Nikon can get in trouble for D500 Wi-Fi false advertising in Germany

Nikon-SnapBridge-app Nikon-SnapBridge-app-3
The German website heise.de reports that Nikon has received a “cease and desist order” (?) from a German D500 camera owner for falsely advertising the camera as Wi-Fi enabled. The WLAN only works with Bluetooth but not as a standalone Wi-Fi device as the advertisements suggest (Bluetooth connection to SnapBridge needed). Here is the translation:

Andreas V from Burzenbach has delivered a cease and desist notice to Nikon, demanding among other things to stop advertising the D500 as a camera with "integrated WiFI". The reason: The integrated WiFi of the Nikon D500 is completely dependent to be controlled via bluetooth with the proprietary app Smartbridge. The app is only available for Android. A generic WiFi connection is currently not supported, while the D7200 or D750 [work even without bluetooth]. For the direct WiFi-connection you need to buy the very expensive Nikon WT-7 WiFi-adapter. The integrated WiFi is therefore according to Andreas V only of very limited use, which is not very easily detectable before the purchase, even by a technically savvy person. The marketing for the D500 is therefore misleading. If the cease and desist is valid is for the time being not known. Nikon offered Andreas to refund his purchase and is also mentioning that the iOS-app is planned to be released in August.

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  • Cease and desist is pretty close, as basically he’s asking them to not advertise it as WiFi enabled any more. If they continue advertising it as such there might be penalties to pay.
    His argument is that even for someone with technical knowledge it’s not immediately visible that it (at least for the time being) only works on an Android phone and requires Bluetooth. This despite it saying ready for iPhone/iPad on the packaging, which obviously (at least until the Apple app is released) is not the case.

    • Thom Hogan

      The history on this is that Andreas sent letters to Nikon inquiring about claims in the advertising and on the box. He got no response from Nikon Germany. He then tried to escalate the situation a couple of times with no response, and at this point has filed an official complaint.

      • Allan

        Maybe if you ignore a problem, it will go away. : )

  • alex

    the user’s argument is interesting in that he claims to have spoken to experts who confirmed that the camera could be made to work as a fully enabled WiFi device with just a small firmware upgrade that wouldn’t take more than 1 day to develop + 5 days of QA. Therefore ,he argues, what we’re seeing is an artificially imposed limitation which he is asking Nikon to rectify to make it work as advertised.
    Will be interesting to see Nikons reaction. They allegedly have already offered to take the camera back and reimburse.

    • Thom Hogan

      This is a bigger issue than people realize. First, it’s unlikely that Nikon can make the SnapBridge iOS app work the way the Android one does. Second, Nikon has a number of pending SnapBridge cameras coming (the DLs, the D3500, and more). Nikon is currently claiming in marketing and technical documents, and the camera manual itself, more than the product is capable of.

      My conclusion so far is “right idea, wrong execution.”

      • Okay, I’ll bite … why couldn’t they build the iOS app?

        • Thom Hogan

          As I’ve noted, I don’t believe Apple allows one communication channel (Bluetooth) to control another (Wi-Fi). That’s the way Nikon is trying to do SnapBridge: the camera/smartphone connection is always on with Bluetooth and the app that’s handling that controls whether or not Wi-Fi is activated or not, when, and how. In Apple’s highly sandboxed environment, that’s not generally allowed.

          • Very interesting … I hope Nikon can pull it off because I would hate to see their WiFi not working with iOS. The guy who sued them has the right to be upset.

          • Captain Megaton

            Ah, so this was what that talk of Nikon engineers going to Apple was all about then.

            There is a possibility that Apple can enable something in an upcoming iOS update. Barring that, Nikon could really be screwed here.

            • Thom Hogan

              Could be. But I’m not aware that Apple has changed their view on this.

          • Jeff Curtner

            There is a possibility that Apple may relax that restriction in iOS 10 which is scheduled for Fall release. Nikon promised an iOS SnapBridge in August which is not too far away from Fall so Nikon may expect something that can be done with a future version of iOS. Just my guess.

