X100/GX1 + iPad instead of DSLR + laptop. Would you simplify?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by sprocket87, Mar 8, 2012.

  1. sprocket87

    sprocket87 Mu-43 Veteran

    306
    Jun 29, 2011
    Lately I've been thinking of simplifying my photography workflow. I've got a D700, about half a dozen lenses, a number of flashes and all the requisite accessories. I've always shot RAW and processed in Lightroom. Overall I'm happy with the setup and my workflow is as streamlined as a RAW processing workflow can be, thanks to Lightroom.

    But lately I'm feeling pretty stale. The idea of digging all my gear out and setting it up or carrying my D700 + lens(es) all over town, to the park, or wherever I happen to go is somewhat discouraging - as is the prospect of downloading a full card for RAW processing & exports.

    One factor is that I've got 2 new young ones (2 years & 11 months) and my time is at a premium. About the only time I dig out my DSLR is for a paid gig or special family photo setup.

    Don't get me wrong, I don't want to get RID of my D700 - I don't think I would be in a position where I could afford to replace it if I missed it in 5 years or more. But I think I need to stop thinking of it as my hobby camera.

    About a year ago I picked up a GF1 (from this wonderful forum, I might add) and 20mm f/1.7 - mostly for my wife so she can get clear stills & video of our kids, but also for me to toy with. I love it. It's my go-to camera for taking shots around the house. The small form factor, light weight and tiny prime are all EXACTLY what I like (and by extension, represent the things I dislike about my DSLR kit).

    That said, there are a couple big things I dislike about the GF1. Anything above ISO 400 is pretty poor IMO, and JPEG performance is quite pitiful. It hasn't been an issue most of the time -- since I'm used to doing a RAW workflow in Lightroom with my D700 I just shoot RAW on the GF1 and the results are fantastic, assuming it isn't a low-light situation. If only it had better high-ISO handling and better JPGs, I could ditch Lightroom and just do SOOC work (or minimal JPG editing) and be a happy camper!

    Enter the GX1. It basically takes care of the high ISO issue, and although it still isn't APS-C level, it'd be much more usable than the GF1 above ISO 400. The catch is that it still isn't a great JPG performer, SOOC. I still wouldn't be satisfied unless I shot RAW and massaged the best colors, noise and sharpness that I could out of the images.

    And, to be honest, the RAW editing is getting old. My time is such that I want to take the shots, tweak for minor corrections and creative edits, and get them online or printed ASAP. Doing a big import into Lightroom, twiddling with sliders and presets for hours and then exporting the cream of the crop is just too much of a chore now (for personal/creative/"fun" photography).

    Enter the Fuji X100. By all accounts it has simply luscious JPG output. Its dynamic range, ISO handling, sharp lens and processing engine trounce the GX1 for SOOC JPGs (though a properly processed GX1 RAW file would be verrrry close I think). The idea of just shooting JPGs is scary but also kind of liberating. I could still use Lightroom, or any myriad of basic quality editing apps to get my basic edits performed and get the photos online or printed ASAP.

    This by itself is tempting enough, but then there's the new iPad... It's a mouthwatering prospect: Shoot great JPGs that require little editing on the X100, dump them to the iPad (via camera kit or wireless Eye-Fi card) for basic processing and then easily send them to the various photo/social networks I use. Between the new iPhoto, Snapseed, Photosmith and the rumored upcoming Aperture/Lightroom iOS app(s) in the future, processing JPGs on the iPad seems like a simple and satisfying prospect.

    The idea of basic processing JPGs as I take them on an iPad seems so much more satisfying than dumping a full card into my laptop, importing to Lightroom, massaging and tweaking files for hours and then exporting (not to mention backing up and offloading huge RAW files, etc). Those things are still fine for critical DSLR work like paid gigs, but it completely sucks the joy out of taking pictures for myself.

    So, the question is: Is it worth $1500 for a satisfying carry-everywhere camera that can shoot great SOOC JPGs with little processing needed plus an iPad for simple manipulation and sharing?

    PS: I'm well aware of the X100's shortcomings such as finnicky controls and focus issues. This isn't an X100 vs GX1 topic per se, though I am still torn because the GX1 is simply a better value.

    Is anyone else enamored with the idea of simplifying your photo workflow from start to finish? What do you think of my idea, and do you think you would be satisfied with something like this?

    Thanks for the feedback

    Jesse
     
  2. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    First let me say that I am HUGE fan of simplifying and love both my iPad and my m43 cameras. About the biggest issue that you would have to deal with is the storage of files. It's pretty straight forward coming from the camera using the camera connection kit for iPad (works great). Something like Snapseed (I LOVE Snapseed) or Filter Storm for editing and then I suppose you could upload the files to a service like Smugmug or Zenfolio (both of which have good nice iOS apps). You still may want to have someplace to unload the master files rather than upload EVERYTHING to the cloud. Any computer with a big drive hanging off it would work.
     
