Wireless Image Transmission with Nikon and Photoshelter

UPDATE: Great to see the piece reposted by Photoshelter and featured on ISO1200!

We hope you learn from the following guide how relatively easy it is today to set up your own wireless digital image transmission system, leveraging off-the-shelf technology from Nikon and Photoshelter, and thus keep pace with larger agencies and other news sources to transmit images in near real time, or conversely, simply share imagery from a shoot with offsite partners and creatives. We present below a short intro video covering some basics, but since the lionshare of this information is best presented in written form, we’ve included an extensive blog post with screen captures that we’ll continue to update with clarifications and newer technological information as we refine our system.



1. We’ll first cover the three components required for digital image transmission:

A. A wireless transmitter like the Nikon WT-5 attached to our Nikon D4s bodies.
B. An available WiFi network, here the iPhone’s built in wifi hotspot
C. An FTP destination similar to Photoshelter’s built-in FTP functionality.


2. We’ll start with a wifi adaptor for your camera, like the WT-5a or the older WT4a, which while slower and requiring a separate battery, does feature a generic RP-SMA antenna connector so you can purchase aftermarket higher gain 7 or 9dbi antennas. While the WT-5a works directly with the high end D4/D4s cameras with a dedicated connector (or additional cameras coupled with the UT-1 Communication Unit), the WT4a works with most of the professional cameras in the Nikon line via a standard USB connection. (Hint: If you’re renting a WT4 and using a D800 or other camera supporting the newer USB3 standard, the transmitter will likely come with a USB2 cable, so you’ll need to have your own USB3 cable.)


3. Next, you’ll also need an available WiFi network at your venue, thus speak with the IT contact or bring your own Apple Airport (or generic brand) Wifi Router. Configuring those are outside the scope of this tutorial, but it must be in the configuration of a wireless network (SSID) with a password for access. The transmitters at this time cannot negotiate an web login window or purchase service option found commonly at places like hotels, airports and many universities. However, a better and more universal option these days is just using the built-in wifi hotspot technology of devices like your iPhone, which we’ll use as an example here, configuring in step 6. (Hint: Keep in mind the inherent limitations and costs of transmitting over a cellular hot spot, given the larger files you may be transmitting, but also potential issues that might arise, certainly in competition environments, where your new system tests fine prior to the event, but then as fans and other crowds come into the area and begin using cellular bandwidth, performance can really drop off.)

A. I recommend keeping all of the various components, login names, passwords, etc, as short as possible because:

I. Most of these are temporarily enabled for events and thus security risks are low
II. While you can configure everything at your laptop, you’ll inevitably end up reconfiguring or debugging in the field and be entering this info via only the onboard camera controls and end up thanking yourself for brief and simple data entry.


5. Finally you’ll need a FTP destination, be it an FTP server of your choice that others might access manually, or the preferable way, as I’ll demonstrate now, configuring a custom Photoshelter FTP login so that images are automatically posted to and browesable to any client in either a public or password protected Photoshelter gallery.

A. First I proceed to my Photoshelter, login in and proceed to the administration back end.

B. Then to my Images tab

C. Create a New Gallery named whatever you’d like it to be and with the access settings you prefer.


D. I’ve named mine “2014 Live Event Transmit”, placed it as “Listed on Website” and password protected it for both viewing and download so on clients I want can access it.  I’ve also set the download permission under Visibility and Access to: DL Type: JPEG – original size, so that if I transmit a RAW, the standard client can only obtain a JPEG equivalent (Hint: Photoshelter does a decent job with a flat conversion, but test for yourself, especially with new cameras as they debut)

E. In the Gallery Description I enter some generic text about what the gallery is used for and how to contact me with questions or problems, this information will display above all the thumbnail images when clients start viewing.

