We all know that in the future you will take photos and videos and they will wirelessly float up to the net, but camera manufacturers have failed to deliver a compelling product in the category that works with a wide variety of online services.
I have been using the recently announced Eye-Fi card on and off for a while now (beta and gamma programs). Overall it works very well and increases the convenience of digital photography a lot.
In my mode of use, I shoot with it around the house and then the let the photos float up wirelessly to phanfare. With Phanfare it works especially well because I can still get to the fullsize original images from the desktop client and from my Phanfare website.
You configure the card in two places. First, you have to configure it communicate with wireless networks you trust. Second, you need to configure your account at Eye-fi to transmit to the online service of your choice. That means telling Eye-fi your username and password, for example, for Phanfare. You do this once.
After the initial provisioning, which is the most difficult step, the card just works. Because the camera sees the card as a standard SD card there is absolutely no increase in complexity from the camera side. You shoot and the images show up in your online account. The good folks at Eye-Fi set an option for Phanfare to allow you to suppress publication of new images by default. That way I can shoot, and then go into Phanfare and choose what to publish, shoeboxing the rest.
Because there is no way to see what the card is doing from the camera side, you need to have the camera on long enough to transfer the images. That is why I said I mostly use it when shooting around the house, because there the camera gets enough on-time within my wireless network that the images float up without my thinking about it. Also, the eye-fi card uses more battery power than a standard card and it is around the house that I worry least about that.
I own a DSLR and a point and shoot. It is with the DSLR that I find the card most useful (Canon EOD-5D with compact flash adapter for Eye-fi SD card). I rarely shoot raw and the the DSLR only shoots images. With my point and shoot, I almost always take one video along with the photos and Eye-Fi won’t move that up to Phanfare. Hence, I still need to tether the card to get the video, and that is tedious. Plus Phanfare has no built-in de-dupe to figure out what is already on the service versus on the card.
Note that the Eye-Fi card can also be used in studio mode where it just moves images to your PC. That is not interesting to me and I don’t use it that way.
I am far from unbiased, but for Internet mode, the Eye-Fi card works especially well with Phanfare because it meshes so well with out vision for merging the desktop and Internet. Our desktop client automatically synchronizes with the network cloud, showing you your whole collection (unlike a Picasa for eg. which just gives you a view of your local disk). Hence, even when I use the Eye-Fi card, the images I take feel like they are locally accessible on my PC, even though they really live on the net.
the pros on this product are:
- moves images in the background to internet without USB acquire wizard.
- greatly enhances the convenience of still image photography
- works with all cameras
- works with 17 online services
the cons are
- reduced battery life
- no way to see what the card is doing or control the card from the camera
- does not handle video
- does not handle raw
- does not automatically connect to open public access points
All in all, this is a very innovative product and a great gift, especially for a parent who is challenged by their camera. You buy it, provision it, and then they have a magic camera. I love mine. When you get it, you will just stare it and wonder how they packed a full wifi implementation plus memory card into the diminutive form factor of the SD card.