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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Eye-Fi Explore Video 4GB - GeoTagging & WiFi - First Impressions

I had previously posted about my desire to geotag photos that I was shooting with my Canon cameras. It was a very rudimentary and painful process...but it worked. In fact, it was so painful that I still have not finished the posts on "how" I got it to work. However, that is a major digression about a decision to the fact that I have taken pretty much a 2-month hiatus on posting. Back, to the point of this post.

I was really looking for a much simpler solution when someone turned me onto the Eye-Fi series of SD-Card memory cards. They have a series of cards that have built in WiFi or Wireless cards that allow you to connect to a network in order to upload your photos.

Their "premium" card, the Eye-Fi Explore Video also supports geotagging of photos (based on the Skyhook network) and connects to open WiFi networks or hotspots through their partnership with Wayport (which has been acquired by AT&T). After a little reading, I was sold that it was definitely worth a try. You can get it for ~$99 at Amazon -- click here for an easy link.

Geotag information was added to my Eye-Fi Video Explore 4GB card

The only wrinkle at first is that they were coming out in March with a 4GB card that was the same price as the current 2GB card. So, I placed a pre-order for the card and waited some. Once it finally arrived, I popped it in my Canon Rebel XSi and was ready to get going.

It came in a nifty little package as you can see above, with a USB adapter. Upon plugging it into my USB Port, the Eye-Fi Manager software installed. The software is really just a little joblet that provides some basic drivers and the bridge between the Eye-Fi Website and your SD-Card.

Setup only took a couple of minutes to configure my local network and then the card confirmed that it was able to connect to my local network for photo upload. Additionally, there are some great setup features such as automatically downloading the photos not only to a computer, but also posting them on one of about 20 photo services like Flickr, Picasa, SnapFish, Costco, Kodak, ShutterFly, etc. So that once your photo is uploaded to Eye-Fi, Geotagged and beamed back to your computer -- it is also posted to your favorite photo sharing site.

Pretty cool.

It was time to run a couple of tests. I popped the configured SD Card into my camera, stepped into the backyard and snapped off a couple of pictures. I was mainly looking to test our the WiFi upload capability -- thinking that it was unlikely that the Skyhook network actually had our residence in their coverage.

After a couple of minutes of leaving the camera on, I wandered back to my desk and saw the photo downloading to my Mac Mini.

Eye-Fi SD Card downloading my photo from the cloud to my pc, wirelessly and geotagged

I opened up iPhoto and took a peek at the information on the picture.
Eye-Fi Explore Video 4GB Geotagging and WiFi memory card

To my instant surprise, the photo was geotagged with relative accuracy, right into my backyard. I was initially very impressed with both the upload and the photo. I went on and did a little additional testing.

I took about 15-20 additional pictures and found that I was most ~75% of them were properly geotagged when their uploading was completed. The main issue I found was how quickly I turned on the camera, took the photo and turned off the camera. I basically ended up concluding that a best practice with both my EOS Rebel XSi and my PowerShot SD790IS was to turn on the camera for about 5 seconds before taking the photo and leave it on about 10 seconds after I stopped taking the photos. Once I tuned in to there pretty much all my pictures had a geotag on them. Pretty nice.

Overall from a first impression, I am pretty happy with the Geotagging and wireless uploading feature on the Eye-Fi Explore Video 4GB. However, I need a couple of trips to really try it out, as well as the hotspot capabilities. Will definitely post a "second look" once I have some more time on it!

Also, if you are interested in the geotagging capability, it is important to know that this card and the Skyhook system is completely dependent on WiFi signals to triangulate and place the location of your photos. So, if for example you are out on a boat, in the mountains, or in the ocean -- this card will not report your location. You would likely need another solution. Still, for most geotagging needs -- could work for you.

I am excited about the continued use of it!

Update: I have posted my 2nd look at the Eye-Fi Explore card here.


Ziv said...

Ken, awesome post and review. Thank you.

BTW, speaking of useful tools -- I'm a HUGE fan of TurboTax, and use it religiously, every year, to do my family's taxes, my sisters' and my parents' returns :-) It's an insanely well built piece of software that saves me thousands of dollars every year.

Cheers --

Ziv Gillat.

RickA said...

Try getting a GPS logger such as QStars BT 1300 then using HoudahGeo you can geotag all still photos into iPhoto '09 or to Google Earth Still trying to find how to geotag videos