Hardware vs. Software (Nikon)

This week I ran head-on into a fantastic hardware product (Nikon WU-1a) that is almost made useless by its software (Wireless Mobile Utility).

Nikon WU-1a
Objects in browser are smaller than they appear

I wish this sort of thing was rare, but it happens only too often. (I’m looking at you, Logitech)

In this case, the device is a tiny adapter that plugs into what looks like a micro-USB port on the side of a Nikon camera. And I do mean tiny. Think “dime-sized”. There is a single WPS button inset on one side, and the thing creates a Wi-Fi network for your tablet or phone.  On the hardware/firmware side, the only shortcoming I can see is that you cannot join an existing Wi-Fi network, you have to create a separate ad-hoc(ish) network with the dongle. This is too bad, but understandable to me, because even though there is a WPS button, I can’t imagine an intelligible interface allowing joining a secured Wi-Fi network on your camera.  Apparently the Wi-Fi has b/g/n support, though I highly doubt it has 5GHz support.

The transfers all take place over PTP/IP, which is a standard for this kinda thing. Standards often seems to enable better technology.  It supports picture transfer, but notably all of the other picture parameters such as ISO, aperture, shutter speed, focus, etc.

This is where the software falls over.  Hard.  I loaded the software on my iPhone and connected (after a few tries).  I can take a picture remotely (with live view), download pictures and… well, that’s it.  It was so weak that I basically decided to take it back.  But first, I googled.

I found a number of people who, like myself, were very underwhelmed.  What I also discovered was an Android app called DSLR Dashboard. I scrounged up an old Android phone that was compatible and tried it out.  This software alone turned around my perception of the hardware – it does everything, focus bracketing, intervalometer, histogram, RAW transfer (that’s gotta be slow), photo management on the camera and so much more.

I also found this forum thread with not only the common complaints, but the user that posted it decided to write his own iOS software to replace the pathetic first-party stuff.  The  release of said software is unfortunately, still pending.

The Nikon iOS developers are doing a serious disservice to the hardware engineers.  This device is apparently now integrated into the D5300, so the camera itself is going to take the flak for their junk software.

Please, companies, do TRY to make your own products look good.






2 responses to “Hardware vs. Software (Nikon)”

  1. Arlen Carlson

    Since when do you expect companies to support every platform out there?  I know many friends around here that argue that Android is better than iOS.  Won’t get into that, although I will say I prefer the latter.  In any case, I find the overall support for iOS in the app-world (and add-on hardware) to be superior.  Simply put I have investments in the hundreds of $ in apps and HW that require an iOS device.  Other than the occasional change on Apple’s part every few generations, compatibility seems to stay from one iOS device to the next.  Not so with the numerous Android devices out there!  The apps and products I have will not work on Android, and the developers have chosen to stay away from the quick-sand mess of Android.

    Yet, there are developers out there who have chosen to seemingly support Android as their mobile OS of choice.  In that case they would probably lose my business.  But they would potentially gain that of my friends who run the Android platform, and of the few who are willing to ride both waves.

    1. Jonathan

      The issue is not iOS vs Android, because Nikon also has the same app for Android.  It’s just as pathetic.
      The issue is that a third-party (OSS) developer could come up with an application that so radically changed my view of the hardware (junk to treasure) and it seems like the manufacturer didn’t even try – or worse, there was some politics going on and they deliberately made it bad.
      I did find that the Wi-Fi was very shaky on the iPhone, it kept switching back to my home Wi-Fi.  I deleted that connection and it was slightly better… the Android seemed to hold on to the connection much more solidly – so that may be a thing where the iPhone is not as robust for this application – although since I couldn’t try DSLR Dashboard on iPhone that’s all just conjecture.

Leave a Reply