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 caf 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.