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  • Ed Dozier

SnapBridge and D500 Remote Control

There’s a lot of web discussion about using SnapBridge with the D500, mostly centered on being able make it work or not. My own interest in SnapBridge is related to why I might want to use it at all. I’m probably in the minority here, but it’s more useful to me to be able to remotely trigger the shutter than to be able to transfer photos to my phone.

The Nikon “pro” cameras have the infrared-trigger feature conveniently removed. I guess it’s convenient to somebody; I suspect that somebody is Nikon only. So the cheap and easy IR shutter control (via the little ML-L3 remote or via a little app running on your smartphone) is out. Let’s review some ways you can remotely trigger the shutter on your D500 (and most other “pro” models).

The most versatile (and therefore the most expensive) way to remotely trigger your camera is the Nikon WR-1 wireless remote. It has a range of 394 feet, has a zillion options, and costs about 470 bucks. Ouch. But if you’ve got your camera at the feet of horses finishing the Kentucky Derby while you’re in the stands, then this is the ticket.

If you can get within about 66 feet of your camera, then the Nikon WR-R10/WR-A10/WR-T10 can trigger your shutter and also control your flash without wires. The cost is around 200 bucks.

If you can get within about 3 feet of your camera, then you can use the Nikon MC-30A 10-pin wired remote, at a price of about 65 bucks. Or, like me, you can get a cheap 10-pin wired remote (I got the Vello RS-N1II) for about 8 bucks. Now we’re talking. Plus, you can control it with just one hand, and you don’t even have to be looking at it.

Enter SnapBridge. So, how can SnapBridge help me to take photos remotely? After you download SnapBridge to your phone (mine is a Samsung Galaxy S6 running Android 6.0.1) and then connect via wireless, you can select the option for “Remote Photography”. I'd suggest you visit the Nikon website to watch the SnapBridge video.

Now, via SnapBridge, you can not only trigger your camera, but you can get Live View right on your phone’s screen. You can’t (as of this writing) alter exposure settings, but as least you can see what settings your camera is using and you can also see the battery level. You’ll notice that your phone’s “live view” will give you the impression that it has just consumed several espressos. It has the jitters.

Note that you may want to use SnapBridge wireless in limited doses, because once your camera is out of “Airplane Mode”, it will cause pretty heavy battery drain. At least you can monitor that drain from your phone.

The owner’s manual says you can use the D500 wireless from “approximately” 10 meters. I got out a tape measure, and successfully controlled my camera from 30 feet. Not that I’m a skeptic or anything. I wouldn’t suggest you try using a drone with this, but seeing through your camera and shooting from 30 feet away could open up some pretty creative possibilities.

SnapBridge in “Remote Photography” mode.

Note above how you can monitor shutter, f-stop, shots remaining, and battery level while shooting. The shots you take will show as thumbnails below the camera settings. The big white circle is the shutter button.

What the camera sees while being controlled by SnapBridge

View the SnapBridge training video at the Nikon web site

My own preference for most remote-release scenarios. Cheap and reliable 10-pin connection.

I would imagine that SnapBridge will get some enhancements in the future. Let’s hope it will someday enable you to alter exposure settings from your phone. By the way, if you're more interested in transferring photos to your phone and skipping the remote control, you can use BlueTooth. It's slower than wireless, but uses a tiny fraction of the battery power to operate. Don't forget to activate your phone GPS to embed the location data in the pictures.

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