Review: Eyefi's Mobi Pro card can wirelessly send your RAW photos

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The Eyefi Mobi Pro wireless SD card offers simple but powerful wireless sharing (Photo: Simon Crisp/Gizmag.com)

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Eyefi wireless SD cards have made it possible for cameras without built-in Wi-Fi to transfer images sans wires since 2007. However, the firm's recent Mobi cards forwent more advanced features in the name of simplicity and smartphone connectivity. The new Mobi Pro card promises to be just as easy to use, but also boasts higher-end features in a bid to appeal to enthusiast and professional photographers. We spent a bit of time with the Eyefi Mobi Pro ahead of its release to check it out.

While the Eyefi Mobi line had some of the easiest wireless SD cards to use, many photographers were not pleased to see some features like selective transfer and the ability to send RAW files to your computer had been omitted. The Mobi Pro combines the simplicity and smartphone-friendliness of the original Mobi with higher end features like those seen in the Pro X2, and a bigger 32 GB capacity.

In the box there's an unassuming 32 GB Class 10 SDHC card, an activation card, and a USB adapter for times you need to connect the card to a computer. Getting started involves installing the relevant iOS or Android Eyefi Mobi app and typing in a 10-character activation code to set up your card. From there you follow various on-screen directions to set network settings before popping the card in your camera, of which the card is compatible with thousands.

Images and videos can then be automatically transferred to your phone or tablet via a secure Wi-Fi network built into the card. We found this worked just as it had with the earlier Mobi cards. On our iPad 2 this meant needing to manually connect to the Eyefi card's network before files were transferred, while on an Android Moto G (2nd Gen) this was done automatically. Within the Eyefi Mobi app you can then view photo attributes (EXIF), perform basic edits (orientation and crops) and share images. You can also organize and sync them across devices via the Eyefi Cloud, and each Mobi Pro card comes with 12 months access, normally US$50.

Eyefi says users would typically only transfer JPEG image files to their mobile device, and then later upload RAW files to their desktop for post-processing. However, RAW files can also be sent to the mobile device by toggling an option in the settings menu. Doing this means they can be synced via the Eyefi Cloud and then replaced on the device by a space-saving JPEG copy. This could be of use to professionals who need to send RAW files to someone else for editing.

In our tests we also found that if Eyefi Cloud syncing was turned off, so RAW files were not automatically replaced by JPEGs, it was (just about) possible to edit RAW files on a mobile device. That said, given the way our Moto G (2nd Gen) strained to deal with large .NEF files, and frequently crashed while trying to perform basic editing tasks, you might need a bit more horsepower than most smartphone or tablets currently offer. Indeed, Sam Hui, Eyefi's VP of Product Management, told us he would not imagine many people using the card in this way.

By default all images are transferred into the Eyefi Mobi app, which can also prove taxing on your phone, especially if you go for the RAW option and are shooting lots of large files like the ones our Nikon D800 was churning out. A 45 MB RAW file typically took us around 40 seconds to transfer, compared to the 10 seconds it took for a 14 MB JPEG. Luckily there is the option to only transfer select images – more on that later.

If you want to wirelessly transfer images to a computer directly, or make use of more advanced options, which you will if you've opted for the Mobi Pro, you'll also need to install the Eyefi Mobi Desktop app. This requires a Windows PC (Windows 7 or later) or a Mac (OS X 10.10 Yosemite or later), and at its core allows you to receive images from the card without having to go all old-school and plug it into the computer.

The desktop app is also used for changing advanced settings on a physically-connected card. This includes the option to activate/deactivate wireless RAW transfers, or add the Mobi Pro card to a home or studio network. Doing this allows you to transfer images from the card to a computer without disconnecting it from the internet or other network connections first. This could be particularly useful in a studio setting.

Another headline feature that will appeal to both professionals and enthusiasts is the ability to activate Selective Transfer Mode. By using this mode, only images which are selected by using the Protect or Lock feature on the camera are transferred. This makes the card a better option for a professional who may want to show a client select images mid-shoot on an iPad, or enthusiasts who want to share their best images without having to wade through all of them first.

Summing up

With built-in Wi-Fi becoming an increasingly common feature for new cameras, wireless SD cards are becoming a harder sell. That said, there are still millions of digital cameras out there which can take better images than smartphones, but lack the ability to share them easily. This card gives them dead simple but powerful sharing.

For keen photographers, the Mobi Pro is going to be a better option than the standard Mobi card. Having the ability to send RAW images is a huge bonus, as it gives much more freedom when it come to post-processing. The selective transfer mode also makes the Mobi Pro a more attractive proposition for trigger-happy photographers who shoot a lot, but only want to edit or share their best.

The Eyefi Mobi Pro 32GB WiFi SDHC card is available now priced at US$99.99 and comes with 1-year Eyefi Cloud service.

Product page: Eyefi Mobi Pro

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