            • Thom Hogan

              Here’s my problem with that. First, I don’t think Apple and Nikon are all that close in discussing future Apple plans ;~). Second, technically if this were true, you could release a SnapBridge iOS beta today at the developer level, and in July at the customer level. Nikon never seems to do much beta (Capture NX-D being an exception), so they would be 100% dependent upon Apple’s release schedule, which isn’t set in stone. Worse, doing beta for software for hardware that shipped previously which promised that function is a sign of total disarray in project management.

              Simply put, Nikon rushed the D500 and marketing made claims that may or may not be actually met. Heck, the DLs would have been in the same boat if they had shipped on schedule. Ditto the D3500.

              I really don’t want to buy a product and be a beta tester. But that’s what happened with the D500. I have a huge list now of things that aren’t right, aren’t finished, and need fixing. Anyone try CSM #A2 set to Focus ? ;~) And where did trap focus disappear to again? The SETUP menu is completely missing help. The list goes on and on.

          • srwilson917

            So how does DJI Phantom do it with their Lightbridge?

            • Thom Hogan

              Are they really using Bluetooth that controls Wi-Fi? As far as I know they’re all Wi-Fi. Moreover, if you look at the DJI page, you’ll see that they don’t recommend any iOS device, and that page says “iOS App coming soon.”

  • Max

    I thought the D500 could function as a true wi-fi device. Can it be so difficult to get this right Nikon?

    • Thom Hogan

      It can with the WT-7A. At present, it can’t with the built-in Wi-Fi because there’s nothing that talks to it directly without the Bluetooth pairing active.

      • Yikes! The WT-7A is $934.95 – Half the cost of a D500. Ouch!

        What conceivable justification do they have for that price, when you can buy an entire iPad, supporting the same protocols, for considerably less? Or for that matter, even a brand new D5300, with fully functioning WiFi, for $600?

        I have the same problem with the D5’s WiFi adapter which is $700 at B&H. Incidentally the two consumer reviews say it doesn’t work!

        • Thom Hogan

          Speed, range, and ability to use both AdHoc and Infrastructure correctly with computers as opposed to one mode with mobile devices. That’s what you pay for. But it’s a pain to set up right. For studio use, it’s worth getting the WT (or using the D4/D5’s Ethernet if you don’t mind cables).

          • Wouldn’t it be to everyone’s advantage for basic WiFi to be available separately from this special, really expensive WiFi that I suspect most people don’t need or want?

            • Thom Hogan

              Yes.

          • I own the Leica T, a consumer grade camera for <1500€, yet it offers AdHoc, infrastructure mode for WiFi, transfers in less than 3 secs for a full size JPEG, offers an app for controlling the camera and downloading images (iOS only) and even http access to a web gallery. The price for the adapter is a bad joke.

        • Captain Megaton

          Here’s another question: why in the name of all that is holy does a wifi adapter with maybe $20 of parts at most cost nearly a grand?

          • That was my question. Not sure if I’m really satisfied by Thom’s answer, but Thom has forgotten way more about electronics design than I’ve ever learned.

            I think what he would say, if he was here with us, is that it’s complex to develop software. But that is odd since a lot of companies have managed to do it, including Nikon when they developed the D5300. And of course it seems really tough to believe that the D500, an almost unimaginably complex hardware and software product, is only about twice the effort as a … WiFi adapter?

            What I want to know is why we can’t have multiple levels of WiFi for the D5/D500 – the cheap kind the D5300 has, which would be more than sufficient for me and most people I know, and the expensive type, which the WT-series adapters support. Put the cheap kind in free, make the pricey type an option. Maybe even charge more for it, because I suspect the people who need it are really deep-pocketed, and really need it badly.

            • Thom Hogan

              No, I’d say that’s it’s not all that complex to develop software. But software development starts with solving user problems, not coding bits to communicate with each other. The latter is grunt work, the former is where the magic happens.

              Nikon with SnapBridge seems to be attempting to solve a user problem (setup and management of Wi-Fi connection), but has made a mess of it so far.

            • From what you were saying it actually works very well on Android, so it’s sort of halfway good. But they should have made sure they could have done it on iOS first. After all, iOS has most of the more affluent customers, so Nikon camera owners generally are more likely to have it.

              It is certainly disappointing to me and, I’m sure, many people, that Nikon isn’t too good at the magic side of software …

            • Thom Hogan

              Yes and no. When you’re using the remote control capabilities from the SnapBridge app there appear to be latency issues compared to the old WMU app. I’m also hearing interesting tales of Wi-Fi battery pull downs.

