Eye-Fi is cool but has limited uses

I first read about Eye-Fi Wi-Fi enabled SD card over a year ago and anxiously awaited its arrival. Eye-Fi is an SD card with built-in Wi-Fi capabilities for wirelessly transferring your shots from your SD based digital camera either to your computer or to an online photo service such as flickr, facebook, smugmug, shutterfly, kodak, etc. Although I requested to be on the beta program, I never got the call. So a year later I bought one of the 2GB cards to try out.

The card arrived and setup was very straight forward. You get a card reader with the card that you plug into the USB port of your Mac or PC to set it up. You configure the card with a web browser (although Safari on the Mac wasn’t supported). I used FireFox to get mine going. Once I got it setup (which only took a few minutes), I was snapping away and the images automatically downloaded to the designated folder on my computer. After the first batch I took some more and didn’t see a way to start the new picts transferring again. After a few minutes of scratching my head I just turned the camera off and on again and that started the transfer process. Since your camera doesn’t know anything about the Wi-Fi abilities of this card, there is no way to control the cards functions from the camera. It’s all automatic.


It works, but I question its usefulness?

OK, now what? I have this wireless SD card that can transfer the images to my computer or directly to a photo service. This sounds cool and I’m sure some will love this idea. However, here are the issues I have with this card. Like I said, it works as advertised! However, here’s the thing, rarely would I ever want my shots transferred to an online service without first reviewing/editing them. Secondly, even if I opt to have them transfer to my computer, the process is not speedy and drains the camera’s battery more. It takes several seconds for each shot to download over 802.11g/b. Even a USB2 card reader is MUCH FASTER (and doesn’t require the camera’s battery power)! The next problem is that there is no way to use this card where you might have public Wi-Fi access that requires you to accept usage terms via a web page first. So while this card is cool and works, what would it save you from doing? I guess if you want direct upload to a photo site from your camera without having to go through your computer first, then this is your answer. And a good answer at that. However, for me it has limited appeal in it’s current format. Perhaps if they come out with a Compact Flash version that operates at 802.11n speeds, I’ll want to take another look.

The 2GB Eye-Fi SD card goes for $99. Post a comment on how you would use this card!

11 Replies to “Eye-Fi is cool but has limited uses”

  1. In addition, the card does NOT work with RAW files. So, it’s application is pretty much limited to the consumer market, I would think.

  2. If they had a CF version, I could see it being used in a home or budget studio, especially if you had an MB-D200 for a D200 or the D300 equivalent. At $99, the Eye-Fi solution is a whole lot cheaper than Nikon’s $579 WT-3a.

  3. I checked the Eye-Fi web site but, beyond noting that it is 802.11 b/g compatible, they don’t give any performance measures. If you were loading to flickr or one of the other sites, the card can do some post processing which would increase the time from shutter to post and drive your throughput down. If you use WPA (because you wouldn’t use WEP), it would probably be lower.

    Nikon’s web site says the WT-3a (for the D200) is also b/g but the max transfer rate is 10 Mbps (15 Mbps if you use a wired connection). Pretty low considering the theoretical speed for 802.11g is 54 Mbps! The WT-2a (for the D2X) is 802.11g as well and I assume it would have similar performance. Both the WT-3a and WT-2a support WPA and I would assume you would take a bit of a hit on performance unless they used hardware acceleration for the encryption.

    With any of these, unless you are shooting low-res JPEGs you are going to be waiting a long time.

  4. I just bought this for my mom for Christmas and I’m glad it works as advertised. She hates using a computer, and the whole process of dumping pics to her computer is just one more headache. Hopefully this will let her just turn on her computer (or any net connection for Flickr or whatever) so she can see them. She doesn’t take a million pics, so battery life isn’t much of an issue.

  5. so do you need wirless internet for this card to work? Can you make it send a pic from the d200 to your mac wirelessly without sending it to the web?

  6. Hi Kurt,

    You will need an internet connection to initially set up the Eye-Fi Card but there after if all you want to send photos to your computer wirelessly will just need to have you card and computer on the same wireless network.

    The Eye-Fi Card works in one of three modes.
    1. Upload to Web
    2. Upload to Web + Computer
    3. Upload to Computer

    If choose Upload to Web or Upload to Web + Computer, your computer does not have to be on. The Eye-Fi Card will upload through your wireless router, up through your broadband, to the Eye-Fi Service, and from there, to your online destination (Facebook, Flickr, etc…) and back down to your computer if you chose Web + Computer.

    If you choose Upload to Computer, your computer has to be on because the photos will upload to your computer via your local wireless router.

  7. I’d like to use the card, in reverse, to upload from computer to Eye-Fi wireless SD card in a Digital Picture Frame. This would be a good use even if a user would have to do it manually — very convenient. This is what I’d like to do. I’d think it should work, but is it possible? …I’ve seen no other comment…

  8. just bought the Eye-Fi USB SD card from B&H, and it has been a nightmare all together.

    so here for all fellow photographers what happened:

    my first usb eyfi was part of a batch that was badly manufactured, so after talking to a few tech support people they gave me an RMA number and send me a new one.

    B&H still happily continous selling hundred of deffect ones in the meantime…so good luck if you buy it there, since the people at eye fi didnt care about that one apparently…

    the new one arives, and it wont work, wont connect, i talk consequently to tech people who only are familiar with PC’s and have no clue about macs and its airport system. and even at PC issues they suck at best…

    i am promissed to be called back in an hour by the only mac guy there, who seems to be out for lunch right then.

    no calls at all that day,….so i call the next day, in order to get to a new PC guy, who doesnt even know what he is talking about on PC’s again,…( i worked on PC’s for over 14 years beofre i switched to mac 12 years ago…) so its easy to get the message and the understanding that this guy is only reading of from his screen..

    i ask him to connect me with this mac specialist, he says he can t do this, i have to call in again and hope i have that mac guy on the phone…

    woahh… i am speachless

    so here we go, i call in again, and aks to be connected with their mac guy, ….this one says he can get me to their mac specialist,


    anyway i now talk to another pc guy who says he can help… after exactly 95 minutes he still wants me to restart my machine as if it would help get connected after all his useless little exercises of : do you see “anything that is called similarly to a mac adress….etc etc.?”

    obviously he was a pc guy reading from the screen again,..not knowing the interface of our airport utility software at all

    so i ask again to be connected with this one maac specialist, in order to be told now that this guy is not reachable, and that i have to take it or leave with the current guy now called chris.

    summa sumarum: the item never worked, the support is actually no support at all…

    and now i think its worthwhile sharing this with the photographer community a bit here…


  9. I actually bought an eye-fi at MacWorld 2008. The product works great to automatically upload my photos to flickr and to my computer and doesn’t waste too much battery in the process. I also had a defective card (I believe twice) but I called, went through the steps with them (after having done all of that myself too) so they sent out a new card. They were very helpful, even though they couldn’t solve the problem without sending me a new one. That one has lasted me a year and a half

  10. Update: I purchased an eye-fi card when they were first released. Eye-fi as a company has made free updates to the software and firmware of the card as well as new models. Using the original card you can now choose which file to uploade by protecting the file on the camera. This saves battery life as well as prevent unwanted pictures from being posted. Newer cameras also now include features to turn the wi-fi on and off. You can choose to upload to the on-line server or just your home pc but a wireless access point is required for DHCP service. (There are hacks you can do to your pc to work around this.) Newer eye-fi cards also support GPS and video as well as largers sizes.

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