Smartphone and Digital Camera paired for $39.99

Repost from (ericlwoods.tumblr.com). 05/25/2012

File under cool tech gift for little outlay. I have changed phones twice since the Nexus pictured (first an iPhone 5 [great phone/camera, but ultimately too small for my beef mitts], and now on to a good old solid, could double as a throwing weapon (which I like actually although I have no such nefarious intentions), Nokia Lumia 920 that I am quite pleased with [My wife has graciously taken the iPhone 5. Such the trooper, she.]), but that is a whole other story or two.

Got a digital camera?

Got a smartphone?

Like to snap shots on the go?

Want to be able to upload to a device wirelessly?

Sick of all of these questions?

Eye-Fi has just the product for you.

For approximately $50 ($39.99 on sale this week at Best Buy) you can get an SD Card w/ WiFi built in that will allow you to turn your camera into an extension of your smartphone.

My expectation: Enter home after a day of snapping shots and have my camera shoot my photos over to my home computer via my home’s wireless network.

What I got: Camera and phone linked in tandem so within a minute after taking a photo it is automatically uploaded to my smartphone which then turns around and uploads it to an online Eye-fi album via my data plan.

I know, right?…

Picture this. Sicily 1942… Ok, not really. This morning my kids notice a rabbit in our front yard. My phone takes a decent shot, but digital zooms are garbage so the best I could hope for is a fuzzy rabbit. Instead I take my camera out of my pocket, zoom in, take a few shots and then absent-mindedly put the camera to the side and before we get to the school (a mile or so down the road) I notice that the phone has uploaded the pictures, and sent a copy to Eye-fi’s cloud (later in the day I figured out how to have it auto-sync w/ Picasa (Google). FB and Flickr are the other auto-sync options.). Later on I uploaded the picture to Instagram (or any other on line album or share destination accessible by my phone for that matter).

I then show this to a few co-workers who are all technophiles, with a couple who are also photography buffs thrown in. I thought I was late to the party, but almost none had heard of SD/WiFi cards, and none were aware of the fact that they could sync without an access point, directly between an android device (iphone also per the set up prompts) on the fly, on the go… for $39.99. And it just works. No fussiness involved.

All that is required:

  • Smartphone (Android or iphone, not sure about Windows 7 or balckberry)
    • disclaimer: I use ICS Android, but I saw nothing indicating that this was a requirement for WiFi direct. I will get around to testing this with my wife’s Gingerbread Android phone to verify.)
  • Camera (Any modern digital camera should do)
  • Eye-Fi SD Card ($39.99-$49.99)
  • Eye-fi mobile app (free)
  • Eye-fi desktop app (included on card/free download)
  • USB/SD adapter (included w/ card)
  • Eye-fi account (free, w/ optional upgrade)
    • The free Eye-Fi cloud option holds photos for 7 days before deleting them. The upshot is that you can download the desktop app and set Eye-Fi to sync from the cloud to your desktop automatically adding yet another level of redundancy. I like that.
    • In light of being able to auto-sync w. Picasa, Flickr, and Facebook and cannot make sense of why I would pay $49 annually for unlimited storage. It also unlocks unlimited card functionality that deletes photos as they are uploaded successfully. Sounds good on paper, but w/ a 4GB card my photo capacity was around 1300+ w/ my usual settings, but even at 16MP a clip the capacity is over 600 photos. I am not likely to use that up in a hurry and even if I did all I would have to do is manually delete the files from the camera… And it would be yet another cloud bucket of many I would have to manage. I prefer the free service’s delete after 7 days option actually.

This was better than I would expect for $50, but especially a great deal at $39.99 and by searching that price could possibly be beat.

The same applies to video. With the photo editing/publishing software and websites accessible on smartphones and tablets this makes for some interesting possibilities.

Side camera review (kind of):

Long winded version: Occasionally, and more often recently w/ consumer electronics, technology gets out ahead of my expectations. Partially because of unexpected ingenuity and partially due to my cynical stance that companies are not willing to part w/ said ingenuity unless price gouging is involved. The purchase of this card was driven by me recently getting a screaming clearance deal on my personal favorite line of digital cameras (Panasonic Lumix w/ Leica optics. Now with retsyn. Ok, the last part is made up.) I basically stalk products I want until they are discontinued then seek to pounce on them right in that gap between discontinuation and floor model only. This camera was my latest prey. There was nothing wrong with my last Panasonic Lumix/Leica camera which has served me well for years, except it was larger than I liked. I bought a fitted leather Panasonic case with belt loop from Amazon for peanuts, but I quickly realized it was a camera fanny pack on arrival. Just plain no. The size was compact given the 10x optical folded Leica lens, but it was still too large to carry in a shirt or pant pocket w/o looking odd. With the advances in smartphone photo quality I stopped lugging this camera around altogether, but digital zooms are useless so far off shots were out of the question. A decent small camera in shirt pocket beats two better, bulky ones in a camera bag somewhere else. The new camera sacrifices on the lens a little (8x optical), but is a fraction of the size, very pocketable, and (w/ the aid of a clearance table, a price marking error and kind salesperson) I picked it up for less than $100 w/ a 2 year replacement warranty thrown in. Thank you Staples. New camera meant a new SD Card since my wife has claimed the last Panasonic which, as it turns out, fits in a purse just fine. While I was at it I decided to look for an SD card w/ WiFi built in which led me to stumble on to the Eye-Fi sale at Best Buy.

Abbreviated version: In general I find Panasonic Lumix line cameras w/ 8x + Leica optics to be quite pleasing for the needs of the casual, opportunistic “Hey that looks cool, <snap>.” photographer.

A $140 WiFi Camera. All because I gave a friend a ride to Staples to pick up some photo paper.

Cool.

ELW