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Can an iPad 2 serve as a serious photo manipulation tool?


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#1 johnspierce

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Posted 13 July 2011 - 06:35 PM

I've had my iPad 2 for about 2 months and it's an excellent content delivery device. Showing slideshows on the iPad by passing it around the room is just awesome. BUT -- the question I want to answer is: Can the iPad work as a quick-and-easy photo manipulation device on a dive trip?

I'm not sure yet, but here's what I've figured out so far.

- First of all, if you cannot rearrange, move, copy or delete photos on the iPad without tethering it to another machine, it won't work for photo management/editing. So -- now that it's a one-click easy procedure to jailbreak, managing your photos is possible. I went to jailbreakme.com and did the deed, then purchased for $7 a program called Photoalbums+ which integrates the ability to move/copy/delete photos in the native iPad photo app. Awesome! I would prefer not to jailbreak my iPad, but Apple's paradigm of making me tether my iPad to iTunes every time I want to blow my nose just doesn't work for me.

- Next, I bought the Apple camera kit. Since I use Compact Flash cards in my D300 I would have to use the USB dongle. I tried it with 3 different USB card readers and it just gets an error - "not enough power for device" on each of them, so that was a "no go".

I then plugged in my camera direct with the USB cable and it immediately woke up and showed me thumbnails for the 96 RAW images on the card. I clicked "import" and it took 3 minutes and 8 seconds to upload all 96 photos -- just a touch over 2 seconds per photo. Not bad at all!

The native photo app can see the RAW images and it can view and email them, but of course has no modification capabilities. The free Adobe Photoshop app has a few nice features, but it cannot read RAW.

So far, I have tried two other editing apps, one called FilterStorm Pro($15) and one called Nik's Snapseed($5). Both of them read RAW.

- Filterstorm Pro has a ton of features; will do almost anything you can do in Lightroom. It has curves, noise filters, white balance (sortof; really just temperature), cropping, sharpening and a ton of other features. The Interface is pretty clunky though and you can't work on a photo until you "import" it into a Filterstorm "collection" first which is a pretty slow process. I'll play with it a bit more, but it is just not real easy to get what you want quickly. Maybe I'm just not giving it enough of a chance; I'll try it again on another night. My biggest complaint with Filterstorm is the interface is not responsive. I felt like I had to tap on some of the controls multiple times to get things to "go".

- Nik's Snapseed is actually a joy to use and really leverages the touch and drag architecture of the iPad. It's biggest downside is it doesn't have enough features yet. It does have crop/brightness/contrast/saturation plus some cool special effect modes. But it doesn't have sharpening and there are no noise reduction features which of course is one of Nik's strongest pieces of software for the OSX/Windows world. I'll bet successive versions are spectacular.

The thing I like the best about Nik's interface is how after you learn one tool, they all work the same way; drag finger up-and-down to select tool, then drag finger from side-to-side to use tool. Pinch gestures work totally intuitively for cropping photos. It saves the result as a JPEG.

Hats off to Nik for a great iPad app! Spectacular deal for $5. I could do 90% of what I want in this tool and then just do the final sharpening in Adobe Photoshop Lite after saving as a jpeg. The app's performance is very snappy and I can select, edit and save a photo in a short amount of time.

There's another editing app which gets good reviews from the photog world called PiRAWhna, so I'll try that one on another evening It better be pretty damn good to be a better value than Nik's Snapseed.


--- Okay, so at this point, I feel pretty optimistic about how useful my iPad 2 will be for manipulating and displaying photos on a dive trip. Last year I took a Dell Mini 10 netbook to Galapagos as my sole viewing/editing device and was actually pretty disappointed. The only thing it did well was to be small. This was obviously before the Macbook Air had been updated, I'm sure it's a much better travel laptop.

But I can safely say with the programs listed above (plus jailbreaking so you can actually manage your photos), the iPad 2 will smoke most netbooks and it's so light and easy to carry it's just a joy to use.

More to come after I test a few more editing apps. Frankly, I am really excited to see how these devices evolve over the next five years.

- John

Edited by johnspierce, 13 July 2011 - 06:43 PM.

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#2 Undertow

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Posted 13 July 2011 - 07:08 PM

thanks for the post John. I bet a lot of us photographers are waiting for the ipad to reach the capability to replace a laptop for travel. This is a great summary of what it can and can't do so far.

