Read my updated review here.
In case you didn’t know, Eye-Fi recently released their newest technology for their memory cards, the Direct Mode. This new technology allows us to take a picture on our camera, and then have the picture automatically be uploaded onto your computer, your iDevice, or Android device. Here’s a quote from their feature page:
Uploads photos and videos directly from your camera to your iPhone, iPad or Android device in a snap! Get the only memory cards that can do the work for you: the Eye-Fi X2 cards. With Direct Mode, your Eye-Fi card can send photos and videos directly from your camera to your iPhone, iPad or Android device, anywhere you are.
Direct Mode offers the flexibility of anywhere. After a quick set up, take photos wherever you are – then when you’re ready to transfer, just turn your camera on and let Eye-Fi do the rest. The Eye-Fi X2 card will create its own Wi-Fi network and transfer to the free iPhone/iPad or Android app. No matter where you are, you’ll get your photos and videos on your device in no time.
Along with the launch of the firmware, they dropped the prices on all of their products. This was the moment I’d been waiting for since last year. I wanted to be able to tether my camera with my iPad after watching the tutorial video by the guys from FStoppers. Obviously, with the new firmware, you no longer need to get the Pro version to tether on-the-go, but being a gear-head that I am, I decided to go with the Pro version, since it has GeoTagging and RAW support. I placed the order through Amazon, and I got the card 2 days later, thanks to Prime.
I couldn’t wait to try out the new toy. All I’d need to do is sync it, plug it into my camera, shoot away, and the photos would be transferred to my iPad in no time. Or so I thought.
Initial setup was a breeze though. I went to their support website to grab the latest version of the software. Once installed, it recognized my card right away, and wanted to do a firmware update. Sure, why not. After that, it populated all the visible Wifi network it could see, which included my own. Since I wanted to take this to remote locations, I thought I’d skip the home network setup and went straight to ad-hoc setup. On my iPad, I went to the App store and grabbed their official app. When I fired up the app, it recognized my card, and asked me what types of media I want to sync: photos, videos, and RAWs. I picked RAWs; the menu disappeared.
Okay, I guess now it’s time to shoot. Click click click… wait wait wait… nothing.
At this point, I thought to myself, “There’s absolutely no communication from the iPad to the card. How does it know where to upload to, since the card isn’t joined to the home Wifi.” Alright, time to read some manual. It turns out, once you select the card and media from the app, you need to set your iPad to connect to the ad-hoc network that the card created. Fair enough. After reading the manual and spending a few hours messing and researching (Mind you, I’m not computer illiterate; my skills range from designing a working 32-bit CPU to making an Android app to managing users with Windows Active Directory!), the solution goes something like this:
- Plugin your card to the computer
- Update cards firmware (Should be automatic)
- Setup Direct Mode with desktop app. I put both timeouts to infinity, just to be sure…
- Disable all other networks from the card as it wants to use normal Wifi instead of DM when possible. This will really mess up the synchronization. Why? I don’t know.
- Open your iOS app and login to your Eye-Fi account. Of course with the real Wifi/3G connection, not in cards ad-hoc as you might assume
- Pair your card in app. (It kinda forces you to after login). This is stupid! What if Eye-Fi servers are down? Or what if I’m out in the field without any internet?
- Start the camera and take one pic. Wait 5-15 seconds. Card won’t setup a Direct Mode unless there is something to do.
- Again choose your cards network on iOS settings as you need to do everytime you have lost DM-network. (Shutting camera or whatever reason)
- Go to Eye-Fi iOS-app and watch the wonder
Here are my thoughts on the Eye-Fi official iOS app:
- The Eye-Fi iOS app seems to be showing raw files (in my case .NEF/D90) as very small TIFF thumbnails – there’s no full resolution view. WTF! I had to enable JPEGs on my camera to see big pictures.
- Raw files aren’t geo-tagged (AFAIK, this is applicable to all uses of an Eye-Fi card with RAWs).
- In both the iPad and iPhone apps the status bar is a bit touchy; sometimes it responds to being pulled up, sometimes it doesn’t.
- Transitions to/from landscape while transfers are taking place are glitchy – sometimes this breaks the status bar, sometimes it breaks the fullscreen view (e.g. can’t go to next or previous image).
- There are some UI artifacts when transitioning to/from portrait and landscape (white dots on the periphery – possibly some bad alignment in your nib(s))
- Choosing the full-screen preview option in app settings can cause crashes at times.
I decided to give ShutterSnitch a try, since everyone’s talking about it. After first launch, it also asked me to login to Eye-Fi account and pair your card there. Again, what if you don’t have internet or the server is down?! This is when I encountered another problem. The Eye-Fi iOS app was working fine, but when I switch to ShutterSnitch, I get a message from the app “Error – Unable to start the Eye-Fi server”. It turns out, both apps would try to use the same TCP port for receiving media from the Eye-Fi Card and the one that was started first would block the other one from starting (or working correctly). The only way is to “pull the plug” on the other app, which is fine; I don’t plan on using the Eye-Fi app ever again.
Another problem I ran into was I tried to preemptively set up Wifi authentications to the networks where I’ll be, in hopes of boosting up the transfer speed. Failed. I’m not sure why, but when I arrived to the location, the card wouldn’t transfer anything to the iPad, and there was no way I could reset that without its own adapter.
There you have it. These are my thoughts on the Eye-Fi Pro X2 8 GB. Besides the hurdles I had to deal with when I was using their official apps, everything worked out great. I plan on using this setup to tether my camera to my iPad ever time I have a shoot now.