Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Eye-fi Pro X2 Wireless SD card

Since getting the Ipad2 for my photography, I was wondering how can I transfer files into it with minimal hassle. I saw the Ipad camera connection kit but I was wondering if there was a better way to do it. I've heard a lot of horror stories about the camera connection kit that I decided to go on a different route (that is before I bought the ipad camera connection kit). I was looking at the 5d MK2 Wireless file transmitter from Canon but I cannot afford to spend almost $700 for it...that's almost the price of a new Imac that I wanted, a couple of hundreds more expensive. So I scrapped that idea.

Browsing around online, I found a link for the popular Eye-fi cards. I've heard of the Eye-fi cards ever since they were released but I was kinda skeptical about them. I thought maybe this is another one of those new gadget gimmicks that is circulating on the web. So I decided to do research on them online, and I found a couple.

I was blown away when I saw videos of people taking shots in their cameras and the images get uploaded to their Ipads wirelessly. Further research also says that the Eye-fi cards can actually do a direct transfer from the camera to the Ipad or Iphone even on a non wifi area. So I decided to try it the expense of a hundred bucks.

Older dslrs such as the 5d Mk2, 50d, and older rebels don't use sd cards, which basically what eye-fi cards are. Unfortunately, all my camera bodies use CF cards. So the smartest runaround to this is getting an sd to cf card adapter with it. I decided to get the pro x2 version...which I suppose gives you a faster transfer time than the non pro versions. Good thing BH photo has a combo that has them both. You can get it here.

So I got it within 2 days. I opened the box and the Eye-fi card came in with an sd to usb enable users to plug this card into their computers for the wireless setup in their home pc's. I set it up, I downloaded the software, and then downloaded the app for it for my Ipad. Setup was fairly easy, though the window that was supposed to setup my firewall gave me a bit of a problem. It crashed my machine once. I restarted and everything was good.

The eye-fi card comes with a usb adapter for plugging into your machine.

I then slapped the card into the adapter, then into my camera and started doing test shots. I set it up first to upload images to my mac. It was pretty easy setting things up to upload in your computer. It even shows a preview of what's being uploaded in real time. Pretty neat. Then I decided to try it out in my Ipad...and that's when it all went downhill...

It fits snugly into an sd to cf card adapter for use with dslrs that only take cf cards.

So I set up the direct mode transfer to my Ipad. The direct mode is the mode where the Eye-fi card directly uploads images into your device without a need for an existing wifi connection. This is really useful when you are outdoors shooting with an Ipad in your backpack and you have no existing wifi connection. This is the main reason why I bought the eye-fi card in the first place. I set my 5d to shoot in large format jpgs at first. The transfer seems to be working...around 7 seconds per image. Kinda in the slow side but not bad. Then I tried switching to RAW...

The RAW files took forever to transfer! It was just took an average of around 25-30 seconds per image...most of the time it was slower than that. It was like waiting for all your images to transfer to your desktop via a card reader...and I mean this is just one image! I then took about 3-5 shots simultaneously...of course, that made it slower than before. It basically uploads your first image and waits for the next one till the previous image is done uploading. So I was waiting for around 5 shots to be uploaded in around 2.5 to 3 minutes. Now imagine photographing birds using a fast burst mode in your camera.

Now I am using a 5d's a 21 mp camera. That is one reason why the upload times are not that good. It might be better with a smaller mp digital camera. Although nowadays, dslrs are in the 12-18 megapixels...sure you can change the options for it to shoot in a smaller megapixel count, but some of us really wanted to use the full resolutions of our cameras. I do a lot of stock photography, and a smaller file size doesn't do me any good. Switching to jpeg formats also isn't an option for me as I love to shoot in RAW for greater flexibility.

So what's my verdict? The eye-fi cards seems promising. Honestly, the way I shoot, it does not work for me. Even the top of the line pro x2 card is pretty slow for RAW format file transfers. If I shoot casually using jpeg format I might consider it...but I rarely do that. Fashion and nature photographers won't be happy with the transfer times either. If you are a casual photographer using a digital point and shoot camera, or if you use jpg as your main image format, this might work for you. I will wait for the next generation of eye-fi cards. Hopefully the upcoming ones will give you better upload times for bigger files.

So after a day of trying it out, I went to the store and got me the Ipad camera connection kit. It is a slight of a hassle to install, but the transfer times from a camera to the Ipad is excellent, even using RAW files.

After a week of testing it out I read in an article that sd cards really don't work with cf card adapters because the camera basically cuts power off to the adapter after files are written...which cuts off the power while the eye-fi card transfers the file wirelessly. It also causes files to be corrupted. So far the file corruption happened to me twice in like 4 days of testing. In my opinion that is bad if you are photographing a wedding or some kind of a special occasion.

Still...after watching online how slow it was transferring files to a mobile device, even while using an sd dslr, it still is too slow for me.

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