Eye-Fi on Linux Part 2

When the Eye-Fi works so well with the iPad, why would I want to seemingly make life more complicated for myself by adding more hardware into the mix?

Well, transferring to a Linux based machine like the CubieTruck offers me some advantages over the iPad.  Some of them I alluded to in my previous post on this topic, but at the time, my primary thought was really just on-site backup (after making the switch from SanDisk Eye-Fi cards to Eye-Fi Pro X2 cards).

No real interaction, no file serving to viewing devices, just straight up copy the images to the CubieTruck, and then copy it all onto my network when I get back home.

Since then, I’ve been having a bit more of a think about what else a Linux machine on location might offer over the iPad while shooting with the Eye-Fi (or even just plain old fashioned card copying).  So, here’s a list of things that immediately spring to mind.

  • RAW processing (sort of – I’ll get to that).  The iPad doesn’t really have any kind of RAW editing capability.  Yes, there are RAW processing apps available, but they’re not really in the same kind of league as the likes of Lightroom, Adobe Camera RAW and Capture One.
  • Storage Options – I can hook up a SATA or USB hard drive to it, so I’m not limited to the internal storage space (handy if I’m away for a few days – I can even copy to the SATA,  backup to a USB hard drive, then wipe my cards each day, and still have 2 copies of everything with me.
  • Stored content can be viewed on multiple devices simultaneously (cellphones, tablets and laptops via a browser, for example), I’m not limited to just viewing it on the device the files were originally sent to (as you are using the Eye-Fi software with the iPad).
  • I can (I think) use it with multiple Eye-Fi cards shooting simultaneously, with each card’s files being stored in separate directories (handy if I’ve got a couple of cameras going just shooting BTS or timelapse).
  • Easy transfer to my networked storage once I get it back home (the CubieTruck has built in ethernet and 802.11n WiFi) using BitTorrent Sync.  It can even start transferring before I get home, or even while I’m still shooting, as long as the CubieTruck has a WiFi or wired ethernet connection to the Internet.

The big things for me on that list above are the mass storage possibilities and easy network transfer of files (whether I’m home or not), which were both part of my original intention.

I generally don’t often run out of card space on a standard shoot or even on a 3-5 day expedition into the Lake District or a game fair, but as I find myself starting to shoot more video, memory card space is becoming a valuable resource.

If I can backup to 2 hard drives while on location and then free up the cards for more shooting, I’m going to do it!

If I can find an internet connected ethernet port, or free WiFi I can jump onto and start sending my files back to my servers at home over BitTorrent Sync, I’m going to do that too!

So, I said above that there’d be some kind of RAW processing capabilities, and I also said I’d get to it.  Well, here I am, getting to it.

Now, I said near the top that the RAW processing apps available for the iPad aren’t exactly Lightroom or Capture One.  Well, neither is trying to process RAW files on Linux through a web interface, but at least it won’t have the storage issues that the iPad does, and if I can create some preset “looks”, I can batch the whole shoot (or have it apply by default as I shoot), and get a better idea of the final look.

One of the things that the Linux Eye-Fi Card Manager allows us to do is run a script as each file upload is complete.  If we are shooting and sending RAW files, we can have the script convert the file over to a JPG using whatever defaults we define, for viewing via a browser.

It’s even possible to code a PHP interface that could give you similar options to those you may be familiar with from Lightroom.  Shifting the white balance, bumping the highlights, black levels, shadows and exposure, some form of “Clarity” slider, tweaking saturation, etc.

Here’s a few links to various Linux apps that may become part of the workflow, just for reference.  The whole point of these apps is that they can sit and process in the background, behind the scenes as it were, so that we can use them without requiring a full blown desktop user interface.

Even if nothing else, it means we don’t have to look at the JPG file as the camera wants to convert it.  We can create our own defaults to maximise the entire dynamic range of the RAW file, and present things to us in a way that’s more useful (possibly overlaying custom information over the top, like the shot settings, and a histogram).

It’s going to take a fair bit of planning, and some nifty PHP coding, and even though it’s not essential to my plan of being able to quickly and easily backup on location, I think worth the effort.