WT-4 Review

Started Dec 30, 2007 | Discussions
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craigamey Regular Member • Posts: 253
WT-4 Review

I've spent a couple of days with the WT-4A and the D3 and thought I'd share my experiences to maybe help others who have these or are thinking about getting one. This isn't one of those copy-the-manual-into-the-document reviews, if you want to find out specs etc. read the manual. This is more about real world experiences, and it is almost certainly incomplete and somewhat anecdotal.

1. Setup

You can create and store profiles in the D3. The wireless menu lets you create and edit profiles, which looks straightforward but it turns out you can only create FTP profiles from the camera (meaning upload automatically to an FTP server). In my case I wanted to connect to one of my own computers so there is no way to do this from the camera, you have to run the WT-4A setup utility on a computer while the camera is directly connected via USB.

Creating a profile is pretty easy using their wizard and it automatically saves it to the camera. You can create Infrastructure profiles (to use with a computer connected to some sort of wireless router or access point) or Ad-Hoc to connect directly to a laptop's wireless card.

I tried both and found that Infrastructure is much faster than Ad-Hoc. Some research revealed that Ad-Hoc is limited to 11Mb/s even using 802.11g, apparently that's what the standard specifies. Useable if you're transmitting JPGs but I wouldn't recommend it for NEFs.

2. Connecting

There are two phases to connecting. First connect to the network, then the computer or PC. Both are downright flaky. Connecting to the network can take up to a minute and the computer even longer. Both failed repeatedly and it became an exercise in patience of just retrying the same connection until it stuck. I tried Ad-Hoc and three different access points and all had the same issues. Overall I would say it connects about half the time and always connected eventually, sometimes after as many as three failed attempts.

Weaker signal strength will definitely decrease the likelihood of a connection succeeding, especially the PC phase. I also found when using an external access point with my laptop I had to disconnect from the internal wireless network before the PC connection phase would succeed (the network connection didn't seem affected). I found that in Thumbnail mode it won't do the PC connect until you are running the Nikon Thumbnail application, whereas Transfer mode doesn't require anything running. Same was true for PC (Capture Control) mode, you have to be running NCCP 2.0 before it will connect.

3. Shooting

Once it's connected it works very well. In transfer mode it starts sending the image as soon as it's taken. White arrow means waiting to send, green sending and blue sent. If you do set it to transfer all images don't put in a full card because it will try and transfer everything on the card. Thumbnail works differently though, it only catalogs images taken while in thumbnail mode.

4. Range

I was able to roam pretty much my whole house (two floors and up to 50ft from the access point) and still transfer images. There were a couple of dead spots where I got disconnected and had to go back to a full strength area to reconnect, and a few spots where transfers got very slow. It seems to blink the access light on the CF card once for each MB transferred so you can tell how fast it's transferring even without going into the Wireless screen. The astute at this point should be asking why is this if the WT-4A truly has a 1GB internal buffer like the marketing blurb says it does, wouldn't that mean the data would be transferred immediately to the WT-4A and then sit there waiting to be transferred?

I tried a Dell wireless card and three Linksys routers. The WRT54G and WAP54G had the best range, followed by the WRH54G (Home Router) and Dell Wireless.

5. Performance

If you're still thinking in terms of 54Mb/s divided by 8 equals 6-7MB/s or a full res JPG in under a second you're in for a bit of a disappointment. Real world 802.11g rarely bests 20Mb/s and the WT-4A doesn't even get that. Running a test where I transferred four decent sized NEF files I saw the following speeds.

Direct Ethernet (100BaseT): 2MB/s
WRT54G: 1.3MB/s
WAP54G: 0.9MB/s
WRH54G: 0.9MB/s

I tried the wireless with and without WEP encryption and it didn't seem to make any noticeable difference to the transfer speeds.

craigamey OP Regular Member • Posts: 253
Re: WT-4 Review (Continued)

6. Battery Life

Even with brand new batteries the EL-3s lasted about 2.5 hours with lots of transfers. After a couple of charges they seemed to do even better. Nikon claim 2 hours 15 to charge one, so keeping two on rotation should work fine.

