Photo and Article by Fred Johnson

Being the photo-geek that I am how could I resist the opportunity to play with the world’s first SD+WiFi+FTP enabled memory card?! Like many of my gadgets, once I played with it for a while, a few “gotchas” emerged.

The Eye-Fi is an intelligent SD memory card with a built-in FTP client and wi-fi circuitry. Essentially, the card is a little computer that plugs into your camera, and after set-up will automatically upload the photos you’ve just snapped to the photo-sharing site of your choice.

When the Eye-Fi guys initially spoke with me about this card I had really high hopes. As a photographer, I envisioned being able to travel around shooting, then stroll into any Internet café or Starbucks and upload my images for all to see. The days of having to plug-in, log-in, and upload were about to be a thing of the past…. but not so fast Johnson. In reality, the card requires an initial set-up for each network you plan to use it with. For example, I have mine set up for use on my home network, and you can set it up to recognize multiple networks. But if I travel to a friend’s house, I’d need to bring my computer, the Eye-Fi dongle, and the card to set it up on her network. Now this is a one-time set up, but it’s still a hassle and what if I’m somewhere new and I need to upload images in a hurry?!

Further, there is currently no way to use the card with any network that requires a web-based log-in… like say, the thousands of wi-fi hotspots around the world. You’re pretty much restricted to networks that you can automatically authenticate against. If they solve that issue, this will truly be an must-have device. I can imagine wedding photographers, photojournalists, sports photographers etc using this device to automatically transmit their images to editors.

But aside from those limitations, the device is pretty terrific. I currently have mine set up to automatically upload images to Flickr when it detects my home network. The software is configured to flag the images as “private” so that I can edit the shots before they’re live to the world.

I’ve been testing the Eye-Fi card in my Canon G9 and it has performed like a champ. However, it’s worth noting that the card does not currently support the transfer of raw files… one of the main reasons I bought the G9. In its current state it only supports the transfer of the much smaller JPEG files. I also plan to test the card with my Nikon D3, however to do so I’ll need to obtain a SD to CF adapter. The Eye-Fi staff say this “may” work, but no promises… or tech support.

If you want a pretty cable replacement and an automatic and pain-free way to upload your photos to your favorite online site, this card is a must-have. However, if you’re a professional photographer with aspirations of wirelessly uploading your raw files while on assignment… keep looking.

Join the conversation! 10 Comments

  1. I think it is more to setup a local wireless storage option. For example, I believe you can buy an external laptop hard drive with it’s own usb network adaptor so that you can locally tranfer images from your camera to a larger storage device in your backpack. I have heard some companies are going to try to make a bluetooth sd card which would make much more sense for this sort of thing.

  2. Granted it may be a hassle to set it up for networks, it is still quite remarkable that technology has come so far as to pack all that in a tiny little SD card. In a besides, how would you type in a web login for public wifi through a camera?

    Maybe Apple will come out with a camera with Safari and multi-touch ;)

  3. Although your criticism is fair, what were you seriously expecting this tiny thing to do? It is a remarkable piece of hardware that will allow many consumers to eliminate one more cable. I was hoping that a review from TWiP might have some genuinely useful content, like affect on camera’s battery life, wi-fi range, ease of setup, or any other nugget that I can’t read on the Eye-Fi web site.

  4. Fred, can’t wait to see your results with the D3. If you do get it to work, can you please post the SD to CF adapter used and results? I would like to do the same for my D300. Thanks…

  5. My understanding is that the card first uploads the image to the Eye-Fi servers and then their server sends it to Flickr. Your computer downloads it from their server after the fact. This and the fact that it doesn’t handle anything except jpg files really killed the purchase for me. I was really hoping to do something like what Jeffrey mentioned.

    I would also like to know what happens to battery life. Also, does it save the files on the card after they have been successfully transfered? Maybe I will have to get one just to test it. :-)

  6. I have used the eye-fi card in my Nikon D3x and it works just fine. When I bought mine, the online shop had an option to buy a CF card at the same time for an extra 30 dollars… so I grabbed that option. I usually shoot RAW + Jpeg and just the jpegs get delivered via wifi. It’s kind of cool for parties or outings where I want to share the photos with friends or family quickly. It usually takes me a bit of time to get organized and process the RAW files to my liking and getting the jpegs off automatically is a great way to go.

    See this info for more from Eye-Fi on CF card use.

    this is the CF card I’m using.


  7. Francis, did you mean the Nikon D2x or D3?

  8. My appologies… with all the talk of the D3… I guess I must have had it on my mind. D2x is correct. (head in the clouds)

  9. @Wes – “what were you seriously expecting this tiny thing to do?” — perhaps have a faster transfer rate, have a more expensive option that let me plug it into a portable device to allow logging into those pay-to-surf sites. Or perhaps Eye-Fi could strike a deal with these sites (similar to iPassConnect). I wouldn’t mind paying a small fee to have the ability to upload from where ever.

    Also, this wasn’t really meant to be a comprehensive C|Net style review. Rather, the opinions of a typical user who happened to get his hands on the device. I’ll leave the star ratings to the professionals.

    @Francis – Awesome! Now I just have to go find one of those adapters. I can imagine wedding photographers putting cheap Eye-fi enabled point-n-shoots on the reception tables, uploading images to a real-time slideshow projected on to a big screen. The mind boggles.

  10. What I would REALLY like to know, especially now that the iPhone SDK is out, is if there’s a way to send the image from the Eye-Fi to an iPhone running an FTP server.

    In my current setup I use the Canon WFT-E1 to send shots from my 1D MkII to my Powerbook. An Eye-Fi/iPhone combination would seriously lighten the amount of gear I schelp to a wedding/model shoot.

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