BridgeSnapped

I’ve mentioned the D500 feeling rushed to market. One place where this is obvious is Nikon’s highly promoted SnapBridge feature. The D500 is the first camera to have it, but only if you’re an Android user. Moreover, it isn’t backwards compatible, meaning you can’t use the old Nikon WMU app for connections. 

The sad thing is that it looks like Nikon did some decent things at the camera end. When you power up for the first time, SnapBridge is one of the things you’ll be asked to configure. Only you can’t if you’re an iOS user. The user hand-holding on SnapBridge looks reasonably good, actually. And setup was very easy on a friend’s Android phone. 

But…iOS users have to be wondering if we’re in hell. 

Why do I write that? Well, for three interrelated reasons: (1) Nikon is saying “summer” for the iOS SnapBridge app; (2) Nikon is terrible at keeping up with OS changes in their software; and (3) Apple will be announcing an OS change before summer ;~). 

Okay, technically, we wouldn’t expect to update our iOS devices until fall, but what if Nikon’s “summer” stretches into “fall”?  (Curiosity: if you’ve seen “winter” as the release date, you’ve probably gotten that via Nikon Australia, so don’t panic.)

Things aren’t perfect on the Android side, either. You need Android 5.0 or later (but not 6.0.0 ;~). For you folk that like Google’s names for their versions, that means no Froyo, Gingerbread, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, or KitKat devices. Only Lollipop and Marshmallow. Oh, and the device has to support Bluetooth 4.0 or later (low-power Bluetooth). 

Google’s own statistics on the Android version being used when customers visit the Google Play store says this: only 40.4% of currently active Android devices will be able to use SnapBridge.

So why do you want SnapBridge? 

1. GPS information goes from the mobile device to the camera and gets embedded in the EXIF data. You won’t need a separate GPS device that plugs into the camera. The date and time will also be synced via the mobile device, too, providing potentially more accurate time stamping (useful for multi-camera shooters).

2. You can pick a very low power transfer via always on Bluetooth that will provide 1920x1080 sized JPEGS on your mobile device automatically and near instantly, which you can then use on social media or within other mobile apps.

3. You can also choose to move the full image (20mp) over to the mobile device when WiFi is available. I’m not 100% sure how I’d use this yet, but I’m looking forward to figuring it out.

4. You can have images moved automatically to your free Nikon Image Space account (unlimited storage for those 1920x1080 images, 20GB for larger files). 

5. You can remote control the camera from the SnapBridge app, including seeing what the camera sees (via Live View).

6. Your mobile phone will notify you of camera firmware updates. 

7. You can add captions and Copyright information to the images the SnapBridge app is collecting.

All this happens from a relatively simple one-time set up. At least for recent Android devices ;~). 

The rest of us just can’t do it. Which has impacted my plans a bit. I had originally scheduled some event shooting with the D500 from which I’d use SnapBridge to send out images that you could all see happening in real time. I may yet do this, but I’ll have to pick up a temporary Android phone to manage it, and that’s only if I can use my current SIM card (I’m not going to start another phone account for this). Stay tuned for whether or not I get through this hurdle.

Unfortunately, Nikon’s already unleashed the marketing machine on SnapBridge. Which means that a lot of D500 owners are getting disappointed when they get their camera. Moreover, the other SnapBridge cameras Nikon has announced are all delayed. So plenty of smoke, no fire. 

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