WiFi Solution for Nikon D4

Nikon has two WiFi solutions for the Nikon D4. One costs $1,000 and the other $877. Also, I have not had the best of luck with Nikon’s WiFi solutions in the past, especially with the Nikon D2Xs. I bought the Nikon system for $600, which dropped out so often and was almost impossible to sync.

When I was at PhotoShop World in Atlanta this week, I ran into my friend Gary S Chapman, and he asked if I had seen the CamRanger booth. I had not, and after he walked me over there, I decided to buy one after their demonstration. Gary said he would wait on my review before buying one. So the next gizmo we find, he goes first.

The system cost was $299.98, and they had a special going for that price to toss in an extra battery and charger.

It has a USB cable to connect to your camera [pick your camera when ordering the correct cord] and a CAD5 cable for updates. It also comes with a small bag that hangs on your camera strap.

The charger looks identical, just minus the WiFi part.

CamRanger currently supports a large number of both Canon and Nikon cameras. To see the complete list and all the features for each camera, go to this link, and you will find your camera and what features will work with your particular model.

The CamRanger supports iOS devices, Android devices, Mac and Windows computers, and the Kindle. All the following apps are free and will work universally with the CamRanger unit! In addition, the CamRanger can be registered with multiple devices and used with one device or computer at a time.

I have an Android phone, an iPad, and a Macbook Pro that I would use with the CamRanger. All work just fine.

My Settings

From shooting with the Nikon WiFi and using the EyeFi SD card, I learned a few things that made me want to get the best performance out of the CamRanger. If EyeFi made a card that would work in the Nikon D4, I would have never looked at the CamRanger, but they don’t, so here I am using the CamRanger system.

Shoot RAW+JPEG—You are sending files over from one device to another. The bigger the file, the slower it will take. You could shoot just JPEGs, but I prefer speed and, therefore, would like the smallest JPEG I can use to preview on the iPad, for example. But when I need the higher resolution image, I now create that from the RAW file.

Small JPEG—Go to the menu and pick the image size under the camera icon. Select Small, and this will help give you the smallest file size.

I would also use essential rather than refined. I want creative directors and art directors to use my iPad and see the images as I shoot sometimes. This way, they are not over my shoulder but can see the results.

If I am tweaking the settings, I can turn off the WiFi, and when I am ready for them to start seeing images turn the system on.

It connects right away to the iPad once you set it up. The setup lets you enter your device’s WiFi settings and select the CamRanger. Then you put in your serial # as the password. Once connected, you use the CamRanger App you downloaded for free to join.

Two Main Ways I Use It—When I want someone to see the images, I shoot, and the images pop up as thumbnails and big ideas.

You can set up the controls in the App to client mode, where they see the image and can star rate it if they like. I changed the default setting to have Auto View on so the print displays big when shooting. The thumbnails let you go back and see previous images.

If I were shooting a lot, I might turn off the Auto View and let someone just click on those thumbnails they want to see big without my latest image popping up while trying to see another image.

The second way I like to use the system is in Live Mode. You select Live Mode from the App and not from the camera.

You can see the camera settings in both modes and change them unless you have Client View turned on.

I think the CamRanger from my tests performs as well, if not better than anything I have used for the WiFi connection to my camera.

Why use WiFi?

I first need to tell you how I shot tethered for years when doing portraits. The images popped up, and they were all on the computer where the subject could pick their pictures. Once I had the camera on a table, and my foot caught the cable. Well, that was a $600+ repair for a shattered lens.

So I started using WiFi because I prefer radios for triggering flashes—No Cords.

When I am doing portraits, I control the lighting, making the step of processing a RAW image a waste of my time. So here I can shoot the Large/Fine setting JPEG and be done with it. Yes, it takes a few seconds longer, but all the images load on the computer, and I can give the client all the photos at the end of the shoot.

Another great reason to use WiFi is when I teach. I like to show everyone as I am doing setups, with lights, for example, what I am doing. With a large screen TV or projector, I can shoot, and they immediately see the results and the settings on my camera—a great way to learn studio lighting or location lighting.