I don't have an ipad yet - I've been holding off for a viable Lightroom counterpart with basic editing/organizing and an Ipad with the processing power & storage to match. It will come i'm sure.
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#3 drsteve

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Posted 13 July 2011 - 08:20 PM

Thanks for the review. I just got an Ipad-II and was planning on bringing it with me on a dive trip to Alaska next month. However since I can not do without Photoshop I am also bringing my MacBook Pro. I am hardly traveling light! In any case, you have given me something to think about.

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#4 johnspierce

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Posted 14 July 2011 - 06:51 AM

thanks for the post John. I bet a lot of us photographers are waiting for the ipad to reach the capability to replace a laptop for travel. This is a great summary of what it can and can't do so far.

I don't have an ipad yet - I've been holding off for a viable Lightroom counterpart with basic editing/organizing and an Ipad with the processing power & storage to match. It will come i'm sure.



The thing I can't quite get around yet is knowing whatever I do to the photos on my iPad might not be the final iteration. I can quickly and easily set up a nice slideshow and with the HDMI adapter show it on a big screen TV, plus I can upload photos to Facebook or Flickr or whatever. But... the tweaking I've done is only transferrable to my Macbook Pro or Desktop computer by saving as a JPEG, not the best solution in that respect.

I'm thinking for overall workflow, I might do it this way:

- Import RAW to iPad
- Tweak and save best photos to JPEG
- Build quick slideshow
- Upload a small selection of images to Facebook/Flickr
- Transfer RAWs to my "originals" directory structure on Network Attached Storage
- Transfer JPEGS to my "finished" photos directory structure on NAS
- Import to Lightroom and tag
- Go through my normal selection and tweak workflow in Lightroom. If a JPEG I did on iPad is good as is, skip it and move on, otherwise, retweak and export.
- create final slideshow
- Upload images to website or wherever

I'm betting quite a few of the images I've tweaked on the iPad will need no further modification in Lightroom other than perhaps meta data and tagging. The biggie which I haven't found a good tool for the iPad yet is white balance/temperature control. Several of the apps have this, but it's nowhere near as comprehensive as what I can do in Lightroom.

We'll see....

John

Edited by johnspierce, 14 July 2011 - 06:53 AM.

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#5 davephdv

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Posted 14 July 2011 - 05:17 PM

As mentioned by the OP, snapseed by Nik software is a must if you have an iPad.

Still wouldn't consider the iPad for serious photo manipulation.
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#6 MikeVeitch

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Posted 14 July 2011 - 06:00 PM

Can you export to a USB or other hard drive from the ipad? How big is the storage on your ipad?

IE: can you leave the laptop at home and bring the ipad plus 2 usb 1 tb drives with you on a trip to store all your photos from a 12 night liveaboard?
I usually don't bother editing when i am on a liveaboard trip other than import-rename photos, i would prefer to talk to others rather than stare at my computer :huh: so as long as it can do the above then it would be useful for me as the manipulation software is not something i would really need...

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#7 johnspierce

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Posted 14 July 2011 - 08:00 PM

Can you export to a USB or other hard drive from the ipad? How big is the storage on your ipad?

IE: can you leave the laptop at home and bring the ipad plus 2 usb 1 tb drives with you on a trip to store all your photos from a 12 night liveaboard?
I usually don't bother editing when i am on a liveaboard trip other than import-rename photos, i would prefer to talk to others rather than stare at my computer :huh: so as long as it can do the above then it would be useful for me as the manipulation software is not something i would really need...


Q: Can you export to a USB or other hard drive from the ipad?
A: Not on a "stock" iPad. If you jailbreak the iPad, you can use a program like iFile to copy / cut images to and from the iPad. It works well with a USB flash stick (I have 4 32gb sticks), but it won't work with an un-powered USB hard drive -- the iPad just doesn't have enough juice to do that... My WD powered USB backup drive works fine. But the short answer is yes, you can get images off the iPad without having a PC.

