Camera & Eye-Fi Review – Sony DSC-HX20V with Eye-Fi Pro X2 16GB

I got this camera for my 50th birthday this month. So far, it’s nothing short of great. And after reading about the Eye-Fi card, and how it works, I immediately ordered one to use with the new camera. The 18.2 MP photos are great, and the 20x (40x digital) really is nice too. I’ve been using the “i+ Superior Auto” mode, which is new for me. What it does is pretty nice: When you take a picture in this mode, depending on the lighting and the image contents, you might hear multiple clicks as the shutter snaps multiple times using various settings. Then it combines all of the images and blends them automatically into one photo, much like HDR. This allows you to take excellent low-light photos that are still crisp and clear with little or no graininess in them. The camera also has built-in GPS tagging (and logging, for recording your journey on a map!) It takes the camera a couple minutes to grab the GPS signal once you turn it on, but from that point on it works great.

Another excellent feature is “iSweep Panorama” mode. This mode allows you to simply click the shutter button and sweep the camera from left to right in one clean motion, either slow or fast. Once you’ve rotated it 180 degrees, your panorama is completed and it displays as a nice, long photo on the screen, at a resolution of 4912×1080 (5mp) in STD mode, 7152×1080 (7.7mp) in WIDE mode, or a whopping 10480×4096 (42.9mp) in HR mode! This is tons better than many other panorama methods I’ve seen cameras (and apps) use, involving stitching of multiple separate photos together, or doing virtually the same thing, but by having you click for each photo, then overlapping them in-camera as you rotate to the next spot, line it up, and click again.

The camera also shoots very nice, full 1080p video, while using image stabilization (optional) and optional zooming, so it’s great for home movie-making as well. It will also shoot 3D photos and 3D panoramas as well as 3D multi-angle images viewable in-camera and on 3D TVs.

The final kicker, which makes this pretty much my “dream” camera, is the addition of a Eye-Fi Pro X2 16GB SDHC card! This is a memory card, used just like a standard SDHC memory card–with one major difference: It has built-in Wifi! When configured (initially, on a PC, with the included SDHC card reader), it will automatically sync all of your photos and videos–as you take them–with your home PC, laptop, or your Android or iPhone! And it can optionally auto-upload to your favorite photo-sharing service like Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, and many others! I will never have to worry about losing any of my photos, because they’re automatically backed up–both on my PC and in my Flickr account in the cloud!

Once I take a photo or two, after about a minute (as long as I keep the camera’s power on) the photos start streaming into my Android phone. It will also optionally GPS-tag the photos from your cell phone. I actually set this option, even though the camera has GPS, because I like to turn the camera on and snap photos quickly, and sometimes I’m done shooting before the GPS ever gets a lock. So with this option on, the GPS from my phone (which is on all the time) is used to tag the photos instead, and it’s fairly accurate all of the time. Once the photos are uploaded to my phone, my phone then uploads them to my preferred backup destination–which is Flickr. You can choose to make them automatically public or private, or only viewable by certain people. I have mine set to private, then later on I can sort through them on Flickr and publish those that I want to share, and delete or keep the rest as I want. This will be great for vacations! I can setup the photo album ahead of time, make it public, then snap all the photos as we travel and everyone gets a live photo feed of our trip! Hopefully it’ll work out much better than EveryTrail, which has pretty much been a flop for our vacations thus far. I can understand having some “dead spots” in very rural places at times, when crossing the country, but for it to just stop working completely when we take just a few photos and never pick up again until we’re at our destination two days later, is simply unacceptable. That’s EveryTrail though, and has nothing to do with Eye-Fi or the camera.

I tried the camera today for a new Ingress Portal Submission, and it worked great. Took a minute to get to my phone, and once the photo was there, I shared it to NIA Super-Ops, gave it a title, and submitted the new portal. The Eye-Fi Pro X2 Android app also has the ability to simply auto-upload photos taken with just your cell phone camera as well, so all of the photos taken with just my cell phone are also automatically uploaded to Flickr and/or my PC just as the camera’s photos are. This is a great bonus because it fully backs up EVERY photo I take, not just those taken with the camera containing the Eye-Fi card.

The only issue I have with using the Eye-Fi card is how I have to leave the camera power on after shooting photos. I have the habit of powering it off immediately after I’m done to save battery. When I do this, it can’t establish a connection to my phone and send the photos to it. Granted it does transfer the photos just fine the next time the power is turned on again, but that makes backups a little less instant, making my photos a little more vulnerable. Once I leave the camera on and the photos finish transferring to the phone, then the camera power shuts itself off automatically. Though, how an Eye-Fi card (which can be used in ANY camera) can control THIS camera like this, I have no idea. Don’t question the magic Jim, just go with it…