Z7 Wifi + SnapBridge (Newer Generation) First Impressions

Started Sep 28, 2018 | Discussions thread
jch2103B Contributing Member • Posts: 698
SnapBridge (Newer Generation) Experience Update

I've had a chance to use SnapBridge with my Z6 for recent travel. Some observations:

Satellite navigation system alternatives: There are several ways to getting geo coordinates in your photos, including SnapBridge (with compatible cameras, incl. Z6 & Z7), a stand-alone gps unit (including in my case a Garmin watch), a GPS accessory that attaches to camera (Nikon and other sources), adding geo coordinates after the face with appropriate software, etc. Each has trade-offs, but all allow you to record where photos were taken.

Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) accuracy: Accuracy depends on a number of factors, including the current satellite constellation, which satellite system (e.g., GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, etc.), local topography, weather, vegetative cover, nearby buildings, etc. Under good conditions, it's possible to get location accuracy of +-5 meters or so. But sometimes conditions aren't so favorable.

SnapBridge benefits: Once your phone app and camera have been linked, the SnapBridge app works pretty well. It allows automatically setting the camera time, offers a remote control option and allows download of 2MP JPG images to your phone either automatically or for selected images. (Initial setup could have been easier, but once done it's pretty automatic.) I have the app accuracy set for Medium. Having SnapBridge work reliably requires having the camera on and connected and having the app running on the phone: if the camera is turned off, the app will go into a power-saving mode and may need to be woken up along with the camera. Given that mirrorless cameras use more power than DSLRs (and are more likely to be turned off to save battery), this can create some issues for keeping everything in sync.

Travel experience - Chicago: I was in downtown Chicago in early December. I used SnapBridge and, as a backup, I recorded a GPS track with my Garmin watch. Big city skyscrapers are close to a worst case scenario for accuracy, especially when going in and out of buildings (Chicago is chilly in winter...). Both the Garmin and SnapBridge had problems getting consistently accurate locations. I needed to update locations after-the-fact for a number of photos I took, using desktop programs. This created an additional coordination issue, as my NEF and JPG images were saved in different locations after being saved on my desktop. In a number of cases, SnapBridge recorded locations apparently based on cell phone tower locations rather than satellite coordinates. I think this is a general mobile phone issue (I'm using a Pixel 2). Overall verdict: Useful but certainly not perfect, and understandable under the difficult circumstances.

Travel experience - Maui: This reinforced the need to have both app and camera running at the same time. When I remembered to do this, results were good. When I didn't, I had to later update locations on my desktop. There were two special cases. The first was taking the Maui Atlantis submarine (a real submarine) which involves taking a boat from Lahaina to the submarine. The SnapBridge app recorded the location pretty well on land but for some reason switched to cell phone tower locations after we left shore (rather than using gps coordinates). It naturally could only use the last recorded location while we were underwater. The second case was taking a tour of the Road to Hana (I wasn't interested in driving this...). The tour is over 12 hours and most of it is in locations without mobile phone coverage; as recommended by the guide, we switched our phones to Airplane Mode to save battery. My phone continued to provide GPS coordinates and stay in Bluetooth connection with the camera, using very little battery during the trip. Many of the locations that SnapBridge recorded were pretty accurate while the phone was in airplane mode, but I had a number of coordination issues caused by either the camera being off and/or the app going into power saving mode, As a safeguard, I recorded the entire trip track with my Garmin watch and was able to sync locations afterwards.

Conclusions: Under good conditions and if you keep the app and camera in communication, you can get reasonably accurate locations recorded in your images with SnapBridge. Airplane mode prevented the app from grabbing cell phone tower locations. SnapBridge is useful, but it's not a bad idea to have a backup system in place if getting accurate locations is important to you.

 jch2103B's gear list:jch2103B's gear list
Nikon 1 V3 Nikon Z6 Nikon 85mm F1.8G Nikon 1 Nikkor VR 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6 Nikon 1 Nikkor VR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 +4 more
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