Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Eye-Fi and workflows

What is your digital photography workflow? Most amateur photographers like me probably don't think about it very often. It's the theme of this post because I bought an Eye-Fi Explorer card for my new camera and it's whole purpose is to change how you handle digital photos.

The story of the new camera is pretty standard. My old Canon S230 broke (note to self: don't let a 2 year old use the new camera). To replace it I got a Canon SD980 which records HD video (720p h264) and has a 24MM wide angle lens (the extra wide angle is nice). Like most new cameras it uses SDHC flash cards and that research lead me to the Eye-Fi.

The Eye-Fi card is an SHDC card that can connect WiFi networks and upload pictures to your computer. The software that receives the pictures can then use the log of WiFi networks to Geotag each picture. Okay, that really glosses over this amazing miniature technology but it's enough for this post. At $100 it's significantly more expensive than a standard 4GB SHDC that are around $15 now, but I imagined all the cool things it could do and it seemed worth the premium.

This is my workflow:
  1. After I take the photos, I put the SD card in a card reader and plug it into my computer.
  2. Then I run a script which copies all the files on the card to a folder on my web server. I just tell it the name of the folder to put the files in.
  3. Last I view the folder in my web browser on my picture gallery site to add descriptions and delete any pictures that are not worth saving.
I expected the Eye-Fi card would let me skip the first 2 steps, but quickly discovered a few of its limitations. First the Eye-Fi card won't delete files after it has transferred them to the server. This puts a big kink in my plan, as I either have to manually delete each photo on the camera after verifying that it has been uploaded to the server or keep doing the first 2 steps. The other issue I discovered was that the video recordings on my nice new SD980 had audio static noise caused by interference generated by the radio transmitter in the Eye-Fi card. This meant I couldn't use the Eye-Fi card in my new camera, and while the company was aware of the problem they couldn't provide any assurance that it would ever be fixed.

There's no doubt the Eye-Fi card is an amazing device. The company seems to be friendly to the small group of Linux users who have made a few versions of the receiving software. I even added geotagging to one for my own use. If the issues I found are ever fixed will definitely try Eye-Fi card again.

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