Using the iPad as a Photographer’s tool

iPad Camera Connection Kit

iPad Camera Connection Kit (Image courtesy of Apple)

Can the iPad be used as a photographer’s tool? The Camera Connection Kit [QuickPrice Check] allows you to transfer your images from camera to the iPad. But how good is the iPad as a drive and image viewer?

Well, let’s just say that I tried the iPod Connector Kit [as it was called back then] years ago with the iPod and concluded it was OK though not as good as a laptop or a dedicated digital wallet.

Recently, Thom Hogan has tried it with the iPad and has concluded the latter is not ready for professional (or even amateur) field work.

Remember, the Camera Connection Kit is just a [dumb] dongle — a hardware device that allows you to plug your camera’s USB cable in (wouldn’t need it if Apple had just given us a USB port). You still need software to view and organize the images — and this is where the iPad seems to lag. The first generation iPad doesn’t allow you to run any of the sophisticated image editing software you can on your laptop. Let’s hope the iPad II will.

Before the iPad came out, there was quite a lot of desire expressed that the iPad would be a useful (ultimate?) photographer’s tool, with fantastic viewing, displaying and editing features:

Since the iPad came out, the enthusiasm has waned a bit. The first generation iPad is certainly a great news magazine reader. However, it currently lacks the serious software that photographers need in the field to make it a useful, never mind ultimate, photographer’s tool.

We have not found too many expert photographers’ reviews on this subject. But if you want to stay up-to-date with what is being written on this, here is a list of photographers who have tried, are trying, or plan to try the Camera Connection Kit — or just have a view about using the iPad as a photographer’s tool:

  • Bill Lockhart shouts it to the rooftop: iPad as a Professional Photographer’s Tool? Yes, yes, yes! though he hasn’t, at the time of this writing, tried it in the field yet.
  • Thom Hogan has used it in the field and concludes that “the iPad needs expandable storage (removable SDHC cards), more RAM for applications, plus applications need to get more sophisticated and workflow friendly, before it becomes an indispensible photographer’s gadget.” [Search for “iPad in the Field?” and “So Use What in the Field?”]
  • John Simoudis hopes to be Using the iPad in a photographer’s travel kit – Part I but is still awaiting to receive his Camera Connection Kit. A Part II should be hopefully published soon.
  • Ken Milburn pens his First Impressions on iPad for Photographers and concludes that it is indeed a fabulous tool to display your portfolio but is “No good for downloading photos or editing them…use your laptop…. Not enough storage to be useful as a download device. Take along your laptop for that and processing.
  • Larry Greenberg thinks the Camera Connection Kit is “a nice safety measure to keep on hand …if you’re out and about and want to back up your pictures.
  • Jeremy Horwitz believes that the Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit is “a great accessory—the single most worthwhile purchase currently available for iPad users who enjoy photography.
  • Heather Kelly takes a First Look: iPad Camera Connection Kit and asks the question on everyone’s mind: “Will the pair of connectors [USB and SD] make the iPad a killer device for photographers in the field? Or will speed and editing limitations keep you from taking it on shoots?” Unfortunately, she does not give a definitive answer, leaving readers to draw their own conclusions.
  • Glen Fleismann writes that “iPad Camera Connection Kit Works Simply and Well.

I’m sure that if, as a photographer, you own an iPad, there is no doubt that you should purchase the Camera Connection Kit [QuickPrice Check]. It costs about US$29 and, within limitations, you may find it to be a valuable addtion to the iPad product/accessory line. However, before you do, ensure that your camera is supported.

Related Link:


  • Hi David,

    Yes, I agree we might as well get the kit.

    Will subsequent model[s] be more photographer-friendly? Not sure Apple really wants to compete with its own MacBook laptops and equip the iPad with the raw power necessary to run powerful software like PS. But here’s hoping someone does come out with an app that covers pretty much the minimum workflow we require in the field.

  • I’m certainly sold on the iPad as a great way to store, organize, and display photographs. I am the developer of iAlbum, a virtual photo album for the iPad that looks and feels just like a real photo album, complete with beautiful cover options, photo pages, photo corners, and page turn animations. It’s a great way to share your photos in a perfectly natural and intuitive photo album format that everyone can instantly use and enjoy. iAlbum is all about technology imitating life, not the other way around. And the Apple iPad makes it all possible. As far as image editing, iAlbum allows you to crop, move, size, rotate, and supports special-effects to Black&White, Sepia-Gold, and Sepia-Rose, as well as annotate your photographs.

    You can read more about it at