Wireless Shooting With The Eye-Fi Pro X2
Ever since I really got serious about photography I have yet to have any reason to look at the Eye-Fi cards…until now. What is an Eye-Fi card? Although it’s hard to believe that this is even possible, an Eye-Fi card looks identical to a standard SD card, sports up to 8gb storage, and here is the trick part, also has a complete 802.11N WiFi radio built into it. How they managed to stuff a WiFi radio into an SD card is anybody’s guess but it does open up some unique capabilities. Let’s plug-in the Eye-Fi card and see what we can do with it.
Why an Eye-Fi?
For as long as I have had DSLR’s, mine have always used Compact Flash cards and since Eye-Fi does not make a CF card version, I have never taken a second look at them. Now that I have the Sony NEX 5n, it dawned on me recently to finally take a look at the Eye-Fi. Trying to figure out why I would want one, and if I would actually use it were the things I really needed to figure out.
The basic purpose of the Eye-Fi is to store images as you take them with your camera and then upload them to your computer, mobile device, or social service when a WiFi network is available.
So what right? I can take pictures with my cell phone and upload them to social media sites. The problem is the sensor in my phone, while technically 8 megabits, is about the diameter of a coffee stirrer while the sensor in my Sony NEX 5n is about the size of a postage stamp. While my phone is fine for many types of shots it simply doesn’t compare to a DSLR size sensor. The trade-off is that if I want to use my nicer camera, then I have to wait until I pull out the SD card, insert it into my laptop, import the images, do my processing, and then, if I have Internet access, I can upload them.
How does this change with the Eye-Fi? Well, for me, this is where things get interesting. Not only can the Eye-Fi connect to a WiFi network, it can create on..while inside the camera. Once I start taking pictures, the Eye-Fi comes to live and creates its own WiFi network. With this setup, pictures can be automatically be sent to my Android tablet or phone. Since both of my devices have 4G Internet access, I can do some basic processing and upload immediately.
There three different models of varying features with the Eye-Fi Pro X2 being the highest end card. The Pro X2 supports uploading of RAW files, has automatic geotagging, and On-The-Go uploads via popular hotspots.
- Card Speed: Class 6
- Wifi Support: 802.11 b/g/n
- Endless Memory Mode: Yes
- Direct Mode: Yes
- Capacity: 8gb
While you can just stick the Eye-Fi in your camera and start shooting, you will not get any upload features until you go through the setup process. Going through the Eye-Fi Center will allow you to set the different options for the Eye-Fi card.
Once you install the apps on your mobile devices, you will be able to manage them from the Eye-Fi center as well. The software has had a lot of complaints in the past but I didn’t have any issues getting things configured and ready to go.
To install the software, simply plug the Eye-Fi card into your computer and the installer should start. If it doesn’t, the software is located on the Eye-Fi card so you can simply run it from there.
I am a very technical person and have also designed numerous products so I usually start working with a product in a way that “makes sense” and if I have to resort to doing some RTFM (Read The Freaking Manual) than something probably isn’t quite right. That being said, let me describe my experience having spent zero time reading any instructions.
I went through the basic configuration choosing options that seemed appropriate, pulled the Eye-Fi card out and stuck it in my camera, powered it up, and took some pictures. I might as well have sat back and watched cold syrup run down a plate. I could not believe how slow the transfer was. Eventually the transfer finished and I went to admire my work but nooooooooo….there was no image. After spending more time than I should have, I finally figured out the transfer was so slow because I was shooting in RAW. While the Pro X2 supports transferring RAW files, they are much bigger than JPEG images so they will take a lot longer to upload. I was glad I caught this early because my goal is to upload to my tablet which does not support editing RAW files yet.
On to the second issue, actually getting the files to upload to the tablet. This one actually had me doing a few Google searches even though the solution turned out to be pretty simple, and a little of my own fault again. The issue was that I could not get the Eye-Fi card to start up its own networking that my tablet could connect to. The problem was a simple checkbox to have the direct-mode networking startup with there is no known wireless networks available. Since I was testing this in my house, the Eye-Fi would stay connected to my home networking. I simply deleted the home network from the wireless settings and then the Direct-Mode networking worked great.
Human error and technical ego aside, the Eye-Fi Pro X2 performs exactly how I expected. I now have a quick and simple way to use my NEX 5n on the road, do image processing, and then upload the images, without ever having to touch a computer. While my purpose was to get images to my tablet, the Eye-Fi also supports uploading to one of over 25 photo sharing sites including flickr, Picasa, MobileMe, and Facebook, print, blogging or even your own FTP server. Do you need these kind of features from your camera? Only you can answer that.Card, Eye-Fi, Memory, Review, Storage