Tethering the new iPad to Nikon DSLRs

Started Mar 8, 2012 | Discussions
Julian Vrieslander
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Tethering the new iPad to Nikon DSLRs
Mar 8, 2012

iPads are already popular as an accessory for previewing shots in the field or studio. The latest model, with its high-res screen is going to be even more attractive. I've never had one myself, and I'm curious to know if these devices can be used for tethered shooting, with control functions. I know that laptops can do this, with software like Nikon Control or Sofortbild. What I would really like to do is something like this:

  • Camera is set up on a tripod, communicating with an iPad via cable or wireless link.

  • Tap a button on the iPad screen, and camera goes into Live View mode. The camera's sensor image appears on the iPad screen.

  • Zoom in on a region of the image, tap on it to focus there.

  • Tap menus and buttons on the screen to set exposure and white balance params.

  • Tap other controls to set params of a bracketed sequence for HDR.

  • Tap a button to take the shots.

  • The images are downloaded to the iPad (or maybe only JPEG copies, if I'm shooting RAW), and I examine them on the high res screen.

Is there any product that works like this on an iPad?

The author of Sofortbild says that he can not just port his code from Mac OS X to iOS. He would need to build a hardware data interface for iOS devices, and he does not have the resources to do it.

http://www.sofortbildapp.com/blog/?p=146

But this could be a killer app for landscape shooters who want to tweak the absolute max image quality out of a D800. I could see myself in a scenic spot, with camera on a tripod, me sitting next to it, huddled under a drop cloth with an iPad. Maybe I would appear ridiculous to the nearby tourists and bears, but for carefully composed shooting it would be more comfortable than squinting at the tiny little display and the tiny little buttons on the camera.

Nikon D800
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One Heart Photography
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Re: Tethering the new iPad to Nikon DSLRs
In reply to Julian Vrieslander, Mar 8, 2012

Give this a try:
http://www.ononesoftware.com/products/dslr-camera-remote/

I have the original version (iPod), and it worked well. Downside was you needed to set up an ad-hoc wireless network with a laptop, and then use the iPod/iPad to wirelessly control the camera through the tethered computer. They have an iPad version now that is probably much nicer.

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Julian Vrieslander
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Re: Tethering the new iPad to Nikon DSLRs
In reply to One Heart Photography, Mar 8, 2012

One Heart Photography wrote:

Downside was you needed to set up an ad-hoc wireless network with a laptop, and then use the iPod/iPad to wirelessly control the camera through the tethered computer.

Thanks for the tip. This setup is sort of what I was thinking about, but seems unwieldy and complicated. It requires a computer to connect with the camera, and then we use an iPhone or iPad to communicate with the camera through the computer. If I was already hauling a laptop to tether the camera, I would just run Sofortbild as a camera controller.

My dream is being able to operate a Nikon DSLR with only a lightweight iPad, and maybe a cable, or wireless dongle.

Perhaps the obstacle is the proprietary connector that Apple uses on its iGizmos. The author of Sofortbild claims that he would need custom hardware to communicate through that port.

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directo
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Re: Tethering the new iPad to Nikon DSLRs
In reply to Julian Vrieslander, Mar 8, 2012

WT5 + D4?

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hunk
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saw that
In reply to Julian Vrieslander, Mar 8, 2012

I saw the D4 and D800 connected to an iPad on the NPS show... wireless via WTF (or how it's called in Nikon land)... it worked great. I think it does all you need with the Nikon software on the iPad. You could even make movies and view them on the iPad, all via wifi.

The new screen at 3MP must be even better. 3MP on a tablet-lcd?!

Julian Vrieslander wrote:

iPads are already popular as an accessory for previewing shots in the field or studio. The latest model, with its high-res screen is going to be even more attractive. I've never had one myself, and I'm curious to know if these devices can be used for tethered shooting, with control functions. I know that laptops can do this, with software like Nikon Control or Sofortbild. What I would really like to do is something like this:

  • Camera is set up on a tripod, communicating with an iPad via cable or wireless link.

  • Tap a button on the iPad screen, and camera goes into Live View mode. The camera's sensor image appears on the iPad screen.

