iPad Pro in 2020 as only photo editing tool?

fredlong

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I’ve been doing almost all of my photo work on a second gen iPad Pro for the past two years. It’s a 12.9” 512GB model. The raw files live in the native Photo app (I really want something better) I’ve used Affinity Photo since day one. I actually bought it when it was on sale before I got the iPad.

I still have a ten year old MacBook stuck on 10.13.6 that I keep a backup catalog in Lightroom and use for printing.

I love editing on the iPad! The display is amazing and the pencil (1st gen) works well. Affinity Photo is a really complete editing app. It’s like a raw to finished photo workflow in Photoshop. Unlike Lightroom when you’re done with the raw conversion you’re done. There’s no going back to rework it. You still have the original raw file to start over if you want. I have Lightroom on the iPad, but I just don’t use it.

Adobe has released at least a dozen different apps called Photoshop in the last two years. None of them have been close to Photoshop. The newest one is claimed to finally be the “real Photoshop for iPad and here’s the limited set of features for now” Affinity is here now and amazing.

What’s really missing is a robust DAM that is easy to keep synchronized with the laptop.
 

Repp

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Well, the new iPad Pro was announced today, not much of an upgrade unless you really want the AR specs vs the 2018 iPad pros. That new keyboard looks interesting except for it’s price! It is compatible with the 2018 models though.
 
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Sorry to bump the old thread, not sure if the OP has found a solution/figured out what's best for him.

I was wondering about a iPad all-in work flow 2 years ago and I did give it a try when I got my 2017 9.7" iPad for as little as 400£ with the Gen 1 pencil.
Back in 2018 the landscape of iPad and Apple itself was a lot different, Apple itself stating that iPad is not a laptop and it will never allow it to be a laptop. Refusing to bring Mac OS capabilities like a decent file management system, no external storage support beyond ONE device per port (meaning you had to choose between card reader and USB storage but not both at the same time) and many others (before iOS 13).
Now Apple is singing a different tune after their dissapointment with Intel's QC of their CPUs and overall system integration, they are switching from x86/64 to ARM for their desktop platforms (aka Mac Mini, Mac, iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air), essentially turning everything they have into iPad/iOS.
It is the first generation products so everything is far from perfect but with the typical Apple commitment of such huge change its to be expected they will refine and perfect the iOS and iPad as well giving them similar standing to the rest of their stack... The only question is when (will that happen)?

Now back to experience, I tried to import E-M1 Raw files onto the iPad using a Thunderbolt SD reader and the most frustrating experience I had was that if I had more then a few hundred files on the card the Photo app would constantly crash, I could not pick and choose what to import. Another big frustration I had of the app was that I can't zoom in to check if the image was pin sharp/in focus because it wouldn't let me do it until it was imported already. For a wildlife photographer with shooting burst that was a nightmare. Eventually I found out why the app was crashing: insufficient RAM. (You may ask how did I found out, simple, try putting 2 of your favorite pictures as Lockscreen and Wallpaper and see how apps start crashing, even at the age of 3 year old model my iPad still crashes most websites in Chrome, most articles in Google Search if I load 2 wallpapers. But just so you know keeping the wallpapers to default setting still doesn't stop the Photo app from crashing if you try to load to many RAW previews).
A potential solution is the, new too me (I haven't tried it), Direct Import in Lightroom Mobile. But then I hit another frustration with iOS, limited internal storage and support for external storage. My iPad was the 64GB models and very few files I could import because of that. The 512GB and 1TB models are very expensive and with the lack of built in SD reader or MicroSD slot you can't expand nor can you save the images on a backup drive without doing round trips on dingles.
Online storage can be a solution but unless you live in a heavily covered 4/5G area with close to unlimited data it's not feasible even for some developed areas like London/New York (as an example). Another solution would be to build yourself a NAS server and upgrade your house with very fast WiFi and work off a network drive. But it's not a cheap or easy solution for less technically inclined.

But, alas, there are good sides that still makes me wish one day I can go with a tablet work flow only: *Pen support, I love doing local/brush edits with the pencil and I can full heartedly say Apple has the best pen support capability ever. The palm rejection is flawless, the pen perormance is damn near perfect with no lag, no noticeable parallax. (Compared to my Asus Zenbook Pro Duo where my pen starts lagging and becoming unresponsive when the laptop uses more then 12 out of 16GB, or using Lightroom more then 2 straight hours).
*The portability is amazing, even around the house, where you are not confined to a desk or sitting in just one positin.
*Coupled with battery life it is truly an on the go device, doing quick edits in the field, share pictures on long trips where you don't have access to hotels to plug in. Even after decent usage my iPad holds a charge a lot better then my laptop.
*Pure fun, this is completely subjective but editing on the iPad always felt less of a chore and more of a joy, probably biased as I loved drawing on pen and paper and this felt a lot like taking even more control over my creativity.

