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Wireless

The Nikon D2H is in the unique position of having an optional add-on (the WT-1) which enables WiFi (802.11b) transmission of images to either a PC with WiFi capability (ad-hoc connection) or a Wireless Base Station (infrastructure connection). Transmission is carried out over standard TCP/IP using the FTP protocol (requiring you to have FTP server software). Note: The version sold in Europe and Asia is the WT-1 (13 channel; 2412 - 2472 MHz) versus the WT-1A sold in the US and Canada (11 channel; 2412 - 2462 MHz).

The WT-1 attaches to the bottom of the D2H via the tripod mount and connects to the camera in two places. Firstly it takes power from the camera's battery via a four prong connector on the top of the WT-1, secondly it connects to the camera's USB port via a fly lead, the connector has a rubber seal to maintain the D2H's weatherproof status but also leaves the existing USB door hanging loose. Included with the WT-1 is a special battery door which has a wire holder molded into its side. While workable I found the fly lead setup to be a little strange, it would have been neater to add USB to the connector on the top of the WT-1.

Nikon WT-1 with WA-S1 standard antenna connected (L shaped, on the left) Nikon WT-1 connected to D2H (note different battery door)
Nikon D2H & WT-1 from the front Optional WA-E1 extended range antenna

Nikon WT-1 / WT-1A specifications

Standards • IEEE 802.11b (standard wireless LAN protocol)
• ARIB STD-T66 (standard for low power data communications systems)
Communication protocols • Direct Sequence Spread (DS-SS)
• Single (Half Duplex)
Range (line of sight) • Approx. 30 m (98 ft) with WA-S1 standard antenna
• Approx. 150 m (492 ft) with WA-E1 extended range antenna
Operating frequency • WT-1: 2412 - 2472 MHz (13 channels)
• WT-1A: 2412 - 2462 MHz (11 channels)
Data rates

• 11 Mbps
• 5.5 Mbps
• 2 Mbps
• 1 Mbps

Security • 128 / 64 bit (104 / 40 bit) WEP
Access protocols • Infrastructure
• Ad-hoc
Current consumption • Sleep: 150 mA maximum (at input 13.5 V)
• Send: 220 mA maximum (at input 13.5 V)
Power consumption 3 W maximum
Operating environment • Temperature: 0 - 40°C (32 - 131°F)
• Humidity: less than 85% (no condensation)
Weight (excl. antenna) 220 g (7.8 oz)
Dimensions 147 x 35 x 66 mm (5.8 x 1.4 x 2.6 in)

Wireless LAN Menu

Once you add the WT-1 and power up the camera the Wireless LAN menu becomes available, this provides access to the operation, monitoring and setup of the WT-1.

Option Values / Actions Notes
Transceiver • Off
• On
Enables or disables the wireless transceiver
Status [clip] • Status (display only)
• Link quality (display only)
• Signal level (display only)
• Now sending (display only)
• Remaining (display only)
• Time left (display only)
- Current connection status
- 0 to 5 bars
- 0 to 5 bars
- Filename
- Frames queued
- Estimated time to transfer queue
Auto send • Off
• On
When enabled every image taken is immediately placed in the transfer queue
Send file as • NEF (Raw) + JPEG
• JPEG
 
Send folder • Folder list Transfer all images in the selected folder
Deselect all? • No
• Yes
Remove transfer flags from all images (useful for clearing transfer queue)
Network settings See below  

Wireless LAN: Network Settings Menu

Option Values / Actions Notes
Load settings file? • No
• Yes
Loads a .WT1 configuration file from CF card created by WT-1 configurator
Wireless • Communication mode [clip]
Infrastructure
Ad-hoc
• SSID
• Encryption [clip]
Done
On
Base 16 (Hex)
128 bit
Key (*****)
• Channel (display only)



- input, [clip]



- yes / no
- yes / no
- input, [clip - base 16]
TCP/IP • IP address [clip]
Done
Obtain automatically
Address
Mask
• Gateway [clip]
Done
Use gateway
Address
• DNS [clip]
Done
Enabled DNS (y/n)
Address (display/input)
• MAC address (display only)




- display / input
- display / input


- yes / no
- display / input


- yes / no
- display / input

FTP

• Server [clip]
Address
Folder
• User [clip]
User ID
Password
• Proxy [clip]
Done
Use proxy server (y/n)
Address
Port
• Advanced [clip]
Done
PASV mode (y/n)
Port


- input, [clip]
- input, [clip]

- input, [clip]
- input



- input
- input



- input

Display / Image selection

In playback mode images in the transfer queue are indicated with a white icon, those already transferred have a blue icon and the image currently being transferred has a green icon. As mentioned above there are several ways to place images into the D2H's "transfer queue", you can enable Auto send which places every image taken into the queue (marks it for transfer), you can select a folder of images previously shot or you can manually select individual images by holding the thumbnail button and pressing the center of the multiselector.

