Eye-Fi Review

Two posts back, I mentioned Eye-Fi as a possible solution for digital photographers who have a “wait problem.”

It is inevitable, we get so used to the immediate nature of digital photography.

I’m sure I’m not alone.

As soon as we are done taking pictures, we’d like for those images to get to our computers ready to edit by the time we sit down.

Not everyone using a digital camera wants to edit their pictures.

Some may just want to shoot, upload to an online sharing website.

And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

So the needs of  casual hobbyist and professionals are very different. Depending on which animal you are, here’s how I think the Eye-Fi card might work for you.

The social butterfly who just wants to share

Buy any of the Eye-Fi cards if you are in no particular hurry and can wait till you get home to get your pictures online.

Since you won’t be able to set up or configure the Eye-Fi card without a computer, just count on getting your images uploaded when you get home.

If you’re a Mac user with a MobileMe account, you can configure the card to automatically upload to your account and or upload to your computer as well. The default location that Eye-Fi Center sends your images is UsersHome>Pictures>Eye-Fi>folder by month(it creates the last 2 folders automatically).

If you shoot short video clips, the path is similar. Your clips are saved at Users Home>Movies>Eye-Fi (folder by month>

The Advanced Hobbyist or Pro

If you can afford it,  I recommend the high end card which allows you to connect via “Ad hoc”.

That just means you must plan to  have your computer with you.

You will set up an Ad hoc network ( temporary) so your Eye-Fi card can transfer files to your hard drive even when you can’t access the internet.

Once on your computer, you can upload when you have internet access at your leisure.

At this point, the company only makes Secure Digital cards with this capability.

I would love to see a Compact Flash card version since my “work” cameras don’t use SD cards.

I say this because you can’t make the card work without first setting up the name of the Hot-spot, the username and password.

In practical terms during travels, we don’t always know these things before hand.

Furthermore, Eye-Fi Center requires you to physically be in the vicinity of the network you want to connect.

DO NOT LOSE the card reader (shown in the picture above) and keep that with your computer/laptop.

You need this special card reader whenever you want to change any settings for the card whether it is to enable access to another Wi-Fi hotspot, add or remove uploading to an online sharing website like Flickr or just changing where the images are going to be stored on your hard drive.

And one other very important thing, the Eye-Fi SD card does not mount in “regular” card readers.

Once you’ve committed your images to the Eye-Fi SD card, the only way to transfer your images is wirelessly i.e. through either your “ad hoc” network, your home network or that special USB reader.

So the sure-fire-no-frills solution then is to buy the more expensive cards which allow Ad-hoc connection and HAVE your computer with you all the time.

When the company finally makes available a Compact Flash card version, it will definitely give professionals a cheaper alternative to those OEM wireless transmitters by Canon or Nikon (Canon WFT-E4A $900 for 5DMark2)

For now, there may be workarounds as suggested by Jim Legins Jr, a frequent visitor to this blog. Jim has reported success using a generic Secure Digital to Compact Flash card adapter.

Eye-Fi folks were kind enough to comment that there is a possibility of data corruption if adapters are used. All I can say is test and re-test?

A Final note

A plentiful supply of batteries for image transfer is very important.  (Camera must be on to throughout the process, expect a drain of battery power if your card is big)

According to their website certain models of cameras can be enabled to stay powered on till data transfer is complete.

10 thoughts on “Eye-Fi Review”

  1. Jim,
    Thanks for the update. I do like the Eye-Fi card a lot. I just wish I had bought the Pro version only because there are times when I’m not at home and I want it to download to my laptop.

    Having the version that allows me to connect ad-hoc to my laptop is great especially when I’m teaching.

    The Eye-Fi card that I have requires me to know the name of the network and password I want to use and I have to set that up first. Not always possible in an unfamiliar surroundings or when there WiFi network is set up to not broadcast the name etc.

    Like you, I would love to see a Compact Flash version. I would run out and buy it without any hesitation.

  2. Another quick update.

    I put the card in a Nikon P90 and made a short video of my grandson and the vid loaded to my laptop with no problem. The software made an Eye-fi sub folder in the main video folder and loaded into a new, dated folder it had made.

    Just for fun I put the card in a Samsung S1060 p&s, snapped a pic and took a short vid and the card loaded them to my laptop with no problem.

    I can’t wait until they make a CF version of this card.


  3. Jim,
    Thanks so much for getting back to me about the Secure Digital card Compact Flash card adapter. I’m bummed that it stopped working out of the blue.

    Just to eliminate WiFi signal strength or the bandwidth as possible culprits, do you recall if the camera was in the same room as your router during failed attempts? As for bandwidth, was someone else uploading say a lot of data or large files?

  4. Peter,

    A follow up on using the Eye-fi card in the CF/SD adapter I got from Amazon. It quit working in my Nikon D300 after using it for about a week and around 500 photo’s. It would simply no longer load the photo’s from that camera. It still works fine in my Nikon D60 and Nikon P90 though.


  5. Pete,

    I brought up the card reader experience because of what you said about it and what Berend said (I read his post.)

    It’s a good piece of gear, but has limitations and quirks that have to be learned like all gear. As I’ve learned to use it within it’s limitations I’ve grown to like it a lot.


  6. Jim,
    Thanks for posting back about the card reader. I’m actually glad that you brought that up. Berend from Eye-Fi said my review was not accurate when I mentioned I couldn’t get my Eye-Fi card to mount on a regular card reader.

