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DIY $30 WiFi solution for Nikon D4 and other smart phone additions for your camera

credit: Voudas

The NR reader Voudas sent me this inexpensive alternative for controlling your NikonD4 camera through WiFi:

"The idea was to connect the small VAP11G portable WiFi bridge device (available on eBay and Amazon) to the D4's Ethernet port in order to use it through WiFi. I setup the Ethernet connection of the D4 and then used the VAP11G device to connect through my WiFi. I then used my laptop and iPhone to check the WiFi connectivity with the D4. It worked like a charm!

The limitation of the device is that it didn't act as an access point - it would always need an established WiFi network, but the important thing was to prove that the price of the WT-5 price is ridiculously high ($877) and the VAP11G does the same thing for around $30. This limitation could probably be eliminated with the Asus WL-330gE wireless access point."

The next gizmo is the FlashDock that lets you attach an iPhone (or any other smart phone) to your DSLR and use many of the available apps dedicated to help photographers:

  • Sharing pictures: Imagine a DSLR with a 3G/4G connection: Bruno Rousseau says: "What if we could share a High Quality picture by E-mail, SMS or via cloud services like iCloud or DropBox? That is something users have done for years with their camera phone but never did with their DSLR. How does the Flash-Dock help doing that? Well, have you heard about the EyeFi SD Cards? EyeFi cards are SD Cards that store pictures and send them to the SmartPhone through their built-in WIFI chip. Again, it is possible to use EyeFi cards without the Flash-Dock, but it is not that easy. The SmartPhone being next to the DSLR, everything works seamlessly and without the user paying any special attention to it. Once the photo-shoot is finished, the photographer only has to share his photos with the world through the 3G/4G networks... they are all on his SmartPhone."

  • Geotagging with .GPX files: SmartPhones have a built-in GPS and most DSLR don't. SmartPhones can record tracks into a file called a "GPX file". That file is then read by iPhoto, Aperture, Lightroom, Photoshop Elements, Picasa and most photo library softwares. What these softwares do is, merge this GPS data with the metadata of pictures taken during the photo-shoot. It is simple and free.
  • Geotagging with bluetooth: Some add-on devices like the BlueSLR are plugged into the DSLR GPS connector. Since SmartPhones also have a bluetooth connection, they can send in real-time location information to the camera that in turn will geotag pictures. It works the same way as if there was a GPS receiver plugged into the DSLR, only cheaper.
  • LightMeter: SmartPhones have cameras and light sensors. Both combined, some smart developers have managed to create Light Meters that perform very well. They do require a calibration with a real light meter, but passed this stage, all the photographer needs is a SmartPhone.
  • Depth Of Field calculator: These apps let the DSLR user calculate precisely the sharp area before and after the subject. These calculators take into account the lens type, the camera model and aperture to give a very precise value.
  • Level: Photographers have used levels for years on their tripods and now some DSLR feature an electronic horizontal line. However, some cameras do not have this feature and people can now monitor a level even without a tripod. Typical accelerometers inside the SmartPhones have an accuracy of 0.1°, more than enough for a level functionality.
  • Microphone: The latest DSLRs all have video functionalities. However, the sound is often not in par with the video quality. SmartPhones on the other hand are made to deliver good sound quality with ambient noise cancellation and remote recording. Another good exemple of combining DSLR and SmartPhones.
  • Vibrations monitoring: What sort of vibrations does the shutter bring on a DSLR? With Seismometers apps, photographers can visually see and record the vibrations brought by their set up and correct it until pictures are taken completely still.
The next accessory for DSLR cameras is called iCandy - it uses the front facing camera of a smart phone to entertain small children and make them look into the camera while taking portraits:

PhotoMeta iPhone app lets you see EXIF data on your iPad. It works with both JPG and NEF files from the D800:

Nikon D3s mini guide for iOS:

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  • http://AdairCreativeGroup.com Ron Adair

    Ouch. Is that D4 already sporting a cracked screen?

    • Rob

      It looks to me like that is a reflection of the ethernet cable.

      • stepper

        It looks to me that the pic is way too out of focus for me to tell if it’s cracked or not.

      • http://AdairCreativeGroup.com Ron Adair

        You’re right! I zoomed in and can indeed see the cable’s pattern in the screen’s reflection. Much less painful to look at.

  • http://www.zinchuk.ca Zinchuk

    This sort of connectivity should have, and could have, easily been built into the D4 and D800. There’s plenty of room in those bodies to squeeze in Wifi AND GPS.

