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Eye-Fi Pro X2 - Performance and Verdict

By Edward Chester

Reviewed:

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  • Recommended by TR
Eye-Fi Pro X2

Summary

Our Score:

9

We started off by taking photos at the camera's default 18 megapixel mode, recording our images as high quality jpgs. This resulted in files of around 5MB in size, which we quickly learned took some time to upload - 24 seconds to be exact. While an acceptable speed for more casual use, this is a bit tardy for those needing immediate results - such as when live blogging or writing quick news. As such we tested again with image quality set to a more lowly - but eminently useful - 7 megapixels and at medium jpg compression. This resulted in files of around 1.5MB in size and took a mere 12 seconds to transfer. To really test the card's mettle, though, we set it to RAW JPG (you'll also need to enable RAW transfers in the Eye-Fi software settings) whereupon it took 100 seconds to transfer. All told, there are faster wireless solutions if you're willing to buy the expensive proprietary adapters available for some DSLRs but for general use the Pro X2 impresses.

One point to note, however, is that you are of course reliant upon the quality of the wireless network to which you are connected, and in public spaces speed can be pretty ropey. Moreover, for every new network you encounter, you will have to pop the card into your computer, open the Eye-Fi software and manually add the new network. In both instances, though, you can rely on the Ad Hoc connection instead.

Ad hoc allows you to use your computer to create its own private network to connect to with the card, so you can snap away to your heart's content - even in the middle of nowhere - safe in the knowledge your shots will find their way to your computer. The downside to Ad Hoc is that you'll be disconnected from any other wireless networks while you have it enabled - obviously for our aforementioned news writing/live blogging scenario this isn't ideal. Connecting to a wired network as well will solve this.

While snapping away, you can have your photos tagged with a geo location so you can then map them onto Google Maps or such like at a later date. However, this tagging is done via the IP address assigned to your computer when connected to a network, which if you're in the back of beyond using an Ad Hoc network won't work. Nonetheless, it's a neat extra.

The final piece of the Pro puzzle is its public hotspot access. This is powered by Easy WiFi and allows you to input your login details to either Easy WiFi's own public WiFi service or it links up with thousands of other providers. It, along with a number of the steps involved in getting the Eye-Fi setup, is a bit of a faff to get going but once done so is a breeze to use. Explorer and Pro cards have 1-year's free HotSpot access or you can upgrade a lower range card for $24.99.

Universal features available to all Eye-Fi cards include the ability to upload photos to the Eye-Fi online store for safe keeping as well as share them with sites such as Facebook, Flickr, MobileMe, and Picasa. You can also have the card continually delete photos from its internal storage once they've been safely uploaded so you never need cleanout your card again.

When it comes to price, the Eye-Fi range doesn't come cheap with the entry level model costing around £45 and the Pro being around £100. This compares with about £5 and £10 for standard SD cards of the same capacity. However, for the range of features on offer - and bearing in mind you should never need buy another card - they all seem fairly priced.

Verdict

There's no doubt the Eye-Fi range has a niche appeal: being able to wirelessly transfer photos from your camera to your computer is something only so many people need. Moreover, the extra features brought about by the Pro X2 version of the range are even more specialist - most amateurs won't need instant RAW transfers for instance. However, if you're an enthusiastic photographer who works a lot while out and about and needs instant access to your photos, the Eye-Fi Pro X2 is an awesome purchase. It doesn't come cheap but compared to dedicated proprietary wireless solutions, it's a bargain, and of course it will work in any camera.

Overall Score

9

Hamish Campbell

April 6, 2011, 11:56 am

A bit cheeky that ad-hoc is only enabled on the most expensive one, it's not like the other wireless chips couldn't do it, they've just turned it off.

Greg17b

April 6, 2011, 12:32 pm

"..will work in any camera"

Except those of course that just use CF cards, meaning that for my 5D2 it is useless, and judging by a search around, using adaptors won't work either.

I can't really see the market for this besides the 'this is cool' market. Transfer rates are too slow for pros (would you really use 5 mb pictures when blogging? Come on!) and casual users won't use features like this because the biggest market for this will be to upload to Facebook and guess what, people use phones for that.

Still, a neat technology - I suppose you could backup your holiday snaps as you go.

Sean Groarke

April 6, 2011, 12:46 pm

About 12 or so months ago, I tried, and failed, to buy one of these! I'm in France, and their web-site was full of either dead links, or links to suppliers who held the wrong models, or who were charging over the odds, or... Anyway, I ended up contacting the Eye-Fi folks to tell them this: I've got cash on the hip and want to give it to you. Help me do it. They did get back to me, and sounded suitably concerned, but at the end of it all I was never able to buy one of the damn things! Maybe I should try again. But it's a sad state of affairs when a company has a cool product but has no idea how to distribute and sell it.

