Eye-Fi Card & 5D Mark III

Jul
14
2013

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Several months ago I decided to purchase an Eye-Fi card to see what benefits it could offer to shooting with the Canon 5D Mark III, and now feels like a good time to summarize my findings.  For anyone considering whether an Eye-Fi card will work well with their Mark III, I hope you find this useful.

On receipt of the card I made my usual mistake of thinking I did not need to read the user guide.  Unfortunately, the Eye-Fi card takes a little set-up work, but once you realize that you need to read the instructions (supplied with the card and also available on the Eye-Fi website) it is a relatively straightforward process to download the Eye-Fi app, pair the card with your device and activate it.

The Eye-Fi cards are 100% compatible with the Canon 5D Mark III, but there are also settings which you need to be aware of (and change) in the Camera as it is not setup for wireless transfer by default.

After the initial setup, regular use of the card is pretty straightforward:

1) On the 5D Mark III, I set the ‘Record Function’ to record separately – with RAW files being written to my primary CF card and then low resolution JPG files to the Eye-Fi SD card.

2) In the camera menu Eye-Fi settings, set Eye-Fi transmission to “Enable”

3) Then take a test shot or two.

4) On the iPad/iPhone go to Settings > Wi-Fi and you should see your Eye-Fi card as a network which you can then select.

5) Once connected shots are (almost) instantly uploaded to the Eye-Fi app for viewing

A few of my insights after 3 or 4 months using the card:

a) Card Size
As my main use of the card is to review shots on my iPad on location or in studio, I only purchased a 4gb card.  This has proved to be a good decision.  I am writing the files I will ultimately use in RAW format to my CF card, and only writing low or mid resolution JPG files to the SD Eye-Fi card, so I do not need large volumes of space on the card.

b) Eye-Fi App
The default eye-fi app does not have many features which I find useful when shooting.  Other than displaying shots, most of the functionality of the app seems to be focused on sharing, which is not of interest to me.  As such, it is great news that once the images have been transferred from the card to the iPad (or iPhone or Android device) they are then viewable in any photo app that accesses the device photo albums.  Personally I have found the zoom feature on the basic iOS Photos app as well as the simple thumbnail view and navigation options excellent and have not required any other app.

c) Wireless Network Conflicts
One frustrating element is apparent when you are in an environment where your iPad (or alternative device) already has access to a wireless network.  As the eye-fi card is not continuously writing images, I have found that my iPad will revert to ‘regular’ networks, when there is a pause in shooting, which then requires me to go back into settings and reselect the Eye-Fi card.  This is obviously not a problem when operating out of range of a known network, or, on a long shoot where I am having conflicts, I will just remove the conflicting network from my ‘remembered’ networks.

d) iPad Mount
After trying several home made options, I invested in a Ram X-Grip to mount my iPad to my Tripod.  The mount works great with both my Manfrotto 190CXPRO3 and 055PROB tripods and offers great viewing options as well as a secure, easy to adjust and reliable mount.

e) Magic Lantern
For those users who are using Magic Lantern or are considering downloading the firmware upgrades….. STOP.  For the time being at least, Magic Lantern cannot be installed on Eye-Fi cards.  Furthermore, if you install ML on your Mark III, because the bootflag is written to the camera, not the card, you are not then able to hot swap your ML card for your Eye-Fi card.  There are many forum entries on the ML site (and other sites) discussing this issue (in a lot more detail than there is space for here), and it appears that certain combinations of Eye-Fi card and versions of ML do enable this function, but it is a great risk to take.  For the time being it appears that you need to choose between the benefits of using an Eye-Fi card and the benefits of installing Magic Lantern (including the amazing RAW video feature).   Hopefully this issue will be addressed soon.  Likely by ML rather than Eye-Fi, but hopefully someone will come up with a solution soon which will enable us to use both these great features interchangeably.

f) Uses
I have found the almost instant transfer of files to be great in many situations, some of which have been:

i) Studio
When carrying out studio shoots, enabling both me and the client to see an instant large format review, with the ability to zoom in, has been excellent.  Whilst full tethered shooting is also an option, I find the Eye-Fi card and tablet option very quick to setup, and has the least long term impact as I can delete the shots from the iPad after the shoot and have not wasted any storage space.

ii) Web Portraits
I have a number of clients who ask me to shoot ‘quick’ head shots of the their team for their website.  Budgets and time typically restrict these from being full studio sessions, but whether they are or not, the option to capture low res duplicates of all the images quickly on my iPad enables the client and/or subjects (models) to quickly review the shots captured and choose their favourite(s).

iii) Architecture Shoots
For both myself and clients, the benefit of being able to instantly review an interior shot to check lighting, focus (using zoom feature) and composition as well as the alignment of tilt shift lenses is extremely useful.

iv) Macro Shoots
Whilst not a large part of my business, I do enjoy some macro work in my spare (haha) time.  Another great use of the Eye-Fi card and iPad combo is being able to review and zoom in on macro shots and check focus.

SUMMARY
As the Mark III has twin card slots (one CF card and one SD card), the ability to write my primary RAW image to the CF card and then a temporary JPG to the Eye-Fi SD card is a great use of the dual slots.

