As may already be apparent, I absolutely love my gadgets. About this time last year I purchased a new gadget not because I really needed it (but did, I really honestly did!) but because I needed to see it in person, as it just sounded too advanced to be true.
The Eye-fi card (see here for full specs) looks just like a standard SD memory card, and can be exactly this, in my case a 2 Gb card. If I handed you mine to see there is nothing at all, other than the label, that would give you any clue at all that this was anything other than a standard SD card.
But, the secret that lies beneath still has me amazed, how the engineers have achieved this is so far beyond what I though could be done it isn’t funny. I’ll have to go and research Dilbert a bit more I think.
Because, in addition to being an SD card this card somehow acts as a wireless card for your camera!
What this means is that you take your photos, as normal, and they are stored on the card but the photos are then uploaded automatically (if you set it to do so) to your PC if you have a wireless network. Take your photo, and wow, your photos simply appear on your PC … come on, that is pretty swish if you ask me.
You can also have your camera upload your photos automatically to various online photo hosting services, such as Facebook, Flickr, Photo Bucket, Picasa and a heap more (see the full list here). It can even do this via public wireless access points.
When I ordered mine I also ordered a Compact Flash card adapter. With this you simply put the SD card into what looks like a Compact Flash card, and this enabled me to use it in my dSLR as well as my point and shoot cameras.
But, how well did the card work in practice? Well, in the point and shoot cameras, included those of firends who have borrowed this to have a play, the card was excellent, I would definitely give it 9/10 (I’ll explain the reason it is not quite a 10 in a moment). In mt dSLR’s. a Canon 5D and a Canon 20D the card still worked, but definitely not as well as in the point and shoot. The transfers took longer, which I suspect might have been because sometimes the transfer failed and had to restart (that is only a guess, as the card transfers the file silently, although I could have monitored it from the PC for PC transfers).
Why not so good in the dSLR’s? Two reasons. Firstly the wireless signal will be slightly weaker due to the Compact Flash adapter (which I was warned about when I ordered it) and secondly because the 5D is a professional level camera, it had a metal rather than a plastic body, which seems to block the signal (and the same with the 20D).
However, having said the above, all files did transfer successfully, it just took a lot longer with the dSLR’s.
I think this device is therefore perfect for the home user with a point and shoot camera, and I suspect dSLR’s with plastic bodies.
So, why not a 10/10 in a point and shoot? For a reason the developers would not be able to anything about. As the files leave your camera silently (i.e. without any notification to you) you can never be absolutely certain that the files have reached their destination, unless you check and see the file has arrived safely. In an ideal world the camera would upload to the web, or your PC, and you could then safely delete them off the 2Gb card when it filled up. In practice though I found I was not brave enough to delete photos off the card in case there was not a copy safely saved.
However, overall I honestly could not recommend getting one of these highly enough, even if you just want one to impress your friends with (I have absolutely no affiliation with the Eye-Fi people by the way – I just think their product absolutely rocks).
Why have I decided to post this now, when I have had the card a year or so?
Well, since I got my card the Eye-Fi people have gone a step even further (how much technology can you fit on something this small?????) as the some of the new cards can now be used for Geotagging.
From the Eye-Fi site:
“One of the exciting new features of the Eye-Fi Explore Card is the ability to automatically geotag digital photos. Now anyone with a digital camera and Eye-Fi Explore Card will be able to take advantage of Wi-Fi location data supplied by Skyhook Wireless to add geotags to their photos.This new feature adds a new dimension to organizing, sharing and viewing digital photos. Geotagging photos has never been easier!”
So today I got an announcement from the Eye-Fi people that they have teamed up with SmugMug and to offer this as a free service to SmugMug members who have one of the geotagging enabled cards (not all are, so check you buy the correct card when you get one). They are also offering free “hotspot” (i.e. free public wireless access where available) as well. You might want to check on the availability of these services though in your location.
So, how cool would it be to take that photo of yourself standing by a famous monument and know that within a few minutes it is up on your Smugmug account, complete with details on exactly where it was taken, for your friends to go green with envy over! Forget sending a picture message from your phone (quality there is still so awful if sending the photo as a message) to one or two friends, broadcast to the world I am here and you’re not, ha ha ha!”.
I can’t wait to get my hands on one of these new cards now and give it a good work out. When I do I’ll let you know how I go …. yes, that is me standing by Sydney Opera house right now!
Links on this subject you may find useful:
New WiFi camera technology a boon for photo-sharing sites – By Michal Lev-Ram At a friend’s wedding back in 2004, Yuval Koren and fellow guests snapped dozens of photos of the special day. They promised to share their pictures, but months later Koren realized he still hadn’t seen any of them. …
Eye-Fi SD Card Reviews – The Eye-Fi SD Card is a wireless memory card. It automatically uploads pictures from your digital camera to your PC or Mac and to your favorite photo sharing, printing, blogging or social networking site. How It Works …