During the holidays, I came across a boxing day deal for the Eye-Fi Pro X2 8GB wireless SD card.
I’ve written about these Eye-Fi cards before but this is a much newer version with some key differences that address the previous model’s shortcomings.
These memory cards are unique in that in addition to being memory cards for storing your photos, they also contain tiny wifi antennas (in this case, with support for 802.11N) that allow you to upload your photos and video straight from the camera. This usually requires you to have already setup a wifi connection (at home, work, school, etc) in advance using a laptop.
The main reason I picked it up is that the Pro line supports ad-hoc wireless modes. This means that I can use my iPhone as a wireless hotspot and have this card connect to the internet directly via my iPhone and upload photos in near real time. It did require advance setup, via a computer, but once setup, you shouldn’t have to do anything for it to work going forward. This is huge for me when I’m shooting events and such and I really want to upload some photos right away, I’m now able to do it with nothing more than my camera and iPhone with me.
My Nikon D7000 has dual SD card slots that are configurable. I’m able to choose what the second slot is used for. Normally, it’s just overflow storage. But when I use an Eye-Fi card in that slot, I set the camera to send a jpeg copy of the photos I’m taking to that card. While the Pro cards now support RAW files, it just seems faster/easier to store RAW on the main card slot and drop a much smaller JPG file onto the second slot for uploading.
You can set the upload options via the Eye-Fi card management software. It can upload everything or you can selectively choose what to upload by using the camera’s ‘protect’ option. This lets you pick and choose which files get uploaded. You also choose where the files are uploaded to via the software with support for a lot of common photo sharing sites, Facebook, etc. Mine all go to Flickr with custom tags, sets and other settings I can setup in advance.
An added feature is that many newer cameras have support for Eye-Fi cards in their menus.
My relatively new Nikon D7000 (as did my older D90) has a menu function to turn off/on the wireless uploads which can save battery if you don’t need to be uploading on the go:
The back LCD screen on the D7000 has an interesting icon that I didn’t immediately notice when an Eye-Fi card is inserted – a wifi icon! It’s static normally and then blinks when it’s actually uploading photos:
I’m currently using this card with my jailbroken iPhone 4 running MyWi as a personal hotspot. Apple recently unveiled a newer firmware for iPhones that may potentially give you this function without having to jailbreak but it’s still to be determined if your carrier will allow that. Eye-Fi also recently announced at CES 2011 an update is coming called Direct Mode which also allow this:
Ziv, one of the Eye-Fi co-founders confirmed on Flickr to me that this will be a free update for X2 card owners which is awesome news.
So any downsides?
I can only see three issues with the card given my use case:
- Speed: the cards are only class 6 which is very slow for some cameras…I usually use class 10 (or higher speed) cards but given that I’m only dumping jpegs and not RAWs to the Eye-Fi, it may not be that big of a deal. The upload speed from the card to the internet is pretty fast and a non-issue with it taking around 2 minutes from shot to appearing on Flickr in my tests.
- Price: these cards aren’t cheap…my 8gb card is usually around $150. I got mine on sale for $100. In comparison, you can usually get 16gb pro speed SD cards for ~$100 from a name brand company
- Post-Processing: while I don’t do much, if any post processing usually, obviously, your photos are going straight from the camera to the cloud…this may be a deal breaker for some photographers. I figure in some cases, it might be better to get the shot online and publish (or replace) that photo with a processed version later otherwise this card may not be that useful to you
I think this card will be a huge asset in my camera bag for event photography where I can truly be a photo ninja.