Using Wi-Fi, 3G and Eye-Fi for DSLR photo uploading on the move

As a student journalist, one of my big problems was getting content online quickly. This was paramount with liveblogging, but we had no easy way of getting content off memory cards quickly.

Enter Eye-Fi, a wi-fi memory card marketed primarily for home use. There’s definite reasons for this. It lacks WPA2 Enterprise support, preventing it from using any corporate networks, and it requires a computer to setup for each new wi-fi network (which must also be available and Internet connected at the time). Within its limits however, an Eye-Fi card is an effective tool.

Using Eye-Fi in the field

To get the Eye-Fi working outside, I used a few simple tools:

  • Two Eye-Fi cards
  • Two DSLR cameras (one Nikon, one Pentax, only Nikon have official support)
  • One unlocked HTC Desire Android phone with an extended battery and data plan
  • Eye-Fi’s official Android app

Under normal circumstances, Eye-Fi’s app only supports connecting to the card’s own wi-fi hotspot. However, Android will attempt to use this for all data connections and ignore mobile data.

The solution is instead to simply pair the card with the phone’s wi-fi hotspot and ignore the app’s attempts to disable it. Since data capacity is limited, you can choose from the app which photos to upload and push directly to Eye-Fi’s own website. Not elegant, but still remarkably effective and allowing for multiple cards to be deployed without much of a headache.

 

Notes

I worked with App Brewer to get Dropbox support included in the MoPhotos app for Android but unfortunately this was never stable enough in production use.

Transcend has since gotten into the market with its own offerings that offer more GB for your buck than Eye-Fi but I’ve yet to get my hands on one of these, though at a glance they seem more flexible.

The trial of the card was done using a 3G enabled phone as 4G hotspots were not available.

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