What the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil could mean for photographers.

September 09, 2015  •  1 Comment

So it’s finally here.. the latest addition to the Apple iPad family. What implications are there for professional photographers with such a powerful unit and now with the extra method of integration via a pressure and tilt sensitive stylus?



After a much talked about product launch the folk in California have announced a slew of new devices but the one which is of most interest to me and possibly other photographers is the iPad Pro.

The new iPad is large - a 13” screen and is very powerful. I don't need to go through all the tech specs, but they are impressive for a tablet and they are all over the web.

The addition of a stylus makes this a very interesting proposition for digital artists, and designers. It won’t be long before developers will fill the App Store with a range of apps all tailored to use the new pencil (or stylus) but what about the photography community?

I’ve used a Wacom tablet for years -I can’t (and won’t) use a mouse anymore, for photo editing the graphics tablet is a must for me. Accurate and fast, once you try it and get used to it you will never go back, the prospect of a large iPad with a pen to help you work is indeed very exciting.

At the moment there’s an app that actually turns the current iPad into a drawing tablet, (like the Wacom Cintiq pictured below) called Astropad. You can use the iPad screen to mirror your desktop/laptop screen and work on it like a graphics tablet - a very clever app, and a heck of a lot cheaper than the Wacom. If this works on the iPad Pro then it could be a killer app and would seal the deal for some people in making their purchasing decision.

cintiqWacom Cintiq

I have had a few iPads over the years and for me the missing link is getting the photos from your camera in to the iPad. I mean the raw files - not small JPEG previews, inevitably it’s just less stressful to use a laptop and have all the connectivity and storage there and then - but these devices are big and heavy and perhaps I don't take the laptop to places I’d take the iPad.

So let’s look at what I would like to do with my workflow. I would imagine it’s very similar to other photographers.

Finish a shoot

Ingest images into iPad whilst still on location

Use Lightroom mobile to perform edits/cull images

Sync back via Adobe Cloud to my main mac

Refine the edits or export and upload to client.

Now this process hasn’t changed with the new iPad. For me there is still the missing link of ‘How do I get the photos from my camera into the damn iPad?’

With the new pencil (or stylus as we know them as) there is huge potential to be able to do very fast and accurate photo editing, with the larger screen it would be perfect for on the fly editing, and a heck of a lot more portable than a laptop. As it stands, Adobe Lightroom Mobile is an excellent tool for editing on the go. It will sync your camera roll with the app- and then your main Lightroom App on the Mac or PC.

Getting access to the actual files from your proper camera is still very much a one way thing. You ingest the images into your main PC/Mac, then sync the collection back to your iOS device. It does work very, very well BUT it doesn’t help when the client wants a few shots at the end of the event or shoot. It’s either back to the office or drag the laptop.

Apple has teamed up with Adobe and they showed some very interesting peeks at new software but it does seem to be firmly aimed at the artist rather than the photographer. It will be interesting to see what happens to Wacom, who for years have had the monopoly in professional, pressure sensitive graphics tablets.

I'd like to see Adobe look at something for photographers in the field, a workable workflow! If this could be sorted - this new device is potentially very exciting. Couple it with a data plan and you are ready to shoot, edit and upload anywhere.

The question would be, do you take the plunge now (well, November when it’s released) or sit tight and wait for version 2 where they could have developed the hardware and software to do what you’d like. Apple iPad Pro


Or you can skip all the shuttling to and fro and get yourself a Surface Pro 3. Its light, runs full Windows and full version of Lightroom, photoshop or whatever..
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