I believe that, depending on your work flow and shooting style, an iPad Pro would benefit more then iPad Air or the standard model because of the extra RAM to work on larger files and/or with more files. And it may also affect on how heavily you may want to edit a file, like many layers and/or intense effects. With the launch of Apple M1 chip I do hope that better capability will come to the iPad with better hardware and software support (the switch to Type C USB helps but multi USB storage devices needs support for a better backup solution).

I have not tried the Windows based Surface Pro BUT given my personal experince with Asus Zenbook Pro Duo which has similar limitations, 16GB RAM and that goes up in smoke ASAP with a few minutes of Lightroom usage or a Edit In Photoshop, only one internal storage (and eve though it's upgradable on the laptop to 2TB max it's not on the Surface), limited USB port selection (my laptop has 2 type A 3.1 and 1 type C Thunderbolt USB) but at least the Surface has a MicroSD reader, and battery life of about 4 to 6 hours... I have most of the Microsoft Surface Pro experience to not want one as it would be a side-grade (the only benefit would be going from 2.5 KGs, 3.2 with the power brick, to 1 Kg).
 

mfturner

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Actually, thanks for bumping this thread @L0n3Gr3yW0lf I actually have an iPad mini 5th Gen due to arrive tomorrow, with a Gen 1 pencil, and my hope is that I can make it my traveling pp machine. We have a camper van with limited space (my original motivation to move from Canon to mu43) and even a laptop is troublesome. I've made a couple of trips trying to use my Samsung s10+ phone as a reviewing/ editing machine (oi.share to transfer and snapseed and oi.palette to review and edit), but it's just a bit too small, and I think a stylus would help editing (and the s10+ is too large for a phone imo, my work iphone SE 2020 or an iPhone 12 mini is my preference, but that needs another thread). My wife's 9.7 inch ipad is a bit bigger than I want, believe it or not.

So, here goes nothing.
 

Mike Wingate

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Well with iPados14 or whatever, an inexpensive powered hub with 6 inputs/outputs. The iPad pro 12.9” wirh the most expensive pencil ever, has blossomed into a decent machine. Just don’t overload the machine. I select what shots I want to edit into a separate folder on an ssd external hard drive. Access it through the hub. Open in Snapseed, LR, PS. Prisma, Affinity, Photofox or whatever. For me it is fast, the pencil is good. It is not a laptop, so do things slightly differently, at a reduced speed with fewer tools if need be.
 
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Actually, thanks for bumping this thread @L0n3Gr3yW0lf I actually have an iPad mini 5th Gen due to arrive tomorrow, with a Gen 1 pencil, and my hope is that I can make it my traveling pp machine. We have a camper van with limited space (my original motivation to move from Canon to mu43) and even a laptop is troublesome. I've made a couple of trips trying to use my Samsung s10+ phone as a reviewing/ editing machine (oi.share to transfer and snapseed and oi.palette to review and edit), but it's just a bit too small, and I think a stylus would help editing (and the s10+ is too large for a phone imo, my work iphone SE 2020 or an iPhone 12 mini is my preference, but that needs another thread). My wife's 9.7 inch ipad is a bit bigger than I want, believe it or not.

So, here goes nothing.
I wish you good luck and I hope it will go well for you and your wife. I have a Samsung Galaxy Note 8 because I can't go without the pen (though I don't use it as much as I was on the iPad) it's awesome for taking quick notes, just pull it out write on the screen, and put it back in, no need for saving commands or anything).
Just make sure the iPad doesn't have any wallpapers set beside a blank color or the default ones. OI Share works well on the iPad as well both for saving files and controlling the camera (mind you, AGAIN, there's not ability to zoom in to check for critical focus) as an alternative to using a card reader. You could connect the iPad/s to external storage and backup your pictures on the road if you use the OI Share more conveniently (but slower).
(I know the feeling of limited space, I always wanted and still hoping to try Van Life, trying to figure out maximum usage out of minimum space. And yes, Laptops require as much horizontal space as verticle compared to tablets).
 

Darmok N Jalad

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I‘ve been using an iPad for edits for quite some time now. Probably 95% of my contributions here in 2020 were from an iPad, using Photos as the primary editor. I don’t go far into advanced editing, though Affinity Photo is pretty darn powerful for those things. I mainly rely on getting it mostly right before import, with cropping and slider adjustments being my post processing work. I shoot in high-quality JPG mode, though I’ve done this with RAW in the past with no trouble. I just like using my camera to handle some of the processing based on how I usually expose my shots and adjust things “off camera” to help save time. I’ve found if I can’t get a workable image out of Photos, then I can just cull that shot. It takes a very memorable photo for me to want to take it outside Photos to do a salvage attempt.

