An Illustrated Eye Fi Test Drive
I wrote a few weeks back about the new Eye Fi memory card. We talked about some implications it could have for the photo industry. While it definitely seems marketed towards the more casual photographer, who is looking to avoid the hassle of downloading pictures, I am interested in the benefits for professional photographers: shaving off time getting an image to print, instantaneous auto-backups, and art direction. So, that’s what I’m going to be looking into today.
What you get
Here are some shitty pictures I took of the packaging with my wife’s camera.
I am a sucker for good packaging, so I really liked this box, and the way that both sides slide out when you pull on the tab. This reveals the eye-fi card and card reader, and the instructions. The card reader is just a fancy looking vanilla SD card reader. Feel free to lose it if you have a multi-card reader like I have.
This thing is stupid simple to set up. You plug the thing in, install the software in a pretty ordinary way (drag to applications on mac, and install wizard on pc), and open up the software. You need to be connected to the internet to register yourself, set up, or make changes to the way your Eye Fi card functions. This is pretty irritating, and (in my opinion) functionally superfluous. I’d be interested to hear why they do it this way. Anyway, you’re online. The setup screens are simple and clean. Setting the card up to talk on a network and upload your pictures to a variety of sources (including smugmug, my website host!) is a breeze.
Once you’ve got everything done, you can remove/eject the card. I shoot with a Canon 30D, which takes CFII cards. I bought this to make it work.
Its ratings are not the best, but so far, so good. I haven’t had any problems. Everything plugs together thusly. Photographer see, photographer do.
Make sure the SD card gets tightly seated!
Once you’ve got everything put together, you can start shooting.
What it’s like
Once it’s setup, the thing just works. It only transfers jpg files (see below). If you drift out of wi-fi range, the card will wait until it sees the network again to resume transfers, even mid-file. You get a nice popup in the upper right corner of the screen on your host computer showing you uploads, too.
As you can see, I am uploading a picture of the glass(es) of wine I’ve been drinking while writing this post.
What you can do with it
The applications for professional photographers using this product are endless. If you’ve got a laptop, a wi-fi router, and an internet connection, you can get your pictures anywhere in the world, as soon as you shoot them. That’s powerful stuff. I’ve started promoting this service to my wedding clients, as a way for distant relatives to enjoy your wedding, live on my website.
I’ve also started using it for product and fashion shoots. Instead of shooting tethered, I shoot RAW+L (which creates a high quality JPEG alongside the raw), the jpeg gets transfered, the RAW stays put. Clients can review images as I shoot, and direct and make changes as necessary. That’s a big value-add for them, and it’s gone over very well so far.
This could be big for newsies, too. With a laptop, wi-fi router, and your internet-enabled cell phone, you can become a roving live photo correspondent almost anywhere in the world.
If you upload somewhere that generates an RSS feed (like flickr or smugmug), you could be slick and get upload confirmations on your cell phone by text message.
Let’s not forget the backup ramifications as well! Maybe you’re a war correspondent, u
Hey, Eye-Fi! Here’s how to make it even more awesome
Don’t require users to go online to setup and use the card. What if we don’t have an internet connection, but still want to transfer pictures over a wi-fi network to our computer? I am also uneasy about eye fi’s website keeping tabs on everything I do with their card.
RAW Transfer. My best guess is that they were worried about large images transferring slowly and queueing up. Pros will still want RAW transfer.
More configurability. In regard to the upload services, I would really like to have some more options made available. If you upload to flickr, it does not allow you to specify any tags or groups, yet it adds an eye-fi tag. So, they have the capability. They are just denying users access to it. Nice, thanks. Specifically, I want to be able to upload to a pre-existing gallery. That way, I can send it to my customers beforehand. They can load up the gallery and watch the images appear when I start shooting.
Get the software running on a smart phone. It’d be nice to eliminate the laptop middleman, even if you do still need a wi-fi router somewhere. My dream would be to link up my camera and my internet phone,
Just hack the damn thing, guys. I can only hope that some saintly genius somewhere is going to write some open source software to run this device that will give us all the functionality we desire.
How about a pro version? Instead of bogging down your amateur consumers, how about you offer a juiced up version for pros? Faster write-speeds, faster transfer-speeds, upload configurability! Etcetera, glorious etcetera!
Q & A
So, now, I’d like to open the floor to you. Feel free to ask my anything you like about the card, and I’ll do my best to demonstrate something or get you an answer.
What happens to RAW files?
They just sit on the card as usual. As of now, only JPG files can be transfered. No CR2, no NEF, no DNG.
How fast does it transfer?
I don’t know. I will ask the company.
How fast does the card write data?
I don’t know. I will ask the company.
Does it drain the battery?
The website says: advanced power management optimizes use of camera power. I haven’t noticed a difference in battery drainage rate. I imagine that it has to be drawing more juice than a regular card would, but it doesn’t seem to be enough to affect your usage.
Do files ever get dropped?
Unless there’s a bug that shows up in a circumstance that I haven’t observed yet, no. Transfers resume mid-file, so it will pick up right where you left off.