When I started experimenting with the Eye-Fi Card and transferring images to my iPad as I shot them with my DSLR, I was very excited with the possibilities this technology would introduce to my photography workflow. Recently I reviewed a paid app called Shuttersnitch. The app worked well and seemed to be geared at pros. However, at the time there was an extra piece of gear needed to make it work. You needed to have a WiFi hotspot in order for the Eye-Fi card to see your iPad (iPhone or iPod touch). It didn't care what the hotspot was, but it needed one. I was using my MiFi, but many people seemed to be disappointed that there wasn't a more direct way to do this short of jailbreaking your device (more on that from Jason tomorrow). It wasn't long after that review that Eye-Fi announced a NEW lower priced card (Mobile X2) and a firmware update that would enable Direct Mode. Also if you're not a pro then chances are Shuttersnitch might not be in your budget (although the price is not bad for what it does). Eye-Fi announced a Free App for both iOS and Android devices.
The Eye-Fi App works in Direct Mode
The combination of the firmware update for the Eye-Fi X2 Card series and the FREE Eye-Fi App means that you can now shoot wirelessly from your digital camera to an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch without having to have both devices connected to a WiFi hotspot. This is AWESOME NEWS! Even if you're out in the middle of nowhere, you would still be able to shoot and transfer the images to your mobile device.
The Eye-Fi App is bare bones – I was a little spoiled by the features in Shuttersnitch. As a matter of fact the Eye-Fi App almost seems anemic by comparison. However, what you get for FREE will be enough for most users. There a few steps in setting this all up. First you must get your X2 card updated with the latest firmware. Then you enable Direct Mode with the card connected to your computer. You'll see the X2 card's network name (SSID) as well as the built-in WPA password. You'll need those to log into the Eye-Fi's network from your mobile device. Once you get the connection setup you'll need to login to your Eye-Fi account in the App and pair the card. It's pretty straight forward, but more than a couple of steps. Once you have both the card and the App setup, you can put the card in your camera and start shooting. The images will transfer wirelessly and directly to your Mobile Device. You can choose to transfer photos or movies or both from the camera. See step-by-step setup instructions here.
It works with your other images too – If you've transfered images to your Mobile Device from the built-in camera or perhaps the camera connection kit or even email, the Eye-Fi will see al of the images on your Camera Roll. This is good for people that wish to transfer or backup their images to the Eye-Fi Servers.
User Tip: Turn on Full Screen Mode – I thought that I was going to be disappointed by having to manually advance the shots as I took them. However, there is a secret "Full Screen" mode in the Eye-Fi App Preferences. Once you turn this on, your images will come in and not only display full screen, but automatically advance to the next shot as you take them.
If you don't care about seeing the movies you shot on your mobile device, definitely turn those off in the Card settings. Otherwise things will be moving along nicely and then you see a long pause as it transfers over a large movie.
Sharing is limited
The bad news is that the App only allows you to share your images to your desktop/laptop computer or up to the Eye-Fi service (which i don't use). However, the good news is that the shots automatically go to your device's Camera Roll. Since they are in the native camera roll you can use them anyway you like and in any app you like on your device. It would be nice to have a built-in email, Facebook and Twitter option, but I can certainly switch over to my favorite Apps and upload from there.
How fast is it?
In my testing I used my Nikon D7000 (a 16.2 MP Camera) and I used the first card slot to shoot RAW to my regular 16GB SD card and I put the Eye-Fi Mobile X2 card in the second slot. I set the camera to shoot BASIC JPG to the second slot. This means that it's transferring a 16.2 MP Basic JPG image to the iPad.
See the speed for yourself here:
The Bottom Line
Since I'm here to review the App more than the card (see my take on the X2 card here) then I would have to say that this is definitely one of those situations where you get what you pay for. The App is very basic in terms of features and is really designed just to get the images in, show them to you large and let you then transfer them up to the Eye-Fi server or to your computer. That's about it. There is no organizing, rating, tagging, EXIF data display, etc. If you want those kind of features then you should look at or stick with Shuttersnitch. Yes Shuttersnitch DOES work with the NEW Direct Mode too. See their setup instructions here.
Overall I'm pleased with this App. It could use a few more bells and whistles, but for the intended market it will be great and it's free.
You can get the NEW 8GB Eye-Fi Mobile X2 Card here for $79
You can get the 8GB Pro X2 Card (which handles RAW) NEW LOWER PRICE here for $99
You can get the Nikon D7000 here 🙂
You can get the FREE Eye-Fi Android App here