It should be noted that the AC adapter for the WT-4A is the same as the one for the D2H/D2X/D3, which also means that Quantum 2x2s with the appropriate D2H/X cable work fine too (I tested with a 2x2 and D2H cable). With the AC adapter plugged in (or the Quantum) you don't need a battery at all in the WT-4A (now why can't they do that with the SB800s).

7. Camera Views

Tethered shooting with the D2H was a pain because you never saw the image on the back of the camera. The WT-4A/D3 fix this by adding transfer mode where you get to see each image you shot and even scroll through the various info screens. In PC mode you're back to the old model, and by default they even disable all camera controls which means you can't fire the shutter from the camera (fortunately you can re-enable this from the CCP 2.0 menus). I mostly used Transfer mode to transfer all files, but you can set it where you choose which ones to transfer. Once an image is transferred it will forever have the blue lightning bolt visible on all screens to indicate this.

The coolest view of course is Live View. Select LV from the CCP menu and you've just turned the D3/WT-4A into a $6K web-cam. The image appears in real time on the PC/Laptop and you can set focus points and zoom in up to 4x. The screen size is fixed and the quality isn't great but it's enough to get the job done which is all that matters. There is some latency (delay before changes in the scene show up on the PC) but I'd say less than a second. The LV dialog is modal, meaning while it's open you can't change any settings, which is a bit annoying. You have to close LV then re-open. I couldn't find any way to show the histogram on the PC, although it does show once you shoot the image and it downloads.

8. Folders

When in Capture Control mode you can set folders as before. I believe in the WT-4A setup you can set the Transfer Mode folder but I didn't and the defaults are to put a WT-4A folder and a Thumbnails folder under your pictures directory. (My Pictures probably for non-Vista users).

Notes:

On Vista the file explorer will crash trying to thumbnail D3 NEFs. Go to

http://nikonimglib.com/nefcodec/

to download the latest version of the thumbnailer to fix this.

When they say you can only go through one level of router they mean it. My default WiFi network has two wireless routers and when I got within wireless range of the second one (which is daisy chained to the first) the connection dropped.

9. Conclusion

This is useable for the kind of work I do, portrait events where I don't want to be tethered to anything and need to transfer images to our computers for immediate processing. The transfer speeds are a little disappointing but as we only use JPG in this environment they are fast enough.

I'm a little concerned about the flaky connect behaviour, I certainly don't want my customers standing around for five minutes while I promise that it will re-connect eventually. Hopefully in practice I'll never go out of range and I'll only need to reconnect when the batteries die. At least it's very obvious when it's not connected (unlike the D2H, Capture Control) setup, and you can keep shooting and it will transfer the images when it does finally connect.

For what I do it's worth the money just to not have customers (who often have had a few drinks) tripping over and stepping on my cables, and for me to be able to move about freely and pose people (and chase after the ones who forget their receipt) without having to unhook myself from the system. It is however very expensive for what it is, when you consider that the software, hardware, two batteries and a charger set me back over $1K. The WRH54G which pretty much does everything the WT-4A does (actually more because it's also a router) cost $39.95 and came with an AC adapter and ethernet cable. Simple volume I know, Linksys probably sell 10,000 routers for every WT-4A Nikon sells, but annoying nonetheless.

Bottom line, if you need it and can justify the cost it works (and will probably get better with firmware updates).

Craig Amey

Jarle_Aasland Senior Member • Posts: 1,530
Thanks - sounds like..

..the camera wi-fi technology isn't perfected quite yet. I realize there are many parameters involved, but for professional, time critical use I think there's still a lot to be desired.

I recently used a WT-1 with a D2X (shooting small JPEGs) and had similar problems connecting to the router. I've used the same setup before without any (serious) issues, but this time it just didn't work. Slow connections, problems transferring images (0 KB files), etc. Frustrating.