F. Now I proceed to the Upload Button and select from drop down menu: Incoming FTP

I. From Incoming FTP page, select: Add a new incoming FTP

II. Under Add a FTP user


III. Username: wvwtest (or the username of your choosing)

IV. Password: test (or the password of your choosing)

V. Enabled (checked) Your account may only allow you to keep one enabled at a time, so ensure this is enabled for use when you need it

VI. Collection: (leave blank)

VII. Gallery: 2014 Live Event Transmit (or whatever you named your gallery in the above section)

VIII. Note: (any notes to help you keep the accounts strait)

IX. You should see the user listed now under Incoming FTP and double check that it’s listed in the 4th column as Enabled: Yes

6. Next we’ll enable our wifi hotspot:

A. On the Apple iPhone, we’ll go to Settings > Personal Hotspot and enable it (You may also need to call your service provider to make sure your package allows this)


B. Enter a password for the first time if you’ve never used this feature before.  (I recommend keeping it to the minimum length, 8 characters), for simplicity’s sake I’ve entered: testtest

C. Finally, the network name will be auto generated based on the name of your phone, so I actually changed my phone’s name, under General>About>Name, from Brett Wilhelm’s iPhone to just WVW to simplify this.


D. My WVW network is now active and feeding the cell data signal to local devices, I can monitor the status at the top of the window, showing the number of connections (cameras or devices using the wireless hotspot).


7. Its now time to configure your camera and transmitter. Your first item of business will be ensuring your camera has the latest firmware. Since onboard software is driving most of this process, continuing improvements in network security and error handling have happened via firmware updates, so make sure you’re using the latest.  Download and install via the Nikon Support Site if necessary.


8. You can now configure the camera’s wireless transmission profile, either via the Nikon’s Wireless Transmitter Utility (available from the Nikon Support Site, current version 1.5.0) on your computer with the camera attached via USB, or you can use the newer camera’s built in configuration wizard (the later generations all have this).  Pros and cons to both:

A. The software’s great because you can enter in all the info via a full keyboard, however, you then need to test it as a separate step and perhaps revisit your computer to re-configure. You also need to know a little more about WiFi and FTP terminology so you know how to gather the appropriate information for your network and ftp information.

B. A nicer newer option is now the built in wizard, which conveniently not only auto senses a number of relevant details (so you don’t need to know as much about the technology/terminology in play), but also tests each step (wifi connection, then ftp connection) as part of the setup, so by the time you’re done, you know everything is configured properly. Conversely, however, entering all the data via the onboard controls can be a little clumsy (remember what I recommended about keeping everything short and simple, this is why!)


9. If you are are using the Nikon Wireless Transmitter Utility, connect the camera via USB cable, turn it on and launch the Utility.

A. You’ll get a welcome screen reminding you to make sure your battery has sufficient charge.

B. Proceed to the next screen where you’ll select which hardware you’ll use, in this case we’ll select WT-5.

(Hint: If you plan to use a Wired (Cat 5 ethernet cable) direct connection, say perhaps from a fixed basketball end line position or baseball photo well position, you’d skip steps D.III-VIII below as you will not be prompted for wireless network information)

C. Next we’ll select “Add/Edit Profiles”.

(Hint: If the Utility complains that it can’t find a camera attached, close the Utility, turn off the camera, remove the compact flash card, turn on the camera again and launch the app. I have no idea why this error happens or how removing the card fixes it, but it always seems to)

D. General Settings

I. You may call the profile whatever makes sense to you, here I label it WVWiPhone
II. Connection Type will be FTP Upload, click Next..
III. You’ll enter the Network name (SSID) of your network, in this case mine is “WVW” (as that is what my phone generates)

