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Hands-on Review: Eye-Fi 8GB Pro X2 Wireless SDHC Card

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I want to be able to shoot wirelessly into my computer for professional shoots. Photography has been my career for, oh, a couple of decades, and technology keeps making that better. With some of the top professional cameras, there are wireless transmitters that can send your images to a computer, but they cost more than most amateur cameras (around $600-800) and are about as easy to set up as a houseful of Ikea furniture. That PhD you earned in computer networking? Yeah, that will be needed to set it up.

Eye-Fi, a company that has been around for a couple of years, has been making SD cards that offer Wi-Fi connectivity built IN to the cards. The first ones were aimed at amateurs, but they’ve also started addressing the professional market. And they’ve done it with the same simplicity as the amateur cards, but with even more features. Even the top end card, the 8GB Pro X2 card, is only $80. The lower end 4GB Connect X2 version is only $39. Expensive if you compare to other SDHC cards of the same capacities and speed, but those have no built-in wireless capabilities.

I bought the card locally last night, took it home, and expected to have to read directions. I opened the package to find the Eye-Fi card, a USB card reader, and a small booklet. Making that booklet even smaller was the fact that it covered four languages. So far, I’ve only read two pages of the manual, the ones that told me to put the card into the reader, plug that into my computer, and follow the directions. Genius.

It took me through installing the software which is already on the card. Mac or PC, both are included. It installed and downloaded updates for the software and the card, both of which took under a minute. I then registered the card and entered my network and password. Then I was ready to eject the card and put it in my camera. Turn on the camera, shoot a picture, and VOILA! It instantly transferred to my computer. Well, it’s a 16 megapixel camera, set to shoot RAW+jpeg, so it took a minute. I can still shoot more while it’s transferring, and it’s a class 6, so I can even shoot HD video. That can transfer as well, though it won’t be real-time.

When I’m shooting a celebrity, speed is everything. Nobody has patience for slow cards, slow transfers or slow photographers. I reconfigured the card to only transfer the jpeg images and write the RAW to the card. That way I can see exactly what I’m getting but don’t have the camera constantly transferring images. With the jpegs set for smallest file (highest compression), they transfer in about 1-2 seconds each. It can even geotag your images based on the Wi-Fi network you use to upload.

Plug this into a camera, even a point-and-shoot camera, and it will automatically work. Incredibly easy. They’ve really made it fun. And you can literally shoot pictures of your friends and have them upload instantly to Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, etc. You can control this, having all the images transfer or select them individually. And if you set the card in relay mode, it will just wait until you get to a Wi-Fi source to transfer images. And with 4- or 8GB of storage, you can shoot a lot of jpegs.

There is an iPhone and an Android app for this that allows you to transfer images straight to your phone. Like everything else, it’s really easy. And the app is free. To test it, I walked away from my computer and network, shot a photo, and the camera transferred the image. When I walked back near the computer, the jpeg of the image also transferred to the computer. RAW file is still on the card. I’m LOVING this!

I’ve been using it in a Nikon D5100, but popped out the card and dropped it into a Sony TX10 point-and-shoot digital camera we had laying around, and it works flawlessly, if not a tiny bit slower. Straight to my phone AND to my Mac. It’s soooooo easy!

If you want an “unlimited” amount of photos, you can set the camera to automatically transfer images to your computer, and when it’s confirmed it has them, it will delete them from the card. All of this is set up using their easy-to-use software when you plug the card into the computer.

I went with the pro version because I wanted the option for transferring raw files and movies, as well as setting up an ad hoc network (allowing me to shoot straight into the computer without it being hooked to a wireless network) so I can shoot with it on location. The non-pro versions of the card will only transfer jpegs and only through a network. That said, they will certainly still work with free Wi-Fi anywhere, even to transfer your images to Facebook, Flickr, etc.

 

For more information or to purchase a Eye-Fi Pro X2 8 GB Class 6 SDHC Wireless Flash Memory Card, visit Amazon.com.

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