Ed

April 6, 2011, 1:08 pm

@haim: Yeah, especially as it's by far the most useful for general photography. It's still cheaper than most wireless modules though.

@Greg: The market's huge, for enthusiastic amateur photographers and journalists. I'm surprised it doesn't work with adapters but admittedly haven't had the chance to check. I regularly only use our office 550D on 7MP mode so the file sizes are more sensible for working on a laptop. I could probably get away with much lower as well - the average picture in one of our articles is less than 100KB or 0.17megapixels.

Stelph

April 6, 2011, 2:14 pm

How funny this popped up now just as I am looking at this! This seems quite a clever little card however I can see a lot more potential for using this than just transferring photos, can it also stream videos?

Streaming videos would be a brilliant addition with an ad-hoc network, for example you could use this and a lightweight camera on a Remote Control plane to turn it into a FPV (first person view) remote control plane (as long as you dont fly outside the ad-hoc network :-) ). Also combined with shuttersnitch its one of the few ways you can get photos quickly onto your ipad while you are out and about:

http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab...

lifethroughalens

April 6, 2011, 4:55 pm

I used one of these for corporate event photography and static location based photography - I use it in a 1DMK3 to send small JPEGS back to the laptop whilst writing RAW files to the CF card. I found it useful when I have clients on the shoot who want to be involved in giving live feedback, the smallest JPEGS pop up in a few seconds over ad hoc, as log as your pretty close by. I do wish they would release a CF version though - I would like to use it in my 5D2, in fact I can't believe they have had this product for so long and have simply over looked the more professionally used CF format.

Greg17b

April 7, 2011, 3:19 am

@ed can you please determine the size of the market in terms of size and need? 'Huge' doesn't quite cover it.

Mark83

July 20, 2013, 3:37 pm

I've used... Sorry, I have OWNED an Eye Fi Pro 8GB card for about two years now and it is undoubtedly the most frustrating piece of camera equipment I have ever purchased. I have lost count of how many times the card has corrupted. Ok I get most of the files back with recovery, but that takes up a lot of time. In 3 of my DSLRs I regularly get card errors. Not only that but it also regularly freezes any computer I insert it into. This is a pain in the backside and I have now given up, I won't use it again.

Much of my photography consists of long exposures, time lapse and star trails. I thought the Eye Fi card would be a great way to view what was happening while the camera is busy, so, if for example condensation builds up on the lens, or something else happens which would ruin the work, I would know and be able to adjust. Also when performing long exposures I thought it would be a great way to review the previous image whilst exposing the next. Instead I end up keeping myself busy just trying to get a connection. These applications need EVERY IMAGE; a star trail will have gaps if I can't recover ALL the corrupted images, a time lapse video will be jumpy with frames missing, and all of these techniques use one vital ingredient- time. Something I will not give this useless product.

Quite simply, the system has only worked for me a couple of times over the past two years. If I ever dare to mention I (am trying to) use Eye Fi, people often get interested and want to see it at work. It's embarrassing really because it has never worked in a demonstration, I should really add that in my last day job I was an imaging product demonstrator and often ran photography seminars which would have been a great platform to promote Eye Fi, had I even had the confidence to take the card with me. Of course, I have kept the firmware, and associated software updated which has not helped.

I wouldn't even sell the thing on Ebay, I'd feel for the person who bought it. I expect some of the issues will have been ironed out in the latest generations of the device but this one's a joke and after two years of frustration I thought I'd add my money's worth to the reviews just in case anyone else with a view of using the product for specialised applications thought it would be useful. It wasn't to me.

Alain01

August 10, 2013, 3:00 pm

I have owned an Eye Fi 8GB for almost 18 months and use it with a Sony A65. I don't have the same download speed requirements as some of the other users, so cannot comment on the speeds - I download at the end of a session to an ipad with plenty of speed (sometimes 10 minutes for 100+ photos, but who cares). My frustration was making the ad hoc connection with the ipad (or several) which seemed to be random. In June 2013 a software update appeared on the ipad solving that problem quite nicely. The other 'complaint' I would have when downloading to the ipad is that photos are duplicated in eye-fi and photos which eat up the memory. I don't use the hotspot wifi downloads as these require a paying subscription and i really don't need it. No issues with corrupt photos for me, but haven't worked the card as Mark83 does either.

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