iPad Photo Backup with a Raspberry Pi

Making backups of your photos while you’re on location is essential, and there are plenty of ways to do it. I own a WD My Passport Wireless hard disk that works well (and it’s been supplanted by the new My Passport Wireless Pro).

But for some people, the solution is to build it themselves. Lenin at Moving Electrons put together a package built around a Raspberry Pi to store and access photos from his iPad Pro. It’s definitely a more geeky approach, involving lots of custom code, but looks like a great project. Check it out here: Backup Photos While Traveling With an iPad Pro and a Raspberry Pi

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Photos Crash Course for iOS 10 and macOS Sierra

Tc photos v2Sometimes, it feels as if I’m a lone defender of Apple’s Photos app under macOS. Many people find it too different from iPhoto, or think it’s too basic (even though it’s actually quite sophisticated), or… I don’t know, they just don’t like change. Except for Aperture users who were abandoned by Apple—their discontent is understandable.

It’s not just because I wrote a book about Photos and Apple’s photo ecosystem. True, I use Lightroom as my primary photo library manager, but I also make extensive use of Photos and iCloud Photo Library.

And now macOS Sierra is out, with a new version of Photos that brings better searching, Memories, revamped people identification, and more!

Alas, when my publisher Peachpit Press all but vaporized early this year, the possibility to update my Photos book also went up in smoke. That’s too bad, because I really enjoyed writing it, and thought it turned out well.

However, I’m not the only Photos defender. My friend and colleague Jason Snell has just released the second edition of his highly regarded, and best-selling, Photos: A Take Control Crash Course. Jason has been immersed in Photos during the developer preview versions of macOS Sierra and knows it inside and out. The ebook is 74 pages of hard-won information, fully illustrated and written in Jason’s friendly, approachable style. And it’s only $10!

Photos is a key part of both macOS Sierra and iOS 10, so before you order Jason’s book using the link above, consider bundling it—at a discount—with Scholle McFarland’s Sierra: A Take Control Crash Course, Josh Centers’s iOS 10: A Take Control Crash Course, or both!

Buy the Photos, Sierra, and iOS 10 Crash Courses for $28
Buy the Photos and Sierra Crash Courses for $17.50
Buy the Photos and iOS 10 Crash Courses for $17.50

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How Lightroom for iOS 2.4 Changes the Mobile Photo Landscape

Birdhouses

Over at TidBITS, I write in more depth about the changes in Lightroom for iOS 2.4, and they’re doozies: Lightroom for iOS 2.4 Changes Mobile Photo Workflow.

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, adding native raw file format support to Adobe’s mobile photo editor is a big deal, especially for people who are looking to use just an iPad or iPhone on photo shoots to minimize the gear they carry.

It means you don’t end up with separate edited copies of photos that are synced with Lightroom on the desktop—a raw file editing in Lightroom mobile is synced to your main library with edits intact. And the editing power takes a big leap in quality, pulling detail out of shadows without blocking up sections where JPEGs just don’t hold up.

For example, here’s an underexposed raw photo edited entirely in Lightroom on my iPad:

LRm24 raw before after

There’s a better example in the article that shows extreme pixelation in a JPEG.

I also talk about the new local selection tools, which are great for adjusting selected portions in linear or gradient areas. Here’s another before-and-after, showing the radial tools at work; I was able to bring up the exposure for just the birdhouses without overexposing the background.

Lightroom m24 local original

Lightroom m24 local radial

Overall, this is an exciting release, something I’ve been looking forward to for years. It streamlines the mobile photo workflow and does what I envisioned in 2011 when I wrote the first edition of my iPad for Photographers book.

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The 9.7-inch iPad Pro and the Missing USB 3 Speed

iPad Pro with SD Adapter side

I write this knowing that it sounds like I have a particularly odd spec fixation, but it’s something my brain keeps coming back to.

The newly-announced 9.7-inch iPad Pro (yes, that’s the official name) is in many ways just like the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, but with a different-sized screen. They’re both powered by A9X processors and M9 coprocessors; both support the Apple Pencil; both have four speakers that adapt to how the device is being held; and both claim up to 10 hours of battery life.

In some ways, the 9.7-inch model improves upon the larger one:

  • The True Tone display technology that adapts the color temperature of the screen based on the ambient lighting
  • A wider color gamut (the DCI-P3 color space, which is also used by the 5K iMac)
  • Better cameras—a 12 megapixel (MP) iSight camera with Focus Pixels on the back, and a 5 MP FaceTime camera on the front
  • A screen that Apple says is 40 percent less reflective than an iPad Air 2 (hooray!)

