What’s the most annoying part of digital photography? That’s right, fiddling around with the memory card or USB cable to copy your photos to your computer.
Well the Eye-Fi cards promise to have a better solution for copying photos: these cards can transfer your digital snaps wirelessly. Yep – despite being the same size as a normal SD card, an Eye-Fi card can connect to your computer over a wifi network. Let’s take a closer look at the Eye-Fi Pro | X2 - their latest and greatest.
You need to download special Eye-Fi software for the initial setup. You connect your Eye-Fi card to the supplied USB adapter and configure it to connect to your existing wireless network, or you can either have it create its own ad-hoc network for when you’re on the move.
Then, just pop the card into your camera and away you go.
How to use the Eye-Fi card
The Eye-Fi card works just like any other fast SD card. Pop it in your camera, take pictures (RAW or JPEG or both) and movies – that’s it.
Once your camera has been on a few seconds, the Eye-Fi card will power up its wireless feature and look for your existing network. Once connected, the special Eye-Fi software on your computer will copy the photos over the air onto your PC or Mac.
If you haven’t got a wireless network nearby, the card can alternatively create its own wireless network. You connect to this network (named something like “Eye-Fi 132456”) and then the copying magic starts.
Despite having pretty impressive wireless performance, it will take a little bit longer to copy the huge files produced by today’s modern cameras over wifi than it would over a USB card reader. However, you can optionally choose to only copy your JPEG images, leaving your RAW copies on the card ready to by copied over USB later.
The software is an Adobe Air app, so it isn’t the best Mac app I’ve ever seen, but overall it isn’t too bad. Once you have your card configured, you won’t need to use it too much anyway. Kudos to Eye-Fi for having a cross-platform solution for us Mac users that works.
Other handy tricks
Certain Eye-Fi cards can also make use of the wireless chip inside to geo-tag your photos. They do this by looking at nearby wifi networks. These are later matched by the Eye-Fi software to a database that knows the geographical location of tonnes of wifi networks around the world and uses that to give your photos a rough geographical location.
It’s not perfect, but it’s usually good enough to help you figure out which side of town you took a particular photo.
Need to take a ton of pictures? No problem! If you’re on a wifi network, your Eye-Fi card will shove pics over to your computer and free up storage for new pictures, which means you’ll never run out of storage. This is only useful for certain scenarios, but if you need to take a lot of pictures and don’t want to have to switch cards it might come in useful.
I didn’t test this feature, but Eye-Fi also offers an online storage and sync option, that allows you to share pictures with friends or between devices.
One other great feature is the fact that you can use the Eye-Fi card with the free companion iPad app, allowing you to use your iPad as a giant photo preview screen: snap a shot, wait 2 seconds and it shows up on the iPad. I used this feature to turn my iPad and a camera with an Eye-Fi card into a rudimentary homemade wedding photo booth.
If you just need to grab a few photos quickly, the Eye-Fi a great solution. I could see it being particularly useful in scenarios where you’re frequently taking a small number of shots and need to quickly preview them on a larger screen.
The geo-tagging feature is also quite nice and a good alternative to using geo-tagged iPhone pictures as a reference.
The Eye-Fi Pro | X2 does exactly what it claims. The wireless performance is pretty good and it can be a huge timesaver if you often need to preview your pictures in between shots.