Photo cards with WiFi: Give wireless wings to your digicam pix!

02nd July 2014
Photo cards   with WiFi: Give wireless wings to your  digicam  pix!

July 2 2014: When   so many devices went wireless,  the humble digicam got left behind. Now  with WiFi-enabled  memory cards,  you can send your picture winging away  from camera to phone,  tablet -- or cloud store.

Not all of us have abandoned our trusted digital cameras , for  a megapixel camera-ready smartphone.   Professionals still swear by their digital SLR cameras and unless  they  have   the very latest model,  it will be "unconnected". They  have to transfer or download photos the  old fashioned way -- with a cable that links to a PC, a laptop or a USB flash drive.  Even  the amateurs amongst us, who use one of those point-and-shoot digicams  are not all ready to ditch our  cameras for  the  one on the phone. And  only a couple of pricey digital cameras  come with built-in wireless connectivity.
But help is at hand -- from the unlikeliest  quarters --  the  SDHC memory card  which stores the photos on the camera.  At least three makers of  what are also known as compact flash cards, have put a tiny transmitter into the  memory and turned them into  WiFi hotspots! 
Each maker provides a small app that you need to download and install on your phone or tablet. When the camera is switched on the  memory card creates an instant WiFi network that connects to the app on your mobile device, anywhere you go.
All you have to do is shoot and  send  your pictures wirelessly to  phone or tablet  or upload to  your facebook or Flickr  page -- or to any of the dozen free cloud storage services.
The three WiFi SD cards  most easily available in India are: Toshiba's 'FlashAir' ,  Transcend's WiFi  SD card and EyeFi's EyeFi Mobi or EyeFi ProX2 cards.  All three offer the cards in  8Gb, 16GB and 32GB sizes and if you do comparison shopping on Indian online retail sites, you will be able to get an 8B card for around Rs 2000, a 16 GB for Rs 4000 - 6000 and the 32 GB  for Rs 6000 - Rs 8000. 
There are small functional differences so   check  the specs carefully and decide what modes you require :   they may not all come with the  lowest priced  card for a  given capacity.  Transcend tends to be cheapest, but you have to log on through a browser to  get your pictures in some situations. Some  brands work only with   a mobile OS and not with a desktop PC for  transfer.  Some will allow the wireless transfer to go on even as you are shooting the next picture, others  won't.   In addition to  creating  a WiFi hotspot of its own,   FlashAir also allows you to use your existing home or office WiFi network should you so choose. 
All of them  transfer files in all the popular  still and movie formats, but  not all handle  the RAW format  used for uncompressed   photo storage that professionals prefer.  The ProX2 is much costlier than what I have suggested and  is targeted at  professional shooters who demand fast transfers of photos in RAW format  which could each  be several hundred megapixels in size.
The nitty gritty of  differences may not matter to most of us. What  matters is that   unconnected cameras   are suddenly wireless wizards,  sending our   still and moving images to friends and family almost as fast as we   click. It gives a whole new meaning to shoot-n-share! -- Anand Parthasarathy