Field Testing The iPad Pro For Mobile Photo Editing

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I’m writing this post from the airport in the newly released Ulysses 2.5 (review coming soon!). I’m heading to Tokyo for a few weeks of vacation and a ton of picture-taking. In the weeks before this trip I started shooting more of my photos in RAW + JPEG. If you’re not familiar with RAW files, they’re basically vanilla versions of your camera’s pictures, but with more visual data preserved in the background. As a result, you can tweak and play with RAW photos to much greater extent than you can with JPEGs (where you’ll start to see noise and blown highlights much sooner). There are two downsides to RAW, though: 

  1. RAW files take up more space. My Sony A6000 takes 24 Megapixel shots, and each one is about 6.0 MB as a JPEG. Those same shots are 22-24 MB as RAW (.ARG) files.
  2. RAW isn’t well supported on iOS at all.

These two factors led me to consider bringing my Retina MacBook Pro on this trip, in lieu of the iPad Pro. It would have been heavier to lug around on a daily basis, but Photos on OS X will let me edit RAW files, whereas Photos on the iPad Pro can only tweak JPEGs.

However, I also thought about what having the MacBook Pro along might do to my trip. It’s a larger machine that needs more space an a bit more baby-ing, whereas the iPad Pro can be thrown into the bag and basically forgotten. I also like that I can wirelessly transfer my photos from my camera to the iPad Pro, which makes it a lot easier to offload pictures for viewing. I can sit down at a cafe, start the process, and put the camera and iPad Pro back into my bag while I eat. Once I’m done, the pictures will be there and ready for me.

I recently discussed how disappointing Photo Extensions still are on iOS, and so I’m trying to see if I can do the majority of my editing within the Photos app on the iPad. The filters Apple provides are great at shifting the tone of my photos, but they are quite heavy-handed by default. The new workflow I’ll be trying now is to start with one of the filters in Photos, and then use the Light and Colour panels to tone the look down, so my shots don’t feel over-processed.

That will take care of the JPEGs. I will still be shooting RAW + JPEG on my camera in Japan, but I’ll take advantage of the fact that only the JPEGs will be sent to my iPad Pro through the Sony PlayMemories app. The RAWs can stay as backups on the card, which gives me the option of re-tweaking some shots to greater effect on my Mac when I get home.

This trip also has prompted me to add a new item to my wishlist for iOS 10: RAW support. I’d like to be able to not just view and edit RAW files on this iPad Pro, but choose whether to edit the RAW or the JPEG when I shoot both on my camera. If Apple can nail this in iOS 10, they’ll have significantly increased the utility of the iPad Pro for users like me. I could leave my MacBook Pro at home for all subsequent trips and just rely on iOS for any editing work I want to do.

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One thought on “Field Testing The iPad Pro For Mobile Photo Editing”

  1. I was looking for the field testing, instead I read that you will take your ipad pro to Japan instead of your laptop… Your title is misleading. Having said that I bookmarked your site and will come back to it. I can tell you already that I have tested my ipad pro on trips and between LR and PS Fix and Liquify I have a great workflow. I do use a wireless external disk that takes my camera card, and then syncs the pics to my ipad in its own created network…

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