This image is in the transfer queue ...is now being transferred
...and has been successfully sent (the blue color is far easier to see on the LCD screen than here) As you can see the transfer icons are also visible in thumbnail index mode

Nikon WT-1 Configurator

The WT-1 Configurator application (currently only available for Windows) allows you to create wireless configuration files which can be written onto a Compact Flash card and loaded quickly into the camera using the 'Load settings file?' menu option. One disappointment was that it is not possible to have multiple .WT1 files on a single CF card (or rather that the camera just loads the first). So while it would be possible to have several CF cards each with their own settings file you can't select from multiple files on a single card. Click here for an example of a .WT1 file (it's plain text, we added the .txt extension so that your browser will display it).

Performance

The tests below were carried out between a Nikon D2H + WT-1 and a D-Link DWL-6000AP (dual 802.11a / 802.11b) wireless gateway. This gateway allows for control of transmission speed so we could test the WT-1 at a variety of speeds. Radio channel used: 6 (2437 MHz). The server used was running Windows 2003 Server with the built-in FTP server software, it was connected to the wireless gateway by a 100 Mbps LAN. A batch of twenty five (25) 'Standard JPEG' images were transferred from a folder on the CF card (2 GB SanDisk Ultra II) using the 'Send folder' menu option (total size 25.7 MB).

Device WEP Data rate Link / Signal
quality
Time taken Calculated
speed
D2H + WT-1 Off 11 Mbps 5 / 5 98 sec 2.2 Mbps
D2H + WT-1 Off 5.5 Mbps 5 / 5 98 sec 2.2 Mbps
D2H + WT-1 Off 1 Mbps 5 / 5 285 sec 0.7 Mbps
D2H + WT-1 On, 40-bit 11 Mbps 5 / 5 101 sec 2.1 Mbps
D2H + WT-1 Off Unknown 2 / 1 180 sec 1.2 Mbps
Sony Vaio Off 11 Mbps - 48 sec 4.5 Mbps

As you can see from the results above the D2H + WT-1 combination appears to be limited to a maximum throughput of around 2.2 Mbps with a good connection, that compared to the Sony Vaio (with built-in WiFi) which manages just over twice that (which as we all know still far off the 'marketed' rates). Despite this however a 1 MB Standard JPEG file still takes just over 3.5 seconds to transfer, and of course all this goes on in the background and so wouldn't interrupt your shooting flow.

In use, our Live PMA 2004 Show Report

As part of our preparation for PMA this year I discovered that the Las Vegas Convention Center had, since last year, added wireless (WiFi) connectivity across all of its halls and public areas. This gave me an idea that we may be able to use the D2H and WT-1 combination to deliver 'live from the show floor' images and reports directly over the Internet to our primary server. *

After receiving our loan D2H and WT-1 from Nikon Europe and performing in-house testing we headed off to Las Vegas. The setup was tested the day before press day and found to be perfectly operational, the camera happily connected to the nearest base station with a predefined SSID and WEP encryption key, signal levels appeared to be good and test transfers worked perfectly.

First day of the show, we arrived with two spare batteries for the D2H (at this stage we had no idea how much effect the WT-1 would have on battery life) and the WT-1. Quickly attached and switched on the D2H immediately connected and showed a good signal. I had decided not to use Auto Send as I wished to be able to select images on the LCD screen for transmission back to the server. Working this way was relatively straightforward, shots of the products and the stand were taken and images selected for transmission sent in batch by the camera.

Transmission

Each hall at the LVCC had numerous base stations dotted around on walls, columns and the ceiling, the D2H would simply lock on to the strongest signal. In reality this meant that staying in one place while the camera was transmitting delivered the best performance, wandering across the hall while transmitting caused transmission to slow and the camera needed to reconnect. Speed was variable because of differing signal levels and interference but was always more than adequate for our purposes, at its slowest around 30 seconds per 1 MB image.

Battery usage

We did find that the WT-1 had a detrimental effect on battery life, but we had also expected this. I found myself swapping the battery about once per day with the first battery showing between 15 and 20% remaining life. We shot over 240 images per day and transmitted around 200 of those.

Reliability

No doubt at all the D2H and WT-1 combination proved totally reliable, if it couldn't transfer the image because of a poor signal or lack of coverage the image simply stayed in the transfer queue and the camera tried again as soon as it could.

Conclusion

While we haven't seen any other WiFi offerings from any other digital camera manufacturer I'm sure they're on the way, for now the D2H and WT-1 are an excellent, capable and reliable combination which worked very well for us in a live situation. Kudos Nikon.

Click here for our PMA 2004 Show Report

* There's a lot more that goes on between the images arriving on our server and appearing in the show report, but we'll just call that our intellectual property.

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