If you take pictures out of wireless range, the Eye-Fi card waits until it senses the network and then rapidly sends all the photos.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983


Send photos to your computer the instant they're taken

March 11, 2012

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2012, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2012, The Post-Standard

Wouldn't it be great if your camera sent its photos to your computer automatically? You'd never have to download them or do anything geeky with them ever again. Your pictures would just show up.

To do this, all you need is an Eye-Fi memory card (http://www.eye.fi ). It's got a wi-fi transmitter built in, and it automatically sends each picture you take from your camera to your desktop computer, laptop, iPad, iPhone or Android mobile device. And if you start filling up the Eye-Fi card, the Eye-Fi software checks to make sure that previous photos have been transferred, then deletes the oldest ones from the card to make room for new ones.

Eye-Fi cards are SD type, the almost universal kind of memory card for digital cameras. They're more expensive than standard SD cards, of course, because of the wi-fi circuitry and the lack of competition for wi-fi cards. They list for $50 for a 2 GB basic, normal-speed card to $100 for an 8 GB version with fast memory to handle video recording. Software comes with the card. Discounts are common.

Eye-Fi cards are sold at big-box stores such as Best Buy and at online discounters such as Amazon.

The Eye-Fi card is the same size as a standard SD card and looks exactly the same except for its orange color . The card's wi-fi transmitter gets its power from the camera's existing electrical feed to the card.

Your computer or other device needs to be running Eye-Fi software to receive photos. I found the Eye-Fi software for the iPad too limiting, so I installed an app called ShutterSnitch ($16 from the App Store) on my iPad. ShutterSnitch has many extras.

New Eye-Fi cards are supposed to be able to transmit directly to any wi-fi enabled computer or mobile device, but that function is annoyingly buggy. So, for reliable transfers, you probably need to stick to the original method of piggybacking onto an existing wi-fi network, with the card sending to the router and the router passing the signal along to the receiving device. The card's software sets this up for you.

Direct mode no doubt will work reliably at some point when the software is beefed up, but in the meantime the network method is very dependable.

Photos are sent out immediately as long as the camera is in range of the wi-fi hotspot. If you take pictures out of range, the Eye-Fi card waits until it senses the network and then rapidly sends all the photos. The camera needs to be on to power the card, so you might have to keep the camera from turning itself off right after a shot.