Eye-Fi Pro X2

A few weeks ago I decided that it was time to retire my trusty old Canon Powershot A410 Camera. It’s still a good camera (although low-light sucks), but I wanted something with a bit more zoom and resolution, and preferably RAW and manual Shutter/Aperture Settings. I ended up buying a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35.

Now, the camera is nice, but has one major drawback: A non-standard USB Port which requires the special Panasonic USB Cable – this sucks. Also, I got a 16 GB SDHC Card but my existing USB SD Card Reader is an old one that does not support SDHC. Also, removing the card from the camera for syncing every time isn’t that great either as the camera does a complete reboot every time I open the battery cover to remove the card.

Scott Hanselman had a posting about his digital camera history and mentioned a special SD Card with Wi-Fi connectivity, made by Eye-Fi. Looking at their website, they have four different cards, but only one that supports RAW. I bought the Pro X2 on Amazon for about $99.

The card comes with a USB SDHC Card Reader, and the card conveniently contains the installation software for Windows and Mac OS X. You need to configure it on a Mac/PC first so that it connects to your Wi-Fi. Registration requires internet access, as you need to create an account with Eye-Fi and register your card with it – I’m not too impressed with that, as I think it’s unnecessary. I understand that certain premium features like automatic Geotagging should be restricted to an account, but I feel that the card should ‘just work’ without any account. I just hope Eye-Fi never goes out of business.

This account allows for some nice features though, if you choose to do so: You can automatically upload pictures to your account, even through hotspots. So if you are on the road and the card connects to a hotspot, it can automatically upload your pictures to Eye-Fi and you can then download it to your PC when you are at home again. Also, it can automatically upload photos to popular photo sharing sites like Picara, Flickr or Facebook.

On my Mac I use Picasa as my photo application, because iPhoto does not support the RAW format of my camera (neither does Preview). One of the nice things is that Eye-Fi Center allows me to configure separate directories for JPG and RAW photos (my Camera is set to save pictures as both RAW and JPEG), so I can put RAW into my Picasa watch folder. Unfortunately, automatic Geotagging does not work for RAW files, only for JPG so I might need to write a script that copies that info from the JPG to the RAW at some point.

The other great feature is Endless Memory. Basically if the card is filled to a certain percentage, it will automatically delete older photos, but only ones that were transferred to the PC before.

Overall, the card works just as I expect it to be: magically. The little Eye-Fi Helper app that runs in the background of my Mac automatically picks up pictures if the card is in my network, puts the JPG in one and the RAW files in another folder where Picasa picks it up. No more proprietary cable or removing the card all the time, it just works.

The only downside I can see is that 8 GB isn’t exactly a lot nowadays, but I can use my old 16 GB card as an emergency spare in situations where space really becomes a problem.

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