    I actually tried 3 different card readers unsuccessfully. Still, I didn’t feel that wasn’t a deal-breaker. I still like the convenience of wireless transfer. I do feel my review was more than fair because I don’t think many people realize if they lose that Eye-Fi card reader, they’ll be up the creek with perhaps no way to get the images off their memory card.

    I might spring for the other card with “Ad hoc” connectivity since I almost always have my Macbook Pro with me. Thanks again Jim. Let’s keep in touch as we use our Eye-Fi cards. Thanks again.

  7. Pete,

    I plugged my Eye-fi card into my Epson printer, which is on my home network, and was able to get the RAW images from it that way (a caveat, I knew it wouldn’t handle RAW before I bought it so that’s not an issue.) Like your experiance it didn’t work when I put it in a card reader.

    It sometimes has trouble downloading the photo’s when I shoot somewhere other than my network then come home and turn the camera on; I find I have to snap a frame of anything to get it to wake up and download the jpegs.

    Albuquerque must not have all the white noise issues you were talking about where you are so I guess that’s not an issue here. If I ever travel and run into problems I will keep what you said in mind and look for a solution from that angle.

    I haven’t tried taking my laptop to another network and linking it and shooting there to see how it works yet, but I may be able to test that next week when I head up to Jemez Springs for my 50th birthday and will post an update when I get home.

    As I’m learning it’s quirks and limitations I have to say I’m satisfied with it and am glad I have it; thanks for writing about it so I could give it a try. For casual snap shots I keep it in my camera, but when I want to do anything serious I’m putting a regular CF card in my D300 and will probably put the Eye-fi card in my D60 when I get that out of the shop.


    P.S. sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you on this and thanks for your comments on my photo blog 😉

  8. Peter,

    I re-read your article two more times and I’m afraid I still see a need to point out inaccurate descriptions. It is of course 100% your prerogative to agree or not. In your response above, you said “I tried setting up network connections to some Wi-Fi hotspots in my city. [It] failed.” However, the statement that I find misleading in the original article is “Furthermore, Eye-Fi Center requires you to physically be in the vicinity of the network you want to connect.” That statement is far broader that hotspots and gives the impression that there’s no ability whatsoever to add a network, private or hotspot, while you are away from such a network. For example, it can be understood to mean that if I’m visiting my parents’ and know their network credentials, I can’t add that network to my card beforehand, foregoing any configuration steps when I get there. This is simply not true. Eye-Fi Center absolutely allows for the user to add networks even when they are not in-range. Hotspots are a bit of a different challenge and I’d be happy to get more information about you about what hotspots you tried to connect to, so we can do some debug.

    Then, again in your response, you said “I inserted my Eye-Fi SD card in my Lexar card reader (pictured below) and it didn’t mount on my desktop.” To go from that, to the original statement in the article that “one other very important thing, the Eye-Fi SD card does not mount in “regular” card readers. Once you’ve committed your images to the Eye-Fi SD card, the only way to transfer your images is wirelessly” seems like a very large leap for you to make without further confirmation. Especially the latter part of the statement, that once “you’ve committed your images to the Eye-Fi SD card, the only way to transfer your images is wirelessly” makes it sounds like there’s an intentional design feature to impose wireless transfers even when that might not be convenient, which is false and could be misunderstood as a crippling of the product by design. I guess I can only ask you to either test some more readers or ask around on our forums to get a broader understanding and perhaps clarify the article. For what it is worth, I have a CF reader that came with a Lexar card that I own and it reads only Lexar CF cards and not others. Ironic, huh?

    Thanks again for taking the time for putting together the article,


  9. Hello Berend,
    Thanks for taking the time to dispute/respond to my review. It’s a testament to how much pride and care you guys have of what you are selling.

    To your question of where I am getting my conclusions, I am basing those on my own tests.

      I inserted my Eye-Fi SD card in my Lexar card reader (pictured below) and it didn’t mount on my desktop.

    • I tried setting up network connections to some Wi-Fi hotspots in my city. Both failed.

    So it’s fair to say my conclusions, though anecdotal, are accurate.

    I’m sure you can concede that when working with WiFi networks, there are issues that your engineers can’t forsee. Those like the encryption scheme, the frequency and signal strength.

    I’m not a large outfit like C-net. Nope, it’s just me–an end user. If I can’t get it to work BUT I still like the product for the convenience, what would you have me say?

  10. “Furthermore, Eye-Fi Center requires you to physically be in the vicinity of the network you want to connect.”

    This is not accurate. If you’d like to add the settings for a wireless network that you’re not near, simply select “Other” from the network selector in Eye-Fi Center, enter the name (and encryption settings if needed) of the network, check the “this network is out of range” box and the network is added immediately.

    “And one other very important thing, the Eye-Fi SD card does not mount in “regular” card readers… Once you’ve committed your images to the Eye-Fi SD card, the only way to transfer your images is wirelessly ”

    Again, Peter, where are you getting this from? The Eye-Fi Cards operate as regular SD cards, which is why their contents are readable in (almost) all card readers, as well as the built-in SD slots of MacBooks and other laptops. You can also simply put your camera into “mass storage” mode and plug it to your computer via old school cables to see that the contents are visible as a mounted drive.

    Could I kindly ask that you correct/clarify these points in your blog post?

    Thanks again for taking the time for the write-up!


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