Revue of Eye-Fi-Card

Revue of Eye-Fi-Card

Some time ago I bought a Eye-Fi Pro X2 Card with 8GB to automatically transfer and GEO Tag my images comming from my Canon EOS-60D DSLR. Since not everything is running as expected I decided to write a review about the card also describing the tricks I needed to get the best out of the card. So this Article is more a description about what is working with my equipment and in my area and where ist's difficult to work with or maybe even unusable at all.

Tipps

For those not wanting to read tho whole article some Tipps in advance:
  • See if you have a seperate Eye-Fi-Menu in the Camera and activate the WiFi in this menu.
  • Do not cover the card with your hand. This might slow down transfer speed.
  • If you only want to get a faster transfer use lower resolution if apropriate
  • Do not expect the Card to work fast in more than 2m distance of accesspoint
  • Do not expect all your exif tags not to survive the geotagging
  • For geotagging you need a Internet connection while uploading to you PC. Geotagging after transfering the pictures is not possible.
And now going to to describe in detail:

First experience and setup

When I bought the Eye-Fi card i was really eager to test it. So I opened the Box, started to read the little introduction and tried to get it set up. The promise in the Manual said that this will take about 20 Minutes to get everything up and running. This sounded reasonable, since you would first have to set up which wlans you can use, define where to put the images ...

Install: So I started and wanted to install the software. The nice thing is, the software for Windows and MAC-OSX comes directly on the card itself. (Bad thing ... no Backup) But the first thing happening after i had started the installer was a software (the installer) that was hanging after a short while and later crashed. This alone took more than the promissed 20 Minutes. With another try or two i finally managed to get the software installed. Only to then get told that there is a new Version which is now downloaded and only after this can be used. So finally some hours later the newest Software was installed on my Macbook ( at this time running the newest Snow-Lepppard).

Upgrading Card Firmware: So the next thing would be to have the card inserted and configured. But inserting the card for the first time opened another popup, which told me that now the Firmware Version of the card is too old and needs updating. So I had no chance other than to say ... "do it". Another download ... Then I was asked to insert the card and not remove the card. So I did as I was told. The update started and I waited and waited and waited .... After 3 more hours of waiting i gave up. I then ejected the card in the Eye-Fi software by pressing the Eject-card button. This lead to another crash of the Eye-Fi-Center software. Luckily the card did not get scrambled by this. So trying it another time made the card really upgrade to the new Software Version. So now I had the Eye-Fi firmware Ver.: 4.2139

