Photos Spare Cycles MythBusters

Eye-Fi WiFi card for cameras

I went to an Eye-fi demo in November [yes, I'm behind] and its been on my wish list ever since. It's a 2GB SD card and wireless card in one. In essence, it hooks your camera up to the cloud that is the Internet -- you can even send photos directly to Flickr (and many more). This is a huge time saver for me: I have scores of photos that never make it to Flickr because I am too lazy. It is also the final piece of the puzzle for cloud-computing photography: take photos, find any computer with a Web browser, and edit online. You don't even need to own your own computer anymore. It can even automatically rename your photos based on your location (no more 'IMG_1235' image titles).

There are already many, many reviews of this device on the Web, so I'll quickly get out of the way some questions that I still had going into the session:

  • What about compact flash?: the Eye-Fi will work with a SD-to-CF adapter, though the range may be less due to the way the antenna is obstructed
  • Can you control privacy settings for Flickr, i.e. upload private?: Yes
  • What about wireless networks with logins? (e.g. Google WiFi): you're outta luck here. In the future they plan on adding this as a 'premium' feature.
  • Can it auto-delete successfully transferred photos, i.e. become an infinite-storage-capacity card if you're on a network?: 'unloading' may be a feature they add in the future.
  • Can it use WiFi geolocation services like Skyhook?: they may add this in the future, possibly as a paid feature

At the demo I went to, the presenter took shots of us with his SLR that almost instantly showed up on his laptop screen. The claimed transfer speed was 2Mbit/s, though they hope to ramp it up to 4-8Mbit/s with some firmware updates. The range is ~45 ft indoors, though this will vary significantly. You get all of this for only 5% more battery usage.

Eye-fi is very focused on the consumer demographic. They worked hard on some slick packaging and streamlined setup, going as far as attempting to ID your camera so that the setup can tell you if you need to adjust any camera settings and also attempting to guess your WEP key. The consumer focus also means compromises: they chose to go with a 2GB SD card instead of 4GB+ SDHC cards to eliminate any confusion over compatibility; they only transfer JPEG images (no RAW, MOV); it won't attach to ad-hoc networks, and they don't offer a compact flash form factor. If you want to take it into the field you'll probably have to purchase a USB WiFi basestation for your laptop.

Most of the management of your Eye-fi card is via an Eye-fi Web page. This page lets you configure multiple WiFi access points with your card as well as setup your transfer settings. The card can upload directly to sites like Flickr, Picasa, SmugMug, etc... or to your computer, or both.

There are professional alternatives to the Eye-fi. Canon SLR users can get the WFT-3a grip, which adds wireless transfer to Canon SLRs with much greater transfer range than an Eye-fi, but at a steep cost: $750. At $100, the Eye-fi is a bargain and adds many features (i.e. Flickr, Smugmug) that you generally don't see in professionally-oriented accessories.

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This page contains a single entry from kwc blog posted on January 21, 2008 6:41 PM.

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