I know that’s not for everyone, but I don’t like complicated workflows in post. Everything else I‘ve tried just gets more troublesome, especially for cloud sharing. Photos is nice with iCloud, as everything I do on one device is synced to the others, so I can share that image I edited on my iPad from my phone sometime later. I know Adobe CC does this, but at the cost of $10+ a month. Our iCloud family plan is $3/mo, and it covers everyone in the house with 100GB to spare, and it’s full-blown cloud storage, with device backups.
 
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I have tried using my 11.5 inch iPad Pro 2020 as a photo editor, and it does make a superb editing platform. But... the vagaries of the iPad file system make it too big a hassle to rely on full time. It's just a total pain in the butt to load, transfer, save to a specific place or archive to external storage. Even the improvements in ios14 haven't eased that workflow. To my mind, photo editing time should be spent on the photos, not trying to work around a file system.
 

threeOh

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I have the same iPad that you’re using. It’s a 128gb model. I treat the Photos app as a plague. The only reason for its existence is to provide a silo for selfie shooters. I do use LR Mobile. And the Lightning (I believe you meant Lightning, not Thunderbolt) card reader. I shoot, Sony, Panny and Fuji. Most of the iPad action is 20mp files from a GX9 that's my travel kit. Max ingest is maybe 200 - 300 r+j pairs at a time. I have zero issues.

I would love to have a halfway decent initial culling app as I toss, probably like you, 90% of my shots. If you find one, that would be a step forward far more significant than an Air or Pro. Both of which represent the typical Apple tactic of marketing high margin approaches instead of functional solutions.

Robust DAM exists. Its Lightroom. I import to separate folders in the Creative Cloud folder, jpeg and raw with WiFi turned off. I use the Files app. This provides a means of quicker culling and quick sharing. Like the Mac, it’s non-destructive editing. I assume you are well versed in what you’re paying for. When I leave for dinner I begin the uploading process. Hopefully a culled upload.

If your issue is memory, you need a Pro. However, I suggest you make sure it’s a memory constraint unless funds are not an issue. Apple has always managed memory very efficiently. I’ve never run into ram issues even on far lesser iPads. Not on my old iPad I when I was shooting a D800 (slowwww...). Not with mini 3’s and 4’s with difficult Fuji XTrans files that are near the same size as D800 files. However, you’re probably injesting more files than I am. In which case, perhaps use multiple cards and have multiple imports.
 

mfturner

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One thing I've been working on lately (since switching from Canon kit) is to get more right in camera, so that I have far less post processing to do. Even to the point of using art bracketing to get different contrast/saturation options in camera if I'm unsure whether to use muted vs natural on a bright mid day shot, or natural vs vivid on a dull day. So selecting down to a group of favorites, and creating copies as backup, are my main editing tasks, in theory anyway. As I say, we'll see how it goes.
 

John M Flores

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Question for the iPad users - do you travel with a keyboard?

I need a keyboard. I have an older iPad with a BT keyboard but the experience was kludgy. I've thought about a new iPad Pro + the fancy new keyboard but I think the overall package is bigger than a MacBook. And I worry that the experience will still be a bit kludgy. But working with a stylus would be nice...
 

Gillymaru

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I have used my iPad Pro for photos and video when travelling. I found using lumaFusion for editing video was particularly fast and easy. Much better than using my MacBook Pro. Photo editing was ok but I prefer my Mac for that. I will continue using my iPad for some trips especially when I have to travel light. A nice feature is now that I have a M1 Mac mini I have been able to install LumaFusion on it and export my movie edits straight to my Mac.
 

mfturner

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I don't see a keyboard answer, my 18yo college student uses a small Bluetooth keyboard case with his Samsung tab a, and much preferred it when typing emails, papers, etc. I may wind up that way, but I want to try to use the pencil for a while first to see if I can live with that. I will say that swipe on my iPhone is vastly better than on this Samsung, the Samsung seems to have a dictionary that uses Oz slang, and sometimes just simply gibberish, for its spelling "correction". I'll report back if I bail and get a keyboard...
 
