"USB over WiFi Tethered shooting for less than $100"
I wanted to share a setup I have been working on and now using for a couple months and feel good enough about it to share with everyone.
Like many people, I looked long and hard for a simple but reliable way to shoot wirelessly with my Nikon D700 and D300 using something other than the $1000 WT-4a from Nikon. well, I have found a solution that I think is by far the simplest and lowest cost alternative. I have tested this with my own D700, D300, D300s and a D40. All work flawlessly.
The executive summary is that I am using a small wifi (b/g/n) print server connected to the camera via usb which is powered by a 12v rechargeable battery. the print server uses software on a PC that creates a virtual USB port that emulates a directly connected USB port to the camera on the PC. I have not tested Nikon's camera control 2 but Control my Nikon software and Lightroom 4 work perfectly. The downside is that you still need to tether the camera to the print server unit via a USB cable and you need to carry the print server and battery somewhere on your person. So far this setup has been reliable and very fast with excellent range. I can shoot from software on the PC or I can shoot directly from the camera and the images are transferred right to the PC just like a direct USB connection. I can only test my configuration, but in theory this setup should be equivalent to a camera that is directly connected to a PC. Additionally, there is nothing beyond the included print server software that is required.
The Parts List:
- Print Server: TrendNet TEW-MFP1 (about $55 at amazon)
- 12v rechargeable battery: Bestek BTP120A (about $32 at amazon)
NOTE: I am not recommending where to buy or quoting exact prices. the above information is for reference only and just the parts I am using. you are on your own to procure the same or equivalent equipment. if you only want to test this, you can skip the battery and use the included print server power supply.
First, know that this is not hard but you need to have enough knowledge to configure the print server to connect to your wifi network securely. I suggest downloading and reading the print server manual from the TrendNet website before purchasing so you know what is involved. I will not provide support on how to do this.
For power to the print server, the rechargeable power supply I used above came with a power cable and adapters to power the print server. Whatever power supply you may choose, make sure to follow all instructions and safety precautions when using the power supply. You can use any power supply of your choice as long as it supplies 12v as required by the print server.
Once you have the print server powered up, connected to your network and the software installed on your PC, the rest is simple...
1. connect the USB cable from your print server to your camera (you may need to set the USB mode on your camera accordingly) 2. turn your camera on (the USB light on the print server will light up) 3. run the TrendNet USB control center utility and connect to the USB port 4. startup your camera control software and connect to the camera on the virtual USB port just as you would if directly connected 5. shoot away
- Several times I had problems with the TrendNet software connecting to the print server. it was rare but a reboot fixed things.
- I placed this in a fanny-pack for testing and used a long thin USB cord to give me the freedom to use the camera in a range of positions
- VERY IMPORTANT: you must remember to disconnect the USB cable from the camera when placing the camera down and before you walk away so that you do not accidentally rip it off a table or damage the USB port. ideally some sort of simple break-away connection for the USB port would be ideal to prevent damage (suggestions welcome)
- battery power is critical. In my usage, when the battery starts to get slightly low, the USB connection to the camera will not work but the wifi still does. keep extra batteries around and charged if you plan to use this setup for an extended period.
I created a gallery with some pics so you can see how it all fits together:
I'll be happy to answer any general questions but I can not answer things that are specific to your environment. If anyone tries this out, please post here.
Some of the things that would be very beneficial to this thread from anyone who tests this would be:
- better battery units - better ways to pack these items together for usage - ways to increase reception or capabilities - ways to make this safer (eg: break away usb connection) - suggest other print servers which also work
Again, this is only what I have working for me. YMMV.