Photography

Review: Eye-Fi Pro | X2

Posted on Sep 19, 2011 in iPad, Mac, Photography, Reviews

What’s the most annoying part of digital photography? That’s right, fiddling around with the memory card or USB cable to copy your photos to your computer.

Well the Eye-Fi cards promise to have a better solution for copying photos: these cards can transfer your digital snaps wirelessly. Yep – despite being the same size as a normal SD card, an Eye-Fi card can connect to your computer over a wifi network. Let’s take a closer look at the Eye-Fi Pro | X2 – their latest and greatest.

Getting started

You need to download special Eye-Fi software for the initial setup. You connect your Eye-Fi card to the supplied USB adapter and configure it to connect to your existing wireless network, or you can either have it create its own ad-hoc network for when you’re on the move.

Then, just pop the card into your camera and away you go.

How to use the Eye-Fi card

The Eye-Fi card works just like any other fast SD card. Pop it in your camera, take pictures (RAW or JPEG or both) and movies ā€“ that’s it.

Once your camera has been on a few seconds, the Eye-Fi card will power up its wireless feature and look for your existing network. Once connected, the special Eye-Fi software on your computer will copy the photos over the air onto your PC or Mac.

If you haven’t got a wireless network nearby, the card can alternatively create its own wireless network. You connect to this network (named something like “Eye-Fi 132456”) and then the copying magic starts.

Performance

Despite having pretty impressive wireless performance, it will take a bit longer to copy the huge files produced by today’s modern cameras over wifi than it would over a USB card reader. However, you can optionally choose to only copy your JPEG images, leaving your RAW copies on the card ready to by copied over USB later.

The software is an Adobe Air app, so it isn’t the best Mac app I’ve ever seen, but overall it isn’t too bad. Once you have your card configured, you won’t need to use it too much anyway. Kudos to Eye-Fi for having a cross-platform solution for us Mac users that works.

Other handy tricks

Geotagging

Certain Eye-Fi cards can also make use of the wireless chip inside to geo-tag your photos. They do this by looking at nearby wifi networks. These are later matched by the Eye-Fi software to a database that knows the geographical location of tonnes of wifi networks around the world and uses that to give your photos a rough geographical location.
It’s not perfect, but it’s usually good enough to help you figure out which side of town you took a particular photo.

Endless Memory

Need to take a ton of pictures? No problem! If you’re on a wifi network, your Eye-Fi card will shove pics over to your computer and free up storage for new pictures, which means you’ll never run out of storage. This is only useful for certain scenarios, but if you need to take a lot of pictures and don’t want to have to switch cards it might come in useful.

Picture uploads

I didn’t test this feature, but Eye-Fi also offers an online storage and sync option, that allows you to share pictures with friends or between devices.

iPad app

One other great feature is the fact that you can use the Eye-Fi card with the free companion iPad app, allowing you to use your iPad as a giant photo preview screen: snap a shot, wait 2 seconds and it shows up on the iPad. I used this feature to turn my iPad and a camera with an Eye-Fi card into a rudimentary homemade wedding photo booth.

Conclusion

If you just need to grab a few photos quickly, the Eye-Fi a great solution. I could see it being particularly useful in scenarios where you’re frequently taking a small number of shots and need to quickly preview them on a larger screen.

The geo-tagging feature is also quite nice and a good alternative to using geo-tagged iPhone pictures as a reference.

The Eye-Fi Pro | X2 does exactly what it claims. The wireless performance is pretty good and it can be a huge timesaver if you often need to preview your pictures in between shots.

Recommended

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First Impressions: Panasonic GF-1 vs. Olympus E-PL1

Posted on Jun 17, 2011 in Opinions, Photography, Reviews

I’ve been a fan of the Micro Four-Thirds format since I first played with the Olympus E-P1 shortly after it was released. Last year I picked up the Olympus E-PL1 and absolutely love it. It’s certainly not without flaws, but it’s a cheap and fun way to get started with “proper” photography and to learn about aperture, shutter speeds and other mysteries.

I had been on the lookout for the Panasonic 20mm prime lens, as it’s considered to be one of the best Micro Four-Third lenses out there. When I spotted a package deal that offered the 20mm lens with the GF-1, I couldn’t resist. Although both the GF-1 and E-PL1 have both been succeeded by newer models, I thought I’d share my impressions after using the GF-1 for about two weeks.

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Olympus PEN E-PL1 Review

Posted on Dec 9, 2010 in Photography, Reviews

Hot on the heels of the Sony NEX-3 review, we’ll next take a look at another micro DSLR camera, the Olympus E-PL1. This is a smaller, cheaper PEN-series camera, that offers a lot of the features found on the E-P1 (which I had a chance to review last year) and E-P2 at a much lower price. But just how capable is the E-PL1?

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Sony NEX-3 Review

Posted on Oct 14, 2010 in Photography, Reviews

Earlier this Summer, I posted a first look at Sony’s upcoming Alpha NEX-3 and NEX-5 series, that looked poised to challenge the Olympus and Panasonic Micro Four-Thirds cameras. The stunning design, more reminiscent of a compact camera than a DSLR, paired with an APS-C sensor looked like a winning combination.

Sony were kind enough to loan me a NEX-3 for a fortnight recently, so I’ve put this intriguing new camera through its paces.

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The Micro DSLR Phenomenon

Posted on Jun 2, 2010 in Opinions, Photography

Ever since I reviewed the Olympus E-P1 last summer, I’ve been fairly convinced that this is a market segment waiting to explode. So many people I have spoken to have expressed an interest and interestingly enough, this niche seems to attract multiple user groups:

  • Consumers that don’t own a DSLR see these new cameras as an attractive compromise offering DSLR quality with a consumer-friendly interface and lower cost
  • Prosumers that already own a DSLR see them as a great alternative to their bulky DSLRs that they can take out and about

Which models are on the market?

Until now, Olympus and Panasonic have been the only two companies offering cameras in this space, so they have generally been referred to as “Micro Four-Thirds” cameras ā€“ after the joint standard those two companies established together.

However, Sony have recently announced their “Alpha Nex” series, which uses a larger APS-C sized sensor, that should give the Micro four-thirds competitors a run for their money.

Is it a DSLR? Is it a Micro Four-Thirds? No, it’sā€¦

With Sony entering the fray, a new term is needed to describe the cameras within this category. In the interest of keeping things simple, I’m just going to refer to them as “Micro DSLRs“.

Latest Developments

So what has happened since the release of the original Olympus E-P1 that kicked everything off?

If you’re in the market, it’s probably worth waiting until the new Sony models are released in July, but it’s definitely turning into an interesting year for Micro DSLR fans.

I should have a chance to take a look at a few of these new models in the upcoming months, so stay tuned.

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