In just two years, the iPad has become an essential tool for many photographers, especially for those who want to go mobile and leave even the laptop at home.
Pro adventure photography duo Dan and Janine Pattitucci recently traveled to Peru for a few weeks with only their iPad, memory cards and a couple of portable hard drives in their Lowepro packs. Big trip and no “real” computer. That’s truly going light and fast.
The iPad is certainly the perfect solution for blogging from the road, sharing and emailing your work with friends or clients back home or uploading your new imagery social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler and Google+ etc… However, as we all know, you can’t freely transfer photos back and forth between iOS devices and other hardware devices without first syncing to a computer.
Fortunately, there are a few hardware solutions that provide workable options, while still obeying Apple’s iOS design restrictions. These devices allow you to build an iPad photography workflow and make the iPad a truly usable tool for mobile photography.
1. Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit
The Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit is the necessary device for any iPad photography workflow. It’s the first thing you need, so if you don’t have one already, get it.
The Camera Connection Kit comes with two adaptors, one for USB/direct camera transfer, and one for SD cards. With this kit, you can transfer and/or backup photos to your iPad for sharing, uploading to social sites or editing in Photoshop for iPad or in the iPhoto app.
Or you can edit, keyword and tag your photos using the the must-have mobile photography app, Photosmith, which allows you to sync your metadata and images to Lightroom when you get home, and share/export/upload your photos to Dropbox, email, Facebook and Flickr right from the iPad.
The Camera Connection Kit even allows you to shoot tethered with your DSLR right to the iPad. Sort of. Your photos (even RAW) will be uploaded to your iPad as you shoot, but only as thumbnail previews. In order to edit or view them full size, you’ll need to manually select and import them to the iPad’s Photo Library.
2. Hyper Drive for iPad
The Sanho Hyper Drive for iPad is a USB iPad compatible hard drive. Whenever it’s connected, the iPad will recognize and display the Hyper Drive as an external volume.
You can then view and/or import photos and video files to your iPad photo library, just as if you were importing from the Camera Connection kit. You’ll need the Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit to connect the Hyper Drive to the iPad.
Essentially, with the Hyper Drive, you can hit the road with just a drive and an iPad. It allows you to bring your image archive with you and remotely manage your photography empire as needed without needing a laptop. The limitation to the Hyper Drive is that it only works one way. You can get photos onto the iPad, but not off. That’s better than nothing, though.
3. Sanho Color Space for iPad
Sanho Color Space for iPad is a USB iPad compatible hard drive that offers plug and play capabilities, just like the Hyper Drive above. The main difference is that the Color Space lets you import and backup photos straight from memory cards right onto the drive. (This is the system that the Pattitucci couple uses.)
The Color Space for iPad is the device that allows true flexibility and lightweight mobility for photographers on the road. Your workflow goes like this: Shoot. Backup cards up to your Color Space. Connect to iPad using the Camera Connection Kit. View, import, process and share your photos and video right from the iPad.
Of course, once your images are on the iPad, you can blog, share, email, edit, tag, backup to Dropbox of send right to your clients. With this kind of operation, I see the Color Space for iPad as the most workable solution for travel and adventure photographers who want to go light and fast.
The Color Space comes in different drive sizes up to 750 GB, but for most people, the smallest model (250GB) is probably adequate. That’s enough space for over 16,000 15MB RAW files.
Even if you have a D800 and shoot full 36MP resolution, that’s still over 3,000 images, and besides, once they’re on the Color Space, you can always preview, rename and delete as needed.
And, since both of these devices act as standard USB hard drives, you can always use them to store and bring your entire music library on the road with you or use them as external drives with your “regular” computers.
Also, check out 3 Durable Solar USB Chargers for the iPad, which will enable you to take your iPad and other mobile devices on extended trips into the backcountry.