BTW, I have the 64gb iPad and am glad I bought the extra storage. If they had offered a 128gb one I would have bought it :D

I have a question for you Mike -- do you really use 2 terabytes of backup on a 12 night liveaboard for just photos? Wow! You are my hero :) I cranked off around 2500 photos on my last week-long liveaboard trip, but that was still only about 30gb.

take care,
John

Edited by johnspierce, 14 July 2011 - 08:15 PM.

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#8 johnspierce

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Posted 14 July 2011 - 08:13 PM

So after that last post from Mike where he asks if I could back up photos from the iPad, I've just been sitting here pondering...

I could pull images from my camera, view/edit on the iPad and then back them up to USB flash sticks. Nice. It actually would not be that hard to go on a week long vacation with just a usb cable, the Apple camera connection kit, 2 32gb flash sticks and the iPad, no laptop.

When I go to Turks and Caicos next month for a week-long liveaboard trip, I'm going take both my iPad and Macbook Pro, BUT I'm going to try and use *just the iPad* like I have outlined above and see how well it works. Should be entertaining!

Also: I spent a bit more time with Filterstorm Pro this evening. I still think the interface is clunky, but it has a ton of great features. Curves, noise reduction, sharpening, etc, etc. I feel confident I can do pretty much everything I normally do with photos on a vacation with this setup.

Now... If Nikon/Canon will just get off their butts and put built in wifi capability into their DSLRs :huh:

Edited by johnspierce, 14 July 2011 - 08:15 PM.

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#9 MikeVeitch

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Posted 14 July 2011 - 10:37 PM

ah, well that is good to know. Thanks for being the tester :huh:

noo.. i don't take that many photos! haha, just two backups, one goes in carry on luggage and the other in the laptop bag in case something happens to one of them

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#10 ATJ

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Posted 14 July 2011 - 11:01 PM

While I have iPad (original not the 2), I ended up buying a 10" netbook for dive trips when I don't want to take the MacBook Pro. It is around the same size as the iPad - same height and width just twice as thick - and the same weight - around 1 kg.

The advantages over the iPad:
* You can calibrate the screen - (accurate rendition of your images)
* More storage - it came with a 250GB HDD but I could replace that with a 750GB HDD as well as attach USB storage
* It will run any Windows software (and I'm going to see if I can install Mac OS X on it).

The main disadvantage is the screen size which is only 1024x600.

It will make a very handy storage device even if I don't do any photo processing.

It was less than AU$300. It came with 1GB of memory but I replaced that with 2GB I had lying around (it had come from my MacBook Pro when I upgraded it to 8GB).

#11 hughmoore

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Posted 15 July 2011 - 04:53 AM

While I have iPad (original not the 2), I ended up buying a 10" netbook for dive trips when I don't want to take the MacBook Pro. It is around the same size as the iPad - same height and width just twice as thick - and the same weight - around 1 kg.

The advantages over the iPad:
* You can calibrate the screen - (accurate rendition of your images)
* More storage - it came with a 250GB HDD but I could replace that with a 750GB HDD as well as attach USB storage
* It will run any Windows software (and I'm going to see if I can install Mac OS X on it).

The main disadvantage is the screen size which is only 1024x600.

It will make a very handy storage device even if I don't do any photo processing.

It was less than AU$300. It came with 1GB of memory but I replaced that with 2GB I had lying around (it had come from my MacBook Pro when I upgraded it to 8GB).



How do you find the net book with 2gb ram, is it functional to view your photos.


I have Sony Nex 5 and shoot video as well, wondering how it goes playing HD videos?

Im looking for a travel unit also. Wont be doing much editing mostly having a look as progress and usual stuff like surfing net, facebook etc


Hugh

#12 ATJ

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Posted 16 July 2011 - 03:42 PM

How do you find the net book with 2gb ram, is it functional to view your photos.

Definitely. And this was the main reason I got it.

I've had few problems at all over the years with computers with only 2GB of RAM - especially if I don't try to run too many apps at the same time. In fact, the laptop I used before I got the MacBook Pro only had 2GB and it was my primary computer for processing images. It worked fine.

The limitation of the netbook won't be the 2GB and even before I upgraded it from 1GB to 2GB it had more than enough memory for viewing my images with Nikon ViewNX.