But in one crucial way—especially for photographers—the 9.7-inch iPad Pro lags behind the 12.9-inch model, and it’s almost enough to make me pause. Tucked at the bottom of the description for the Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter is this caveat (emphasis mine):

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro transfers data at USB 3 speeds, while the 9.7-inch iPad Pro uses USB 2.

With so many shared components, why does the smaller model get stuck with slow file transfers?

If we were talking about laptops or desktops, this would be a bigger deal, because there are more occasions when you transfer data over USB. Looking at broader iPad usage, really not a lot of data passes through the Lightning connector other than if you sync to a computer using iTunes. Most people don’t need it.

But for photographers who want to transfer photos for review or editing from a camera to the iPad, this is almost crippling.

When I reviewed the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, I made a short comparison video showing import speeds using the old SD card adapter and the new USB 3-capable one. Transferring 1.5 GB of image files took 30 seconds via USB 3 and 2 minutes 20 seconds via USB 2. That’s the actual data transfer; just moving image thumbnails so I could preview the photos before importing took 23 seconds via USB 3 and 1 minute 16 seconds via USB 2.

That effectively means that when you want to transfer photos to the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, you need to also come up with something else to do while that’s happening, because it’s not going to be quick. (And the 9.7-inch model also doesn’t benefit from the fast charging feature in the 12.9-inch model using an Apple 29W USB-C Power Adapter and a USB-C to Lightning cable.)

Other methods of getting photos onto an iPad are available, such as transferring them via Wi-Fi to a camera or adapter that creates its own network or bouncing images to a cloud service like iCloud Photo Library or Lightroom mobile, but those aren’t as fast or reliable as a direct cable connection.

I don’t know Apple’s reasoning for demoting this promising new iPad in this way. Perhaps it’s a component space issue, having less room to fill compared to the 12.9-inch model. I hope it’s not a case of Apple wanting to eke out an extra 97-cents of profit by using cheaper parts. Is it an incentive to convince customers to spend more by buying a 12.9-inch iPad Pro? I hope to find out.

Putting a USB 2-speed Lightning port in the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro doesn’t doom it. My main reason for upgrading to one from my original iPad Air is for overall performance and the ability to use the Apple Pencil. But it does disappoint me that Apple could make a really fantastic tool for photographers by nudging it in a few directions—OS-level raw file support as in OS X, color profiles to bring the iPad into color management workflows, USB 3 speeds. [Update: And, ugh, it has just 2 GB of RAM, not 4 GB like the 12.9-inch model.]

I also recognize that those items really affect a small number of iPad owners. But as Apple says in their 9.7-inch iPad Pro video, “It’s where we believe personal computing is going.”

I just wish that could be a destination, and not just a direction.

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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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USB 3 Lightning to SD Card Reader Now Available

Lightning sd card usb3

Apple now offers for sale a new Lightning to SD Card Reader with two noticeable improvements over the current one: It supports USB 3 speeds on the iPad Pro, and in an unexpected but welcome surprise, allows you to import photos to an iPhone, not just an iPad.

The adapter costs $29 and, according to the online Apple Store, ships as early as next week.

Update: Sachin Patel on Twitter points out that iOS 9.2, also released today, adds iPhone support to the existing Lightning to the SD Card Adapter. No need to buy the new one if you don’t have an iPad Pro.

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Help me evaluate the state of the iPad for photography

ipad_field_tulip_field.jpg

[Update: The results are here!]

In 2012 I saw the potential of the iPad (then on its second generation) as a tool that photographers could take advantage of, and pitched my editors at Peachpit Press to write a book about it. The result was The iPad for Photographers, which is currently in its third edition.

The iPad is now five years old, so I’d love to discover how photographers are currently using the iPad in their workflows. Is it a crucial tool? An occasional benefit? Do you organize and edit photos? I would appreciate it if you could take just a few minutes to fill out a short survey. I’ll publish the results soon after the survey closes on September 30.

[Note: The end date was originally September 25, but I’ve been busy as heck and would like to give the survey a little more time to gain more responses. More data is better!]

Also, I will select one person at random (from the list of people who choose to include their name and email address) and send them a print copy of each of three of my latest books: Photos for OS X and iOS; The Connected Apple Family; and The iPad for Photographers, Third Edition.

Go to the survey here: The iPad for Photographers Usage Poll, September 2015

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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