Lets get the technical details out of the way first!
The WT-7A transmitter attaches to the bottom of your D500 using the same basic method as a battery grip (thumb wheel), then connect a USB 3 cable from transmitter to camera's USB port. The WT-7 has no additional mounting points, so it is bottom of the camera or grip. You can also use the strap but would need a longer USB cable to camera - awkward arrangement.
|The Tech Specs
|Ethernet:IEEE802.3ab, IEEE 802.3u, IEEE802.3
Data Rates:10/100/1000 Mbps with auto detect
Operating Frequencies(MHz):5180-5320 MHz (36/40/44/48/52/56/60/64 ch)
Approx. range(line of sight):656.1 feet (With large antenna at wireless LAN access point. Range varies with signal strength and presence or absence of obstacles.)
Authentication:Open system, shared key, WPA-PSK, WPA2-PSK
Encryption:128/64 bit WEP, TKIP, AES
Wireless setup:Supports WPS 2.0
Access protocols:Infrastructure, Access Point
Data transfer protocols:TCP/IP, FTP
If you are on the geeky side: You can tell from the specs some of the neat ways to set it up and interface your D500 to the internet of things. Awesome wired or wireless connections with a built in web or FTP server
How Big is it: Similar sized as a battery grip, attaches to the D500 in the same way - Primary Method; To the bottom, using a thumb wheel.Secondary Method; Placed in the carry pouch over the shoulder but you would need to supply your own longer USB 3 cable. The USB 3 cable supplied is designed for the direct attachment of the WT-7, and is a about 8 inches in length. If you use a battery grip on your D500 you can attach the WT-7 onto the bottom of the grip (if your grip supports an additional standard tripod attachment point, most do. You Can Not connect a Tripod to the WT-7, because their is no attachment point at the bottom of the WT-7. However, I think one could buy a Really Right Stuff L bracket as a workaround, more $$
Battery: Uses the same battery as the D500 camera, an EN-EL15 Rechargeable Li-ion Battery, which is nice for simplicity reasons. The battery compartment and other buttons look to be weather sealed using gaskets and silicon rubber seals - Some limited outdoor "fair" weather use should match the same durability as the D500 - but I would not us it in the rain. Charging the battery employs the same charger as the D500 - nothing new to buy.
Capabilities: Here is why it matters,, The WT-7 provides several key benefits to assist the streamling of your workflow. In a nutshell the WT-7 can un-tether you by using built in high speed wireless to facilitate accessing and downloading the images in near real time. You could have a second "person" an editor, at your working location with a PC/Mac & software and do real-time edits while you shoot. Unlike SnapBridge the WT-7 provides continuous high speed access to your (jpgs or RAW) files from the camera using either a web browser or FTP.
Two Flavors: Wireless or Wired -Ethernet. People ask which is faster - answer is it depends Downloads of images either way is rather quick maybe 2-3 seconds, and that is with the RAW file on my wireless network, I don'f find myself waiting. In Summary you have two choices. Ethernet (wired over CAT5/6 cable) or WiFi/Wireless (AD-Hoc or Infrastructure) Wired offers the best performance up to 1gb but your tethered to the CAT. while WiFi speeds vary depending on location ad distance overall but still giving you about a couple second download time for images - many times faster than the built in low power blue tooth (SnapBridge)
FTP Mode: FTP Mode can be setup to send your images to a FTP server as you shoot while You basically just need the log in information for the FTP server. You have options to use SFTP. Enter the FTP server address, identify a folder on the FTP server to send the images to and - go! Using FTP to send RAW files to an FTP server on the www.internet was remarkably fast, sent 3 25mb files in a minute.
PC Transfer Mode: To use this method you will need to download and install the Nikon Wireless Transmitter Utility Software Launch the utility and choose WT-4/UT-1 (Nikon has not updated the software to reflect WT-7), then hit the next button and choose Setup Picture Folder -> this will create the folder where the images will be stored during the push from the WT-7. Exit the Utility. If you setup a profile for PC Transfers, just follow the prompts at some point you will disconnect from the WT-7 and plug your D500 into the computer and start the PC Utility to pair the camera to your PC - I had no issues doing any of the set up or pairing. For Testing I sent 20 JPGS that averaged 10mb taking about 2 and a half minutes.
PC Transfer Options: You can send RAW+Jpgs, or JPG only. You can also select a sub-set of the files to send so you don have to send all images. Also is the option to automatically send as you shoot or manually send. You may also enable marking of the files as "sent" and delete from you camera if you so choose. overall I had no issues setting up any of the features for the WT-7.
HTTP Server Mode: HTTP Server allows someone/you to access your WT-7 web interface using your browser. In the studio environment HTTP will be the favorite, the web interface has three main areas: Camera, allows live view, image capture (take a picture) change basic settings such as WB, ISO, Exposure, f stops, and modes to name a few - this is all done using the web interface.