          • Thom Hogan

            Low volume, high expenses in getting that big antenna certified in every country.

          • Elvir Redzepovic

            Nikon is very greedy, that’s why.

        • jsa

          Can’t see it beeing long before some third party comes up with wifi adapters at a fraction of a grand.

          At their price, Nikon are inviting competitors.

      • Gael C.

        Reading your description of the problem, I wonder if all this complicated logic is not more focused at reducing network power consumption than it is at easing setup… ?
        I mean : low consumption BT always-on, and power-hungry WIFI only enabled on demand.

        • Thom Hogan

          Yes, I’m sure that’s a big part of it. One of the points I made many years ago was that, for many, there was a slightly less immediate need to push an image to the Web. It wasn’t that you had to post immediately upon taking a photo, but rather that you wanted the photo to automatically get there in a reasonable amount of time. Bluetooth is appropriate for that for smaller, not high quantity images. That’s exactly what SnapBridge defaults to: smaller size transfers via Bluetooth. If you want the full image or lots of them, then you need to let SnapBridge wait for a Wi-Fi connection.

          It’s that last part that is proving to be a problem, especially given Nikon’s limited implementation. I’ve long argued that we need computer as well as mobile connection via Wi-Fi, which implies support of both AdHoc and Infrastructure modes, and some method of controlling when the camera actually changes to those.

          • Gael C.

            Sounds like a classic dilemma : more features vs more battery life…
            The snapbridge approach seems a rather clever solution in this respect, if they can manage to make it deliver… and it definitely would spare Nikon a batch of critics on “low battery life” – especially for the pro bodies, where the n°1 expectation is to be able to take a picture when needed 😉

      • Nikos Delhanidis

        Even with the BT its a matter of luck at this point.

        Its cheaper to buy a D7200 and a better investment, to use its WMU capabilities than the WT-7A 😛

  • Jochen Römling

    “Andreas V from Burzenbach has delivered a cease and desist notice to Nikon, demanding among other things to stop advertising the D500 as a camera with “integrated WiFI”. The reason: The integrated WiFi of the Nikon D500 is completely dependent to be controlled via bluetooth with the proprietary app Smartbridge. The app is only available for Android. A generic WiFi connection is currently not supported, while the D7200 or D750 [work even without bluetooth]. For the direct WiFi-connection you need to buy the very expensive Nikon WT-7 WiFi-adapter. The integrated WiFi is therefore according to Andreas V only of very limited use, which is not very easily detectable before the purchase, even by a technically savvy person. The marketing for the D500 is therefore misleading. If the cease and desist is valid is for the time being not known. Nikon offered Andreas to refund his purchase and is also mentioning that the iOS-app is planned to be released in August.”

    I guess if you buy a camera with integrated WiFi and it doesn’t support your iPhone without saying so in the specs, he does have a point.

    • Frank

      I luckily had one of the very first D500 and have never shot so many images in the first few months as with the D500. I was gutted to find that the Wifi does not work as per all my other Wifi devices. It’s a bummer as I have had to return to using Eye-Fi. The advertising/box looks to be stating that it has Wifi and what it provides is definitely not the same. I put it to a friend who works in the legal profession and he says it clearly is inviting someone to take this further in Law. Using a frequency meter we could not see anything in the wifi bands, so it is unlikely to have the hardware. Bluetooth twinkles like its on fire.

      • Frank

        The D500 only has Bluetooth Hardware.

        • Thom Hogan

          No, it has both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi chips built in. At present, there is no way to connect the Wi-Fi unless you can configure the Bluetooth connection to a device.

          • Frank

            Thom, we believe that it is not a standard Wifi chip but one of the new combined multifunction devices (this would make sense). It does not mean that any of the functions have been made available to the rest of the electronics. Apart from taking one apart it’s difficult to tell. Why would you advertise Wifi but then require an additional expensive device just to get standard Wifi. Taking a different track: could it be that it’s disabled because of the increased power consumption of the new Expeed?