Another thing is the silly need for a USB cord with the current wi-fi transmitters. This has got to be one of Nikon's strangest design decisions ever. I'm always concerned I will break the cable/USB plug.

I was very surprised to see the WT-4 come with an even longer cable than previous versions. There should really be an internal connection between the camera/transmitter.

Obviously, there's still a lot of room for improvements.

Jarle

John Ricard Senior Member • Posts: 1,453
Thanks for writing

I bought the transmitter for the D2x about a year ago and I could never get it to work. I ended up returning it to the store.

I bought the transmitter for the D3 about 2 weeks ago, but I haven't attempted to set it up yet. Maybe I'm afraid that I won't be able to get it to work. Thanks for posting your experiences.

Are you NYC based by any chance?

sportshooter06 Regular Member • Posts: 132
Re: Thanks for writing

I have been using the transmitter, for about a month.

While it is quirky, once you get the profiles correct, I have found it to be fairly good at what we use it for.

Mostly transmitting to a notebook, in a press room or at the press table for basketball.

It certainly could be better.

artyone Regular Member • Posts: 372
Re: WT-4 Review (Continued)

Hi
Many thanks for the info, very useful.

I guess that it wont work with a D2X or D200?

I was hoping to buy a solution that will work with the D300 but still work with the D200 backup body should the D300 die during a shoot.

We are looking at a different way of doing the transfer and you may have an insite to wether it is a practical option or not.

The system we were thinking of would consist of the following items:

On the photographer
D300 and 17-55
Usb cable to tablet laptop
HP TX1000 series Tablet ( USD $990 - $1400 )
Nikon camera control pro V2
Crumper bag for laptop ( sling style )

In the backroom
bigger laptop with wireless router
dye sub printer
Adobe Lightroom open with the option to "watch a folder"

With the above you would shoot with the D300 via USB cable directly into the small tablet, it would be handy to view images and show client if needed.

Drawback is more bulk and limited battery life on the tablet of about 90mins ( real terms, we have one)

Get NCCP2 to place the images into a folder on the laptop, say "todays_event"

The Big laptop in the other room/place would "see" the images appear in the folder on the tablet would be setup as part of the wireless networked computers)

The file gets transferred to the big laptop and the assistant then does a bit of PP and then can print out the orders...

This way you spend a little more on hardware, same on software, but end up with a solution that will work with most Nikon DSLR's?????

What are your thoughts on this approach??

Regards
Arty

 artyone's gear list:artyone's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1 Fujifilm X-Pro1 Fujifilm X-E1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm F4.0-5.6 +9 more
threadster Regular Member • Posts: 259
Maybe WT-5 will support 802.11n ?

Perhaps that is the standard at which transferring large files will become quick and reliable, eh?

Its a simple proposition - output files to some form of USB key drive, transfer via wireless to a folder on a computer.

There are mass market wireless usb devices that come close - the only gotcha is they get their power from chorded AC.

Good info, thanks. Anyone know where to buy really long USB cables?

-- hide signature --
craigamey OP Regular Member • Posts: 253
Re: Maybe WT-5 will support 802.11n ?

Good info, thanks. Anyone know where to buy really long USB cables?

This is what I was using

http://www.amazon.com/Belkin-F3U130-16-16-Foot-Active-Extension/dp/B0001STJ6M/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1199039631&sr=8-1

Combined with another 10ft standard cable I had 25ft of spaghetti with which to ensnare my subjects.

JMD-70 Senior Member • Posts: 1,627
Craig, thks for the WT-4A info. That said, base on your write-up,...

