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WU-1a Wireless Mobile Adapter

The image quality of smartphone cameras might be getting better and better but DSLRs still have the edge for serious photography. However, smartphones come with the advantage of connectivity which allows you to share your images almost instantly on social networks, via e-mail or on image hosting sites. To bridge the gap between camera and smartphone Nikon has released the optional WU-1a adapter ($60) with the D3200.

The WU-1a is a little WiFi-dongle that connects to the camera's AV port and allows you to transfer images from the camera to your smartphone or tablet and remote-trigger the camera. So far it is only compatible with the D3200 and only works with Android devices (2.3 'Gingerbread' or later). According to Nikon a version of the app for Apple's iOS-devices is on its way for fall 2012. For this test we have used a Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone running Android 4.1 'Jelly Bean'.

To make things work you need to install Nikon's Wireless Mobile Adapter Utility app on your device from the Google Play store. Once that is done you can plug the adapter into the AV-port and switch the camera on. At that point the camera acts as a WiFi-hotspot which you can connect your smartphone to. If You then launch the app you are offered four options on the homescreen:

  • Use the camera to take pictures - in this mode you take a picture as usual, by pressing the shutter button on the camera, but right after capture the image is transferred to the phone.
  • Take pictures remotely - in this mode the camera enters live-view mode, you can see the live-view image on your phone screen and trigger the camera remotely.
  • Share pictures - in this mode you can share pictures that have already been downloaded to the phone with other apps on your phone, for example Instagram, Flickr, Facebook, E-mail, Dropbox etc.
  • Download pictures from camera - does exactly what it says on the tin, let's you download images from the camera's SD-card to the phone via WiFi. You can choose between full-size and VGA-resolution.

In practice we found the adapter/app combination to work quite well but there is still some room for improvement - not a surprise considering this is a new type of product for Nikon. The phone occasionally disconnects from the camera, even with both devices placed right next to each other. If that happens during an image transfer it has to be restarted.

The other complaints we have are mostly minor ones. Depending on how many images there are on your SD card it can take quite a while to generate the thumbnail view in the browser. It took about 35 seconds to show the 450 images we had on our card. What makes it slightly annoying is the fact that the thumbnail-view has to be re-generated each time you leave and re-enter the download-screen (even after the phone goes into stand-by mode). The app also doesn't detect image orientation and shows all images in landscape-format.

The WU-1a is a tiny adapter that connects to the camera's AV-port. It feels a little flimsy, so you might want to disconnect it and store it safely in its case when you're not using it.

Overall the WU-1a adapter is in its current state more of a gadget rather than a professional tool. It's definitely fun to play with but its operation feels a little clunky at times. Professional users will want more 'remote control' over camera settings and operation, and we suspect that those who want to post a quick snapshot will probably find it quicker and more convenient to just use their phone camera. That said, if you need to e-mail your images or post them to the web while you are out and about the WU-1a will do the job.

Below we are showing a series of screengrabs of the Nikon Wireless Mobile Adapter Utility app to give you a better idea of its functions and operation.

The setup is easy. Once you have the adapter plugged into the AV-port and turned the camera on the D3200 basically acts as a WiFi hotspot that you can connect your smartphone to. After launching the app you can choose from the four main functions on its home screen.
The 'Take Pictures remotely' screen shows you the camera's live-view image along with shutter speed/aperture and the camera's battery status. Press the shutter button on your screen and a picture is captured. In the 'Use camera to take pictures' mode you press the shutter on the camera. Once the image has been captured it is being downloaded to the phone.
Once an image has been downloaded you can view it on your phone screen, zoom in and out and drag it around the screen. With a decent screen on your phone this is a good way of checking critical focus and sharpness.
If you select an image for sharing a screen opens that allows you to pick the app you want to share it with. The options you get here of course depend on the apps you have installed on your phone but you can use your D3200 images in most imaging apps such as Instagram (right image), send it via e-mail, post it to Facebook or Flickr, or store it in your Dropbox or Google Drive.
This is the Image Download screen. It can take a little while for the thumbnails to be downloaded but once they're there you can select an image by pressing and holding it for a second or so. If you then press the download button the download starts. We measured about 15 seconds for a full-size JPEG image. If that's too long for you and you only want to share your images on the web you can set the app to download a VGA-sized version of the image.
The app offers a good array of options. You can select a minimum battery level, for both camera and phone, at which live-view transmission stops. You can select the image size for image download (full-size or VGA) and you can configure the app to automatically download an image after capture or to trigger the download manually. There are also fairly extensive options for the WiFi-connection that allow you to configure security settings and set a password amongst other things.
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Comments

Total comments: 11
BobFoster

It may be a new model with a few new bells and whistles but I see that the IQ is still rated at 4.5. To me that means that adding 10 megapixels is just a sales gimmick. The extra megapixels seems to be the Nikon choice of improvements to induce hobbyists to upgrade. Do they think we are such fools?