  • Zoom in on a region of the image, tap on it to focus there.

  • Tap menus and buttons on the screen to set exposure and white balance params.

  • Tap other controls to set params of a bracketed sequence for HDR.

  • Tap a button to take the shots.

  • The images are downloaded to the iPad (or maybe only JPEG copies, if I'm shooting RAW), and I examine them on the high res screen.

Is there any product that works like this on an iPad?

The author of Sofortbild says that he can not just port his code from Mac OS X to iOS. He would need to build a hardware data interface for iOS devices, and he does not have the resources to do it.

http://www.sofortbildapp.com/blog/?p=146

But this could be a killer app for landscape shooters who want to tweak the absolute max image quality out of a D800. I could see myself in a scenic spot, with camera on a tripod, me sitting next to it, huddled under a drop cloth with an iPad. Maybe I would appear ridiculous to the nearby tourists and bears, but for carefully composed shooting it would be more comfortable than squinting at the tiny little display and the tiny little buttons on the camera.

 hunk's gear list:hunk's gear list
Leica M9 Canon Extender EF 2x II Sony 135mm F2.8 (T4.5) STF
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Julian Vrieslander
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Re: saw that
In reply to hunk, Mar 8, 2012

hunk wrote:

I saw the D4 and D800 connected to an iPad on the NPS show... wireless via WTF (or how it's called in Nikon land)... it worked great. I think it does all you need with the Nikon software on the iPad. You could even make movies and view them on the iPad, all via wifi.

Thanks for replying, but I'm not familiar with the items that you mentioned.

What is the NPS show? Something to do with Nikon Pro Services? (I'm not a pro)

What is WTF? Do you mean the Nikon WT-5 and WT-4 wireless dongles? I think I read somewhere that the WT-5 does not work with D800 (which is what I am thinking about buying). And the WT-4 is still pretty damn expensive.

Is there a Nikon app for iPad that does camera control?

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robertfel
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Re: Tethering the new iPad to Nikon DSLRs
In reply to Julian Vrieslander, Mar 8, 2012

It sounds useful for the field, but not at all in the studio.

I use my laptop's 16" screen and it still isn't enough, I've supplemented it with an old 20" widescreen.

If you have 300 lbs. worth of camera, lenses, lighting, grip and a few hundred lbs. of products, you will not notice the weight of a tablet vs. a screen.
And the screen will be much more productive.

On my shoots, the stylist is looking at the product in liveview as it sits on the tabletop and I'm checking email, converting files, checking off the shotlist.

A 10" screen in a studio setting only makes sense to me to allow the art director to check his/her email.

 robertfel's gear list:robertfel's gear list
Nikon D700 Nikon D800 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II +9 more
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Robin Casady
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Re: Tethering the new iPad to Nikon DSLRs
In reply to Julian Vrieslander, Mar 8, 2012

I haven't found any really good solutions. There seems to be a significant caveat with everything.

The Eye-Fi Pro X2 is supposed to be compatible with the D800 and handle NEFs, but it just dumps them in a folder on a Mac. Doesn't say anything about using them on an iPad, nor does there seem to be a way to use Live View. Then there is the rumor that the iPad cannot handle RAW files larger than 19 MB. That might only be an iPhoto limitation, but what other software is there for handling photos on the iPad. Couldn't find a version of Aperture for the iPad.
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http://www.robincasady.com/Photo/index.html

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MarkThr
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Re: Tethering the new iPad to Nikon DSLRs
In reply to directo, Mar 12, 2012

will this setup work with the EyeFi?

directo wrote:

WT5 + D4?

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Robin Casady
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Re: Tethering the new iPad to Nikon DSLRs
In reply to MarkThr, Mar 12, 2012

No. The Eye-Fi uses an SDHC card. The D4 does not have an SDHC slot.

MarkThr wrote:
will this setup work with the EyeFi?

directo wrote:

WT5 + D4?

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Michael Firstlight
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How to: Wireless or wired transfer and remote control with a tablet
In reply to Julian Vrieslander, Mar 12, 2012

But you can't do what you want with an iPad or an Android-based tablet. However, I do all of the things you listed and more - either fully wireless or teatherd with Wireless USB dongles along with a Windows tablet.