            • Jochen Römling

              The complaint is that you can only enable WiFi from the phone via the app. You cannot simply go into the menu and operate the WiFi from there as in every other camera on the market. When I heard about Snapbridge I thought this is a really great idea to save power by using Bluetooth for the control channel and only use WiFi when it is really needed for speed reasons. But why would they not include ordinary WiFi functionality that can be used by third-party-apps and why can’t they provide an iOS-app at launch. This is Nikon, not some indy-developer. I despise companies that place artificial limitations on products to push their proprietary standards.

            • Thom Hogan

              Correct. Instead of just giving us straightforward Wi-Fi (as they do with the WT-7A), Nikon is getting in the way here with some restrictive and proprietary bits.

              When I presented my mobile connection ideas in Tokyo, I was very adamant that you needed open APIs (programmable cameras) to do connectivity right. Nikon hasn’t taken that course.

            • Thom Hogan

              That’s possible, I suppose. But I note that the D500 has a separate menu for Wi-Fi settings that is active and appears to indicate that all the WMU needed setting functions are available at the camera menu level. There’s just no mobile software that talks to the Wi-Fi directly that way at present.

              Nikon has been taking shortcuts all along with Wi-Fi. The chips used in the dongles were capable of more than Nikon allowed. But without firmware support in the camera and the proper SDK APIs, those functions simply weren’t available. Frankly, Nikon seems years behind the state of the art with camera Wi-Fi, though the optional WT-7A seems fine.

              I’m still noodling on the power aspects of the camera. I don’t think it’s EXPEED5 that’s the culprit, though I suppose it may draw a bit more power than previous iterations. The WR-T10 really sucks down power, which is going to be a bummer for remote use and radio flash use. But the color LCD also seems to be drawing a lot of power. Also, connected via USB 3.0 also is a very high power draw, higher than any previous Nikon DSLR.

              In just “plain” shooting (no WR-T10, no wired/wireless connections, no image review) the D500 seems to do just fine with power, producing more than expected images per charge. This seems to absolve EXPEED5, the new autofocus CPU, the metering sensor, and the mechanical bits.

            • Frank

              I have an idea that the D500 talks to the mobile device using bluetooth and then uses the mobile devices Wifi to talk to the outside world. Modern wifi can handle several VLANs across the same wifi. You can also do some amazing things when you have bluetooth and wifi on the same chip (like using net protocols across both).

            • Thom Hogan

              Yes, that is about how Nikon is trying to do SnapBridge. But unfortunately, that doesn’t play in the iOS world.

    • Albert

      Pretty hard to believe frankly. The D750 has pure WiFi and connects not only to mobile devices of all kinds (including iOS), but even to a PC for remote tethering.

      I had rather expected Nikon would be offering the exact same options for the D500, except that it would have exclusive use of the Snapbridge.

      • jsa

        I find it strange that snapbridge for windows or similar soltion is not offered.

  • whisky

    on my boxtop it says “Connect to your compatible* smart device”

    on the side it claims”

    — WiFi certified
    — Bluetooth smart ready
    — made for iPod, iPhone, iPad

    it is misleading, but i’m willing to take it on good faith that they’ll deliver.

    • Spy Black

      “WiFi certified”

      Isn’t that a loophole in itself?

      • AlphaT

        It’s lawyer-approved.
        LOL

    • Captain Megaton

      “made for iPod, iPhone, iPad”

      Isn’t that a flat out lie at this point?

      • whisky

        i’d say, so far, they’re short of the mark. i’m not sure if it’s as Thom suggests … in that they’re having software development issues … or if they’re simply waiting for Apple to liberate some process promised to them in iOS10. IMO, it’s no co-incidence iOS10 will officially launch in the same window of time Nikon has promised to release SnapBridge for iOS. NDA’s and all.

        in any event, if SnapBridge isn’t ready by iOS10, it will cause a critical downward spiral in confidence leading to further claims of false advertising. JMO.

      • Claudiomango

        Yep, Captain. That’s what we lawyers call a “whopper.” Pure unmitigated gall. Pants on fire. Hard to believe tht a company like Nikon would not care enough about its reputation to avoid marketing its products with known lies.

  • Originaru

    Nikon, again, trying to cut corners, cutted itself.
    To me there is a person or a group inside nikon that is contaminating the company with bad habits. They have to clean the company, but as it seems this person is very high on hierarchy.

