Eye-Fi Pro X2 now with Direct Mode

Rainy Day Diptic: Shot with LX-5, Direct Transfered to iPhone to process in DipTic and Instagram and share on various social networks.

I've been shooting with an EyeFi ProX2 card the past few weeks in my LX5 and I've been impatiently waiting for the latest revision to the firmware. Why? Because EyeFi added a direct mode feature that lets you connect your camera to a SmartPhone (iPhone/android), iPad or PC without needing to be connected to a WiFi network. This means you can be shooting "on location" and you can port those files from your regular camera (that accepts SD) direct to your portable devices.

I've loved sharing photos via Instagram on twitter and facebook. My biggest problem is that I have an iPhone 3G and the camera lacks a LOT of feature that I rely on, like aperture or shutter control, flash, off-camera hot-shoe, better resolution and focus (the list goes on).  Now I'm able to use my LX-5 and process with my iPhone and share with my social network anywhere, anytime. It's pretty cool.

My initial feelings with the EyeFi card was mixed. I have a buggy WiFi connection at home. I'm not sure if it's interference from neighbors or my router or the radio towers on the hill I live on, but I frequently get dropped connections with all my WiFi devices. This instantly lets me be less then impressed with most WiFi tech.

I'm going to chock up a lot of my initial setup hiccups with the EyeFi card to this connection issue I have. I also started out trying to use my EyeFi card with my netbook as an AdHoc network that I could sync try to use ShutterSnitch to suck images from my card to my iPhone using this, but it was a hassle. So I was a little frustrated using an EyeFi card at first. Then again, using it this way isn't exactly standard procedure (although the ProX2 does support AdHoc networking... I found it a hassle and I didn't have the patience to sort it out. Especially since I knew that direct mode was right around the corner and that was REALLY what I wanted to use anyway.)

The EyeFi iOS apps are still currently awaiting approval to be able to use the Direct Mode function, but the app ShutterSnitch is one that currently supports it. I could write an entire review on this app. It looks great on the iPad... iPhone... well, not so much. But I blame that on the size of the interface and I'm assuming it was developed as an iPad app primarily. But it does do the job.

I have selective transfer mode turned on for my EyeFi card so when I want to send a photo to my iPhone, I "protect" the phone I want transferred and this activates the WiFi on the card (battery savings? I don't know...) then select that network on the iPhone and boot up ShutterSnitch and it goes and grabs the files and brings them in. Currently, it's grabbing RAW and JPEG because I'm shooting RAW+JPEG, but I'm trying to resolve that issue. I have the ShutterSnitch settings to "accept JPEGS only" but I'm guessing that the selective transfer is forcing both file types. I just delete the RAW file when it gets to my phone.

Two other key issues that I have. As I said, I have an iPhone 3G running iOS 4 so it's a little sluggish to begin with. And all my apps, crash with a 9mp JPEG photo. So, I had switched my camera to shooting in 4:3 ratio at 2mp files (I believe this is only the JPEG, but need to confirm that. I believe that the RAW is RAW.) I have also found a setting for ShutterSnitch that saves a "small" version of the photo in your photo ablumn when I export it from ShutterSnitch to be able to use it in another iPhone Photo App. I plan to do more testing with these features to see how small a file it is and what's the best option for using more of the more robust features of ShutterSnitch aside from just using it for Direct Mode Transfer

FTC Disclosure: EyeFi card provided as a demo unit. There we no terms to using this demo, only to use it and share my experiences with it. ShutterSnitch and other iPhone apps mentioned in this blog post were personally purchased from the iPhone store and were not provided.

Pondering The Upgrade

I’ve been posting about the new camera I’ve been using at work, the Nikon D7000 and how impressed I am with it. The SB-900 came yesterday for it and I was doing some testing with it before Thursday’s portrait shoots at work. Yes, they were pretty straight forward simple shots that might not even need flash, but as any good photographer should… you need to understand your tools. And I have a learning curve ahead of me. Not only do I have to adjust to a different system with controls in places I’m not used to, but I’m also adjusting to about 5 years of technology too… let me explain.

If you watched my interview on AdoramaTV, you’ll see when Mark asked me about my gear, that I tend to get the most mileage out of my equipment. My speedlite (yes, the Canon spelling) was the one I bought for use with the Canon G2 (they are on G12 now). My lenses I bought were mostly third party lenses that I purchased to use on my Canon 10D, when I was making “only a few dollars” from my images. Now those lenses are better suited to crop factor cameras and don’t deliver the “wow” factor that a lens 2-3x the cost produces. That just means I have to work a little harder in Lightroom to pull the “wow” out of the photos, which I can do ok. And with producing more video at work, I’d love to explore the world of DSLR video production for my personal and stock projects (FlipVideo is nice and convenient, but it just doesn’t excite the senses.

So where does that leave me?

I’d love to get a new body to shoot video this year, but I’m realistically looking at a pro-grade lens and modern flash unit that shoots reliably in E-TTL (or i-TTL) mode. For years, I’ve advocated that people invest in a system and build on that and expand your kit and replace pieces here and there. But what happens when you are faced with replacing many pieces of your kit.

Do you jump ship and switch systems or do you remain loyal to the brand you’ve worked with for years?

I think my biggest hang up is that Canon has to be ready to replace the camera that I’d really want at some point this year. The 5DMkII has had a long lifecycle and it’s due to be replaced. So I wouldn’t want to invest that kind of money into that and then be out of date very quickly. I could replace lenses and flashes and then later replace the body (not a bad plan… and it spreads the investment out.)

Or I can switch systems, get something like a D7000, great lens and a few speedlights (Note Nikon spelling… lol.) and be about the body price of a 5DMKII.

Why would I consider switching?

I’ve always been impressed with the speedlight technology of the Nikon system. The CLS ability to control a flash direct from the camera body is impressive. Since I’m almost always “lighting” my shots, that’s a pretty compelling reason to move. This has always been my biggest gripe with Canon. Sure, you can do all the CLS functions with a Canon, if you buy a bunch of different accessories. Nikon’s works right out of the box.

HDR is the other reason. I’ve explored a little with HDR and like what I’m able to do. Canon seems to only allow for a 3 shot bracket (least the ones I have and have looked at). Yes, I know I can manually do a 5 shot bracket… but it’s so much simpler to change a setting and press/hold down the button for 5 shots. In addition, Nikon has an incredible self-timer feature built-in (Canon requires an attachment (that I have)) that handles repeat timers and interval timers…etc.

So, where does that leave me? Wait for an updated Canon and update my accessories/lenses or select Nikon that has everything on the market now. I don’t know, but it’s a lot to ponder.