Using Nikon Wireless Utility with the Nikon D500 on iOS to download NEFs to iOS

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This article "Using Nikon Wireless Utility with the Nikon D500 on iOS to download NEFs to iOS" is by Spencer Harbar:

As most Nikon D500 users are aware, one of the “features” of the camera is “SnapBridge”, Nikon’s attempt to do something useful with wireless and smartphone connectivity. The iOS app is pretty awful. The connection dance for bluetooth and then the silly switch to wireless for remote photography and image download. Admittedly part of that connection dance is the fault of iOS which restricts apps from interfacing with core device settings directly. The whole thing is just painful, slow and a battery killer. I attempted to use it to download and share one image at an air show recently. Not only could I not get it to function, trying battered my battery even with only 10 minutes use so towards the end of the day I was getting dangerously close to no power which is not where you want to be when a Typhoon jet is flying acrobatics in front of you at 600mph!

So, a total disaster basically for Nikon’s first attempt (really) to do something decent. Sure being able to add GPS to images via the phone and do clock sync is very useful. But really, I have to destroy the battery for this. Yeah not happening. I can take a picture with my phone to give me the GPS and you know, I can set the clock pretty easy!

But it gets worse. The remote photography stuff – i.e. control the camera from the phone – it’s rubbish also – not only can it only take small JPEGs, you can’t do much but select the focus point and hit the shutter. No control of aperture or shutter speed, or ISO or well anything basically. So you can’t be more than a couple feet away from the camera. Not exactly remote.

And it get’s worse. The primary use case of this app is to allow you to get images from your camera onto your phone. You know so that you can stick them on the interwebz and be all social. SnapBridge. Good name, but it doesn’t include a bridge for your snaps!It can only do the silly small files which you aren’t shooting, and you’ll never remember to switch to that QUAL mode.

Now, if the D500 didn’t include this feature I would have still brought the camera. I bought it for taking images. But it is pretty disappointing that this promised “additional” feature is just so shockingly lame. Nikon are rock solid at understanding how shooters shoot to deliver first class camera ergonomics and controls (at least on the pro bodies). But when it comes to how someone would use this app it’s a total shambles. How they thought this was ready for prime time is a complete mystery.

BUT! there is something you can do whilst waiting on Nikon to get their act together.

There is another app called the Nikon Wireless Mobile Utility. It’s designed for consumer bodies such as the D750, D600, D7200 etc.

We can use this to download NEF files from the camera.

Now, the bad news is we have to jump through some hoops and use it in conjunction with SnapBridge. So it’s not seamless and it’s nowhere near as easy as it should be. But it works and if you are looking to edit on an iPad Pro or similar. This is the best solution right now.

Here’s how to set it up.

Before starting make sure you have downloaded and installed the Wireless Mobile Utility (WMU) from the App Store.

1. Connect the D500 using SnapBridge Bluetooth pairing as normal. Yes, this can be quite painful and slow. But a straightforward process.

2. Once you are connected in SnapBridge, tap the Camera icon at the bottom.

3. Tap Download Selected Pictures:

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we aren’t going to use this, but we need to connect via Wi-Fi in order to use WMU, and this is initiated inside SnapBridge.

4. Wait for ages watching the spinning progress icon.!

5. When the Switch from Bluetooth to Wi-Fi for connection to D500 dialog appears, tap Yes.

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6. Wait for ages (again) watching the spinning progress icon! This step is basically turning the Wi-Fi on the camera, on.

7. On the Wi-Fi has been enabled on the camera dialog, tap Go.

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8. From the SnapBridge settings screen, tap Settings in the top left. This takes you “back” to the main Settings iOS app.

9. Scroll up to the top to Wi-Fi, tap it and select the D500 camera which will now show up in the list of available networks. Once the network has a tick, we are connected.

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10. Now open the Nikon WMU app without closing SnapBrige, and tap the gear icon, followed by Connection Status. You will see the camera connection.

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11. Tap Settings, followed by Done to return to the WMU home screen.

12. Tap View Photos.

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13. Tap Pictures on D500.

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14. You will see all the photos on the camera.

15. Tap Select and then the photos you want on the phone to select them.

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16. Tap Download, followed by Yes.

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17. Wait whilst they are downloaded.

18. Once the download is complete, they will be in your WMU Camera Roll and in the photos library on the iPhone. A NEF can’t be viewed in photos but it can be in Photoshop, Lightroom etc. Here is one of my NEFs open in Lightroom for iPhone.

