How the iPad Pro Stacks Up as a Photographer’s Tool

IPad Pro with SD Adapter top

The iPad Pro has a lot going for it, so I took a look specifically in terms of how it can be used by photographers for a new article at Macworld: How the iPad Pro Stacks Up as a Photographer’s Tool.

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PhotosApp.Expert on iPad Mobile Workflow

The iPad Pro is prompting us to revisit mobile photo workflows using an iPad, and PhotosApp.Expert has just published a great overview of options: The Quest for a Viable iOS RAW Workflow. Definitely check it out.

I have an article coming soon for Macworld about how the iPad Pro stacks up for iPhoto photo workflows; I’ll post a link when it’s published.

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Quick Lightning to SD Card Adapter Speed Comparison

I’ve just received Apple’s newest Lightning to SD Card adapter, which provides USB 3 speeds when transferring photos to an iPad Pro (see more here).

I performed a quick import of 40 Raw+JPEG images totaling 1.5 GB of data using the new adapter and the old one on an iPad Pro. Watch here:

Results:

Loading thumbnail previews

Old/USB 2: 01:16

2015/USB 3: 00:23

Importing Images

Old/USB 2: 02:20

2015/USB 3: 00:30

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iPad Pro Lightning Port Is USB 3 Speed

Update, Nov. 12, 2015: I just confirmed with a source at Apple that there are forthcoming adapters that take advantage of the USB 3 speeds, but they aren’t yet confirming when they will ship. That’s bare-bones Apple-ese for “Yep, and you’ll find out more when we’re ready.”

As iPad Pro units are now shipping, people are discovering the USB 3 hardware and testing copy speeds between the iPad Pro and computers.

Original post, Sep. 11, 2015:

I learned a little tidbit from a source today: the Lightning port on the upcoming iPad Pro will transfer data at USB 3 speeds, faster than current iPads. 

That’s potentially good news for photographers and videographers who import images and video clips from SD cards or cameras directly to the iPad for editing and reviewing. I don’t know offhand if the existing Lightning camera adapters will also support that speed or if new adapters will be required. But it’s a welcome change for those of us who have spent many many minutes waiting for media to transfer before we can act on it.

I can’t wait to learn more details as we get closer to the November release date.

Related: I’m running a survey to see how photographers are using the iPad in their workflows. It takes just a couple of minutes, and you could win a bundle of three of my latest books. Click here to take the survey.

The iPad for Photographers survey results are here.

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Survey Results: The State of the iPad for Photographers 2015

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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.

Conclusions

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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Review: Capture One Pro

Captureone raw adjust after

When I wrote the Macworld review of Adobe Lightroom CC 2015, several people in the comments brought up Capture One Pro, another photo manager and editor with a loyal following. Macworld hadn’t ever reviewed it, so I pitched it to my great editors and they said yes.

Read it here: Capture One Pro 8.3 review: Aperture replacement light on library features, strong on editing tools

I last looked at Capture One Pro years ago and wasn’t impressed, but of course software changes over time. With the demise of Apple’s Aperture, people are looking for alternatives. And the truth of the matter is that some people just don’t like Lightroom, or they object to Adobe’s subscription pricing model.

Capture One Pro’s main selling point is that it’s a better raw converter than other software, and my experience with the latest version reflected that. The software also has lots of great editing features. The photo above shows the “after” version of an image I posted the other day (and which was picked up by Flickr’s Explore feature); you can see the “before” version in the Macworld review.

That said, I found the organization features to be frustrating in many areas, so I’m not going to give up Lightroom as my current tool of choice. (Well, it’s not like I get to use just one; I have photos in many applications for a variety of projects, like my Photos for OS X book.)

You can download Capture One Pro for free and use it for 30 days. If you’re at all interested, give it a spin and see if it works for your photos. The price to buy is steeper than others: $299. But if it clicks for you, it may just be worth it.

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Take Lightroom on Your Next Photo Shoot

Skyward, Redwoods

Knowing that I was away on a photo workshop in Northern California, an editor I’ve worked with for years contacted me with an interesting assignment: to write about how I use Adobe Lightroom in the field.

I’ve spent a lot of time (and three editions of my book The iPad for Photographers) thinking about how best to incorporate mobile technology into photography, and the field keeps moving forward. As a Lightroom CC user, I really like Lightroom mobile and how it syncs photos and adjustments from my iPad to my Mac and vice-versa.

The result is a new article, with a generous helping of photos from the Redwoods, posted today at Adobe Inspire: Take Lightroom on Your Next Shoot.

I outline a workflow for shooting, importing, and reviewing photos within Lightroom and the Creative Cloud ecosystem. One thing that surprised me: I found myself shooting more bracketed photos and side-by-side collections knowing that I could process those easily using the new Photo Merge HDR and Panorama tools in Lightroom CC.

One note, for those of you who have followed this field with me: I bypassed mentions of importing photos to the iPad while out shooting, which leads to special considerations for syncing and loading raw files later. (You can read more about that in my book.) What’s in the article is a streamlined, more sane approach to syncing and reviewing photos that won’t scare away novices.

Check out the article, and feel free to leave feedback here. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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My Review of Photos for OS X at Macworld

Apple dropped OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 today, and with it the release version of the new Photos for OS X. You can read my detailed review of the replacement for iPhoto and Aperture at Macworld here: Review: Photos for OS X is faster than iPhoto but less powerful than Aperture.

Cull iPhoto Library of Duplicates and Bad Photos

Chris Breen at Macworld posted a useful article about how to remove duplicates and get rid of bad photos from an out of control iPhoto library. With the Photos for OS X app expected sometime this year, now’s a good a time as any to clean up before the transition.

Read it here: Cull iPhoto library of duplicates and bad photos (Macworld)