Is the iPad Ready for Primetime Picture Desk Use?

Digital photo management on an iPad. Photo by Stephen Hart This is a guest blog from Stephen Hart. Stephen Hart is a publishing technology consultant working within the magazine and newspaper industries and a former photo editor at the Associated Press. He used the MerlinOne digital asset management system in a previous position.

The iPad is a great device. I love the thing. It allows me to carry a ton of content with me, all shoved in my briefcase. By content I mean movies, music, stills, magazines, newspapers and then some. It also lets me create simple flow charts (with an app), write memos, send email, update my calendar, etc. You can use Apple’s Keynote to create presentations and plug it into an external monitor or projector, with the iPad Dock Connector to VGA. For Father’s Day, my kids got me the connector that allows you to plug it in to a TV with composite video.

For the photographer or photo editor there are some things that you can do with it, but it is also important to remember what the device is not. That is, it is not a full-blown computer. It has limited RAM (256 MB) and is maxed out at 64 GB for storage. Although for what it does, 64 GB is plenty.

It can’t run anything like Adobe Bridge, Photoshop, CaptureOne or Camera Bits’ Photo Mechanic. In fact, Dennis Walker, the founder of Camera Bits has a good memo on why we shouldn’t expect Photo Mechanic on the iPad anytime soon:

There are a couple of digital photo management and manipulation apps available. One is Adobe Photoshop Express. It’s free and certainly worth having in your collection of apps. It is a great app to do basic editing and sharing of your pictures.

I would love to see the day when it could act as a solid preview tool for images as the camera captures them in the studio, or when setting remotes. You could, if you were so inclined, rig something up where it acted as an extension of a computer screen in a closed environment, and as you shot, the images would, in theory, show on the device. Or, set the camera to auto FTP the images (depending on the camera) and point the device to that directory. You would not want to shoot directly to the device because of storage limitations AND that the internal photo application does not fully support IPTC or XMP metadata.

I do have the accessories that allow you to import photos from a SD card or directly from the camera using the USB port, but I do not use that for final collection and storage for anything other than maybe snapshots.

In the above case, the images are going into the Photo app. There is no good way to add additional info about the photo(s).

What the iPad is though, is a great presentation tool. Using Apple’s Keynote app ($9.99 and worth it), you can create a portfolio of images that could, if you wanted, replace your ‘book.’ If you have Keynote on your desktop, you can create the presentation there – which is easier, and then move it over to your device. You could also use other applications to do similar if you create a PDF and use one of the many PDF viewers that are available to show your work. Keynote, though, will allow you to edit your presentation on the device.

As a photo editor though, I would love the ability to quickly sort through a collection of images, compare them, rank them, etc like Bridge or Photo Mechanic can do (or Lightroom and Aperature). Even if the images were proxies for the hi-res that sat elsewhere. There is no app for that. At least not yet.

This is a consuming device and not yet a production device. I have great hopes though…..

Posted by Stephen Hart
Photo by Stephen Hart

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