Nikon D4: Tethering & 11 FPS Tips

Nikon D4 with 85mm f/1.4

Photoshop is complex

Photoshop got its start with a father and his two sons Glenn, John and Thomas Knoll back in 1988.  Not even the Knolls know all you can do with Photoshop.

It is quite common to go to some of the Adobe Photoshop users conventions and have a speaker show you how they got a result and on the same stage are the developers saying this is knew to them.

Nikon Cameras are complex

About two years ago when the Nikon D3S was just introduced, I was at a basketball game shooting with my new Nikon D3S. Next to me was Bob Rosato, who was a staff photographer for Sports Illustrated, getting a phone call just before the game started.

I could hear Bob saying he didn’t know the answer to the caller. After hanging up, Bob looked at me and said that was Nikon calling asking him what settings he was using for sports.

This has been the case for many years with these new cameras that have complex computers in them. You have so many focusing modes to choose from. You can shoot is S, CL, or CH modes for how many frames the camera will fire when you push the shutter. Then you have which focusing modes you can choose from. Single, 9 group, 21 group, 51 group, Auto and then each of these in combination with the shutter mode gives you different results.

On top of those setting you have back focus settings for tracking your focus.

Who wants to be a millionaire?

Once you buy one of these cameras you will be heavily invested in learning all you can do the type of photography you do. This is important to point out that the cameras will do more than most any pro would ever use them to do. However, you must master it for your niche´.

Very quickly you will want to use a life line like they do on the TV hit show “Who wants to be a millionaire?” Sooner or later most pros will phone a friend to help them out. Even after reading the huge camera manual you will find yourself overlooking a detail.

So this week I get a call from my friend Paul Abell, a sports photographer, who shoots most of the pro teams and college teams in every sport. “Hey Stan, are you having trouble with your Nikon D4 follow focusing?” was the question from Paul.

Paul figured he had some setting in the camera not set correctly, because he knew Nikon would not introduce a camera with focusing issues after Canon had done so just recently.

I had not experienced the issue and told him I would look into it. Next day, I get another phone call from Paul. He had figured out the problem and wanted to tell me.

The answer is on page 112 of the camera manual.

Nikon D4 Camera manual page 112

My camera came from Nikon set on 10fps, but Paul’s came with it set on 11fps. Once he switched to 10fps he was getting great results.

Camera manual stays with the camera

Most pros keep their new camera manual with their camera these days because of the situation Paul ran into. I don’t know anyone who has memorized those huge manuals. My Toyota Sienna, which costs a lot more than my camera has a manual about half the size of the Nikon D4.

Until you have mastered all you need on the camera, keep your manual in the camera bag with you.

Tethering with Nikon D4

I have been tethering my camera to the laptop for studio shoots for many years. One of the main reasons l like to do this is with headshots. I may go to a company and do over 100 headshots in a day.  The department hiring me wants to match each headshot up to a name.

I use the Nikon Camera Control Pro 2 when I tether. It lets me put into the IPTC fields the name of each person before I shoot and then every time I shoot a photo the name of the person is embedded into each photo. I put in the name of each person before I shoot.

When I got my D4 I continued to do the same thing. However, now I had to change something. Earlier I wrote how with the Nikon D4 you can now embed this IPTC in the camera. (Earlier Blog)

I have enjoyed doing this, but now when I tether I must turn this off or the IPTC I use in Nikon Capture Control Pro 2 will not embed.

Nikon does a great job of telling the camera owner about what can and cannot be done, but for those of us who have trouble learning by reading, you need to practice.

Practice before you perform

It is very important to sit with your camera manual and read everything that you need to do what you shoot. Then practice shooting situations that are exactly like you will do for a job.

Paul was practicing in the backyard with his kids running at him to check the follow focus on his Nikon D4. He was having trouble. He sat down with his manual and then walked through all the settings and this is when he say parenthesis around his problem.

I hope by me sharing here about what I and other pros are learning about their Nikon D4 cameras will help you get the most out of your camera. Read your camera manual and then practice shooting changing the settings to see how you can get the most out of your camera in any given situation.