Dayly use vs. usefullness

  • Canon EOS 60D - Menue for Power of WiFi:
    Using the Card in the Canon EOS 60D-Camera proved really tricky since nowere in the manual a saw any mentioning about special things to do in advance of using the card in Canon cameras. The canon EOS 60D has a menu buildt in, which shows up as soon as you enter a Eye-Fi card. There you first have to acivate the Cards WiFi mode. If you don't know this; you can take pictures, but no transfer will take place.
  • Download Speed:
    The first impression was very bad. It took way over a minute to transfer a single high resolution jpg picture. So this would render it useless for the purpose I bought it and probably for most of the other users too.
    It can be fast: Triggered by a luky coincidence i some time later saw that the transfer speed not always is this slow. In an Environment where I cannot see any networks execpt a newly created point-to-point network on my macbook it was promissing fast. (Strange!) This time it only took me about 5-6 seconds for a highres-jpg picture(about 6MB each). In my point of view this is really acceptable for transfering a picture to the PC. Only disadvantage here is that I currently don't have a possibility to do GEO-Tagging in this mode.(For details, see below) But while writing this I was playing arround a little bit more and the current picture (5MB) now has only transfered 6% after 30 Minutes. And even on the next morning I only had 9% of the picture transfered. So the whole system and usability doesn't really sounds predictable.
    Some Month later I found that the transfer Speed heavily depends on the distance between Accesspoint and Camera. In my tests any distance larger than 1m will lead to a really bad download Speed. This was the reason my first tests where so bad. My accesspoint was about 3-4 meters away from the Camera. I was able to get the best results when placing the camera 30cm near the accesspoint. But this renders the wireless feature to almoist absurdum. I then installed a second accesspoint directly near the place where I normally place my camera Bag. So the advantage now is that I don't have to take out the camera from the Bag. After getting home an placing the camerabag to it's place; I only have to open the camera-bag and press any key of the camera to wake it up from sleep mode. After this it takes a little time and the download starts.
  • Software and Stability:
    The current Software comming with the Eye-Fi-card is base on "Adobe AIR". This leads to having to accept another Software license. The license for Adobe AIR comes in an almost unreadable mini window.
    And statements about allowing them to handle Network connections without asking doesn't leave a good feeling. I'm not sure if the 'not always easy to use Software' is a result of putting the Software on top of Adobe AIR. Working with the Software I figured that it not always is reacting as expected.
    Examples:
    • I tried to change the configuration on the Eye-Fi-card. For this I inserted the Eye-Fi card into the cardreader and started the Eye-Center. Then I got a message that configuring is not possible and I should insert the card first. But looking at the USB port and the Card-reader I could really confirm that it is inserted. Even waiting for it doesn't help to get the message vanish.
    • While working with the Software I had some crashes of either the Eye-Fi-Center and the Eye-Fi-Helper.
    • Download the pictures: If I insert the Eye-Fi-card into the Eye-Fi-card-reader I normally would expect the software to continue downloading the pictures via USB. But ... It simply continues downloading the pictures via WLAN which then takes a lot longer again...
  • Eye-Fi-Center:
  • Eye-Fi-Helper:
    The Eye-Fi-Helper is the Application doing the real Work. It receives the pictures and stores them on the clocal machine. I currently run the Version 3.2.4 of Eye-Fi-Helper.
  • iPhone APP:
    You would normally think the iPhone App helps you upload pictures via your UTMS-Connection of the iPhone or add GEO-locations to the Skyhook Database.
    But no! It only is a software implementation of the Eye-Fi protocol using you iPhone Camera. With this App you only can upload your Fotos from the iPhone-camera to your Eye-Fi account. For me, this is not really helpfull.
  • Network connections: For connecting with you PC the EyeFi Card tries to connect to random IP-Adresses in your subnet until someone answers there connect request. In a large (or even largely configured) network-environment this can cause a lot of (unwanted) traffic. And maybe some firewalls will decide that they have an intruder in your network and will disconnect the device.

Adding GEO-locations with WPS

  • GEO tagging: As most of you probably already know the Eye-Fi card uses WPS for GEO-tagging. WPS is WLAN based GEO-location system. This means GEO-locating your photos is done by looking arround which WiFi/WLANs can be ssen. The so found MAC-Addresses of all WiFi/WLAN-devices are recorded on the SD Card in a seperate place. For the MAC address to record the Eye-Fi card doesn't need to be able to connect to the Accesspoint(s) or the network behind it, which is good. But when the card later does a lookup in the SkyHook Database it needs internet access to convert these recorded MAC-addresses to real GEO-locations. The benefit of WPS is, that you do not need a second receiver (real GPS) in the Eye-Fi card. This makes the card work with less batteryconsumption. And you also have the chance to geo-locate your pictures if you are indoors. But the downside of it: In case the database doesn't contain the Acesspoints in your Area or there is no Accesspoint visible in the Area you're you're taking Photos (eg.: out in the Woods) you are lost and get no GEO-locations. Too bad for me; I try to use the Card in Germany and the Database of skyhook only seems to cover big cities in Germany. So for the first 6 Month I never got a geolocated Picture.

    Another sad thing is that the lookup in the Database is only done while downloading the pictures from the Card. So you need a working Internet connection while you're downloding the pictures from the card into your PC. A Database-lookup after having done the download is not possible. So there is no easy way to have your PC use an UMTS stick for Internet acces while you're transfering the pictures.
  • Adding Geo-locations to the SkyHook Database: Trying to geolocate my Photos i got the impression that the Skyhook Database doesn't contain enough Accesspoint in my Area. So I decided to take the effort to add Accesspoints to the Database myself. I was hoping that adding WiFi-locations in my Area to the Database would help me in GEO-locating my pictures. So I was looking for an easy to use Tool to see which accesspoints are near me while I'm shooting photos and automatically add them to the Skyhook Database. In my opinion, the easiest would have been something for my Smartphone (similar to kismet or netstumbler with integrated Skyhook connection). But unfotunately I havn't found any APPs for adding new GEO-located points into the Database. The only thing I found was a description how to add MAC-Addresses of Accesspoints. But the problems starts when I'm out in the Field. I see an Accesspoint in my network list, but how can I find out the MAC Address to add it into the Datafield of the WEB-Interface. And then I have to get a GPS to find the location where I'm currently sitting. (By the way carrying a GPS with me was something I wanted to avoid when I bought the card) Interesting, but sadly disapointed I then was reading the sentence "Please note that it can take up to 6 weeks for your submission to appear." on the Ey-Fi Webside. This means that even if I add a GEO-location to the database I still have to wait another 6 weeks until I can download my pictures to my Notebook if I want to have a GEO-location.

