Nikon today announced a new image data transfer protocol named PTP/IP (Picture Transfer Protocol over Internet Protocol). This new protocol is designed to work in a very similar way to PTP (that is the operating system will recognize a connected imaging device and offer transfer features) but that it works over the IP protocol. Nikon's press release hints that this would be useful for transferring images over a wireless LAN, their current WT-1 only supports FTP protocol which can be a little complicated to set up. This development was made in collaboration with FotoNation and Microsoft. The press release also tells us that Nikon are to announce a new wireless transmistter for professional D-SLR's which will support PTP/IP.

Press Release:

New Protocol “PTP/IP” for Image Data Transfer from a Digital Camera via wireless LAN -- Nikon’s joint development with FotoNation, to be supported by Microsoft Corporation

Tokyo – Nikon Corporation (COO: Teruo Shimamura) is pleased to announce the implementation of PTP/IP (Picture Transfer Protocol over Internet Protocol) - developed by FotoNation Inc. - as a new computer interface for more convenient image data transfer from digital cameras. Based on the current ubiquitous PTP technology (ISO 15740), which up until now has been limited to the USB transmission, it enables communication between a digital camera and a PC via wireless LAN.

By implementing PTP/IP in coming products, Nikon is pioneering the way in wireless digital camera connectivity. Nikon is collaborating with FotoNation and Microsoft Corporation on commercialization and enhancement of this technology, whose further refinements for professional use will be released soon. The technology will be also applied to products for general consumers in the near future.

Background for the development

In 2003, Nikon released an accessory for professional digital SLR cameras called the Wireless Transmitter WT-1, which was compliant with the IEEE802.11b standard.

The WT-1 enabled wireless image data transfer when attached a D2H digital SLR camera. It has proved its sefulness under limited network infrastructure, such as in a baseball or athletics fields, by minimizing the equipment required to transfer images from the field-of-play to the photo-editor’s position. Being easy-handling and mobile, it has been highly acclaimed.

The WT-1, however, uses FTP (File Transfer Protocol) as its transmission protocol, and thus requires the user to configure settings on the camera and the PC to be able to transfer data.

What this new technology can achieve

Using this technology, developed as the result of collaboration between Nikon and FotoNation, the configuration of settings in the camera and PC has become both simplified, and much more analogous to USB wired connectivity.

Nikon is planning to announce a wireless transmitter accessory for professional digital cameras with support for PTP/IP very soon. The new product will enable faster transmission than the WT-1 and will also maintain support for FTP.

PTP/IP will also be employed in other future products, as its ease of use will be a desirable feature not only for digital SLRs but also the COOLPIX line of consumer digital cameras.

Should PTP/IP become ubiquitous in consumer devices as planned, it will bring many more possibilities. Support for PTP/IP in a PictBridge-compatible printers would enable wireless printing to become a reality ; remote display of images on a TV screen, camera control via home wireless networks, storing of image files on a DVD with a DVD recorder without wired connections are just a few of the applications possible.

Eran Steinberg, CEO of FotoNation Inc., also serves as the Project Leader for the PTP sub committee of ISO/TC42/WG18, has said: “PTP/IP signifies the advent of digital cameras as wireless devices. FotoNation is confident that PTP/IP will simplify the interoperability between digital cameras, printers and personal computers.”

Michale Nier, Chairman of the Photography Standards arm of ISO (ISO/TC42) said: “Implementation of the ISO-15740 PTP Standard is now being deployed in virtually almost all new digital cameras today. The Standards Committee welcome the fact that the leading imaging technology companies, manufacturers of digital cameras and PCs strive together to offer a standardized means for enhancing the ease of using digital cameras with this latest technology.”

Microsoft is taking the technology a step further, by developing a protocol called MTP (Media Transfer Protocol). MTP, expands PTP/IP to support connectivity with a wide range of portable media devices, and an even broader range of data types – including music files, video files and of course image files.

By implementing PTP/IP, Nikon is taking a bold step towards richer connectivity with both PCs and devices that will support MTP.

“Nikon’s support for Microsoft’s openly licensable Media Transfer Protocol adds an industry leader behind a critical advancement in image transfer and camera control,” said Amir Majidimehr, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft’s Windows Digital Media Division. “The use of MTP for both wireless and wired transfer of digital photos will remove some of the existing complexity for professional level photographers, with eventual applications for all enthusiasts.”

Nikon will support to work with CIPA (Camera & Imaging Products Association) to widen the recognition of PTP/IP as an industrial standard within the Japanese camera and imaging industries.