I’ve been eyeing the Eye-Fi line of SD cards for some time now. The company offers a dual-purpose memory card for cameras; not only does it store captured photos and videos, but it can send them over Wi-Fi. I had a conversation with the Eye-Fi folks earlier this week to talk about their newest product. It’s called the Eye-Fi Pro, and it launches today for $149 in a a 4GB capacity.
The Pro is aimed for what I’d call “pro-sumers.” It offers all of the features found in the other Eye-Fi models, but it adds three more: RAW support, selective transfer, and ad hoc upload capabilities.
RAW images are essentially digital negatives. Unlike JPG files, which are commonly used by digital camera users, RAW images aren’t compressed. Instead, they’re basically the data captured by the image sensor. As a result, they’re larger in size. Many (if not all) of the digital photographers I follow on the web use RAW files to ensure that the image they capture is the one they work with in post-processing. By adding RAW support, the Eye-Fi Pro is expanding its potential audience to high-end photography buffs and professionals alike.
Selective transfer adds the convenience of picking and choosing the images you want to send from your Eye-Fi to a computer or online photo site. The Eye-Fi people tell me that 90 percent of their users have asked for this feature, and I’m not surprised. On a single shoot, I may take a few hundred pics, many of which are the same scene. I only want to work with the best photos, so why would I want to waste time and battery life sending them all? The default function of the Eye-Fi is to send them all, but using the Lock or Protect feature of your camera, you can select which photos are sent. The selective transfer feature isn’t only for the Eye-Fi Pro, either. It works for all Eye-Fi cards through the Eye-Fi Manager software.
I really like the last feature that’s specific to the Eye-Fi Pro: ad hoc network support. With all of the other Eye-Fi cards, you need to have a Wi-Fi network available to transfer your photos without wires. The Pro takes the Wi-Fi network out of the equation. All you need is a Mac or PC with integrated Wi-Fi to create a wireless conduit between your camera and your computer. There’s no router needed and no need to hunt for a hotspot. “Eighty percent of our users take a laptop with them,” the Eye-Fi team tells me. Now 100 percent of those folks can use their camera and laptop together wherever they are.
The Pro is available today on Amazon, and I received a review unit late yesterday. Like the Eye-Fi Explore Video, it offers geotagging through SkyHook Wireless and a year of uploads at Wayport Wi-Fi hotspots. I’ll have the Eye-Fi Pro for two weeks and will put it through the paces by transferring photos and videos from my Canon EOS Rebel T1i. Stay tuned for some hands-on experiences.