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Review: iPad for Photography

Remember when the iPod first came out? Suddenly .mp3 players were worth considering. I jumped into the Apple pond with the iPod touch and wondered why I’d waited so long. Email, a mini-portfolio and web-browsing on the go and a massive selection of free art photography podcasts and tutorials? Yes please.

It’s taken me three iterations of the iPad to jump in, but I did so last week with the ‘new iPad’, the iPad 3. For the whole brand experience, I got it at Apple’s church store in Covent Garden, London, UK. Okay, really this was just one of the few places left in London with the new iPad…

Because the iPad 3 is massively popular. In fact, Apple claims they sold 3 million units in the first four days. Thank you Foxconn workers for your overtime…

How do I find the iPad 3 as a photographer’s tool? My first impression is favourable overall. Here are a few things that are worth considering.


  • The Screen. Ohhh that screen. Yes, it is that good. It does mean re-optimising all of your web-sized photographs, but that’s fine. I didn’t see much of the iPad 2, but the screen on the iPad 3 is excellent.
  • Camera Control. The prospect of Live View on that screen, combined with control of the camera, makes me very happy. This will be worth the price just to show clients while I’m working.
  • The App Store. There’s a huge variety of Apps (software) to do all sorts of things. is there, so is Photoshop (redux). More to come I’m sure.


  • No USB connectivity out of the box. Madness. I want to use my external hard drive. I can’t. I want to connect my camera for tethered shooting and I have to pay £25 for a 50pence adaptor? A replica adaptor is on its way…
  • The Keyboard. Yes, I like that the predictive text know what I’d like to say. But with no tactile feedback and cramped keys, I don’t like typing on the iPad 3. Maybe this will change with practice.
  • Not Enough Space. Solvable with an external hard drive, not the iCloud. 5GB is less than one Compact Flash card. Flash memory is still expensive; so where is the option to use an external drive?

The Pros outweigh the Cons for my usage. The new iPad 3 won’t replace my laptop. The image editing software doesn’t offer enough control over output, although I like the ease of editing photos with a touch-screen.

Space is an issue. I use Dropbox to synch my files to the ‘cloud’ and Google documents too. I’d like to be able to use my external hard drive as with my laptop.

How to Optimise the new iPad 3 for photography

  • Most importantly, your 600px high images won’t look as good on the new iPad 3 because of the increased pixel density on the high-resolution Retina display. You’ll need to resize them. The screen dimensions of the new iPad 3 are 2048x1536px. Resize and sharpen them for this and display them full-screen to make the most out of the screen.
  • Get the Camera Connection Kit. All it does is give you the USB and SD card slot that should have been included; for an extra £25. It will let you transfer photos from the camera. But it will also let you use a USB keyboard (Apple’s Bluetooth keyboard is £59), and a USB microphone; useful for videography and interviews.
  • Get a proper case. My professional Nikon dSLR and lens take a good thrashing and so far haven’t broken (much). The iPad 3 looks svelte and fragile like it would break if the wind changed. I bought a Griffin Survivor case for it – the same case for the iPad 2 fits the new iPad 3. The new Otterbox might also be worth a look. Then get insurance too.
  • Download Scott Kelby’s Light Recipes. It’s worth a look. The Strobox app allows you to create lighting diagrams but its currently for the iPhone so it looks small on the iPad 3. The app is also good.
  • Nik Software’s Snapseed app and Adobe’s PS Express are both great. I want them to edit .NEF files and save high quality JPEGs. They don’t seem to, but I like them anyway.
  • The Turbo scan, Golden Lite and Colour Softbox apps are useful.
  • Get the black new iPad 3 for photography. I think the white version will distract slightly from the photographs.
  • Thank the Heavens for Google Maps. It is a remarkable tool. Planning routes for photography courses in Barcelona is so much easier with this. Apple just calls them ‘Maps’.
  • Get the eBay app. Save a search for that rare lens you’ve been looking for and have it notify you when one is listed. Then set an alert so that you can Buy it Now before anyone else.
  • Take control of your social networking. We’re all using Twitter, Facebook and Google + now but who has the time to keep them properly updated. It’s much easier to do so with the applications on the new iPad 3.
iPad 3 Photographer photography portfolio camera connection Sierra Leone
Life with and without the new iPad 3 for Photographers. Sierra Leone.

These are my first thoughts using this beast. As I said, I really like it. Some important things have been missed out, but even without these, I’d recommend photographers look seriously at the new iPad 3.

Here’s an unprocessed sample video taken with the Apple iPad 3 at 1080p…


Let me know how you get on, and if there are any apps or tricks that you’d recommend.


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