    • ZoetMB

      I’ve worked with management who behaves this way. They have a habit of rationalizing why it’s okay to take the inferior route. They come up with lines like, “let’s just put something out there and then we’ll modify it” or “can you prove that we’ll get more sales if we do this?” or “only 5% of consumers will use the functionality”. While they understand buzzwords, they don’t understand the technology. Or, it’s “we have to make our dates”. My favorite rationale for not doing the right thing (or doing nothing) is: “will this increase shareholder value?” as if one small improvement or delivering what’s advertised is going to raise the stock price.

      • Originaru

        Yeah, i know, the moral and ethics are just going downhill. Very sad.

        • Thom Hogan

          While I believe that morals and ethics show clear erosion everywhere, I’m going to partially stick up for management here. They first and foremost have a fiduciary responsibility to shareholders, which is why they look at numbers and dates so closely and debate their relevance.

          • Gael C.

            The problem lies where management *only* looks at numbers, forgetting there are customers at the other end of the money line.

      • Thom Hogan

        I will say only that one of the big points of debate when I presented to Nikon in 2010 was whether or not I was right about “you’ll get more sales this way” or not. My sense was about the half the room (mostly on the marketing side) tended to agree with me, the other half (mostly on the engineering side) didn’t.

        I spent most of my career in Silicon Valley trying to identify where technology/trends would let you put new, successful products. I believe I have a pretty good track record at that, though sometimes my companies were too early.

        My problem with what the Japanese camera companies are doing is that the issue of photos being shared via Internet has been pretty much known, even in Japan, since the first days of this century, and then clearly took a leap forward with Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/et.al. and iPhone/Android in combo. Yet to this day, we don’t really see any camera company directly dealing with that.

        I had hoped that the switch from WMU to “built in SnapBridge” was going to be a seminal moment for Nikon. That they’d clearly get into the mainstream of what needed to be done. But as it ships today, it’s an incomplete kludge, not a true user solution.

        Put another way, if I were to present at Nikon today, I’d be presenting the same thing I did in 2010: they haven’t solved the very first challenge I put to them.

      • AYWY

        I’ve worked in this kind of company…

        A root cause of great concern is this: people in management don’t know or don’t use the product they sell. I see that happening in Nikon – certain decisions can only be made by people who don’t understand the biz they are in and don’t use the product they themselves are selling. If you were young enough to play video games in the past decade, the same thing happened in the Sony entertainment division during the Playstation 3 era. It was like the division was driven by people who don’t understand what gamers want and don’t play games themselves. (Sounds familiar? ;p ) Then they reorganized and put a guy who actually understands gaming in charge for the PS4, and the Sony PlayStation brand is now leading the videogame industry again.

        This problem with Nikon was confirmed by the “Nikon Singapore awards 1st prize to blatantly photoshopped pic” fiasco. You have to really not-know the state of modern photography to make this blunder. What kind of people are in the ranks of Nikon executives trying to sell us photography equipment?

        The management disease has been running in Nikon for quite a while now. Sony declared they want to take the no. 2 position. Sony is far from a perfect organization. But at the rate they are going and the rate that Nikon is helping them with their own blunders, I won’t call that a totally unrealistic ambition if this goes on another 10 years. I mean the same Japanese employees usually just stay on till they retire or die don’t they… :p

        • Nikos Delhanidis

          “people in management don’t know or don’t use the product they sell. I see that happening in Nikon – certain decisions can only be made by people who don’t understand the biz they are in and don’t use the product they themselves are selling”

          That is actually THE EXACT PROBLEM with many companies for decades now …

          Hardware and / or software companies. Nikon is a company that could and should had competent photography professionals in management. That would maybe not work so well in other companies as with Nikon as Nikon is purely an imaging brand and they have this opportunity that obviously have not realised yet.

  • TheMeckMan

    I love my D750 but I also love my 5D iii. Why they took away functionality like this boggles my mind given the benefit of being able to go wifi only… As a long time user the big difference between Nikon and Canon is that Nikon is a walled garden (much like Apple) so it is unlikely that a fix will be forthcoming unless Nikon makes it WiFi only. Wish we had something more like BlackLandtern on the Nikon side of things…

  • Mark Coleman

    Does the D7200 work the same way as the D500 or is it a different system? I’ve had no problems hooking up to my android phone with the D7200. This kind of stuff goes straight over my head so I would have no idea if its bluetooth or wifi.

