Friday, February 17, 2012

My "New" Favorite Toy And It's Not Even For My Camera

First things first, the Eye-Fi Connect X2 card was introduced almost two years ago.  So, it's not exactly new on the market.  It's not even new to me.  I bought it sometime last year, probably about nine months ago.  Why did I buy it?  To use Eye-Fi's Direct Mode with my wife's camera going to the iPAD.  Why am I blowing the horn about it now?  Because it works, finally.  When I first got it I spent about a week fiddling with it, trying to get it to work.  After throwing up my hands, I called Eye-Fi tech support.  They were as patient and helpful as could be, but we still couldn't get it to work.  Something was missing.  Last week I had a couple minutes to kill and picked up the camera again, still with the Eye-Fi card in it.  It works fine as a straight memory card, so why not use it.  I watched a couple YouTube views and one from F-Stoppers and decided to have another run at it.  A couple videos talked about an update for the Eye-Fi Center that sits on the computer and a firmware update for the card itself.  I downloaded and installed both.  Played the F-Stoppers, stopping the video at each step, following the instructions and going on to the next step.  Once I completed all the steps, TADA, still nothing.  To find out what the key to getting it working was, hit the "Read More".

There a couple reasons why this was for Doris' camera.  One, she has a Nikon D80 and it uses an SD Card.  Eye-Fi Cards aren't made in the Compact Flash format used by my camera.  Two, she uses the camera one step past the Auto mode, but doesn't know why.  She puts the selector on A for Aperture Priority and leaves the aperture set to F 5.6.  The D80 has a 2.5" LCD.  That doesn't sound like it's too much smaller than a 3" LCD, but it is.  There's no way in hell decisions about focus and sharpness can be made with that screen.  Doris will take very nice, well composed shots that look great on the small screen, but fall apart on a computer monitor.  She gets pretty frustrated.  So the primary reason for wanting the Eye-Fi Card to work is to be able to discuss what she's looking for in the shots she's taking and give her some guidance about how to achieve her goals.  Is she interested in shallow depth of field to isolate the subject?  Is she shooting a landscape where she'll want maximum DOF?  Whatever she's looking for, we'll be able to discuss what needs to be done to get the shot she's looking for.
So, what was the key to getting the card working with the iPAD?  In a word, George.  Another of the extremely helpful tech support folks from Eye-Fi.  I called the other morning and asked if the person on the other end (George) could get me back to square one and I'd take another run at setting the card up.  I told him I'd done both updates and thought I could get things going if I started as though I'd just taken the card out of the box.  His suggestion was for me to explain "where" I was at the moment and let him see if he could get me going.  We started out in the Eye-Fi Center on the computer.  He asked a couple questions, said okay, do this and this and this.  He told me to take the card out of the computer and put it in the camera.  In the camera he asked me to go to a couple menu locations, both to check the settings and make a couple changes.  Presto changeo, it worked.  Hurray!!!.  I thanked George for the less than five minutes it took him to make it work and hung up.
I turned off the camera, closed out of the Eye-Fi App on the iPad and went outside for some test shots.  I sat on the front steps (my "normal" test shot location) and started things up.  Lit up the app and turned the camera on.  In the Settings Menu of the iPad I looked for the Eye-Fi Card.  Nothing.  Thought maybe I needed to wait a little longer.  Nothing.  The app, was up, the camera was turned on.  Nothing.  I thought "oh well" and took a shot.  It was then that the iPad saw the Eye-Fi Card and it was off to the races.  It worked like a charm.  The one step George hadn't mentioned was that one "throw away" shot needed to be taken to lit up the card.  I'm guessing that they "always" go for the test to make sure it works, so they "always" turn the card on by clicking the shutter.  Small (tiny, atomic) point, but it might save just a wee bit of heartburn.
Great job George.  Great product Eye-Fi.  Thanks