    • FX DX

      Yeah, but then Nikon wouldn’t be able to charge $1000 for wifi and GPS. These cameras are selling like hot cakes without GPS and WiFi, so why would Nikon incur extra cost for these. As long as Nikon and Canon control the market for high-end cameras and demand is this high, we will not see cheap alternates.

      • http://shashinkaichiban1.wordpress.com Shashinka

        Of course if Nikon did incorporate WiFi and GPS they could justify extra grand in cost. Of course it is only a matter of time before you see this form of connectivity trickle itself down to point and shoots and m43 cameras. Increase use in smartphones will force the market to go in this direction.

      • http://regex.info/blog/ Jeffrey Friedl

        “FX DX” points out the most likely primary reason, but there’s also one more thing to consider: adding WiFi and/or GPS turns the unit into a different class of electronic device, subject to perhaps much more burdensome regulations/testing/certification/authorization on a region-by-region basis. What had been a “one product, all markets” camera becomes a global headache.

        The ramifications for a WiFi transmitter are apparent, but it applies to some extent even for GPS. For example, adding an internal GPS unit would prohibit the sale of the camera in Russia, unless you then also add a GLASNOS antenna.

        We’ve already seen this with video-mode restrictions. In some jurisdictions, the unit is taxed differently if it can record more than X minutes of video at a time, so that’s one reason we’ve seen some restrictions there…. it’s not just sensor heat.

        These are the kind of things we never thing about as consumers rooted in our one little locale.

        • Jabs

          +1000
          Yeah – exactly.

          A separate camera model for each area of the World and then the Hassle of FCC (in America) certification and other such places worldwide.

          Now, your $6,000 US dollar body is barred from other countries because of the built-in wireless feature.

          Dumb wishes!

          Nikon D4 for America
          Nikon D4 for England or the UK
          Nikon D4 for Spain
          Nikon D4 for Morocco
          Nikon D4 for UAE
          Nikon D4 for China
          Nikon D4 for other more remote parts of China

          - and on and on with this madness!

          A scenario at an Airport or Port of Entry at a new country:

          Sir or Madam!
          I am so sorry to let you know that we have confiscated your camera because it violates our Laws and we cannot return it – [SERVES ya right - lol.]

          Asks – Can I call my Embassy? – Can I have my XQD card or even the CF card, please, pretty please!!!

          Mutters to themselves:
          Darn Safari and these idiots – I’m going home but now without my precious camera or images.

          Motto:
          Be careful what you wish for and then LEAVE well enough alone.

          BUY a Coolpix.

          lol

        • Jabs

          That’s why there are TWO different versions of the AW100 CoolPix body.

          Due to Wi-Fi and GPS being built-in.

          Duuuh!

          Sorry.

        • Josh

          Sorry, but I’m not 100% on board with this theory. Nikon and Canon are businesses just like any other business, and they should be able to get a product on the market and it many markets with GPS and wifi, just as other companies do in a timely manner. A new phone comes out every hour it seems, and they have wifi and gps in them. The Russia thing, so, just make sure people know that they will not be able to use the features. Like any other product in a market with different limitations.

          Wifi and GPS chips will add $10-$15 to the manufacturing costs, which is so cheap, they could just leave it in all camera models.

          I think we should look at the reputation of these companies for the cause. They charge us $3000 for a camera that quite frankly could not have cost more than $400 in manufactured parts, and that includes the designing and engineering of firmware. I know the electronics industries firmware engineers are limited in resources due to the culture of the industry, but I can’t help but blame it all on these companies wanting to make a profit on added peripherals to their known customer base. Let’s not beat around the bush here. Professional photographers are consumer types. They are business men and women and companies with budgets to spare, and don’t haggle, or hesitate when prices are segmented for maximum payout. They just write it off, or easily can justify it for business reasons.

          I think the more important issue in cameras overall, is the complete lack of sophisticated or any tool or ability beyond the basics, in these cameras that cost as much as cars. We have android camera phones that you can fully program and make custom firmware for. But we cant even put a touch screen back on a $3000 camera, or gps and wifi in a body that is as big as 7 iphones stacked together. Interesting.

          • Jabs

            @Josh

            An interesting comment from one who seems to ape Apple’s ways and the tear down craze that follows that.

            Here is a wake up call for you.

            The magnesium alloy that makes the body of the D4 and the D800 is worth more than the total cost in materials of an iPhone and an iPad together. Machining it is expensive as in computer controlled software and precision Engineering. FX sensors are also probably more expensive than the iPhone’s or iPad’s bill of materials.

            Wrong analogy and indeed the D800 is expensive but also a bargain based upon its performance. The D4 is also very expensive but very capable compared to any smartphone, and thus you should compare the average smartphone to a laptop in price and see which one has the best features plus their bill of materials.