I am using an Asus EP-121 tablet running Win 7 and a wireless USB 2.0 transmitter/receiver pair to connect my DSLR to my ASUS EP-121 tablet or any other Windows-based computer. Note that when people refer to wireless they could be talking about an 801.11g or 802.11n that talks to a wireless router or, a direct wireless USB 2.0 transmitter/receiver pair that does not require a n 802.11 wireless router/network at all. I am referring to the later.

The Wireless USB 2.0 solution is really fast, reliable, and inexpensive. It works anywhere because it DOESN'T require a router or a wireless network - it is a direct high-speed 480Mbps connection from any USB equipped DSLR to a Windows tablet that has a USB port. It works by inserting a Wireless USB transmitter stick plugged into your camera (and the camera set to PTP in the USB menu, not set to mass storage) and a Wireless USB receiver stick plugged into the tablet or other computer's USB port. The receiver's WUSB stick gets its power from the computer. However, the WUSB transmitter needs DC power. The pair I user costs about $50 but the transmitter out of the box has to be plugged in to an AC transformer which supplies 5v DC t to the stick - not very practical for being total mobile and wireless. That is easily converted to use a 5v battery which then makes it completely mobile and doesn't have to be teathered to a wall power supply.

Here is the setup I made for my D300 - it was exceptionally easy to do - no electrical work needed. The DC power for the transmitter comes from a cell phone battery supply whose Motorolla connector fits the USB transmitter perfectly and supplies 5v DC.

http://forums.dpreview.com/...forums/read.asp?forum=1025&message=37822806

On my tablet the images can go directly to disk with no additional software (just the USB driver you install will make that much work), but I installed Nikon Camera Control 2 which is much better and provides automatic viewing of the last image shot and also can be used to fully control the camera remotely (and it also supports live view).

The EyeFi is cute, but it relies on a network and is very slow by comparison even in Ad Hoc mode and even worse if you have to use a CF to SD adapter. Some DSLR bodies just don't work well with it and the requirement to involve an 802.11 network at all makes it problematic and quirky. The Nikon wireless transmitters cost about $800, is also significantly slower for image transfer than the WUSB 2.0 solution, but can provide longer distances anywhere a wireless signal from a router signal can be found. The WUSB 2.0 solution though doesn't have to find a network over which to connect and if your tablet is anywhere within at least 40 feet from you you'll enjoy very high speed image transfer of about 1-2 seconds per full size 12MP image.

More How-to detail:

I use the Cables Unlimited wireless USB 2.0 transmitter/receiver pair ($39):

http://www.amazon.com/...nlimited-Wireless-Transmitter-Receiver/dp/B0036VNZHA

and the Energizer Cel2Mot Energy To Go Power Pack for Motorola Phones ($15.50) to power the transmitter at the camera in place of the AC/DC power converter (only this one has the right size adapter end to fit the USB stick base):

http://www.amazon.com/...Energy-Motorola-Phones/dp/B000JD39X8/ref=pd_cp_cps_2

For tidiness I bought a broken Sunpak handle mount flash and bracket (5xx model with the battery compartment in the base of the handle) off eBay, sawed off the flash head and corked it, then packed the transmitter base and stick into the flash handle base. I connect it to the camera with a short flat USB-A to USB mini cable ($20-$30). Set the Camera's USB mode to point to point, not mass storage, fire up Nikon Camera Control 2 ($extra) and it magically connects wirelessly and works and works and works...

Total cost $70-$80 with very little effort (excluding Nikon Camera Control 2).

Here is one of my old treads on the subject:

http://forums.dpreview.com/...forums/read.asp?forum=1025&message=37822806

Several of us have been doing this being so disappointed with all of the other options - or lack thereof.

Here is the original and similar threads:

http://petetek.blogspot.com/.../2009/05/50-wireless-tethering-solution.html
http://petetek.blogspot.com/...09/05/petetether-11-wireless-usb-portable.html
http://www.wirelessnikontether.com/
http://www.flickr.com/groups/737450@N20/discuss/72157618393043095/

(I chose not to go this far and didn't disassemble my base to get rid of it - I just buried the base into the base of the Sunpak handle mount (hollow) flash and it doubles as very sturdy handle grip for my camera.)

