Apple iPad: Is it now a real photographer's tool?
I am not a great iPad fan. I bought the 9.7in iPad Pro last year, assuming that it would at last convince me to forsake my MacOS and physical keyboards. I had had several forays into the iPad world, encouraged by all the hype, but it hadn't worked. Nor did the new iPad Pro; it was very much more of the same.
I still prefer to carry around my slim MacBook and enjoy the computing environment I am used to. Of course, iOS, whether on iPhone or iPad, is now a grown-up, fully featured operating system. It's just that it isn't particularly my cup of tea. I'm more of a keyboard and mouse/trackpad man than a screen prodder. Many will disagree and there is no doubt that the recent updates to iOS mean that the iPad (or iPhone for that matter) has much more chance of superseding the traditional MacOS computer interface. Perhaps I'm just a bit of a Luddite deep down.
I have friends, most of them experienced photographers, who rely almost entirely on the iPad for processing of their masterpieces. Ivor Cooper just is one of them. Even RAW isn't a problem any more and the tablet can offer almost as much as the desktop environment. It's just that it's different.
This article in MacWorld offers a new perspective and proposes that the tablet has come of age in the world of photographic processing: The iPad Pro is now a true photographer's tool. Jeff Carlson writes:
“Now, the iPad Pro has finally reached a tipping point for photographers. The improved hardware in the just-released iPad Pro models, plus software improvements in iOS 10 and the upcoming iOS 11, make the iPad Pro (mostly) fullfill (sic) the potential of the iPad as a true photographer’s companion.
It is a persuasive article but I'm nowhere near ready to embrace the tablet as a sole computing platform. For one thing, I am rather addicted to the desktop version of Adobe Lightroom (after forsaking Apple Aperture, much of which has now been incorporated into Photos). I know that Lightroom is also available for the iPad and, perhaps, I should give it a whirl. But then, what to do about storage? All my photographs are stored on an 8TB external disk (with a good backup routine, of course) and I do like to have everything in one place. I fear using the iPad more would leave me with files all over the place, some in the Adobe cloud, some in iCloud and others in my very own grounded cloud at the office. It is potentially all a bit messy and I have a tidy mind.
I also feel that the slim MacBook is an easier carry than the iPad, even without a keyboard. Yet I do have to fit a keyboard (call me old fashioned....). When the rather admirable Smart Keyboard is added to the iPad the ensemble is more cumbersome and almost as heavy as the MacBook. So why not carry the real thing?
I have to admit that there are now two camps when it comes to computing: Traditionalists versus modernists. Normally I would be a modernist because I am every open to new ideas, keen to find fresh ways of doing things. In this instance, though, I belong to the traditionalist camp. I simply prefer photo processing on the Mac. What do you think? It would be interesting to get some real-life experiences of serious photo processing and storage via a tablet.
Postscript: The day after this article was first published I came across a very apt commentary from respected Mac commentator, John Gruber of DaringFireball.net, who was responding to Josh Topolsky's Twitter trashing of the iPad Pro. Says Gruber:
"But people like me and Topolsky — and millions of others — are the reason why Apple continues to work on MacOS and make new MacBook hardware. I can say without hesitation that the iPad Pro is not the work device for me. I can also say without hesitation that the iPad Pro with a Smart Keyboard is the work device for millions of other people."
You can read Gruber's full post here. It more or less sums up the argument. I've been impressed with the quality of the comments to this article and I suppose we will never completely solve the conundrum. For the moment, there are Mac people and there are iPad people.
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- Thanks to reader BC for highlighting the MacWorld article