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Eye-Fi With My Little Eye

Eye-Fi

I purchased an entry level DSLR about 10 months ago, and since then, I have developed a keen beginners interest in photography. But the one thing I absolutely detested about taking photos was the process of getting them onto my computer. As you probably know, this involves having to turn the camera off, take out the SD card, put it into the USB reader, plug that into my macbook and then use some terrible software to transfer them to my macbook.

I know this sounds incredibly lazy of me, but ugh. After a while, it becomes a tedious process.

So being a stickler for convenience (I will seriously do almost anything for the sake of convenience and efficiency), I heard about this “Eye-Fi” product through a work colleague and thought I would give it a go. The idea being that the SD card itself magically will transfer your photos “as you take them” whenever you are in range of your wifi hotspot.

Since there is no distributer in Australia, I had to buy it from Amazon.com. There’s a number of models available, which differ in terms of size/capacity and some features. I settled on the top of the range card, the Pro X2 8GB which was a little over $100US. After a short 4 day wait, it was delivered and ready to use. I wish I could say it was smooth sailing from there. But unfortunately it wasn’t.

The Eye-Fi product consists of the SD card, and a small USB reader (used only during setup & configuration). Upon plugging in the SD Card and USB reader, I was prompted to install the Eye-Fi Center and Eye-Fi Helper software. The “Center” is the software you use to manage your Eye-Fi card, and the “Helper” is a system-tray like application which is used to detect the card, firmware updates and debugging logs etc.

The Helper software is fine and uneventful. The Center software on the other hand, is pretty terrible to use. It requires Adobe Air (not so much a problem in itself) and the user interface is terribly clunky and the response times are slow.

Nevertheless, I installed the software and this is where the initial problems started. It seems my card suffered from two main problems:

  • The card would simply not connect to my wifi
  • The card would randomly eject itself, and sometimes I needed to wait a bit before it would remount the card when plugging it back in

Since I am not a complete novice when it comes to software & wifi setups, I tried a lot of troubleshooting myself before contacting Eye-Fi Customer Service. I made my wifi network completely open (no mac address filtering, no hidden ssid, no wep/wap keys etc) just to rule that out as being the problem. When the Eye-Fi failed to connect to this as well, I knew I probably had a dud product. So I sent an email to Eye-Fi support with router & wifi details and logs of the card. After a few days, I had no response and was sadly a click or two away from confirming a product return via Amazon. But then I thought I would try the Eye-Fi  support forums which seemed fairly active.

So I posted a thread which outlined the issues. I quickly got a response from a Customer Service Rep (CSR) who confirmed that it sounded like a dud card and he would arrange a replacement straight away. This was great news.

A few days later, the CSR posted in my thread for me to try the “just released” new firmware update as he thought it might solve my problem. I tried the firmware and (despite some more issues with the Eye-Fi Center software) it worked! Turns out the firmware update tweaked a few sensitivity (?) settings on the card in order to improve compatibility with certain routers.


Once the wifi network was setup and working as normal, I was very quickly able to finish the setup process for the Eye-Fi card and I was transferring my first photos within minutes. After the initial (and significant) teething problems, the Eye-Fi really has been fantastic.

At the moment, I have the photo’s being transferred to my Drobo, although I can also have them transferred to a huge range of online services (or FTP) if I really wanted to. I also think I will become a big fan of the “Endless Memory” feature – which seems to involve the Eye-Fi card knowing which photos I have safely already transferred, and so when my SD card becomes XX% full (user defined) it will start deleting the photos which have already been transferred to make room for new photos – all while I am out on the road taking photo’s. This will save the other annoying part of photography of needing to clear the card and sometimes not knowing if you are deleting images which haven’t already been backed up.

There’s also been an announcement from Eye-Fi that a future firmware update will enable a “direct mode” which will transfer my photos to my iPad directly. This could be pretty cool in order to preview photos on a larger screen if you are out and about (especially useful for those more serious togs who might like to show clients some photos on the fly).

All in all, I am not so reluctant to take photos with my camera anymore! I would recommend the Eye-Fi product to anyone.. just please don’t ask me to help you set it up 🙂 That was a pretty frustrating experience for a while.

Leeane