Survey Results: The State of the iPad for Photographers 2015


I started September with a question: How are people using the iPad with their photography? Is it really an invaluable addition to one’s camera bag, or is it an occasionally useful item? Is it even being used at all? Sales of iPads have been steadily dropping over the past couple of years, though I think that has more to do with the fact that people aren’t buying new iPads at the same rate as new iPhones. (Any company would kill for even Apple’s “low” sales numbers of iPads, but that’s a rant for another day.)

In 2011, I saw the potential of the iPad as a photographer’s tool and wrote the first edition of The iPad for Photographers, which detailed how you could review photos you capture using other cameras (at the time, the iPad 2 had only just come out, the first model to include an admittedly terrible camera), apply metadata to them to streamline the tagging process, and of course edit and share them—all without using a desktop or laptop computer. I published, in cooperation with my friends at Peachpit Press, two subsequent editions of the book.

So how are you using the iPad in 2015? I created a survey to find out, and the results are in some ways unexpected and other ways surprising. I encourage you to view the full results, but here’s the short version:

  • Most people who import photos to the iPad do so using the wired Camera Connection Kit (older iPads) or Lightning SD Card or USB adapters. Almost as many sync via iCloud, Lightroom mobile, Google Photos, or some other cloud service. The number of folks transferring photos directly from a camera’s built-in Wi-Fi feature was about half of those others, but considering how long it’s taken companies to implement Wi-Fi into cameras, the number is larger than I expected.
  • People rarely assign ratings or favorites to elevate the good photos from the not-so-good. I suspect this is because the process of importing photos onto the iPad is still time-consuming.
  • Most people don’t bother with any additional metadata. The fact that the apps designed for doing so (such as Photosmith and PhotosInfoPro) have all gone dormant bears this out.
  • More effort seems to be going into editing photos, and of the tools available, Snapseed is the leader, followed by Lightroom mobile and Apple’s built-in Photos app.
  • Surprisingly, the iPad Air 2 was the most-used model—the latest model available at the time the survey was posted. I expected that there would be a broader spread of older models. Of those, a little more than half were Wi-Fi–only models. The 64 GB configuration is the sweet spot in terms of storage.

A quick but important caveat: The survey attracted just 132 responses, which is less than I hoped, but it at least provides a window into the preferences of those who chose to take the survey.


The iPad is strong on editing, but the effort needed to get to that point is greater than it should be. That means using an iPad as a field companion—appealing especially for people who don’t want to tote a laptop along—is possible, but it’s hampered by slow ingest and limited storage. Perhaps the iPad Pro, which will offer USB 3 speeds through its Lightning port, may improve this.

I’m not too surprised that the Cloud has turned into a preferred method of moving photos onto the iPad, although of course the usefulness depends entirely on your current Internet connection—likely fine when you’re at home on the couch, but not so great in remote locations.

And, lastly, no one is using the iPad to apply metadata. This is the top request I hear from professional photographers, but I don’t think most regular people are doing it. Perhaps services like Google Photos, which comes up with its own metadata based on automated visual searches of photos, is the future here. I still believe that metadata is a powerful thing for photos, regardless of your photo skill level or interest; in my book Take Control of Your Digital Photos on a Mac, Second Edition, I present a painless way to do it on the Mac.

The big question as I write this is how, or if, the iPad Pro will affect the field. Apple still hasn’t implemented any type of raw format support into iOS, which reduces the Pro’s appeal for many photographers in terms of editing, although perhaps the iPad Pro will be fast and powerful enough to run an app such as PiRAWhna smoothly. We’ll have to see.

The survey results appear below. Thank you to everyone who took the time to take the survey and share their comments!













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iPad Photography Article at Yahoo Tech

Flickr ipad air stats

Rob Walker at Yahoo Tech interviewed me last week for an article that went live today about iPad photography: iPad Photography: Should We Take It Seriously?

The article mostly focuses on using the iPad as a camera, dispelling the stigma of shooting with an iPad and recognizing that, like it or not, a lot of people use their iPads as cameras. Walker points to Flickr (also owned by Yahoo) and its page for the iPad Air—last year’s model—to discover that 6,254 photos captured with the Air’s camera were uploaded the day before the article appeared; that number is 8,667 for yesterday, October 28.

I also have to admit it’s still fun to be introduced as the person “who literally wrote the book on the subject.”