IV. Communication mode will be: Infrastructure

V. Channel will be grayed out as the transmitter will auto determine the best channel within a given wifi spectrum

VI. Authentication: WPA2-PSK (at least for the network generated by the iPhone, the most modern, yours may vary)

VII. Encryption: AES (again in the case of the iPhone)

VIII. Encryption key will be the password you created for your network, in my case I’ve used: testest

IX. Key index: should be grayed out


E. TCP/IP settings will be checked for “obtain IP address automatically” in all but the most unusual setups.


F. For FTP Settings, at least for our Photoshelter setup, will be as follows:


I. FTP server: ftp.photoshelter.com

II. FTP server port: 21

III. FTP path: (leave blank for photoshelter)

IV. Server type: FTP  (unless your setup uses secure FTP, thus SFTP)

V. Anonymous login will remain unchecked

VI. User ID: wvwtest

VII. Password: test

VIII. Proxy Server will remain unchecked

IX. PASV mode will be checked (as Photoshelter recommends Passive Mode for FTP)


G. Next you’ll have a chance to review your settings, confirming everything is entered correctly.


H. Then finally a screen where you can save your settings locally on your computer (to apply to another camera) or just click Finish to store/save on your camera. If you re-use these settings in applying to another camera, you’ll likely have to re-enter the passwords for wifi and ftp, as the profiles do not store those.



10. If you are using the built in wizard, you’ll proceed to the Set Up (Wrench) menu and scroll down to Network.

A. First we’ll choose hardware: WT-5 (or WT – 4) (either of which need to be connected and/or powered on to be “seen”)B. Network Connection: OnC. Network Settings: Create profile

I. Select: Connection wizard

(Again, while the interface is a little clumsy having to type with a virtual keyboard and thumb control, it’s nice that the wizard is basically testing the connection at each step, so you know immediately if you have an issue)

II. Connection type: FTP Upload

III. Enter a name: WVWiPhone (again, anything that makes sense to you, by default it is WLAN1)

IV. Choose Method: Search for a wireless network

V. You should see your network you configured in step 6 available, select it

VI. Enter Password you created in step 6

VII. Choose how IP is obtained: Obtain automatically

VIII. IP address configuration should complete and display the relevant numbers (you won’t need these)

IX. Choose FTP server type: FTP (at least for Photoshelter system)

X. Enter server address: ftp.photoshelter.com (note that this length makes the wizard jump to the next screen at the trailing period in .com, making it appear as though you just deleted everything, so just keep typing.)

XI. Choose login method: Enter user ID

XII. Enter user ID: wvwtest

XIII. Enter password: test

XIV. Choose Destination Folder: Home folder

XV. Setup should report complete

XVI. Choose: Connect and exit wizard


11 . Finally, once you’ve successfully configured you can copy the configuration to a card and load into your other cameras. However, you will need to re-enter the passwords for both wifi network and ftp, as these are usually not saved to the configuration file when passing to a new camera.


12. Congratulations, at this point, your wifi network is available, your camera is configured to transmit and you’ve already setup your destination on Photoshelter.


13. A few tips from here, first off, remember to keep both the Personal Hotspot and the Network Connection turned off when not in use as both can really drain the batteries quickly.


14. In Network>Options (you can adjust these as necessary, but below are my recommendations)


A. Make sure auto-send is: OFF (otherwise it tries to send every picture and you likely don’t want that.)

B. Delete after send: OFF

C. Send file as: JPEG only (While the transmitter can send RAWs, and Photohselter can accept and convert RAWs just fine, you’re asking a lot of your network connection to maintain a connection for 20MB files.  A nice method to circumvent is to set your camera for perhaps RAW + JPEG Normal or Basic, thus you have the RAW for longterm quality written to card, but for immediate needs your camera is only attempting to send a 3-5MB JPEG file to the live gallery)

D. Overwrite if same name: OFF

E. Protect if marked for upload: OFF (this feature ideally should both lock/tag the file and mark for transmit, which in spirit is great and time saving, as you’d likely want to tag for later anything you actual transmitted, however the tag/locks don’t seem to “stick” after a file is transmitted, thus I keep this feature off and both tag/lock and mark for transmission as separate steps)

F. Send Folder: default setting

G. Deselect all?: Option (This is a great option if, say, you get jammed up with a terribly slow network connection and you have 20 images cued and you’re having trouble and want to start a session over, this is a great way to deselect all the files marked for transmit and just go back and select a lesser number)


15. You’re now ready to transmit.  Everything is turned on, connected and ready to transmit. In reviewing images you’ve taken, you select the file you wish to transmit, and, at least on the D4/D4s, you press both the OK and the center button of the multiselector bottom simultaneously. (This button combination has varied from camera to camera, so you google or the manual is your friend here)  You’ll see a small white “lighting bolt” looking arrow symbol appear on the image, indicating it’s marked for transmission.  This arrow will turn green as it actually starts transmitting, and finally turn blue to confirm it has sent.


