I am trying out the Nikon D800 + 35mm f/1.4G and an Eye-Fi Pro X2 on my road trip in Norway. This is the fourth and last part in my testing series.
I have been testing the Nikon D800 + Nikon Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G, and the Eye-Fi Pro X2. The idea behind the Eye-Fi was to get photos off the camera and on to any publishing services as quickly as possible. The Nikon D800 paired with the 35mm f/1.4 is one of the best combinations of camera equipment I’ve ever tried. The huge RAW-files providing a huge range of detail you get of the D800 is one topic that has been well written about. The wide angle 35mm is just right for my use, I can shoot both intimate portraits and get a wide enough angle for landscape photography. The wide aperture also provides me with a faster shutter in dim-light-situations and can’t use flash. The ISO-range on the D800 (ISO100 – ISO6400) also helps a lot as well.
The card I used for this test was an Eye-Fi Pro X2, the eight gigabyte version which I had bought for the older D700, which turned out to be unsupported even with a CF-adapter. My publishing device was a HTC Sensation (2011) running Android with the Eye-Fi app installed and the service provider for publishing my photos was the Instagram app.
I had a little discussion with one of my readers saying that this is cheating in Instagram. He meant that I couldn’t publish photos that wasn’t shot with a cellphone camera. It wasn’t the philosophy of instant photos. My opinion is that since I almost always have my camera with me and shoot what suits me, it don’t bother me if the technical quality is much better than the small lens-cellphone cameras. If it is shot with a DSLR or a cellphone camera, it is instant and therefor also not violating the philosophy. Really, I couldn’t bother less if it is cheating or not. I just like to photograph and share. If it is with my DSLR or my cellphone, it don’t make much difference if the photo is nice to look at.
I encountered some problems setting up the Eye-Fi card to connect to my phone. I believe it was both the Eye-Fi software and the newly discovered unsupport that was to blame. But after reading quite a lot of forums, following guides and resetting the card a few times. I got it to work both in both Direct Mode and Private Network mode. Since there is a lack of support of public HotSpots in the countryside in Norway, I didn’t get to test it. Since I had gotten it to work with both Direct Mode and Private Network-mode haven’t bothered testing it with AdHoc-mode.
As I experienced and after some days of testing, the Direct Mode was quite unstable and the card didn’t get to connect with my phone every time.
Eye-Fi explains (13.10.12):
The Nikon D800 / D800E is not compatible with Eye-Fi X2 Cards.
Eye-Fi engineering has found and confirmed a compatibility issue with the Eye-Fi card that impacts the use of Direct Mode in the Nikon D800. We are currently investigating an issue with the D800′s SD slot that appears to contribute to a lack of steady signal while the Eye-Fi card is in Direct Mode which makes the Direct Mode feature incompatible with the camera. The Nikon D800/D800e passes all other wireless network tests and is compatible with wireless transfers via a wireless router.
Another reader suggested that I should test out setting my phone in HotSpot-mode and create a private network. This would allow my phone to stay connected to the Internet while I was uploading files from the card. This is one of the downsides if you set up the card for ad-hoc or Direct Mode access, most phones won’t connect to both WLAN and 3G simultaneously that means you need to disconnect the WLAN every time the files are done uploading from the card, to get to publish the files. The switching on and off of the WLAN drains the batteries a bit more than just leaving the phone in HotSpot-mode. The card had some problems connecting to the private network, but I didn’t encounter those as often as I did with the Direct Mode.
Transfer rates. The files as I have stated earlier are huge. RAW-files can vary from 50-80mb per file which is a lot of data to transfer just for one shot. The phone would also be filled up quite fast as well if you decide to upload RAW-files. To speed things up a bit I decided to have my camera saving two separate formats, one RAW to the CF-card and JPG Fine, and small resolution to the Eye-Fi (SD-Card). JPGs saved to the card would be around 5-10MB which is quite a bit step down from the RAW-files, but still has a satisfying quality for web-publishing and quick preview of the files on phones, tablets and even larger computer screens allowing you or the costumers you are shooting for to get a decent preview of what is happening in front of the camera.
Most problems were when I was uploading to Instagram, the phone sometimes would suddenly reboot, the conversion of the JPG-files was quite slow. So depending on the hardware you use and how many apps installed this would in a perfect world not be a big issue. I had also some problems connecting to the network because of low signal or no coverage where I was at the moment. It might be I have to change ISP (www.chess.no) to someone who has better coverage.
Despite some problems installing and setting up both the Eye-Fi-card and my phone, and discovering the issues concerning the Eye-Fi support for D800 in Direct Mode, I am quite satisfied. Selecting JPG and scaling down the picture size I could still upload decent quality photos to any web platform that I desired. The problems was mainly my Android phone shutting down and acting a bit unstable.
I also tested the Eye-Fi card shooting a documentary series for IKEA at their ten year anniversary in Trondheim, earlier this autumn where my setup was a Canon 1DmkIII with a 24-105mm f/4 and an Asus UX31e in Direct Mode. The laptop was set up with Adobe Lightroom 4 as a publishing platform in slideshow mode and the files delivered from the Eye-Fi card was automatically imported adding all new files to the slideshow projected on two big screens as they were shot. I had some issues with range even though the camera had a clear view to the laptop, I had to be at least 10 meters or closer to the laptop before it could start uploading. One solution to this problem might be bringing a portable router with 6dbi, or stronger, antennas upping the signal.
I believe the Eye-Fi cards with wireless tethering to smart phones and laptops are designed for an everyday use as well as for professionals. With the right settings on your camera you can have a quick preview of what you are shooting and show off your shots instantly to costumers or readers of blogs and other web publishing services. Though you might consider shooting the RAW-files to a separate card and do the post processing in the more traditional way transferring the RAW-files through a USB-card reader to the computer.
I am looking forward to test out the new Nikon UT-1 combined with the WT-5a unit. It is a larger device that does exactly the same as the Eye-Fi and some more things such as operating the camera through Camera Control 2 and having a faster transfer rate and might be more stable to use.
I am not stopping publishing photos to Instagram just because the test is over, but it might be that the frequency of new photos isn’t that high. If you want to follow me on Instagram my username is bj0rn_net :)
The road trip
After photographing the week in Raufoss in Oppland I drove back home to Trondheim yesterday passing two car accidents on the road, one in Drivdalen and one in Melhus, fresh in mind my close encounter with a potato field earlier that morning. Drive safe, stay safe! Have a nice weekend!
Here are all the shots from this week:
All photos are shot with a Nikon D800, Nikon 35mm f/1.4G with a Eye-Fi Pro X2 8Gb card, uploaded to my HTC Sensation running Android, Eye-Fi App and uploaded to Instagram