Free Chapter from the Third Edition

Want to check out the latest edition of The iPad for Photographers? Peachpit has posted Chapter 4, “The iPad in the Studio,” online and as a downloadable PDF. The PDF is a great way to get a feel for the full print or PDF edition of the book. (I absolutely love the design of this book, with lots of big color photos and screenshots.)

Click here to download Chapter 4 as a PDF, or read the chapter online.

Also, a reminder: The book is currently Peachpit’s Ebook of the Week. Until July 19, you can get the ebook (which includes PDF, EPUB, and Mobi/Kindle files) for just $9.99!

Chapter 4: The iPad in the Studio

Free Web Presentation July 15, Ebook Deal of the Week

iPad for Photographers Third EditionThis Tuesday, July 15, join me online for a free Peachpit Photo Club Web presentation about The iPad for Photographers. The video event kicks off at 5 p.m. PST (8 p.m. EST), when I’ll be talking about options for using the iPad in the field, and working with Lightroom mobile, Photosmith, and other apps. Although the video should be available later, I encourage you to watch it live if possible so you can ask questions

Coinciding with the presentation, Peachpit has named the new, iPad for Photographers Third Edition its Ebook of the Week, pricing it at just $9.99 (50% off)! That includes PDF, EPUB, and Mobi (Kindle) formats—perfect to have as a reference on your iPad during photo excursions.

Not sure if the book is for you (or for someone who’d enjoy it as a gift)? Peachpit also put up a free chapter to sample.

iPad for Photographers 3rd Edition Gets 5-Star Review in Photoshop User Magazine!

Photoshop User Magazine, one of the top resources for Photoshop users and photographers, reviewed the latest edition of The iPad for Photographers and gave it a 5-star rating!

The author introduces and discusses more than 50 iPad apps that can be used for everything from wirelessly downloading from your camera to your iPad to editing photos, music, and movies on the iPad to controlling your DSLR from the iPad… I started using three of them even before finishing this review.

Psuser review

At 500px: How an iPad Can Improve Your Photography

Premiere photo site 500px has just published an article of mine that takes a high level overview of what an iPad can do for photographers: How an iPad Can Improve Your Photography. Think of it as the ultra-compact version of my iPad for Photographers book, covering the options for using the iPad as a portfolio, importing photos to the iPad and reviewing them in the field, adding all-important metadata, editing the shots, sharing images, and more.

I’m actually quite excited to appear on 500px, not only because I like what the company is doing, but because the people who post and read at the site tend to be extremely talented photographers. It’s fabulous company to be in.

Announcing My Lightroom mobile Fuel Ebook!

LRmobile 150pxAdobe released Lightroom mobile for iPad last night, and I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve written a brand new ebook for Peachpit Press covering it: Adobe Lightroom mobile: Your Lightroom on the Go.

The book features 53 pages of detailed information on how to use Lightroom mobile, including lots of tips on how to get the most out of Adobe’s new remote tool. And it costs just $8! As near as I can tell, this is the first book about Lightroom mobile on the market.
(Update: Victoria Bampton, aka The Lightroom Queen, also released a book. Go buy her book, too!)

The book walks you through creating and syncing collections from the desktop version of Lightroom, as well as creating collections on the iPad itself (and why you’d want to do it). It also goes into detail about the app’s editing features, covers the many gestures used to speed things up, and more.

Here are some page samples. Buy it now (not-so-subtle-hint), and let me know what you think!

LRM ebook pages 03

LRM ebook pages 04

LRM ebook pages 01

LRM ebook pages 02

Road to Macworld: Talking about My Upcoming Sessions

The yearly Macworld/iWorld conference is coming up at the end of March, and I’m involved in three sessions this year! I spoke to Chuck Joiner last week for his show MacVoices about “the Road to Macworld,” offering a preview of my topics: a panel about digital photography workflows, how to take control of your photos on a Mac, and the iPad for photographers.

As a speaker, I also get to pass along deals like this: Until March 14, you can take advantage of $100 off the price of a conference admission to Macworld/iWorld. If you’re planning to attend the event, please come to one of my sessions and say hi, or if there’s enough interest maybe we can have an informal meetup.

If you like the work I do, please consider signing up for my low-volume mailing list that I use to announce new projects, items, and giveaways that I think my readers would be interested in.

Feedback for the Third Edition

I’m happy to share that I’ll soon be working on a third edition of The iPad for Photographers! I’d love to get your feedback on a few things:

  • Which topics need more/less attention?

  • Is there anything you expected in the book that needs to be added?

  • Do you find the QR codes in the margins helpful for following the links to apps and Web sites?

Please reply in the comments or email me at Thanks!