1 upvote
reanim888

Great power comes with great responsibility. High quality sensor is a bonus but at this resolution, you need better lenses to make the most of it. Entry level people may not even want to spend that much for any lenses… by the time they are happy with their skill and ready for investment in better lenses… they may also want a better body… so, yes, again for those who can afford it rather than really drawing people in to their DSLR range. For many beginner, I think price is one of the main issues.

1 upvote
ibrahimbeno

thank you for this useful information, i really like the Nikon D3200, it's be the door of much people to photography world and i can said that it's the best for beginners, because it's simple - low price - 24.2 MP ...i creat a post about features of Nikon D3200 and why it's the best for beginners (see my profile)

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 5 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
SUNNY PARAMUNDA

Its horrible to hear some bad news related with d3200 as i purchased it last week.I am a new one in SLR,and have less experience with SLR camera.Today i downloaded the update of firmware and finally decided to give up the attempt after reading the reviews related with the new update.Now i ordered for a 35 mm F1.8 prime lens.Now i think the move was totally foolish one

0 upvotes
dvalente

Sunny,
I am a novice DSLR user as I have only used point and shoot cameras up until last year. Two days ago, I took my camera into Kenmore camera (our local store) as they asked to look this issue. I may have had a setting incorrect after the camera came back from Nikon Service. It appears to be working acceptably now with the 35mm, F1.8 lens. I will see if I can delete my earlier post. Keep in mind, you may need to send your camera to Nikon to get the autofocus adjusted (this is free during the warranty period)to work acceptably with F1.8. The other thing I realized is the focus system can have a hard time determining what to focus on in different lighting and in low contrast conditions (this may have contributed to my problem after the camera returned from service). I am still learning the camera and each new item I get (F1.8 lens in this case) is a new learning curve.

Dean

0 upvotes
ibrahimbeno

Don't be sad, i always suggest Nikon D3200 for beginners, because it's teaches and encourages those who are new to DSLR technology.
i've created a comparison chart at http://nikond3200news.blogspot.com/2014/06/nikon-d3200-is-it-best-dslr-camera-for-beginner.html that compares the D3200 to the D7XXX serie,D5XXX and Canon cameras under 700$. don't make any buying decision till read it.

0 upvotes
dvalente

I've had my D3200 for almost a year. I was happy with it until purchasing a 35mm F1.8 prime lens. I found at F1.8 the actual focus was behind the subject by about 4". I sent the camera back to the factory (warranty service) and had the autofocus adjusted. The focus is only slightly better than before. If you stick with the kit lenses, you won't notice this as you have a larger depth of field. It's possible not all D3200 cameras behave this way; mine does. If I use the prime lens, I start around F4 and don't go lower.

Comment edited 59 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
dvalente

I would like to modify or delete this post but apparently, I can't do that. The post is correct except for after the camera came back from service. By the way, Nikon service did verify my focus issue was valid. The camera focuses properly at F1.8 now. I found the camera can struggle to determine what to focus on depending on lighting and sometimes the subject itself. It's possible this is normal. I am a novice photograhper and am learning my gear and it's limitations.

0 upvotes
gloomvision

i love it. im using the camera for filming.
im gonna let the camera speek for it self.
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/gnkwdy4xhS8?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

0 upvotes
FuduNYC

I have been using this camera for 6 months now. Prior to this I had a D90 and I miss the LCD display and the extra control. It just takes a bit of getting used to.
The 24mp CMOS is very useful for crop-zooming. Got a good price on it in Dubai Duty Free.

0 upvotes
omarasl

thanks a lot for this huge amount of useful information
actually in digital cameras world Nikon is my only choice

2 upvotes
Total comments: 11