I tried to convince Nikon to make this a low cost built-in wireless offering but so far it seems they went with only the expensive WT-5 which requires a relatively slow 802.11N network connect (which never comes even close to N-300 speed) where this solution requires no network at all.

Regards,
Mike

 Michael Firstlight's gear list:Michael Firstlight's gear list
Nikon D800 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED VR Sigma 10-20mm F3.5 EX DC HSM +12 more
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Sweet Becky
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Re: How to: Wireless or wired transfer and remote control with a tablet
In reply to Michael Firstlight, Dec 4, 2012

Hi I made this video with my Nikon D800E + Eye Fi 16gb pro x2 + ipad... I hope it helps..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNAgzdga__0

Best,

Rebeca

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Martin Grecner
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Re: Tethering the new iPad to Nikon DSLRs
In reply to Julian Vrieslander, Dec 4, 2012

You can check the CamRanger solution here :

However, it has some issue with Nikon RAW support, but I do not really understand what they mean by that.

Martin

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Dewcal
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Re: How to: Wireless or wired transfer and remote control with a tablet
In reply to Michael Firstlight, Dec 4, 2012

Hi Julian,

Like your ideas and would appreciate being able to do the same.  Unfortunately the USB dongles you are using are no longer available.  Do you know of any equivalents as I have failed to find anything via a quick "Google"?

Many thanks.

Dave

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lock
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Very nice piece of hardware.
In reply to Martin Grecner, Dec 4, 2012

But expensive. It does tell us that both Nikon and Canon cams can be operated fully using the usb-port. Since the device only builds up a network and the D600 series already has that device as an accessory, this opens up all kinds of options of remote control of the latest CANIKON cams. Very interesting !

lock

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Martin Grecner
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Re: How to: Wireless or wired transfer and remote control with a tablet
In reply to Dewcal, Dec 4, 2012

I have found this Silex USB device server solution, but it is relatively big, AC adapter powered, and requires software running on the PC, which emulates an USB port, so only Windows an Mac are supported, no smartphones or tablets if I am not mistaken. Works also over Ethernet cable.

For wireless it seems to need an access point, e.g. existing wireless network.

So only usable in a studio I would say.

Price about 130,- USD.

Martin

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Martin Grecner
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Re: How to: Wireless or wired transfer and remote control with a tablet
In reply to Martin Grecner, Dec 4, 2012

I think I found it, at least for European users. It looks almost the same as the Cables Unlimited product.

Olidata Wireless USB adapter set:

English description

German shop that has it in stock for 65,- EUR

English user guide

Quick start guide

But be warned that the reach is only up to 10m, and it seems to need a Windows PC, which seems strange (should not need a driver at all) but that is what the manual says.

It uses the wireless USB standard, not WiFi.

Martin

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Michael Firstlight
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You found it alright - here's the inside skinny
In reply to Martin Grecner, Dec 4, 2012

Martin,

Yes, if they are still stocking these you indeed found the same identical wireless USB 2.0 dongle set that Cables Unlimited used to sell before they went bankrupt, same hardware and same software (even the latest 14.2 drivers which makes me think they are a new OEM provider of these - finally!).  The technology is actually made by WisAir Corp - companies like Olidata and Cables Unlimited appear to be OEM's that repackage the WisAir technology (I am not sure if WisAir makes the whole package or just the chip set and drivers).

Here is what you need to power the transmitter dongle at the camera to get rid of the bulky AC adapter entirely and be fully wireless:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000IOIWOY/ref=ox_sc_sfl_title_1?ie=UTF8&smid=A19GC7T3FHTNXH

When you get the charger, you need to gently widen the inside of the charger connector plug with a small nail or something to get it to fit nice and snug into the base of the USB (else it is slightly too small and you don't want to force it onto the pin in the base unit) - its very difficult.  Also it HAS to be the Motorola EngToGo charger as it has the right size connector and if you shop around by other sellers on Amazon you can get it for $1.50 USD with $4.00 USD shipping.  These are 5V DC power supplies that take two AA batteries.  I did find a smaller 5V DC one battery cylinder charger at CompUSA/TigerDirect that also works.