Lightroom runs smoothly in Library Mode on the Netbook with 2GB installed, even if I am running other apps (Lotus Notes, Firefox) and Task Manager indicates I still have plenty of physical memory left. In Develop mode it is a bit clunky when moving from image to image (Loading... displays for a few seconds) but I don't think this is memory related and is more likely caused by the slower CPU.

The biggest limitation is the screen size. It is adequate for displaying images but makes adjusting images (in Lightroom) difficult as once you have the side panels up the image is quite small. It should be possible to close all the panels, use full screen mode and use the keyboard for adjustments but will take a bit of getting used to.

I have Sony Nex 5 and shoot video as well, wondering how it goes playing HD videos?

I haven't done a lot of playing with video so it is difficult for me to say.

I just installed VLC and playing some 720p files I have it is very jerky and skips. The same files as m4v play OK on it with Windows Media so I'm not sure why VLC has issues. Quicktime was not great, either. I think the CPU may be too slow.

Im looking for a travel unit also. Wont be doing much editing mostly having a look as progress and usual stuff like surfing net, facebook etc

A netbook would be fine for that although I'm not confident on the video side of things.

#13 rnuijen

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Posted 25 August 2011 - 12:43 AM

Thanks for writing this, I've been looking at different options for on-site editing and storage. Something that frees me from having to bring that clunky macbook pro along.

I'm wondering if an ipad2 would be a better solution than say a 10 to 12 inch macbook air.

How well does the ipad handle 22mp raw files?

#14 ATJ

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Posted 25 August 2011 - 05:22 AM

How well does the ipad handle 22mp raw files?

Does the iPad2 even handle raw files? My iPad1 (not jailbroken) doesn't. With the camera connection kit all I can do is extract the embedded JPEG out of the raw file and transfer it to the iPad.

#15 jetlife2

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Posted 28 August 2011 - 08:33 AM

Does the iPad2 even handle raw files? My iPad1 (not jailbroken) doesn't. With the camera connection kit all I can do is extract the embedded JPEG out of the raw file and transfer it to the iPad.


The iPad does indeed store original RAW files, if your RAW format is supported. See below. PS iPad 1 or 2 are the same, I have the 1 and it works fine.

[copy of my post in Travel Storage]

iPad is the way to go and can store original RAW as well as jpg.

No need for a laptop or dedicated storage device.

This will allow you to back up RAW to an iPad and retrieve later for editing.

If you buy the ipad camera connection kit ($29), it will copy RAW and jpg files off an SD card and save them to your iPad. The original RAW file [and matching jpg if you shot both] is stored on the iPad. Then you can save that RAW file from the iPad to your mac/PC with iPhoto, Image Capture, Aperture, Lightroom, etc.

I have personally verified that this works and the original RAW file is preserved untouched.

This will work for any RAW file that Apple supports. The easiest way to find out whether your flavor of RAW is supported is to open the file in iPhoto. Or there is a list of supported cameras here: Supported RAW files If your version of RAW is not supported, the camera connection kit will not import it so this iPad backup process is not available. [Unless you use just jpg].

This is a great backup method while on a trip.

Cheers

#16 ATJ

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Posted 28 August 2011 - 05:09 PM

The iPad does indeed store original RAW files, if your RAW format is supported. See below. PS iPad 1 or 2 are the same, I have the 1 and it works fine.

D'oh! I only just realised that the 5 D300 files that I transferred to my iPad a year ago are in fact NEF. I guess the iPad must load the NEF file to its storage but displays the embedded JPEG in the NEF - or how else would it know what settings to use when converting the raw data to display.

That's great, though, as you can transfer and view the raw files and free up the memory card for the next dive.

#17 rnuijen

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 05:59 AM

While storing files is nice I think even the 64gb version will run out of space too quickly. I'd rather invest in more flash cards since they are relatively cheap. I would like to be able to import CR2 files, do some basic adjustments to the image and exif and then export to jpg. Basically lightroom on a tablet.

#18 ATJ

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 05:02 PM

Has anyone had their iPad (1 or 2) hang on them and the only way to get it back was restore?

My iPad has never done this but I have an iPod Touch 2G that used to hang quite frequently in the first few months I'd had it and hung (when I wasn't even using it) last week. My only cause of action has been to restore from backup which means I lost everything on the iPod that hadn't been backed up.

If this happens to iPads, this would make them unreliable as a storage/manipulation solution for trips.