Halfway Point: Field Testing the iPad Pro For Photo Editing

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I wrote last week about taking my iPad Pro for a field test as my only travel computer. I’ve shot nearly 1000 shots in Tokyo so far, and the vast majority have been edited on the iPad Pro as I get back to my room at the end of the day. I don’t make as many stops during the daytime as I thought I would, so the only reasonable time for me to lock my camera down is the end of each day.

This makes it easier to transfer photos over, since I can simply specify that I want to transfer all images from today, instead of picking them out one by one. I had thought about picking up a USB 3 SD Card reader for this trip, but since it still doesn’t allow me to transfer Sony XAVC-S videos over to the iPad, It just didn’t feel like it was worth the money. Thankfully, Sony’s PlayMemories app has been behaving really well and handling transfers of over 100 pictures in one session. I usually start the transfer, surf for about five minutes, and come back to all of the pictures on my iPad.

I tend to shoot important four or five times in a row, just to make sure I get pinpoint sharpness on my subjects. I can check this in-camera, but the screen isn’t that great on my Sony A6000, and viewing pictures at 100% crop usually doesn’t give me the level of context I want. Everything tends to look blurry to me at that level.

It’s been great reviewing and editing pictures on the iPad Pro’s 12.9–inch screen. It isn’t a night-and-day difference between the Pro and my previous iPad Air 2, but it is definitely a lot more comfortable. I can check for sharpness, often without even having to zoom in.

Photos and Pixelmator

I’ve been doing most of my editing within the Photos app, just as I thought I would. It’s simply the easiest way to start doing touch-ups and have all the changes saved in one place. I also have to give Pixelmator more credit for its extension — it still focuses a lot on strange effects when I value its curve editor and colour temperature slider more, but it has come in quite handy. I like the sharpening tool for giving pictures a little more bite, and I really like the Hue & Saturation tool, which lets me bolster specific colours, or dampen other ones.

One thing I miss is the ability to just select a file in Photos and open it in Pixelmator. Instead, I have to load Pixelmator up and manually add the picture by creating a new file. There is a huge disconnect here because there’s no good way to easily bookmark which file I wanted to open. If I’m trying to edit a file that I shot in the middle of the day (so there are lots of pictures before and after this shot), and I’m also trying to choose a specific version of that shot (when there are four or five versions), it’s very difficult to do so with the tiny thumbnails. A large preview or an Open In Pixelmator extension would be perfect.

Lightning Charging All The Way!

I’m a little over halfway into this trip and I can definitely say I have no regrets about leaving the MacBook Pro at home. I won’t have any access to my high-res videos or RAW files until I get home, but I’m all right with that trade off right now because of how much easier the charging situation has been.

It’s really convenient that the iPad Pro uses the same Lightning connector as my iPhone, so I can use a single dual-USB charger to charge my devices. When morning comes, I’ll usually swap one of the Lightning cables out so that I can give my Apple Watch a quick tip-up. This would have been possible if I had used the MacBook Pro as a gigantic USB hub, but that charger takes up more space on the wall. I like the simplicity that this iPad and iPhone setup offers. The iPad Pro has been a happy compromise for me so far. I’m still able to review and edit pictures each day, and my charging situation is very simple and compact, which means very little time spent on upkeep.

Not Enough Device Storage? I Don’t Think So!

The issue that really irks me right now is the “Not Enough Device Storage” warnings I’ve been seeing over the past two days.

I bought a 128 GB iPhone and iPad Pro specifically because I wanted to store all of my photos locally. I have tried using iCloud Photo Library to Optimize Storage, but downloading images on an as-needed basis just doesn’t work that well. Even on fast LTE, the downloads can happen quite slowly, and it doesn’t scale well for viewing large groups of photos. So I’ve chosen to download all picture to the devices and I have 11 GB of space free on the iPad Pro. So when iCloud gives me a vague warning about space running low when I know that there’s more than enough space available for new photos to download over Wi-Fi, it really does get to me.

The only reason I can think of for this warning is that I’ve dropped below the last 10% of storage available on my device. However, if that’s the trigger, it really does not scale well. It makes a lot of sense to warn a 16 GB iPad user that they’re down to their last 10% of storage and should optimize. That’s less than 2 GB of space left and it could be taken up by apps or other media downloads and cause problems for Photos.

However, with 11 GB left, there’s simply no way for me to use all that space up by downloading extra pictures over Wi-Fi. I understand maybe offering the warning up once, but it’s incredibly annoying to have to dismiss it each time there are new pictures to download to my iPad Pro.

I will definitely be submitting a bug report for iOS 9.3 because this really does hamper the iOS experience for me. If I’m to rely on my iPad Pro like I would a desktop computer, I want to be able to use every bit of that 128 GB storage the way I want.

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