I’m sure on other single card slot cameras the larger capacity Eye-Fi cards would be useful and also that the sharing options for other applications are of great interest to some users.

For the relatively cheap price, I have found the Eye-Fi card to be more than an extra gadget in the camera bag – it is an excellent product with many practical time saving and efficient applications.  I would thoroughly recommend them to anyone who uses a Canon 5D Mark III and has a need to review shots in more detail than their lcd screen allows.

USEFUL LINKS

Eye-Fi Website
http://www.eye.fi/

Ram x-Grip iPad Mount
http://www.rammount.com/Products/XGriptradeMounts/XGriptrade10TabletMounts/tabid/4691/Default.aspx

9 Responses to “Eye-Fi Card & 5D Mark III”

  1. Thanks! This article is exactly what I needed–from 5D3 to an iPad. I’ve shot tethered to my laptop and it’s a pain (and kind of slow)–this looks like the perfect compromise. Hadn’t thought about the ability to then email the jpeg version; as you say, sometimes it’s a useful option. Can’t wait to try this on my next studio shoot–it’ll sure save a lot of those times where I think I got the shot, but then later saw it wasn’t quite sharp. Thanks for going to the trouble to post this review, along with the links to the rammount.

    • dave says:

      Hi Frank

      Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you found the review useful. If you have not invested yet, I do have another suggestion…. If you have an iPad you should look at the CamRanger dongle and app.

      I bought one a few months ago for the ability to offer remote shooting control, as well as all of the benefits of the Wi-Fi card.

      It is AMAZING! I am trying to find time to do a review, and have not yet managed it, but if you are looking for an improvement over shooting tethered, the CamRanger is the perfect solution.

      When I first saw the price of it I struggled to “push the button” on a purchase for about a month, but then when I committed I was delighted.

      Have a look online, and I will try and get a full review up soon

      Dave

  2. Hi, Dave–thanks for the quick response. I checked out the CamRanger, but I’d already ordered the Eye-Fi. I guess I’ll stick with it for now–but I added the CamRanger to my Wish list on Amazon so I wouldn’t forget about it. I hope to try out the Eye-fi tonight.

    One little note about your response–it didn’t go to me as an email; I just happened to check back to get the right version of the CamRanger and saw you’d responded. If that’s how you intended, I’m not complaining so don’t get me wrong. Thanks for the info on the eye-fi and the CamRanger; much appreciated.

  3. Richard Jacquot says:

    Thank you for this article. I had no idea this was possible and it is going to be a great addition to my gear. I used the links you provided but I was not able to identify a part similar to the one showed on your picture. I am trying to find the portion that links one of the legs of the tripod to the iPad mount. Would you have that information–how it is called or a reference.
    Thank you again for sharing this information,
    Richard

    • dave says:

      Hi Richard
      Thanks for the comment. I’m glad you found the entry useful. I too found the RAM website a little difficult to use. Their products are great, but because they have so many, it is difficult to find what you need. There are a wide variety of mounting options. You can either buy a tablet mount, and then add a clamp and a socket arm or you can just buy one of the final solutions they have. For example this Ram Yoke mount with arm and base: http://www.rammount.com/CatalogResults/PartDetails/tabid/63/partid/082065080045066045049050049085/Default.aspx

      When you go to purchase the tablet mount, you choose it based on drop down boxes where you define your tablet model, and then after that it gives you mounting options. I found this one under aviation options!!

      I hope that helps
      Dave

  4. brian says:

    Thanks for the info.
    I have been reluctant to trade in my 5D Mark2 because the wifi on the Mark3 is so clunky……plus I didn’t want to dish out another $1500 for yet another wifi devise.
    Do you feel the Eye Fi card is as quick as the Wifi?
    I just use the Jpegs to proof.
    Also what is the transfer distance?

    cheers

    B

  5. brian says:

    Just a follow up

    The Eye Fi cards works quite fine,
    It is a touch slower than the Wi Fi but for $90 worth every penny.
    I’ve been using it for the last couple of weeks and have not had any problems

    cheers

    b

  6. Hi! First of all thank you very much for the article.

    My question is:

    Would it be possible to install Magic Lantern using SD card and use a CF to SD card converter, thus mounting a Eye-Fi SD into the CF card-slot, to still have Eye-Fi capabilities and transfer the RAW footage to an external device? Storage is my main concern using ML.

    Thank you in advance

    • dave says:

      Hi Georgi

      Thanks for your note. You can certainly now transfer RAW files with Eye-Fi Pro X2 cards.

      Regarding the converter, I have heard mixed reviews on whether you can use a card converter to use the Eye-Fi SD card in the CF slot…. some people quote success with this, whilst others have not been so happy. I have not had a chance to test it myself.

      Can you explain further your concern regarding “Storage is my main concern using ML”? I am not sure I understand what the challenge is.

      I am trying to find time to do a detailed write-up on my use of the CamRanger which has pretty much replaced my need for the Eye-Fi card. Hopefully I will find time in the coming weeks, but this will probably not be a solution for your challenge of RAW file transfer while using ML.

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