Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Behind iPad Hype, a photographer’s view

The internet and particularly its blogs and podcasts are  currently full of the buzz of discussions and speculation about the iPad. It has been release now ín the USA (not Australia yet) and the best I can judge is the most common assessment is.  it’s fast. Ok! Is it useful? Will it dominate in some way that makes it the next big thing? Well the next most common comment is that’s it’s a big version of the iPod touch. Ok! That’s good for a lot of people especially those with fading eyesight, but hardly earth shattering.  It’s supposed to be a Kindle killer, What the heck does that mean?

What about the iPad’s usefulness for Photographers?

Already I know the iPad doesn’t have a camera.
Can you easily transfer photos from your camera to the iPad? Probably not easily, but it should be possible with new cables, yet to  be released adaptors or even the card (this won't work see coments). There is an camera connector kit due to be offered by Apple in late April, which will be two little adaptors, a USB connectors (assuming your camera has a USB cable) and a SD Card reader(assuming your camera uses them).
Can you use the iPad to do some post processing in the field? At present you are really limited to iPhone and iTouch applications and the screen on those devices was too small to allow any really sophisticated processing so there is really isn’t anything much (eg mobile) Maybe with the iPad there may be a version of Photoshop, Picasa or Lightroom cut down to be an iPad app. Perhaps Picnik or Aviary will be the first. This is all very promising but still mostly vapourware. However, there is already an official flickr iPad app in the iTunes store (its free to download). Another good field app might be the  marrying of GPS data such as a wayfile (the iPad doesn’t have a built in GPS either) from perhaps a blue tooth connected GPS and photos using their EXIF time stamp to “automatically” geotag the photos. Stop the vapours are suffocating!
Could you use the iPad as an extended Viewfinder?
This is a neat idea, and is probably technically feasible but may need some extra hardware/cables/bluetooth device? Ok its more vapourware!
Can the iPad be used as a backup device?
It will fit neatly enough into a camera backpack. The first version is 64 GB, which is a fair bit of memory but you would need some of that for your other apps. Again Ok that’s not a lot given the price of an iPad, and maybe not enough given the size of images now captured on some camera. But being realistic 64GB of SD cards will be less that a quarter the cost of an iPad, you just can not look at the photos on the SD cards themselves.
Is the iPad a good presentation device?
This is where it scores really well, It is ideal to run simple presentations (slide shows) and show off gorgeous photographic ebooks. This is a medium I expect to become very popular soon. However remember the presentation and the ebook will probably be generated on separate a computer with more capable software (and a mouse and keyboard)

So my conclusion, don’t necessarily be swayed by the calls of magic and wonderment, it may take a while for the IPad to become an indispensible tool for a photographer.
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