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Obviously from here you can save the final file out as JPEG and share on the interwebz.

Yes. it’s a mess. But it works. And you can edit your NEF from Photoshop Mobile etc on the iOS device.

Make sure your camera battery is charged.

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  • YS

    *snore* What a mess. Wouldn’t it be easier to use a card reader?

    SnapBridge on paper looked so promising too… Nikon really made a mess. It’s a battery killer on Android too.

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  • Eric Calabros

    Man I just can’t stop laughing

  • whisky

    just one more reason to avoid Nikon software. =:-(

  • Bloomer

    Ian it meant to get better? Or have they reached a very low bar from which they won’t be able to improve upon?

  • hje

    I still prefer using DSLR dashboard. It’s possible to use with the d500 exactly same way the nikon wmu was used here.

    • KnightPhoto

      Thank you, downloading DSLR dashboard right now!

  • drororomon

    Too much hassle. I use Lightroom mobile instead.

  • Phillip Jones

    Love ease of WMU w/ D750 on iPad. Was surprised at how horrific SnapBridge is w/ D500. I feel like Nikon took a major step backward. I will have to give this workaround a try.

  • Spy Black

    Change the name to Snapsloth. Problem solved!

    I didn’t quite get why he was trying to use both Snapbridge with WMU. Frankly, just use WMU. Yes, it’s rather crude, but it always works.

    • Eric Calabros

      in D500 you cant activate the wifi yourself, Snapbridge should do that.

  • Frank

    Marketing ploy that has back fired. Nikon needs to produce a cheap wireless adaptor that works across many models. They have forgotten the F mount which led to their success. Expensive Wifi adaptors, one for each model, is hurting them and they are too blind to see it.
    Why create a difficulty when technology would let them expand the usability of their cameras and would help users to upgrade. Why would I buy a new camera if the accessories from my old one does not work with the new. Do you have to buy new flash guns or lenses when you buy a new body? They need a kick up the backside.

  • speedy

    You’re pissed off, that much is clear. You are going to share a downsized version on the internet anyway, so shoot raw+jpeg and forget raw converters on the phone. If it’s complicated (I agree) don’t make things worse.

    • Frank

      If I want to share then I use my iPhone (and take the photo with it). Dead simple. If I want to shoot remote it has to be tethered or spend £££££££’s to do it. The D500 is rated professions the wifi comes from kiddie town and is not fit for purpose. I already have a Nikon Wifi Adapter so why should I buy one for every camera?

      • speedy

        If you want to tether then the transfer speed doesn’t matter.
        Setting it up easily is important and there seem to many issues in that department.

        I agree wireless connection should be standard without dongles. I would also like to see GPS with axis info also on my camera, not as an afterthought dongle.

        • Frank

          Transfer speed is important – I gave a demo last week and was transferring 70MB files to my laptop from the D810. Apart from getting my feet in the way of the USB3 cable everything went well. I bought my first Nikon in the 70’s and have never looked back, but I am also somebody who does not like change (like the swapping of the ISO/Mode switch locations between the D500 & D810) I like Nikon not because of the lenses or the colour, but because of the ease in using it. I absolutely loved the original Olympus OM series and still have a couple.

  • Randy

    Wow if WMU is a good alternative to Snapbridge it must really be bad. I’ve used WMU a couple of times with my V3. It takes a long time for all of the pictures from my camera to appear on my phone. It also loads them in chronological order so the picture you just took and want to show off will be the last one loaded. Not that it matters the app can not be used until all of the photos are loaded. If you click away from the app and come back, guess what the loading starts over from scratch again. The phone is also locked onto a wireless network with the camera so the phone looses connection to the internet while connected to WMU.

  • raphaelzydek.de

    Does somebody have experience with this wifi cards? Are these a good alternative for getting the images live to the clients device while shooting?

    • I used the Eye-Fi Pro X2 for 3+ years with no problems. They discontinued support for it so when I got a new phone it didn’t work anymore, but it was a solid option. Haven’t tried any of their new stuff.

  • Eric Williams

    You can also just take the SD card out and use the Apple SD camera card reader dongle to import a NEF directly way easier and faster mind you its not seamless but it works.

    • I’ll second this. Not as flashy and automatic as bluetooth/wifi, but it works very well. Speed is pretty quick too.

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