Quick Look: Apple’s USB 3 SD Card Reader for iPad

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The last time I bought Apple’s SD Card Camera Reader, I ended up feeling disappointed and returning it within a day. However, I thought I’d revisit this particular accessory now that I’ve switched cameras. Instead of using a Sony A6000, I’m now using a Fuji X-Pro 2. The JPEG files on this new camera are larger, and the movies are actually transferable to iOS, so I now have a much better use case for this little adapter.

I shoot files large enough files (12-15 MB JPEGs) in a large enough capacity (around 50 shots on a given day) that Wi-Fi transfers aren’t really a great solution for me any more. I can still pull the camera out to transfer 5-10 shots with ease, but transferring 20 shots at 24 MP per shot takes upwards of four or five minutes to complete. That’s four minutes of my iPad Pro and camera being completely useless while the transfer happens. In contrast, the transfer of 19 shots via the SD Card Reader takes less than a minute, and still allows me to do other things while the transfer is happening.

The other really cool thing is that I can actually transfer video off of my camera. This is a stupidly novel concept to me as an iPad and a Sony camera owner. Those two classes of device just don’t seem meant for one another, as I could never get the XAVC-S videos off my Sony camera. These Fuji videos aren’t as smooth or sharp as the ones off of my Sony, but I knew that going into the purchase. However, it makes a world of difference that I can actually preview my footage in the field now. This means I really can travel around with just the iPad Pro, and I won’t need the Mac for basic video previewing and editing.

The only thing I’m not a fan of is the barebones interface in Photos during the import process. I can select all pictures for import, or flag them all for deletion. Multi-selection is still a tap-heavy affair, though. If I want to select only the last 30 pictures from my SD card, that’s 30 individual taps on the tiny thumbnails in order to flag them for import. I really should just be able to swipe to select photos, just like I can for the images that are actually stored on my device.

There should also be a quick way to quickly filter the view to show only photos or only videos. The video thumbnails are possible to spot because they have timestamps on them that show their length, but having all the media on a single screen with no filtering just doesn’t feel like a Pro workflow. If Apple’s going to put this much power into an iPad Pro and give it such a gorgeous screen, they really have to make the photography and videography workflows better.

I don’t love this SD Card Camera Reader, but it’s a necessary evil. It’s a decent price at $29 USD (or $35 CAD) with an awkward form factor (the little wire just makes the reader dangle awkwardly from the iPad), but it does the job a lot faster than Wi-Fi. I also appreciate that it’s small enough to tuck into any one of my bags. I might even end up making a small sleeve for it and attach it to the Smart Keyboard, just so it’s always handy whenever I want to import pictures. So my new verdict is this: don’t purchase one of these adapters if you’re a Sony user who wants to import video, but for everyone else, it’s worth a shot if you want a mobile-first photo workflow.

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One thought on “Quick Look: Apple’s USB 3 SD Card Reader for iPad”

  1. That looks like a cool card reader devices. It can be easily carried in my pocket and watch movies or play games while traveling.

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