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I don't see a keyboard answer, my 18yo college student uses a small Bluetooth keyboard case with his Samsung tab a, and much preferred it when typing emails, papers, etc. I may wind up that way, but I want to try to use the pencil for a while first to see if I can live with that. I will say that swipe on my iPhone is vastly better than on this Samsung, the Samsung seems to have a dictionary that uses Oz slang, and sometimes just simply gibberish, for its spelling "correction". I'll report back if I bail and get a keyboard...
I have used my full-size Logitech G601 wireless mechanical keyboard when I'm at the desk since it has Bluetooth support. It works brilliantly and very fast to connect. I haven't tried a portable one yet, my girlfriend is asking if we can get one for the iPad after I gave her the iPad permanently (factory reset it and she logged in with her stuff now). If we do get one I will let you know how it goes. I don't find an issue typing on the on-screen keyboard on the iPad, I'm quite adaptable to different keyboards (virtual or physical).

I don't use swipe and never used it, it never made sense on how it's more effective ... but then so was trackball mouse until I tried one and I used it 95% of the time now and I would not go without it ever again. Even for a huge size phone my Samsung Note 8 still feels very cramped for tying on it, I try to use my laptop for that as much as I can.
 

Darmok N Jalad

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Question for the iPad users - do you travel with a keyboard?

I need a keyboard. I have an older iPad with a BT keyboard but the experience was kludgy. I've thought about a new iPad Pro + the fancy new keyboard but I think the overall package is bigger than a MacBook. And I worry that the experience will still be a bit kludgy. But working with a stylus would be nice...
Yes, the keyboard becomes an essential add-on when you commit to using an iPad for more than just a consumption device. I just use the smart keyboard cover, not the bigger one with the trackpad. Not only does it offer a much improved typing experience (over the touchscreen), but it also works as a stand and protection while not in use, and it doesn’t add that much bulk and can be flipped around when not in use. If you want the side benefit that the trackpad offers, you can always pair a Bluetooth mouse or trackpad to the iPad.

Apple has been slow with the rollout of mouse/trackpad support, but they usually do that sort of slow change for an easier transition for users and developers. Really, this was the correct move, IMO, as it required developers to think of the iPad as a ”touch first” device, with keyboard and mouse support, as needed. MS went the opposite direction with Windows 8 and 10 and Surface, and it resulted in basically needing the keyboard cover to have a remotely decent experience. The apps never came to Windows as a consequence, and it makes touch a secondary feature to Windows. You can do everything you need on an iPad without a keyboard, but the keyboard can greatly improve your efficiency if you have certain demands. For example, I could have typed this on my iPad’s on-screen keyboard, but it was far faster and easier to use the keyboard cover. :)
 
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pondball

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I have a 3 or 4 year old iPad Pro.
Software I have installed on it for photo and video are affinity photo, and LumaFusion.
I don’t store files very long on the iPad, instead using my GnarBox 2 and a secondary SSD drive for backups.
Works just fine with pencil, version 1.
When the time comes I’ll upgrade to the largest iPad Pro I can get. The extra real estate would be nice.
 

Quadna71

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I always travel with a keyboard. I have the 12.9” iPad Pro and originally purchased it with the Smart Keyboard Folio (Apple) and was satisfied with that. I used it at home, at work, and anytime I happened to be traveling. It not only is great for typing, but also is helpful just for positioning it for use when on a flat stable surface. Also work gave me the Pencil (2nd version) and I used that often with the keyboard when at home to keep the screen from getting as smudged.

But once the Magic Keyboard (again, Apple) came out I quickly jumped at that since the trackpad was what I wanted the most. So now at home I use the Magic keyboard 99% of the time and only remove it on the rare occasion I am using an app that doesn’t work in landscape mode. But when I travel or am taking it to work for some use on a slow day, I still revert back to the thinner/lighter Smart keyboard folio version purely due to portability. So short answer is yes to keyboard but varies depending upon use and portability.
 

algold

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I always travel with a keyboard. I have the 12.9” iPad Pro and originally purchased it with the Smart Keyboard Folio (Apple) and was satisfied with that. I used it at home, at work, and anytime I happened to be traveling. It not only is great for typing, but also is helpful just for positioning it for use when on a flat stable surface. Also work gave me the Pencil (2nd version) and I used that often with the keyboard when at home to keep the screen from getting as smudged.

But once the Magic Keyboard (again, Apple) came out I quickly jumped at that since the trackpad was what I wanted the most. So now at home I use the Magic keyboard 99% of the time and only remove it on the rare occasion I am using an app that doesn’t work in landscape mode. But when I travel or am taking it to work for some use on a slow day, I still revert back to the thinner/lighter Smart keyboard folio version purely due to portability. So short answer is yes to keyboard but varies depending upon use and portability.
Magic keyboard is very nice, pity they didn’t add the function buttons and the escape key.
 
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