The Eye-Fi mobi card is the real deal

Back in 2006, I was an avid user of Flickr and was asked to help test a new camera card that was going to offer uploading via WiFi. At the time, this meant you could conceivably skip the step of connecting your camera/card to your computer via USB. It was a bit buggy, but eventually worked, but I didn’t find it super useful since you had to be near your home WiFi for it to work.

Since the iPhone came out in 2007, it’s become my primary camera due to ease of use, flexibility in apps, and ability to share photos easily from anywhere. All my other cameras became “dumb” cameras once that smart phone came out. I was curious if a Eye-Fi card could bridge the gap so a few years ago that I tried out the final production versions of Eye-Fi’s cards in point and shoot cameras. On home WiFi, with many camera models building in native support for Eye-Fi cards, the process was much smoother than that initial beta, though connecting away from your home WiFi to your phone was very buggy, clumsy, and was such a time-consuming and tedious process I rarely used the Eye-Fi cards with my phone and mostly gave up on the devices.

I was skeptical of the new Eye-Fi mobi cards recently released, but when I bought a new compact full-frame camera for an upcoming bike tour, I decided to try it out after hearing the smartphone integration was much better than previous models.

After having used a 32Gb mobi card for a couple weeks, I have to say I’m totally impressed and amazed. This is everything Eye-Fi was likely going for over the company’s history, but it never quite hit the mark until now. You start by installing a custom profile to your phone which stores the WiFi password on your card and auto-connects your phone to your camera whenever you power up your camera. You run a mobi app on your phone, and it quickly transfers images (even 26 megapixel RAW images) to your phone. From there, you can selectively choose which images to save to your phone’s native Camera Roll, then share them any way you see fit. The whole process is fast and automatic in a way none of their previous cards were, since you never need to touch your phone’s WiFi settings.

In essence, the card turns any dumb camera into an outboard lens for your phone. Last week on a trip to NYC I took my new compact camera with me and could easily upload photos to Instagram and Twitter within seconds of taking the photos. I mean that literally: I can take a photo with my camera, open up my phone, touch the mobi app icon and about ten seconds later I can be saving that image to my phone’s camera roll. I could also manipulate and tweak the images in a plethora of iPhone apps like VSCOcam, Photoshop Express, etc. directly on the phone before sharing it out to the world.

There’s also a web service to the mobi card, where all your originals will be uploaded to Eye-Fi (when your phone is on a full WiFi connection) with unlimited storage for $50/yr, which seems like a perfectly good deal.

I can’t get over how well the mobi card works. The connection between my phone and my camera is now almost instant, transfers are fast, and sharing is easy. The mobi line of cards are worth every penny and I’d strongly suggest anyone that misses walking around and shooting with a “real” camera to try them out.

5 Comments

  • I bought this VERY quickly on your recommendation and was REALLY confused when I couldn’t get it to work. The answer was, of all things, to shoot RAW+JPEG instead of just RAW. Thanks for the recommendation – it works much better than my Sony’s built-in Wi-Fi.

    • I’m interested to know more about this RAW+JPEG business: are there any iOS apps that deal nicely with RAW? Or is the mobi card just transmitting the JPEGs?

    • Yeah, it looks like I was shooting in RAW + JPEG and manipulating JPEG files. The RAW files show up with a question mark on the iPhone, sorry, my bad.

    • Filterstorm Neue is a brilliant iPhone editing app that can handle RAW files.

  • I bought one of these new EyeFi cards but was very disappointed. I have long been a big fan of EyeFi, so it made the disappointment all the more painful. The process of getting images from the camera to their permanent destination was made much more cumbersome.

    With the previous generation:
    setup: i set my eyeFi to use my phone’s “hotspot” wifi and gave it permission to my flickr and facebook (this is a one time step and pretty easy).
    every time i take pictures: the eyefi automatically connects to the phone in my pocket uploads everything to flickr and facebook.

    that’s it! zero interaction required. no apps top open. nothing to decide. no passwords. no cables. nothing. just shoot pictures and without worry they find their way to their permanent home.

    With the new generation of card:
    setup: it’s truly arduous. it involves profiles and changing wifi and opening the app. it doesn’t ever connect to flickr or facebook.
    every time you take pictures: nothing. nothing happens automatically.

    to make anything happen:
    1. find an app.
    2. open it.
    3. wait for it to connect wifi (which disconnects you from your other wifi).
    4. wait while it downloads images to your phone.

    now the images are as safe as Jennifer Lawrence’s right on your iPhone. which is to say, not at all — so you need to upload them somewhere — so you have to open each app where you want to upload them and then find the images and do that.

    Basically, my gripe is this. The old way was completely automatic. The new way is totally manual. I hate manual. I returned the card. Got a full refund though, so that’s good.

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