16. While transmitting, you can return to the Set Up > Network menu and beneath the four main submenus you’ll see a status.

A. If you’re successfully connected, the profile name will be highlighted in Green


B. The name of the file currently sending (if any)

C. It will show the number of files remaining to transmit: REM0001 or similar

D. A total time anticipated for transmission for the entire cue of images

E. Finally a small blue box lower right will list your signal strength in up to three small bars.

F. If you’re Profile Name is Red it will list either

I. A Wireless error: you need to double check your wifi network settings, password or TCP/IP settings. Also make sure you’re within range (the blue box signal strength) which shouldn’t be an issue if you are only going to your iPhone.
II. An FTP error: You need to double check your FTP networks settings (and confirm your FTP server/Photoshelter account is configured/enabled properly)

17. A few housekeeping/troubleshooting notes:

  • If you have get repeated errors with a “known good” FTP site, you may try subbing in the IP address of the site in lieu of the “domain name (aka ftp.photoshelter.com). Different transmitters/firmware have different levels of error handling and on some networks the delay in looking up the ftp address on available DNS servers is a bit too long. Thus you can use something like Mac’s built in Network Utility>Lookup tab to identify the actual IP address of the server.  In this case it’s and enter this in the FTP server address in your profile instead.  However, the IP can change overtime, so be sure to recheck often before a shoot and thus the proper domain name is always preferable when you can use it.Network Utility
  • Using an iPhone or similar cellular device as your Wifi hotspot is a great “bring anywhere option” but there are a few limitations, including speed and cost per MB/GB of your plan.  Also note that in some crowded environments data rates may be fine until the audience shows up, but as soon as the event gets going and 50,000 people are instagraming and checking Facebook, the data rates will crash and you’ll be sunk. Similarly some venues prohibit creating your own Wifi network, you’re not going to just roll into the SuperBowl and fire up your own wifi device, it’s heavily regulated. This is where speaking to the local IT manager is key.
  • If possible, especially if multiple photographers are sending, rename your camera files so that at least your initials are included so they know who took the image (since the images will be transmitted without any form of metadata)
  • If possible, use your camera’s built in Image Comment or Copyright information to enter your relevant info
  • A nice new feature of the Nikon D4s is the ability to unload full IPTC Metadata into your camera to auto append to each file, thus if you’re shooting a certain event, you could load in all the relevant caption/credit info.
  • You may also leverage the Menu > Retouch options to further tune/edit/crop your original images (especially if you’re shooting RAW) and save as a JPEG before transmission, great for when you have a great image that you’d like to transmit to the client immediately, but would prefer to make some basic exposure or crop edits yourself prior.
  • Remember to keep both the Personal Hotspot and the Network Connection turned off when not in use as both can really drain the batteries quickly.
  • Be careful not to cover or shield the transmitter with your hand when transmitting, it’s the natural position to work the controls, but then clear your hand
  • Another oddity is that when the network connection is enabled, you can’t lock the mirror up for cleaning when you’re attempting to remove dust spots. If you ever see this option under Setup menu greyed out, see if you network connection is turned on and turn it off. If the network connection is on and you have images queued, you may also have issues reformatting the card or turning off the camera, so keep this also in mind.

We hope you’ve enjoyed and learned from our extensive guide to wireless image transmission and employ this guide as a resource in setting up your own systems. Please let us know what questions you may have and what might need additional clarification. We’ll also do our best to keep this guide updated with the latest information as newer technology debuts.