...I'm somewhat disappointed with Nikon's decision of going with the WT-4A over the WT-2A for the D3. I have very decent experience in setting up the WT-2A as well as Canon's WFT-E1a unit for a friend of mind that shoots the Mk IIn. Also, I currently have 2 D2X bodies that are WT-2A capable and have been able to connect and transfer images at a range of some 50 yards from the router. As you are aware, there are a number of variables that affects connection as well as transfer speed, but I'm able to get connection and transfer images 2-levels up from the router within my townhouse as well has still having connection while in the closet on the 3rd level. As for ad-hoc mode, though I have it pre-configured (using PixAgent ITP 2.0), I wouldn't think of using ad-hoc over infrastructure. I use a LinkSys WRT54GC mini-router,...couple with a 7-dBi SMA antennae.

In addition, as long as the D2X hasn't metered off, the infrastructure mode will stay connected. If the D2X does meter off, the reconnect time is about (I think) around 12-15 secs. The performance you're mentioning about the WT-4A saddening as the ability to capture wirelessly is so much part of my onsite printing workflow. That said, I'll certainly try the WT-4A and if I'm not satisfied, it's back to the store.

Again, thanks for the write up.

JMD
...D2X x2 - WT-2A capable
...ITP 2.0 Pro embedded
...5D x1
...Nikon and Canon forever~

John Ricard Senior Member • Posts: 1,453
New York City

sportshooter06 wrote:

I have been using the transmitter, for about a month.

I notice that you are New York based. Would you be willing to help me configure my transmitter? I spent about an hour trying to set it up in Ad Hoc mode today and I could not figure it out.

I'd be willing to trade you a free studio rental at my studio near Times Square in return for your assitance. If not, I'm sure there's some other trade we could work out if that doesn't interest you. (I would have sent you this as a private message, but you don't have any contact information on dpreview).

thanks.

craigamey OP Regular Member • Posts: 253
WRT54G

I exchanged my WRH54G on the weekend for another WRT54G router (V5.0). This one wouldn't connect to the WT-4A network at all until I downloaded and installed the latest firmware. It definitely transfers noticeably faster than the home version but I wasn't able to get any definitive test results as the transfers kept stopping for no apparent reason then restarting a few seconds later.

On the down side:

1. I have seen it take up to 1:30s to connect to the PC after establishing network connection. Seriously this is unacceptable and going to leave a lot of professionals looking very stupid in front of their clients if they try and use this in the field.

2. In a brief stint of an hour or so of testing it disconnected from the PC (while in excellent network range) four times and once took three tries to reconnect. Again this is really poor from a device that costs 20 times as much as the router on the other end which can connect in seconds and maintain a connection for months at a time.

3. I was able to lock up Capture Control completely by pressing buttons in the LiveView window. The window stopped responding and I had to shut down the whole application and also power the camera off and on again.

I guess I'm the fool for being an early adopter here but I'm beginning to have serious doubts about using this setup for a paid event. I will most definitely be bringing a cable based backup solution.

Octane Senior Member • Posts: 2,993
thank you!

That was really helpful!

-- hide signature --
Octane Senior Member • Posts: 2,993
Re: WRT54G

thanks for the update! It's really is a little disappointing. Realiability really is an important point. The last thing you want to worry about when taking photos is network problems.

-- hide signature --
jdelaney Regular Member • Posts: 156
Re: WT-4 Review (Continued)

artyone wrote:

With the above you would shoot with the D300 via USB cable directly
into the small tablet, it would be handy to view images and show
client if needed.

What are your thoughts on this approach??

Regards
Arty

I assume that you are saying that the tablet PC will be in the backpack...running? You do realize that putting a running tablet PC in a backpack is very bad for the PC, right? PC's generate large amounts of heat, which is why there are fans built into them. Placing a running tablet PC in a backpack will most assuredly cause overheating and possibly even thermal failure and permanent damage to the PC.

rgloeckner Forum Member • Posts: 56
Re: WRT54G

I had some WLAN setups in the last days and therefore some hints that may help

  • look for free channels. Routers default to one specific channel and if there are many others around you may see delays when connecting and reduced speed

  • there are often problems with routers on the side and devices from other manufacturers on the other side. Maybe a little more expensive, better router or access point produces better connections and stability. Netgear is no more on my shopping list...