            That should wake you up, maybe – lol.

            Sorry, but you are not iFix-it or such places. Ever seen the innards of a smartphone and then compared that to either a laptop or a camera?

      • http://amusingfool.blogspot.com/ AMusingFool

        There’s also the issue of getting a signal through the weatherized body. My guess is that the WT-5 is little more than an antenna. Think I’m going to look into getting a Zyxel MWR-211. Battery-powered, makes own network, and even supports 3G/4G uploads, if you want (and can afford) that. Oh, and one-tenth the price of the WT-5A.

  • Oscar C.K.

    Nice, but it will also need an external power source, still the price of WT-5 is pretty high, unless they add something like long range live uncompressed video streaming capability to it, it’s really not worth it.

    • noexani

      I agree. The fact that it can’t be powered from the camera makes this solution null and void, notwithstanding the difference in price. It’s clumsy enough already without adding another battery pack for it (and wire to connect to it).

    • Josh

      OMG! I just watched a video on youtube about the wt-5. I cannot believe how archaic that technology is!! It’s not even using wimax!! ha! This is LITERALLY a device worth $15-$30. This is a wireless network adapter, normally costing, the most premium brand with all types of features, maybe $35 max. They are charging $877 for the wt-5!!? Are you kidding me?! haha.

      This is price gouging sorry, but it is.

      My mind has officially been blown.

  • http://Photologicimages.com Photologic

    Make that dongle a little more compact and we’ll be in business!

  • FX DX

    Is there a D800 thread to discuss D800 issues, techniques, etc… I hear a little rattling noise when I hand hold my D800 and move it around. I dont think I had it in my D700, but as I sold D700 already, I can’t quite compare them side by side.

    Also what’s up with white dot under flash exposure button. When I first got the camera, I thought somebody spilled a little white paint on my camera and Nikon QC didn’t catch it during production.

    I recently started to use Eye-Fi card with my D700 and it rocks. Not happy with large files on D800. I might go back to shooting JPEGs.

    • Paul

      The white dot is to help you when mounting lenses.

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/pixyst Pixyst

      The rattling noise on the D800 is from the pop-up flash mechanism. Pop it up and shake it – you will not hear the noise anymore – till you click it back down. It is there in my D300 but much less obvious.

      • Dominik

        ^ This.

        It’s always been there in the D700 too if you listen closely. Just put a little piece of black tape over the hinge or some adhesive foam and it disappears.

      • http://shashinkaichiban1.wordpress.com shashinka

        Still dont see why a camera at that price point would even have pop-up flash. It is assumed if you have that kid of money for D800, you already have a proper flash to of with it.

        • Iris Chrome

          Creative Lighting System

        • Michael

          To me, the Speedlight is much more fragile than the internal flash. It’s clumsy too.

        • Fishnose

          Without the built-in flash I wouldn’t be able to run my CLS flashes in their soft boxes. CLS is WAY ahead of using cables and shit, lemme tell you.

    • Jabs

      Eye-Fi does not have the needed throughput to handle 36 megapixel D800 files, so hence the WT-5.

      You get what you pay for then.

      Ever tried sending very large Video files via wireless versus even slow Ethernet?

      Ever stream content?

      • FX DX

        So far it is working great. I take pictures and when I come home it sync everything automatically to my computer. WT-5 is something a pro would need and most likely shell out money for it. As an enthusiast photographer, I find Eye-Fi adequate for my needs.

        I am so glad to hear that D800 rattling noise is by design and there is nothing wrong with my camera. I would hate to send it back to Nikon for repairs this soon.

      • domitor

        Jabs – the WT-5 is only for the D4, not the D800.

        • Jabs

          @domitor,

          Thanks – forgot – LOL. The point that I was making is get a Pro tool for a Pro body and not DIY (do it yourself) things like this.

          BTW – I hope that Nikon makes a 36meg D4X that accepts the WT-5.

          D800 accepts the older WT-4, as far as I know – and expensive too.

          • neversink

            What is wrong with DIY projects. I’ve been doing DIY projects for my cameras for 40 years and it has never made me less of a Pro. I still shoot for a living therefore I am a Pro. I still make DIY projects for all sorts of things.

            1) It is fun (I love tinkering)
            2) My products are cheaper, but they work just as good if not better in many cases than the more expensive items that I would otherwise have to buy
            3) I get the satisfaction of not being ripped off.

            I have to thank my Dad (may he RIP) for teaching me about electronics and other trades and for giving me my first SLR , an Exacta vx iia with Zeiss lenses. I still have that left-handed camera, although i don’t use.