19 responses to “Wireless Image Transmission with Nikon and Photoshelter”

  1. Jeriel Avatar

    The problem with the WT-4/WT-5 is the limited range. I’ve linked a case study where we used an EnGenius 5GHz wifi bridges that plug into the ethernet of a Nikon D4 to get wireless connectivity throughout a whole stadium such as the Rose Bowl and Pauley Pavilion. A battery pack is needed to power the bridge, but we are able to fit both the bridge and battery (which lasted the whole duration of the 2014 BCS Bowl with over half of the battery charge remaining) in a regular sized fanny pack. Plus the cost of this setup is also less than the WT-5 module alone.

    1. admin Avatar

      Thanks Jeriel, yes, both range and interference can be issues, especially in larger venues like full-size stadiums, but we’ve still had great success in larger venues as we refine our antennas, though the WT-5’s range is admittedly less than even the WT-4 as I state in the video. However there is a simplicity of systems (as well as lower bulk) of sticking with the Nikon off-the-shelf transmitters. Additionally, should smaller venue (or non-sports) users rely on cellular hot spots, the antenna strength to jump to your pocket/backpack hotspot becomes negligible.

  2. David Fischer Avatar

    Great article – thank you! So quick question – with this setup as I’m previewing an image can I push a button on the camera and it connects to my laptop and uploads the selected picture/pictures?

    1. admin Avatar

      Hi David, sorry for the slow response, there are comments awaiting reply and I wasn’t properly notified! This particular setup is for sending directly to Photoshelter (or any FTP account) and that way images are immediately viewable to the outside world (offsite editors, the public, etc, depending on your preferences). However, using Nikons “Ad-Hoc” settings and the Nikon Wireless Transmitter utility, you can instead transfer directly to a folder on your computer (or any computer on the local network). Hopefully that helps!

  3. Raymond Mares Avatar

    Fantastic article, I am very grateful that this article and blog are out there as wonderful resources for those of us looking for a wireless workflow solution.

    My question is this: for those of us who are not fortunate enough to be shooting with a Nikon D4S, do you know if the Nikon D750 has the same functionality since it too has wireless capabilities? Or even the Nikon 5300 for tjat matter???

    Thank you and I anxiously wait for your reply!

    Ray Mares
    Ray Mares Photography

    1. admin Avatar

      Hi Ray, sorry for the slow response, I had not received notification that you had posted! While the D750 has built in Wifi for connecting to local smart devices like iPhones, iPads, it is not designed for direct FTP to the outside world, thus can’t be used in this same way I’m describing here. However, with the addition of the Nikon UT-1 (http://www.nikonusa.com/en/nikon-products/product/wireless/ut-1-communication-unit.html#tab-ProductDetail-ProductTabs-Overview) the D750 can be mated to the same WT-5a transmitter I use with the D4s, and then the system can be replicated as I describe in this piece. Hope that’s helpful!

  4. Richard Siemens Avatar
    Richard Siemens

    I’ve been trying your method of uploading images directly from aNikon D4 using a WT-5a. Everything seems to working fine and the files seem to getting to my Photoshelter account, but I keep getting the error message
    dialogue saying “RHS_2801.JPG” is an unsupported file format”. Any ideas? I’ve tried shooting RAW+jpeg and then just jpeg. I’ve tried both Adobe1998 and sRBG. I would also note that the message seems to repeat multiple times
    for each single upload. I’ve sent a message to PS, as well, in hopes that someone has a fix. Thanks,in advance!

    1. admin Avatar

      Happy to try to help. Where are you seeing the error? In the photoshelter backend? or in the Nikon networking interface?

  5. Greg Avatar

    Thanks for the Wireless Image Transmission video tutorial. One of the best and please keep them coming. The charity I work for has asked for Wireless transfers during their events. Now that this blog entry is approaching 2 years, is this still the most efficient way to transfer files? Thank you for sending any helpful info.

    1. admin Avatar

      I do believe it is still the best combination of minimal effort on the photographer (non-disruptive to his/her shooting) while at the same time providing immediate availability to co-workers and clients alike in a photographer-controlled fashion (password protected or not, various file types and resolutions based on user permissions). Beyond this system, I’ve also had good success sending images directly from my D4s/WT-5 transmitter to my phone via ShutterSnitch. I’ve also had good success with the Weye-Feye system for sharing direct to phone. Both of these systems work well and there area myriad of options for the photographer once the images are one your phone, however it does require the secondary step of working with the images on your phone which begins to eat up valuable shooting time.

