I was trawling through the app store a couple of weeks back and came across a rather interesting app, Shuttersnitch. This app allows with the use of an EyeFi card the ability to shoot straight from your camera and display either the full size raw file or jpeg on the ipad. This looked really interesting so I figured I would Buy an Eye-Fi card, the app and how this setup works.
For those of you who haven’t heard of EyeFi cards, this is a brand of SD Card of either 4GB/8GB storage capacity that has a WiFi transmitter built into it. The card comes in a few different flavours in terms of capabilities as well. All of the models include the ability to shoot in “endless mode”, transfer videos / photos directly to online storage sources, these features are covered by the “Connect x2” model. The models are incremental in their features, the model above includes all of the features of the previous model, with the “Geo x2” you have geo tagging for your shots, standard on a lot of cameras now, but pro models tend to be lacking this feature. Above “Geo x2” you have the “Explore x2” card, this includes geo tagging and additionally to this you get hotspot access from a Starbucks, BT Open Zone, Orange, T Mobile, Vodaphone SFR and a more… this is a free service for the first year with the included subscription, but after that you have to pay for their premium service. For me, this isn’t that interesting a proposition as the size of RAW images would warrant having to spend far too much time in a Starbucks… the coffee really isn’t that good…
The Eye-Fi card I chose was the “Pro x2”, the features of this card are the same as above, but this also supports adhoc network mode so you don’t need a router in the middle, you can connect this straight to your laptop, definitely a plus for on the road shooting.
The initial config of the Eye Fi is pretty straight using the supplied software and Eye-Fi card reader forward, but does require you have an active internet connection. The configuration software included is nicely written and it does what is says on the tin, it configures stuff. I added my wireless networks to the EyeFi card, these have to be configured while it is attached to a computer as there would be no way to interact with the SD Card from your cameras built in menu. For my setup I wanted to transfer select images to the iPad while I was out doing a shoot with a client. I used the following settings to configure my wifi card for shooting to the iPad
- Photo’s – Computer – Don’t upload; Online – Don’t upload
- RAW – Computer – Don’t upload; Online – Don’t upload
- Videos – Computer – Don’t upload; Online – Don’t upload
- Upload to EyeFi – Nope
- Notifications – None
- Geotagging – Enabled
- Transfer Mode – Selective transfer using image protection; Relayed Transfers – Disabled; Endless Memory – Disabled
Jobo SD-CF Adapter
I’ve been using this adapter for a while now and to be honest it’s slow as heck, really not worth it, but it does offer SD card compatibility with a number of cameras that wouldn’t normally support. So on that odd occasion where you need to pick up a card while out on a shoot or on holiday you have a lot more options to choose from when shopping in a store and SD cards are normally about half the price of CF cards. The performance on this adapter definitely left a lot to be desired and on a Class 4 SDHC card you definitely couldn’t shoot video as the buffer would fill in a matter of seconds. I figured I’d give the Jobo Adapter the chance to work with the EyeFi card in the Canon 7D, but the CD adapter wasn’t even seen as a card, the error returned was along the lines of “card not recognised, insert a new one or format existing”. Formatting wouldn’t work either, so that was a non starter to begin with. I started trawling the web for adapters for the EyeFi and came across one from Synchrotech, to confirm this isn’t right for the new X2 cards, this only works with older cards from all of my research, although I haven’t actually tried one so can’t absolutely confirm this.
eTech Extreme CF Adapter
I trawled around and found one person that had got the 7D working with a brand of adapter made by Etech, the Extreme CF Adapter, I ordered this from eBay from these guys, delivery was super fast from Hong Kong and it arrived in only 5 days. It worked immediately, write speeds to SDHC were significantly faster than the Jobo Adapter. With my original Class 4 SDHC card I was able to now record video and the write speed of the Class 6 EyeFi card was fantastic.
Testing the Eye-Fi
I initially started testing the Eye-Fi card with direct transfer mode enabled to my MacBook Pro, initially I thought the testing was going well, but every now and then I would hit an Err 2 while writing the images to the card. I took the card out of the camera to reseat the card and found that it was a little warm, I thought that this might be the cause and had heard that removing the outside panels from the SD adapter may help with wireless range, but nothing that mentioned overheating. I placed the card back in the camera without prying off the outer casing and increased the timeout for the camera to 4 minutes just in case it was powering off before writing had completed.
This definitely wasn’t the case and it wasn’t constantly failing, I took a series of portrait shots, then landscape shots and all good, then rotated the camera to a 45 degree angle and found that this would actually cause the error 2. I know the camera has auto levelling sensors built in, but I’m not sure why exactly this is triggering a fail for writing. This lead me to the decision to do selective transfers, that way I have control over the position of the camera at whatever angle I want and only transfer the images to the camera that I want to review, saving on valuable battery life and ensuring that when I show the pictures to the customer I can ensure its the cream of the images. Since setting the selective transfer mode using copy protection I’ve not received a single error 2 while using the card and this includes using the card for HD video shooting.
The only other issue I can see with using the Eye-Fi inside of a CF Adapter is the reduced range, I’ve had success at writing to the iPad from around 5 meters away from the router with one wall in between. I will be testing with the sides peeled off the CF Adapter to see if that really helps with the signal, but for the majority of my shoots I will have the iPhone/Huawei mobile router in my pocket it’s not so much an issue.
Pairing with the Ipad
The setup of Shuttersnitch is very simple, it’s primarily driven by the providing the details of your Eye-Fi account and hey presto it, you set up a collection and pretty much instantly pictures are transferring across the ether and appearing on the screen. For location shoots I use the iPhone 4 wireless hotspot feature which allows you to use the iPhone as a mobile router for your to let the Eye-Fi card and the iPad talk. On the whole this works brilliantly and means I don’t have to carry any other devices around with me, unfortunately my iPad doesn’t have 3G so it can’t set itself up as a wireless hotspot. The only downside to this method is that if I am in an area where there is no mobile signal, the wireless hotspot will disable itself, resulting in no connectivity between camera and iPad. For these occasions I have the Huawei E585 available as a wireless modem. I no longer top up the credit on this, but it’s great as an in pocket wireless switch.
The settings I am using for reviewing on the iPad means that I don’t have to have the iPad switched on while I’m shooting using valuable battery. I only review the exact images I want to see and want the client to see, given that all of my images are awesome it doesn’t really help that much I suppose 🙂
At the moment I’m putting together some testing for endless shooting mode and Lightroom and that will be following in a future article, this could be interesting for studio based shooting as you can import files immediately and apply your own defined preset to the image on import meaning that you get a close to finished view on every shot.