Saturday, 12 June 2010

Gear change

The nifty little ZoomIt SD card reader for iPhone. © Magnus Andersson

This morning my ZoomIt arrived! I ordered this in early February and four months (!) later it is finally here. I paid $49.99 for mine and got a free 4GB SD card for being one of their first customers. They had various problems with manufacturing, including having to wait for Apple to deliver a key component. I'm pretty sure that Apple deliberately delayed delivery to ZoomIt so that they could get their own Camera Connector Kit for iPad ready (it only costs $29, but doesn't work with the iPhone as far as I can tell), but never mind.

The ZoomIt is a small device which connects to the iPhone and via the free app it turns into a SD card reader and a file management system. It means that you can now move large files to and from the phone and that's great news for us photographers with SD recording cameras! My walk around kit has always been a good compact camera - currently the LX3 - but its always been frustrating to instantly share pictures, having to revert to the iPhone and its camera with little control. Don't get me wrong, I love the usability of the built-in camera, its fun to use, especially when there are so many apps to edit your pictures with, and its easy to share them online, but you never had full control over focus or exposure and file sizes left a lot to be desired - until now.

The ZoomIt connected to the iPhone. © Magnus Andersson

After charging the internal battery for 20 minutes it was good to go and it works straight away. You plug in the reader to the phone, pop in your card and then launch the ZoomIt application. It should say 'Connected' on your screen and then you can start moving your images and videos onto the iPhone for editing with your favourite apps. I tried it out this morning with this tweet and it works a treat! Everything on the card shows up, so you can keep movies, TV shows, music and other documents on a separate card and transfer to the File Manager when you need it.

My walk around kit; a battered LX3, a shiny new ZoomIt and the slightly scratched iPhone 3Gs. © Magnus Andersson

The only drawback so far is that they have opted for a proprietary USB cable that you have to use to charge the internal battery and I can see this being a problem if you forget it at home or worse, loose it. Battery capacity could also be an issue, but I've only had it a few hours so its too early to tell.

All I need now is a CF card version so I can edit D700 pictures on the iPhone, but so far there have been very little movement on that front. Come on, developers, you can do it!


Søren said...

Hi Magnus.
Great post and I'm almost agree on every comment you've made on the zoomIt. BUT - and it's a big but(!)- I have a few cons to the product.

I just received my device the day before leaving for 6 week in Thailand (currently in Chiang Mai) where I take around 700 pictures each week and also sharing some on my travelblog / flickr. My setup is; dslr camera with sd card, iPhone, Photoshop app and flickr app. Along with that I've build my own website there's a mashup by flickr api (pictures) and my own blog system. With this setup I've only depending on a wifi network to start sharing with the World (and family) :)

The zoomit does, however, present me with som challenges;

#1 - editing raw photos
You write that you Can edit your pictures with your favorit app. I can't. Maybe because I only shoot in raw (nef) which the zoomIt filemanager can copy and move but not view.

Magnus, did you use jpg files?

It's a BIG downside for me, because it leave me with the choise to either take pictures with the camera on the iPhone or go to and Internet cafe, upload files from camera to eg flickr. But I want the flexible solution the ZoomIt provides - but I can't!

Please ZoomIt, upgrade the filemanager to read raw-files so I Can edit them with my iPhone photoshop app

#2 - getting pictures to camera roll
The next problem is might related to the first, but I can't find any Way to get the pictures from filemanager to the iphone camera Roll, which I need to upload pictures to flickr.

Is it possible with jpg files?

I see it is possible the other Way around - adding pictures from camera Roll to the filemanager.

This is a big problem for me, because I'm not able to upload pictures to flickr using flickr's own app and zoomIt app doesn't support flickr upload, only Email and Facebook. :(

So I'm stuck at this point as well.

#3 - copy speed
Coopying files from sd card to iPhone is very very slow. One raw files is around 10 MB but takes around 30-45 seconds to copy(!). Imagine how long it would take to copy a full memory card of 8GB to the filemanager....! I haven't tried it, but after my caculation it would take around 10-15 hours(!). So I'm NOT using ZoomIt for backup and sharing solution - yet, unfortunately.

I really had - and still have - BIG hopes for the device, but the current version of the app and missing support for raw files, camera Roll and flickr, is making the zoomit a bad investments and backup/sharing solution for me at this point.

I hope that ZoomMediaPlus listen to these issues and releases updates for the app OR that some of you readers have a solution or guidance for me to follow, so I Can enjoy the ZoomIt to the full potential.

Søren Laursen
currently travelling in Thailand

Sorry for All the bad spelling and so, but writing this from my iPhone - not the easiest keyboard to write long text on.

Magster said...

Hi Søren,

Thanks for your detailed comment! I actually agree with you on all your points, the ZoomIt is far from perfect, but as a first tool enabling us to get SD content onto the iPhone it is still pretty useful.

I mainly shoot JPEG with the LX3 so at the moment it is not a huge problem for me. As for RAW conversion, they have enabled it for the iPad so hopefully something like this will come the iPhone as well, fingers crossed.

The JPEG's can be moved into the Photo ALbum/Camera Roll from the File Manager so that seems only to be an issue if you try moving RAW files there.

Hopefully ZoomIt will enable Twitter and Flickr sharing as well.

I take your point though; it is certainly not a complete solution for mobility, but its a good start. Transfer speed could definitely be improved, but I think the 4G's faster processor will sort that as well.

I'll make sure ZoomIt reads your comments as well.

Enjoy Thailand!

Mattias Johansson said...


Nu väckte du mitt HA-begär!! Fan också. Snart dags att anmäla sig till Perp.

Ha det gott!

Magster said...

Det är allt rolig liten pryl! Har resan lagts upp på nätet än?

Søren said...

Hi Magnus.
So I've tried to shoot my pictures in BOTH raw NEF and JPG at the same time, and then I have the same options A's you to move/copy pictures to Camera Roll. Sweet!

It does, however, reduce the amount of pictures on the memory card with 20% because I now get 2 photos each time I take a picture. Forcing me to change card and backup on DVD more frequently than normally! 

But hey - now I Can edit and share better pictures with family and friends, and be forces to use iPhone camera :)

I still, though, stand by my earlier comments!
Sukhothai, Thailand

Jeg forstår ikke helt jeres svenske snak :)