  6. Walden R Kirsch Avatar
    Walden R Kirsch

    a huge thank you for your truly excellent, crystal-clear tutorial! i was able to get my D4 talking to my WT-5 then to my iphone 6S+ then to photoshelter…perfectly! one question if i may. i have a multi-day news shoot upcoming, and i’d like to create half a dozen or so separate photoshelter collections in which to put the shots. (putting different activities/events in separate collections.) for quick switching in the field, and to ensure my shots go to the right collections, would you recommend different a different FTP profile for each collection? that’s seems weird. but editing/tweaking the destination folder on the D4 FTP settings is cumbersome, too. guidance? thanks a bunch!

    1. admin Avatar

      Hi Walden,

      Setting up individual profiles on the D4 would certainly accomplish the goal, especially since you could do it from your computer in advance. However, I think the better way to do so would be to access the Photoshelter Incoming FTP panel from the backend on your phone, where you could easily switch the destination on the fly from your phone prior to a certain upload or certain day. I think the interface would be easier to manage. Create the Collections and/or Galleries in advance, then scroll through the drop downs prior to upload.

      Photoshelter Screen Capture

  7. Walden R Kirsch Avatar
    Walden R Kirsch

    brett, this is a terrific/perfect/elegant solution! for some reason however the iOS photoshelter app i’ve installed does not offer the functionality you describe. its pretty bare-bones. i can only modify the FTP backend from a web browser on my PC, not on the fly from my mobile. (perhaps this is an android vs iOS issue?) in any case, i’ll get with the folks at photoshelter, since your solution is precisely what i want. thank you so much! huge help!

    1. admin Avatar

      you should be able to access the back end from your mobile web browser, just as you do from your pc, making it portable? I don’t believe the app offers the feature/access (at least not yet). Are you unable to login to photoshelter.com via your mobile browser on android?

      1. Walden R Kirsch Avatar
        Walden R Kirsch

        yes, by golly, you are right! the photoshelter -website- is not at all optimized for a mobile device…or at least iOS. its yukky and takes some surgical pinching to get to the right dropdowns etc…but yes, this should work. testing it now! (the photoshelter app is apparently optimized for android, not iOS mobile devices.) thank again brett. really appreciate your help. happy holidays!

  8. Walden Kirsch Avatar
    Walden Kirsch

    hi brett. thanks again for the excellent configuration instructions. i’ve got my D4/WT5/iphone6s+/photoshelter FTP working great…about 85% of the time. the only issue is that (very intermittently), the D4 reports a wireless issue. my iphone is always within a foot or so of the camera, and i’m doing nothing else odd. eventually, after some combination of power cycling the phone, the camera, toggling the iphone personal hotspot, and random swearing, the WT5 recognizes the hotspot, and im back in biz. but obviously its painful when im not. any clues/ideas for what might be causing this issue? thanks very much!

  9. Alex Petrenko Avatar

    What kind of transfer speed should one expect from WT-5 in perfect conditions? Is it superior to Case Remote/CamRanger?

    I’ve seen that you propose to use JPEGs. Is WT-5 bottleneck or a mobile connection?

  10. Walden Kirsch Avatar
    Walden Kirsch

    hi brett…with my iphone x (plus WT5 and D4), i am finding that the successful “handshake” between the camera and the iphone takes an inordinately long amount of time… sometimes several -minutes-. i’ve got the devices side by side, so distance is not a factor. any obvious reason for this? would it make any sense to designate a fixed IP address for the iphone? (and if so, i assume i could cherrypick IP, subnet, etc from the hotspot’s properties.) thanks a lot!

  11. Exiquio Garza Avatar
    Exiquio Garza

    I am just inquiring as to how to down load images from my D800 on to a Samsung Android phone using my WT-4 wireless transmitter.

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