  • better devices allow to mount another antenna or an external antenna with cable for greater possible distance or have two or three antennas for this reason

regards Robert
--
D70, SB600

 rgloeckner's gear list:rgloeckner's gear list
Nikon D800 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED Oloneo Photoengine Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5
Lothar Wieland Regular Member • Posts: 170
Re: WT-4 Review

this is exactly I measured with the wt-2 about 1 MB/sec in every mode. Its good for JPGS. RAW transmission tradtional.

JMD-70 Senior Member • Posts: 1,627
Re: WRT54G_...I'm thinking!

Craig, I'm thinking that the IP address setup or Server, etc. you're using may be the cause for the extended time to re-connect, etc. As you may be aware, the WT-4 goes through a "verification" process each time it connects,..or reconnects.

I use the following: 192.168.1.100,...192.168.1.102, etc. I have 3 diff notebooks with WRT54GC mini routers and a diff SSIDs for each, and 4 configs stored in 2 WT-2As. Also, based on your findings, it appears that the WT-2A performs just as well as the WR-T4 or vice versa,..accept, it only take my system 12 secs to re-establish a connect after the WT-2A meters off with the camera. Also, I do not use a WEP code.

Also, as stated before, I use ITP Pro 2.0,..which has been rock solid for me over 3+ years.

Hmm,...I'm beginning to wonder now something else now. See my next post.

-- hide signature --

JMD
...D2X x2 - WT-2A capable
...ITP 2.0 Pro embedded
...5D x1
...Nikon and Canon forever~

JMD-70 Senior Member • Posts: 1,627
Re: WT-4 Review - I'm wlling to bet the following!

I bet that the WT-2A can be configured to work with the D3/D300. The only thing it needs is "power",..of which I bet it has its own internal power regulator. I say this because the WT-4A will operates with it's own btry - EN-EL3, so that gives us the Voltage requirement. Though the WT-2A is connected to the D2X/Xs/Hs, it doesn't mean that it requires 11.1V. I do know that there are 4 contact points for the WT-2,...I'm sure that one is "+",...another " - ",...and the other two may be for circuit switches,...i'e',.."Camera Enable/Disable WT-2A, and "Meter Off" turn off WT-2A,...Meter on,...awake WT-2A.

Having the schematics would help greatly. FWIW,...I had to replace a USB cable on one of my WT-2As,...I simply opened it up,...disconnected the OEM plugs,..cut and soldered the plug to the new USB line. Walla - It worked the first time I turned it on. Note, I did order the $77 Nikon OEM USB cable,..yes,..$77 and it has yet to arrive.

Anyway, I'm thinking if one knew the pin-outs of the WT-2A,...one can convert it to work with the D3/D300. Nothing is impossible....

Thoughts anyone...
--
JMD
...D2X x2 - WT-2A capable
...ITP 2.0 Pro embedded
...5D x1
...Nikon and Canon forever~

Andy Wee New Member • Posts: 2
Re: WT-4 Review (Continued)

it's funny with your WT4 transfer speed.
my WT2 does 2.8MB/s in infrastructure
in normal adhoc it does around 0.8MB/s

there is a way to connect to laptop in infrastructure.

I changed the mini-PCI to a athero chipset. I literally plugged out the mini-pci from my DIR-655 and shove it into my laptop. and after lots of configuration and programming, I'm now doing infrastructure to my laptop without any router cuz the laptop is now a router itself.
there is a major minus point for doing this
the normal wifi card, my laptop last around 12hrs.

with the atheros chipset, my laptop now last around 7hrs. it draws ALOT of power.

wchp Regular Member • Posts: 479
Eye-Fi instead???

Has anyone tried an Eye-Fi in a SD to CF adapter yet?
This one has me thinking. http://www.eye.fi/

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