    GEO TAG Coverage: The first impression on the coverage-lokup-pages looks a little bit promissing. But even zooming in reveals that in areas other than the big cities there is almost no coverage. It even is not possible to zoom in for real details on the coverage page. So you cannot really see if there is a chance of being able to GEOtag in your city.
    Missing iPhone APP to add GEO-Locations: For adding waypoints to the Skyhook Database I would love to have an Application to automatoically add all the Accesspoints currently visible into the database with the real GPS-location taken from my smartphone.
  • www.loki.com:
    There is a service http://www.loki.com/findme which seems to retreive information about WLAN Networks in your Area and works with them. The loci.com Service seems to be connected to the Skyhook Database. This makes me think the retreived Data is used there too. But for working with the javascript tool on the loki.com/findme page you need to grant them access to your local Computer for ever.
  • For GEO-Tagging with the Eye-Fi card you need a account for a normally paid service. Luckily for the "Eye-Fi Geo X2", the "Eye-Fi Explore X2", and the "Eye-Fi Pro X2" cards the service is included without extra cost and for a unlimited amount of Geotagging and for Livetime.

Exif Tags

  • Another thing I only discovered realy late when working with the Eyefi-Card. The Card seems to handle the exif tags of the Canon EOS-60D Card in the wrong way. First I saw that using the Card, some pictures were no longer rotated the correct way. Looking into this more deeply I sadly discovered that it not only sometimes broke the exif tag for the rotation of the picture, but also more content of the exif tags were destroyed. I told this to support, but 1 year later this bug is still in the Firmware :-(
    Still destroying my exif tags is not really useful for someone trying to take professional photographs.

Card needs a lot of time for internally stuff

  • Then I gave the Card a last chance:
    I tried to take Fotos on a great Horse Jumping Tournament. I did all the setup to have all the pictures immediately displayed on the big screen. Taking some test-pictures worked fine. But then came the morning of when the tournament started. I started taking the real Fotos. The upload first started, but wouldn't continue. My first thought was that I got out of the WiFi Rage, but even testing 30cm near to the WiFi-Accesspoint nothing happened. I was taking about 10 pictures/minute which I planed to transfer. So I gave up the idea of transferring the pictures live to the Computer. In a short break I ran to the PC and copied the pictures manually with the PC-built in SD-Cardreader. After this I wanted to remove the pictures on the Card to continue taking Photos. But the PC told me that the Medium is write-protected and I cannot remove on this card. I first thought I moved the switch on the side of the Card; but I did not. So I gave up for this day.
    Later in the evening back home I figured out that for all those pictures I took, the card had to be powered on about 3 hours (without new pictures coming in) to do some internal Stuff. And only after this the Upload via WiFi suddenly started. :-( Wow ...
    The Answer from EyeFi Support was:
    • "This is not the usage the Card was designed for."
    Wow this was disappointing :-( If "using the card to live-transfer a lot of pictures" is not the Scenario it was intended to be used; what was it designed for?

Usefull Links

The EOD 60D Eye-Fi Menue

As I already mentioned earlier it is really important to activate the WiFi functionality in this menue otherwise no transfer will be possible from the card to anywhere.

Eye-Fi Card content

On the card you'll find a folder called EYEFI which contains 4 files. There is one File called RSPM which contains a kind of a logfile. This might prove helpfull if you encounter troubles. It looks like this is the same which is displayed when you use the Menu Eye-Fi Cardprotocol in the Eye-Fi-Helper.
Normal formating of the card in the Canon EOS 60D seems to work. The Folder still contains the 4 Files afterwards and you can still upload your Files. Up to now I havn't tried to use the Low-Level-Format of the Canon EOS Camera.