A couple of months ago I started to look for new and better ways of showcasing and reviewing my work to current and potential clients. I wanted a system that would be flexible enough to support immediate review of the images taken, untethered by the constraints of a USB cable, reliable and fully usable in the field. I needed something that would enable instant review of images and would work well in different environments, ie Studio, Events, Family shoots, Outdoor lifestyle etc...
My research identified certain components. These ranged from the Eye-fi wireless SD card @ €120 (not compatable with the 5D MKII), a CF adapter @ €30, the Canon WFT-E4A wireless device @ €800, the iPad @ €600, an android pad @ €400, a MacBook Air @ €1000, a slim PC notebook @ €500, Canon 60D @ €1200, a pocket N router @ €100 and software to support any of these. There's probably more devices and items for that list, but i can't recall them atm. Any of them, in one configuration or another, would hopefully do what i needed. In the end, the cost of setting up the system became the main stumbling block.
Last night I photographed a 21st at a venue in town using the Lastolite Hi-lite, amongst other things and employing the new workslow system. Here's what I did with some brief explanations of my choices, for anyone who is interested...
The components I went with:
- The iPad.
Now the old version. I don't need the extra processing and graphics power of the iPad 2. I got mine the day after the announcement of the iPad 2. The 32GB version for €479. Thats €120 off the old rrp. That was the tipping point for my choosing that device over other pads or notebooks. The main reason I had my eye on this thing was the beautiful back-lit screen and the form factor. Plus ease of use and undoubtedly the WoW factor was always a consideration.
- The Eye-fi 8GB pro SD wireless card.
Both my cameras (40D and the 5D MKII) use CF cards. The main reason for choosing this device is obviously the price over that of Canon's WFT-E4A. A few other reasons are speed. The Eye-fi supports N networks, albeit only up to 150Mbit/s but better than the G network of the Canon device which runs at speeds up to 54Mbit/s. But the tipping point for my choosing the Eye-fi was the availability of fast CF card readers. Up until last November there was no UDMA compatible CF type II adapter cards on the market that support SDHC. So my eye-fi card goes inside the CF adapter which my UDMA camera (5D MKII) accepts. This configuration is not supported by the Eye-fi company. It not only works but does it really well. So far no errors.
- Software: Shuttersnitch
The next item on the list is software for the iPad. It's called Shuttersnitch and is a quite a mature little app, on version 2 at the moment. It's raison d'être is to display and monitor incoming images and flag them when a certain preconfigured camera settings(shutter speed, aperture and ISO) was not met. Luckily, the developer, Brian Gerfort, apparently decided it'd be cool to integrate the Eye-fi api's into it and thus made Shuttersnitch 100% compatable with the Eye-fi. The app can be purchased in the app store for €12 and is IMO, damn good value for the money. It has no contenders right now but the word on the block is Eye-fi will be releasing their own app by the summer.
- Wireless access point/router.
The last piece of the puzzle is in selecting an appropriate router. The iPad dosen't support Ad-hoc networks. I could jail break it and install an Ad-hoc app, but i'm not prepared to do this yet. Apparently the new Eye-fi app to be released this summer will have Ad-hoc capability built in. I'll keep my fingers crossed on this. I have a spare Linksys G router that fits the bill for now. I'm using it till I get an N router. There's a couple of routers out there that i have my eye on. One by Ubiquiti Networks and the other by D-link. Basically they have to be mobile and accept a battery pack so will work while out and about and support the higher speed of an N network. I just need to find a european supplier. Hopefully i'll have one by the middle of next week.
The estimated overall cost to setup the system is about €860. I could have spent nearly €3000 with other devices. That leads to the ultimate question. Did it improve sales on the night? It's hard to tell, no two nights are ever the same. One thing for sure. I sold a lot more larger images on strut mounts than I usually do but less keyrings. Only time will tell if it pays for itself.
Early test and obligatory shot of Jessica.
A lot more detailed information can be found over on the forums at Eye-fi, Shuttersnitch and Rob Galbraith's site. Without these resources I wouldn't/couldn't have set this up...