes they could connect.. sometimes they couldn't. All the phones i tested had to be moved closer to a door to work (less signal obstruction).

    I'll do some official range tests this weekend..

    Nikon's Wireless Mobile Utility: It Sucks. Its only written for an iPhone on iOS. On an iPad it looks horrible (running in x2 mode). On android its better.. it works on phones and tablets. You can control 2 things on the camera, focus and shutter. Could Nikon be more Lazy?

    I was doing some research into the PTP/IP protocol used by the WU-1a (#1 rule in development... don't re-invent the wheel) i stumbled onto...

    DslrDashboard:
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.dslr.dashboard&hl=en
    [​IMG]

    ... An android application developed to control DSLR cameras using a USB cable. It was also just updated to support the WU-1a/1b.

    The good stuff first about DSLRDashboard:
    Bracketing
    Focus stacking
    Time laps
    Live view
    and the best feature... Full Camera Control!! (aperture, shutter, ISO, metering, white balance, Image quality... everything!)

    The bad stuff:
    Doesn't work on all android devices (works on most phones I've tried, doesn't work on a rooted galaxy s2 with stock 4.2 rom, works on the Nexus 7, doesn't work on the Kindle Fire HD).
    Confusing UI (definitely an android app :) )
    WU-1a difficult to get working (and support for it is hidden in the app).

    However, full camera control! Its pure asinine that Nikon's app is sooooooo bad. If i was Nikon i would be totally embarrassed.

    Anyway... expect some bird pictures this weekend to show up here... expect some range tests... I've got the framework started for my app (iOS first).. more to come!
  9. Derrel
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    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Nikon's software has been bad for over a decade. The just do NOT 'get it'. Thom Hogan takes Nikon to task on virtually every single software app they release. I just finally gave up on all Nikon software.
  10. pixmedic
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    pixmedic Critical Care Paramedic Staff Member

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    nikon makes software? :confused:
  11. KmH
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    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish

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    How else would they get their digital camera to do anything?
  12. pixmedic
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    pixmedic Critical Care Paramedic Staff Member

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    Magic
  13. TheLost
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    TheLost Well-Known Member

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    Here are those promised bird pictures (i never said they would be good! :) )...

    Tripod was ~5 feet from the feeder. Lens was my 70-200mm (i was too lazy to switch to something else) @ 90mm.. Camera was set to Aperture priority, f/4.5 and ISO 640. This originally gave me a shutter of 1/1000... until a darker cloud moved in

    [​IMG]

    Problem #1.. The camera dropped down to a slower shutter and apparently birds don't hold still (notice the motion blur on his head).

    [​IMG]

    Problem #2.. birds don't seem to mind the clicks from the camera (going into live view OR the shutter click).. but English Bulldogs do! English Bulldogs are also notorious for their OCD. Once my dog saw a tripod/camera out of place in her backyard she stormed off to start barking at it.... scaring all the birds away.

    A few things i noticed... Nikons software on an iPad is useless. Because you are enlarging the live view image 2x (due to it being made for an iphones smaller screen) its VERY hard to set the focus point properly. There is also a slight delay from pushing the button on the tablet/phone to when the camera takes the picture (iOS and Andriod). This makes it hard to capture the exact moment you want.

    However, its still super fun to play with :lmao: . My dog has finally approved of my tripod placement (we are down to just dirty looks now) so i'll keep working on the birds. Hopefully i can get some better keepers :)
  14. TheLost
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    TheLost Well-Known Member

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    As for my development efforts... First milestone accomplished! i can send packets to and from the camera now (who-hoo!).

    My first program will be a simple Windows application that pulls images (RAW or JPG) from the camera as they are taken and saves them to the computer. I hope to have this done in the next week or two (depending on my schedule).

    I could really use some testers that have a WU-1a/1b and a Windows computer with wifi (a notebook or computer with wifi adapter) .. If anybody is interested shoot me a PM.

    The faster i can get up to speed on the adapters the faster i can get working on my iOS app and get it in the app store... (cha-ching! $$$ ) :)

    Edit: If you have any ideas or suggestions on what you'd like to see from a WiFi enabled Nikon let me know!
  15. slow231
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    slow231 Active Member

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    why weren't you using that other app dslrdashboard? the nikon app sounded totally useless so i held off on ordering a 1b until they hopefully released an update (i too am unclear as to why ANY software features would be left out in the first place). once i saw your post about dslrdashboard working, i pulled the trigger using some BH rewards credit i had.

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