Review: Nikon WU-1b wireless adapter, PicturePro app

Mobile shooting and uploading with Nikon WU-1b adapter and PicturePro (April 16th, 2013)

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Product Manufacturer: Nokia, Dave Shields Photography

Price: $60 for WU-1b, $50 for PicturePro

The Good

  • Simple wireless add-on
  • Reduces need for additional gear
  • PicturePro provides options for professionals

The Bad

  • WU-1b drains camera battery
  • Problematic in congested Wi-Fi areas

We're talking George Jetson here. Nikon's recent introduction of the D600 full-frame
DSLR brought a raft of accessories, one of the most interesting being the WU-1b
Wireless Mobile Adapter. Couple that with David Shield's PicturePro app, (motto:
Leave Your Laptop Behind) and an iPad, and you have a new, lightweight solution to
shooting and sending photos from wherever you can score a Wi-Fi signal.





Along the way, your laptop may get an inferiority complex.

Adaptable with the Nikon D600, and Nikon1 models J3, S1 and V2, the WU-1b allows
both raw and JPEG images to be sent from the camera to a smartphone (Android
and iOS) or tablet within seconds of first saving it to the camera's SD card. Able to be
used standalone, it's one of the slickest things to appear on the photographic
accessory scene in quite a while, but is it too little, too soon, or just the thing for
busy photojournalists and Facebookers alike?





Read on as Electronista gives the WU-1b and PicturePro app a workout in the
real world of automotive photojournalism.

Covering the New York International Auto Show at the Jacob Javits Center is one of
those out-of-the-frying-pan, into-the-fire situations that have you jostling for position,
bumping shoulders, bruising egos, and still a time to be aware of your surroundings
and gear, lest they decide to grow legs and disappear from the middle of the show
floor.

The Nikon WU1b ($59.95) and an iPad equipped with PicturePro ($49.95, App Store) frees up
the need to haul a laptop along during assignments or photo excursions. Working
within its own Wi-Fi network, the WU1b will pair with a downloaded Nikon App,
inelegantly named the "Wireless Mobile Adapter Utility." Adaptable to smartphones
or tablets, it can be used to control the linked camera and take, view or download
photos. From the device, images can then be uploaded to social media sites or servers.
We have wondered why Nikon did not choose a simple name like "Nikon Connect,"
or something along those lines. The App is available on iTunes and Google Play, at
no charge.





Connection is easy enough on the D600. With the camera turned off, the WU-1b is
plugged into the mini-USB port that is covered by a hatch on the left-hand side of the
camera. Turn the camera back on and a green light goes through its status checks
while, in this case, our iPad recognized the Nikon WU network under its Wi-Fi menu.

Once the camera is connected, its battery level and other controls are seen under
the settings (gear icon) menu. Moving a step back, the app allows you to control
the camera from the device or directly by the camera's normal live-view controls,
although exposure and settings are not adjustable. In shooting mode, the camera's
playback monitor is disabled while a status bar shows up on the iPad detailing the
download in progress. The range of the Wi-Fi connection, under optimal conditions,
is said to be up to 49 feet.

Normally, images can be viewed and forwarded from the Nikon Mobile Utility App
or the Camera Roll section of the iPad or smartphone, and subsequently shared to
Facebook, Tumblr and so on. In the case of a working professional, it is sometimes
necessary to upload to company servers, such as the wire service servers like
Bloomberg News, the Associated Press or smaller company ports. That's where
PicturePro comes in. The brainchild of news photographer David Shields, it allows
cropping, color and exposure correction, editing and captioning, according to wire
service protocol to be performed using tablets from the iPad 2 forward.



Preset captioning templates are stored and conveniently recalled for batch
processing, which comes in handy when there are many photos from the same basic
event. In this manner, the basic caption remains, while information such as subject
names are added for further identification.

FTP and e-mail profiles can also be stored so web addresses for multiple clients can
be accessed for instant recall. Once completely captioned, the images can be queued
for transmission, via e-mail or FTP, to a waiting editor on the receiving end.





For the most part, the systems both work and when they are at the top of their
game, they work extremely well. We felt as though the WU-1b would occasionally
act up like a spoiled child who won't play well with others. In the case of the Javits
Center, there were over 40 individual wireless networks vying for the affections of
our iPad's Wi-Fi system. With the WU-1b drawing all of its power from the Nikon
D600's ENEL15 batteries, it was pulling less amperage than if it were self-powered.
Acting as a slave, it managed to cut the camera's lithium ion battery supply by nearly
60 percent, to approximately 285 exposures, down from a more respectable 850
images per charge. The end result of that was a situation that saw continual signal
cessation from the camera, causing the WU-1b's own internal Wi-Fi network to drop
off the screen of the iPad. Our work around involved us leaving the actual Javits
display floor to seek quieter spots in the lobby of the building where the images
transferred without a hitch. In View Photos mode, the Nikon App allowed us to
browse images from the camera on the screen of the iPad and then download only
those we selected as part of our final edit. That's a real time saver, if you ask us.

If we were in a deadline position, we would have picked up the Apple Camera
Connection Kit that allows a hard wire connection from the camera to the iPad.
Regardless, it's a good thing to have stashed away in the bottom of your camera bag.

Once in the camera roll section of the iPad, it was a quick process to find the most
recent downloads for final tweaks and captioning before transmitting. From there
we could adjust brightness, cropping, exposure, contrast, color temperature,
shadows and highlights, as well as check with a "loupe" for overall sharpness. Once
we performed our modifications, the images were saved and then we
captioned them as a group for transmission to the Leftlanenews.com servers for uploading.

At the end of the day, and despite the problems with multiple Wi-Fi networks in a
large convention center, we still managed to complete our job with less gear, less
backache and in less time than many of our colleagues. Between Nikon's WU-1b and
PicturePro, the iPad steps beyond that of a mere movie viewer or eReader to a
truly functional piece of equipment for News and Studio Photographers, as well as
serious photo enthusiasts.

by Mark Elias


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