  • Arpe

    Not to mention it’s bloody confusing whether or not the D500 can fire
    the SB5000 without any additional hardware or not via the radio
    connection. Can it?
    I can’t even use snapbridge as my Android phone is too old! Stupid Nikon.

  • Carleton Foxx

    Do you hear the people sing?
    Singing the song of angry men
    It is the music of the people
    Who will not be slaves again!

    To the tumbrels with them all!

  • nc_mike

    Years ago I began building my own wireless WUSB 2.0 solutions for around $75 complete. It still works great in the studio at 480Mbps speed and beats the speed of 3rd party wi-fi solutions. Of course, it is limited to about a 50 foot range and I have to use a Win7 system on the receive end due to WUSB driver incompatibility with later versions of Windows. A lot of people bashed me back then for even wanting/needing wireless – few seems to care. Now wireless is in growing demand – go figure. I’ve always wanted true WiFi built in my cameras at 802.11ac speeds, and Nikon began to add it with their ridiculously expensive and newer WT-xx series – which have always been overpriced and overly complex. Why is it that Nikon can’t seem to just add in true WiFi in body at nominal cost with an open API? Are they making THAT much profit from the WT-xx accessory – I can’t imaging that they are, and I can’t imagine the negative market impact justifies their business decision not to do it and stop the proprietary silliness.

  • andre bherer

    I am planning on buying the d500 , I use quite often a tp- link mr 3040 (same has camranger) to control & fire my camera from far away on my phone especially for wildlife with wide angle . I was hoping for a built- in solution .. So if my understanding is right you can do this with the 7200. & D750 .. but not the d500?
    Thank you

  • jimh

    The years go by – they turn into decades – and camera makers remain unable to grasp this simple fact: I want to take a picture and send it to my computer. I don’t want your cheezy ‘app’. I don’t want you to ‘manage’ or ‘organize’ my photos. I don’t want another online gallery. I don’t want to send it to my phone, and I don’t even have an Android phone. I don’t want to hook up a USB cable. I don’t want to put the camera into a special ‘mode’. I don’t want to pair with Bluetooth.

    I just want to take pictures, see the files in the camera on my computer, and drag-and-drop.

    The years go by…

  • srwilson917

    Good for him. I will take a lawsuit to get them to do anything. And Snapbridge does not work for me at all.

    The Wi-Fi feature is very useful if it worked. I am a tried and true Nikon user but recently bought a Canon 6D just for the Wi-Fi features. I can connect wirelessly to a router and shoot directly into a hot folder where I can instantly print, edit and share my photos for my event photography business. And the range is great.

    Stuart these keeps you from having to have a tethered connection if you are using Lightroom or some other capture software.

    Come on Nikon quit jerking us around and build a camera with true WiFi and not one that you have to add another costly adapter to make work. That said the SB5000 is also useless without the Nikon WR-R10/WR-T10/WR-A10 Wireless Remote Adapter Set which is an adapter with an adapter to get it to wire wireless for another $190.00

    Wish I had never bought the flash now because it’s stupid to have to have two adapter to make the wireless work. I could have bought a Phottix or Dynalite for that money. What was I thinking?

  • Nikos Delhanidis

    Its not only that is Android bound.

    I haven’t been able to make it work on any android device i installed SnapBridge on. And i am trying any device i can get my hands on around, relatives and friends.

    I read posts of people who have it work with android 4.4 but not Android 5 as opposed to Nikon SOMEWHERE in some thin lettering mentioned as required …. (Android version, that’s another not documented binding … Maybe Nikon should give us a free Nexus device as gift together with every D500 / D5 so we don’t have to buy on top of it all, Android 5 devices just to be able to use SnapBridge. Not to mention also that Nikon somewhere again referred to devices compatibility short list (“continuously updated” …), which narrows even more than Android version the usability of this SnapBridge thing ….)

    2000 $/€ “pro” DX body is currently not able to wirelessly connect anywhere where “consumer/prosumer” line bodies do so by WMU (the fact that WMU is also a poor connection implementation is a different story). Pro users are not even offered the WMU option …

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