The Network Menu Options: Network options becomes available when you attach the WT-7 to the D500 and power them up, I did not shown all possible options. You can set your WT-7 as Wireless or Ethernet Once you configure the settings you may save the profile to your memory card. This feature provides flexibility for multiple setups depending on what you need to do; such as FTP upload or HTTP server. Example as a sports shooter you could configure the WT-7 to upload images to an FTP site while shooting; so you would simply "Create a Profile" do the FTP configuration and save it to your memory card, and when you need it you load the profile - neat! Not Shown are the Menu to check the WT-7 battery level.. You can establish up to 9 profiles.
Ease of Network Set up: Easy! depends on the network your connecting to, If you administer your network (studio/home) you already know all this stuff, Depends on MAC filtering, DHCP or static IP etc, All WT-7 network settings are accessed through the D500 camera Network Menu as shown above. I choose to do a manual Wireless setup and add the WT-7 to my network - if you set up your own home wireless this should present no issues, all basic stuff nowadays. The camera also features a "wizard" to help those who may be technically challenged- just answer a few questions, and enter your network key.
The HTTP Server Web Interface: Once configured you can access the WT-7 by browsing to the IP address you assigned (I choose static IP - making it easy to find) and when you browse to the IP you are prompted with a log-on dialog, The username and password is established during configuration, in the HTTP config, or could use the pre-configured account and password that comes with the WT-7.
|Initial Web Page following log on
||The Camera Menu Features
|The Viewer Menu Features
||The Text Editor Menu Features
Security: In the wireless settings you set the appropriate Security settings based on the network you are connecting to - I use WPA2-PSK AES 256 this ensures the transport between camera and network is secured at least. However, I have not found a way (yet) to enable HTTPS in the camera, it is HTTP. Profiles can be set to use passwords to protect the content within the profile configurations you create, at least ensuring if someone gets their hands on your memory card or camera they need to break your password to get your network configuration setup. The risk we run in all things internet -
Battery Life: Not fully known yet - here is the inside scoop. The WT-7 has a small rubber grommet at the battery end, and when pulled open shows a way for Nikon to add some external "powered" coupling interface - We can probably expect to see this in the upcoming months.
Other Mentionables: Nikon includes a carry pouch and shoulder strap for those who use a Battery Grip and Tri-pod base. If you use the pouch method you will need a longer USB 3 making the arrangement more cumbersome which is also the pit fall of using Ethernet. But, sometimes your faced with only one option.
In testing, I set up a FTP folder on my hosted server and sent jpgs direct from camera to the FTP server folder, this is a nice feature for those who may have an automated photo batch process for posting from the folder - or for others to access for review.
Firmware Upgradeable: Yes! Upgrade the firmware by attaching to camera and follow the normal Nikon firmware upgrade methods.
Glitches & Oddities: Profiles: I did at one point encounter a situation where I could not edit my profile nor create a new one for my wireless hardware. Following deletion and re-creating of the profile all seems to be ok now, You have the ability to create more or edit the current profiles. FTP sending; once I selected a folder from the camera to send from it will begin sending when you enable it - great but, if you change your mind and stop sending you must use the "deselect all" option, then turn off sending.
I Wish: I Wish the WT-7 would allow selecting which files to FTP rather than all, I am still testing marking as sent feature as to prevent re-sending if you stop and restart an ftp session. Also I wish Nikon would release a battery grip that had the WT-F features built into it, to my knowledge the only thing in a battery grip is a battery - so should be enough room for the added electronics.
Recommendations: This is a great tool for studio shooters, and those who shoot events, optimized by having a "support" staff to process your images as they roll in. Also, displaying images on the big screen for clients as you shoot is sometimes a positive way of getting immediate feedback. There are a number of other useful ways the WT-7 can benefit photographers; such as remote coaching.
March 2017 Update: Nikon released firmeware updates to add support to other cameras such as D7200, D810, D810A - Thanks to Andreas for the update.
Who can benefit from the WT-7? Folks who do Studio Work, Pro Event Capture (news /sports), Anyone who wants instant FTP for webservers / website postings
Final Thoughts: A big workflow plus for studio work when you require near instant access to you images and beneficial for event shooters having proper staff support your images could be quickly made available for release / posting. Also push the image to a large LCD screen to show your client during the photo shoot for instant feedback.
Out in the field you are limited by available networks; you could set-up a hot spot using your smart phone, but I doubt anyone will be doing this due to "data" plans being what they are- in a pinch I could see this working.
- Sigma 8mm F3.5 EX DG Circular Fisheye
- Nikkor 16mm f/2.8D
- Nikkor 14-24mm F2.8G ED
- Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR
- Nikkor 24mm f/3.5D ED PC-E
- Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM Art
- Nikkor 45mm f/2.8D ED PC-E
- Nikon D500
- Nikon D810
- Nikon D7200
- WR-A10 Wireless Adapter
- WT-7 Wireless Transmitter