So last night, I decided to try something new. I picked up an Eye-Fi X2 Pro (8GB) from Best Buy on my way to an arcade/video-game event that my company puts on every week, “Wednesday Night Fights“. The intent here was to “live shoot” the event with my 5D Mark III, since the new camera now sports an SD slot.
Wireless transfer is nothing new, really, with things like wireless file transmitter grips for cameras having been around for a while (they’re expensive, and usually used in-studio for tethered shooting) — aside from the price, the thing that attracted me to the eye-fi was its integration with social media and all of the major hosting services. Twitter, Facebook and Flickr are a big part of our social media strategy. In this day and age, with social media and photojournalism, expedited shipping (amazon prime, anyone?), people have become accustomed to instant gratification, and so, time-to-market is a huge factor. Uploading photos weeks after an event is often not acceptable and sometimes irrelevant, or not of interest to the viewers anymore.
With the Eye-Fi, I could shoot the event photos directly to our Facebook or Flickr page. I wouldn’t be able to process them, but I often don’t do much to my event photos, anyhow. So, straight from the camera to the viewer. Nice.
The setup was fairly easy; requiring just some software installation on my MacBook Air. Once I plugged the card in and started up the software and updated the firmware, I just added the wireless network, configured and authorized the card to send my photos to flickr, threw the card in the camera, and off I went. Pretty simple. There _are_ some advanced options, but I have not explored those yet, since I literally purchased the card right before the event. I understand that there are “selective” modes where you can selectively send photos to your sharing services, instead of having _all_ of the photos uploaded. This could be good for longer events, or volume shooters. You can also send the photos directly to your phone (iPhone, Android) or tablet (iPad) in the absence of a wifi network using “Direct Mode” — essentially an ad-hoc wifi network.
Since the event I was shooting was being live-streamed, I had to take into consideration bandwidth, so i shot “S2″ JPEGs (2.5MP image dimensions) to the eye-fi, to save bandwidth and speed up transfer/upload. This worked pretty well, but the network and photo transfers were still pretty slow. I’ve been reading that people get very fast transfers even when shooting small JEPGs (5.5MP image dimensions) so I’m not sure if this was a result of the network, or the card itself (my laptop and the camera both had a strong wifi signal). I havent done any additional testing yet, so I hope to have an update regarding transfer speed soon.
Overall, the eye-fi card is a pretty cool gadget, and worth the purchase price if it’s something you think you might use, or even play with on occasion. At worst, it’s an expensive 4GB or 8GB SD card. It’s a little slow, rated as a “Class 6″ (6MB/s) card, so don’t expect to be shooting video, large files or long sequences with it.
The Basic “4GB X2 Connect” model goes for about $39-49, and the “8GB X2 Pro” model goes for about $99 and adds geotagging and RAW support (though personally, I wouldnt try to shoot RAW files over wifi). The lower-end models are upgradeable to use wifi Geotagging (the same way it works with the “X2 Pro” — Not that it’s not true GPS geotagging. It uses registered Wi-Fi access points to triangulate/guesstimate the location for the photos) for $29 on their website.
Now, on to some photos!