Eye-Fi Card & 5D Mark III
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.
I have found the almost instant transfer of files to be great in many situations, some of which have been:
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.
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.