Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Eye-Fi Makes Backing Up Photos Even Easier

I've listened to several people at blog conferences rave about their Eye-Fi cards, and for the longest time I never knew what they were. Wi-fi for your camera? How does that work?

I recently had the chance to try out an Eye-Fi card, and now I think I understand a little better. The Eye-Fi card is an SDHC memory card with built-in 802.11n wireless ability. That means that when you're in your home wireless network, you can easily upload your photos from your camera to your computer with no cables, and no need to remove the memory card.

Setup for the Eye-Fi card is a breeze. Put the card in the included USB card reader, plug it into your computer, answer a few questions, and you're ready to go. It took about 10 minutes to completely set everything up and take a test photo to make sure it was working properly.

I put the 4GB Eye-Fi Connect card to work at Halloween, as I took many, many photos of my girls in their superhero costumes, snapping away safe in the knowledge that the 4GB card could hold hundreds of images. The Eye-Fi software gives you the option to upload all photos directly to a website like Flickr or Picasa, but I prefer to edit and pick and choose which photos I want share so I didn't enable that option.

However, each photo was quickly transferred to my computer only seconds after being taken. At the end of the night, I turned off the camera and went to my photos folder on my computer, where all of my photos were waiting for me. Perfect!

Eye-Fi cards can transfer video as well as photo, too. All Eye-Fi cards also feature the Endless Memory setting, freeing up memory on the card as soon as photos are securely transferred to your computer. Upgraded features include Geotagging and the ability to upload photos to your computer from any Wi-Fi hotspots in the US.

Overall, I like the Eye-Fi card. Being able to transfer photos without taking out the memory card is a nice feature, and the Endless Memory setting is nice, too. But unless you have the upgraded Hotspot Access feature, the card will only transfer photos when in your home wireless network.

Also, one disadvantage to me is your computer and camera have to both be on and awake in order to transfer photos. I have a laptop, so I have to keep it open while photos transfer, and my Canon Rebel has a tendency to go to sleep mode if not used for 30 seconds. When I wanted to transfer several photos at once (taken outside of my home wireless network) I had to keep hitting buttons to keep my camera awake so the photos would continue transferring.

Do I recommend the Eye-Fi card? While I don't know how useful it would be if you only take a single photo here and there, I think it would be very useful for someone with a taste for photography, whether hobby or professional. If you take a lot of photos away from home, I'd recommend the 8GB Eye-Fi Explore or Eye-Fi Pro, both of which include Hotspot Access.

Eye-Fi cards are available in 4GB and 8GB memory, and can be found in many retail locations, including Amazon. They'd make great gifts for the photography fans in your family!

Full disclosure: I was provided with a 4GB Eye-Fi connect card on loan to facilitate this review. No compensation was received and the Eye-Fi card was returned after writing the review. The links above include an Amazon Associates code, meaning that if you click them and purchase anything at Amazon, I get a tiny percentage of the sale. (And thank you if you do!)

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