            And I have to thank my Dad for encouraging me to make my own solutions to gear when I was young and couldn’t afford the real thing.

            So please, I actually think it is more professional to make your own gear than to just accept everything thrown your way. I appreciate threads like this, and I am sure other photographers do also.

            • Fishnose

              Yep, same here. And my dad was a tinkerer and (pro) photographer too.
              However, DIY has got to be done really well if it’s to be used professionally.
              The other angle to this is using solutions that are thought up by 3rd party manf for a fraction of the price and do the job just as well. I use plenty of solutions like that and sometimes wow my customers and photographer colleagues with how amazingly neat solutions can be.
              Just buying the Nikon solution every time is a disaster.

    • Srini

      Large files should not be a reason for going back to JPEG. Your PC probably needs an upgrade (12-16 gb RAM and a quad-core).

      • Fishnose

        Exactly. And several Terabytes of storage.

  • GFonne

    Guys – depending on where you are on the Globe, the date is no longer 31 March…

    • http://www.seanmolin.com Sean Molin

      All websites use post-dates relative to the location of the poster. What’s the problem?

    • http://www.seanmolin.com Sean Molin

      And of course, I now realize what you meant by that. lol.

    • http://nikonrumors.com/ [NR] admin

      This is not a joke. It’s still March 31 in my location.

  • KnightPhoto

    Any chance the WT-5 price is gonna drop over time? What was the price history on previous models (WT-4 etc.)?

    • http://haroldellis4444@gmail.com Harold Ellis

      they dont need to drop it because they sell only few and only to specialized and rich people. Support costs are high and sales are low, so it is set such to make some little income. They do it because they have to, but don’t want to do it.
      Kind of like battery pack for flashes.

    • domitor

      17th Street photo has it for $649.00.
      http://www.17photo.com/SearchResult.aspx?KeyWord=wt-5a

      If only they had it in-stock or let you pre-order…

      • http://amusingfool.blogspot.com/ AMusingFool

        That’s an interesting definition of “has it” if you can’t buy it for that price.

  • Andrew

    If were to get a usb to mini usb converter will this work on the d700?

  • MMS

    I’m going to try using a Sapido MB-1132 ($69) connected to my D4 with a short ethernet cable for a wireless solution; not as elegant as the WT-5, but much cheaper. I hope it works.

  • Nikon owned again

    Keep going Nikon. We all love your prices! I think the Nikon and other manufacturers prefer to sell a hundred than a thousand.

  • RWJ

    Sweet!

    Thanks for the informative post.

  • badz

    Very cool. thanks for sharing. I’m using ethernet cable all the time and this will be very useful.

  • Dominik

    I’d still rather get the camera for less and pay more for accessories than the other way around.

    Canon’s grip for the 5Dmk3 costs $100 less but the camera costs $500 more.

    D4 battery costs $55 more than the 1DX’s but the 1DX costs $800 more.

  • nick

    Hey Voudas! We’re you able to FTP files into a PC? Any more details on your setup?

    Thanks!!

  • vsved

    I was just thinking about this, Toshiba is making Wi-fi SD soon, will be a standard. Now to pick out the right smart phone to send out those jpegs from the hills,

  • Jabs

    Actually this item is a non-issue JOKE of a product.

    You need a Wi-Fi SERVER and not a Wi-Fi device as your connection or you are now insecure and thus pointless.

    Nikon understands what many here do NOT, obviously.

    Eye-Fi – remember that?

    GPS and Wi-Fi might not work built into a sealed Magnesium body too as you now cover up the antennae within the body. Remember iPhone4gate?

    Apply that!

    Nikon charges for the robustness of the NETWORK connection, the built in Web Server in the body of the D4, weather sealing and Industrial quality connections and not for anything else.

    You could plug in a Ethernet to USB adapter and do the very same thing, so what???

    Much ado about nothing – sorry.

    Next,we’ll have people asking for a little antenna like they put on the newer cars above the rear window that spoils the looks but now is being marketed as a ‘high tech’ upmarket feature to some – LOL. Bus, train and truck bolt on tech moved down the ladder to cars and looks awful but is now tres chic – yeah right.

    Love ya BMW – not.

    Let me see you LOG into the D4 exclusively now?

    Technology and Engineering are two different disciplines!

    • vsved

      I agree, you get what you pay for, Nikon is making quality, and Pro quality equiptment. Its not all $$$$, but it is all $$$$ too, so I guess it depends on your needs, and wants too.

  • Jabs

    Hey! – wait a minute – doesn’t Nikon have a FREE iOS app?

    • http://amusingfool.blogspot.com/ AMusingFool

      Two, it appears. One for accessing myPicturetown (why?), and one for manuals (I just downloaded from Nikon into iBooks; again, why?).