To make mine less unwieldy (since you still need the small base), I stuffed my dongle base up inside a hollowed out broken Sunpak handle mount flash bracket (easily found on eBay for a few bucks).  Other more electo-mechanically skilled folks have opened up the base and taken out the essential circuit board and repackaged it (look up Pete's Ramblings in Google  - but that is more complex to do).

Is it worth it?  OMG, YES!!  Even if in the end you spend $100-$150 you are getting a truly wireless high-speed DSLR to computer solution that is 6-8 times faster than any of the other options and more reliable because IT DOESN'T USE A WIRELESS NETWORK.  It is a direct point to point wireless USB 2.0 connection.  The only down side is it works only up to about 30-40 feet  - but that is good enough for a lot of people either in the studio or who have a laptop or Windows tablet nearby.  How fast you ask?  Well, consider the Nikon $800 unit and the EyeFi solutions only yield 150/Mpbs at best under ideal conditions using wireless N in actual use - typically more like 60-80/Mbps, and the wireless USB solution yields up to 480/Mbps with actual performance up near the high end of that speed all the time.  When we're talking about big RAW and JPEG images, that is the kind of speed required for practical use.  Anyone that has tried the EyeFi for example will tell you its far too slow for any practical use and only for the smallest JPEGS.  With the WUSB I capture BOTH *full size* 14-bit D800 RAW *and* JPEG-large image *pairs* simultaneously from my D800 to my computer in just a few seconds for the pair of images (roughly 4-6 seconds for the pair, sometimes faster and near instant with just JPEGs.)

A few more things, to display images immediately and remotely control the camera (including real time Live View), you need to install either Nikon Camera Control 2 or ControlMyNikon.  The latter is only about $30 USD and seems to be better than Nikon CC2 in my tests. (ControlMyNikon is not only a lot less expensive, it gives you LiveView at full screen whereas CC2 is only partial size.).

I am sorry that this solution does not work for iPads or Macs (I also have an iPad3).  The dongle drives support only Windows as far as I can tell (maybe someone could convince WisAir to have a Mac and iPad App written for it.)

Funny, I've had one pair of the Cables Unlimited original adapters and have searched incessantly for some backup pairs and finally found them lat month just before the post of the OliData product - I found a cache of 12 Cables Unlimited USB 2.0 dongles that must have been left over stock before Cables Unlimited went belly up.  I bought one additional pair and for a fee (just kidding) I'll share where there are 10 more Cables Unlimited dongles up for grabs.

I hope this information is useful to some of you.

Regards,
Mike

 Michael Firstlight's gear list:Michael Firstlight's gear list
Nikon D800 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED VR Sigma 10-20mm F3.5 EX DC HSM +12 more
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Michael Firstlight
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Re: How to: Wireless or wired transfer and remote control with a tablet
In reply to Dewcal, Dec 4, 2012

See my post below - found them.

 Michael Firstlight's gear list:Michael Firstlight's gear list
Nikon D800 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED VR Sigma 10-20mm F3.5 EX DC HSM +12 more
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denooyer
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CamRanger
In reply to Michael Firstlight, Dec 4, 2012

One word: CamRanger.

http://www.camranger.com

Buy it, you'll love it.

Someone else (above) mentioned that there is an issue with Nikon RAW support.
But there is no issue, other then that it does not transfer NEF files at all. Nef files are kept stored on the card, you have to put your camera in NEF+JPEG(basic) settings and the device sends a jpeg preview to your iPad.

I have tried it (since yesterday) and it works flawlessly. Setting up the camera is really easy and it even has a focus stacking feature (nice if you do macro or product shoots)

The only thing to keep in mind is that with the D800 big files (36MP) you'll need a 3th or 4th generation iPad (with retina screen) because they have bigger internal RAM. With iPad 2 or iPad mini you will not be able to view the full 36MP resolution files. The app says 'image too large to display'. At 20MP (medium size) it does work, but that's not why we got the D800 in the first place

I am not connected to CamRanger btw, just a consumer using this device since yesterday.

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