  • http://StevenGeorges.com Steven Georges

    Eye-Fi would be a great solution for the D4 is someone could come up with an adaptor for a CF type I slot or an XQD slot.
    Simple enough, adaptors don’t cost much and if you are the only company making one, you could make a tidy profit.

  • GD

    Voudas, if you’re around to answer a question…

    Were you able to try connecting via an iPhone hotspot? This essentially turns the iPhone into a mobile WiFi server, and I’m wondering if that would allow you to connect to the D4 from the iPhone even on the go.

    • voudas

      well i did not try anything else with the iphone, i just used it to show that d4 was visible through my wifi… i could try that but using a 800$ phone to prove that a 800$ wt-5 is expensive is funny…

      next week i;ll be testing the asus device i mentioned… i hope it offers one the go connectivity… i’ll report back here my results…

      next goal is to strip the device and also strip a battery intented to charge iphones through usb (10-15$) and make a smaller custom portable standalone dongle…

      • preston

        “using a 800$ phone to prove that a 800$ wt-5 is expensive is funny…”

        I get what you’re saying, but the difference is that tons of people already have the phone. And if you didn’t already have it, purchasing one gets you a LOT more for $800 than a wt-5 does.

        • neversink

          Most folks don’t pay $800 for their iPhone. They wait until they can upgrade. I got the 4s for $200 (with a renewal of a contract with my wireless phone company.) Of course I will jail break my old 3G and use it overseas….

  • ken

    not sure why this is such a big deal……I mentioned this a while back before anyone even had a D4…..This is how I connect up my Samsung TV’s at home to my network, rather then spending money on crappy Samsung USB/Wifi Adapter a cheap alternative into the Ethernet port and voila onto wifi…..

  • Chuck Miller

    Really like the idea of iCandy. Definitely worth checking out. Loving the accessories that utilize my iPhone.

  • Budman

    This may work even better…

    Zuni Digital Connect ZR301 300 Mbps Wi-Fi Router + 1-Port Switch (ZR301F)

    http://www.amazon.com/Zuni-Digital-Connect-Router-ZR301F/dp/B0069ABLF8/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pdT11?ie=UTF8&coliid=IQO20T5WROIL2&colid=13ID62J7VCA8O

    This thing is tiny I tell ya!

    • http://amusingfool.blogspot.com/ AMusingFool

      Zyxel also makes the MWR-211 (or the new model, the 222, which adds another ethernet port and USB port, but costs more), which has a battery and can even access 3G/4G.

  • busyas

    all of the above mentioned solutions require to be powered through usb cable or wall plug… i found this device http://www.tenda.cn/tendacn/Product/show.aspx?productid=391 that does all of that plus has a built in battery that would apparently last for 5 hours. and i think its a 3g router… although you have to look hard enough to find it in the states

  • ChuckCVG

    Is that the new 16-85 DX VR?

  • D700guy

    Its so nice that all these toys are available for the non existent D4. I’m pretty sure that all of us douchbags who are non NPS will be waiting long after the Olympics have come and gone for ours. Fuck you Nikon!

    • http://amusingfool.blogspot.com/ AMusingFool

      Uh… wow. That much vitriol needed? I got mine last week, and am not NPS. It’s not a big conspiracy. Order as early as possible, and you’ll get it pretty early.

      • D700guy

        I ordered mine the first day they were available for pre-order. January 6th

  • voudas

    yesterday we tested again the D4 with an Asus WL-330gE with great success. much faster and in ap mode it works as standalone without the need for a wifi network… i also found a battery pack on ebay for a few $ and it will be completely independent

    • rabarlow

      Thanks for the idea! I tested a similar setup today with the Asus WL-330N3G and it worked very well in Wireless Router mode. I’d probably prefer it in Access Point (AP) mode but haven’t figured out the D4 and Asus settings to get that to work yet. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

      I have found a cable (Nikon 10-pin to micro-USB) that might allow the Asus to be powered from the Nikon 10-pin connector, which has 5V available, though I don’t know what the battery drain will be like. If the cable works, I’ll post here.

      I also looked at a battery pack – Dexim Universal Battery Pack, which has a built-in micro-USB that would be ideal, as long as the power/ground pin assignments are the same as on the AC adapter. I thought I’d get the Asus working as-is before tackling battery power.

  • InaccurateVernacular

    Does this only work for the Nikon D4 or will this type of DIY solution work for other DSLRs like the Canon 5D/7D?

  • Pat

    I am trying to find a step by step for setting this up between my D4 and my MacBook pro. Any help in the universe?

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