  3. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    jesse

    while i agree that simple is best, and that the quickest route from taking the picture to delivering is all important, I do have to take issue with your assertion that shooting RAW is a chore.

    Given the fact that regardless of whether you use a computer or a iPad, JPEG or RAW the whole import/select/deliver/backup routine takes pretty much the same time, all you are left with is the PP side as a time hoard... and that can be as fast or complex as you wish. its just a matter of using the tools effectively and more importantly editing down your pictures quickly.

    I often shoot a couple of hundred pics in a social situation, and then maybe spend an hour from point of import to having my selects shared online.

    I have no desire to stop you buying your Fuji ( My girlfriend has one) or a new iPad ( I am an Apple shareholder :))... but justifying them on the time you will save I think is tenuous

    just my thoughts

    K
     
  4. sprocket87

    sprocket87 Mu-43 Veteran

    306
    Jun 29, 2011
    Thanks for your input. That's exactly what I'm thinking. Even the 16GB iPad would have enough space to do a full 8GB card's worth of processing and then "move them down the pike".

    I'm thinking my basic workflow would be:

    Dump from X100 to iPad as I take shots (so maybe 5 or 10 at a time, whenever I have a few minutes to spare) instead of waiting to dump 8GB at once
    Edit in whatever photo app I end up liking the best (Snapspeed looks promising)
    Upload keepers to Flickr/500px/Facebook immediately and save them to the camera roll so they will get picked up when I sync iTunes
    Perform occasional iTunes sync and clear the iPad of most photos

    I'm sure I will fine tune it, but gosh that seems easy and fun. And manipulating the photos with my fingers (on a Retina Display) instead of a mouse (on my crappy laptop screen) is mouthwatering.
     
  5. sprocket87

    sprocket87 Mu-43 Veteran

    306
    Jun 29, 2011

    Interesting points you raise. And it's true that you can easily spend as much time tweaking JPGs as RAWs - if not MORE, to acheive the same level of quality from a poorly exposed shot for instance.

    However, I don't think it's truly apples to apples (no pun intended). The speed advantage comes by merit of the X100, which has such a superior JPG processing engine to most/any other camera that it renders RAW processing superfluous by most standards. Having done extensive research, I've read MANY reports of experienced photographers and RAW shooters that were unable to process X100 RAW photos as well as the X100 rendered JPGs on its own.

    The point is, the X100 JPGs should theoretically require little to no processing to satisfy my quality standards, assuming I expose properly. What processing is needed should be minor and well-suited to the capabilities of numerous iPad apps.

    If I was strongly considering the GX1 you would be right; I could easily spend as much time on JPGs as RAWs. But time and again, the SOOC JPGs I've seen from the X100 simply deliver the look that I like.

    Your point is well-taken though -- it doesn't matter what tools I have, it's how I use them. I'm quite proficient (and quick, IMO) at processing RAW files, but still, I am sure that locking myself into JPG would inherently remove some of that burden, especially given the X100's out-of-the-box quality.
     
  6. sprocket87

    sprocket87 Mu-43 Veteran

    306
    Jun 29, 2011
    Oh, and one other difference: I can take an iPad anywhere and send the files straight from the X100, edit and upload in moments. Lugging a laptop (and probably, charger and external hard drive) along, doing a card dump, importing and sorting in LR will almost certainly take longer.

    I like to visit a local park on my lunch breaks at work. Sometimes I take photos. With a small camera + iPad I can shoot, process and upload all within my lunch break. Factoring a laptop into that workflow would almost certainly make that impossible.
     
  7. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    not wanting to be a killjoy here... but as someone who has demonstrated Apple products for Apple in the past... demos are demos... they are well worked out and practised to make it all look groovy... thats their point... the real life experience may approach that but it will never be as easy or as fast as in the demo

    cheers

    K
     
  8. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    If JPG output is a big concern, why not the Olympus PEN E-P3 or Olympus OM-D E-M5?
     
  9. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    I run an 11 inch macbook air... sizewise not that far off an iPad. Sure I don't have the sexy touch capability... or 3G/4G connectivity. but its as workable



    K
     
  10. sprocket87

    sprocket87 Mu-43 Veteran

    306
    Jun 29, 2011
    Understood. Actually, I haven't seen any of their demos. I've done a pretty extensive amount of research on the various photo processing apps for iOS. Apple's own propaganda isn't really a factor in my decision.

    Unless you mean the retina display thing, in which case you could be absolutely right. I'm drooling over the hype in that regard since I haven't seen one in person. For all I know I could be satisfied (and save a lot of money with!) an iPad 2.

    High ISO and DR performance for the E-P3
    Cost for the E-M5 (same price as the X100 PLUS lenses, and worse sensor to boot)

    The E-P3 isn't a bad idea if I could convince myself I'd be satisfied with the ISO performance. But with an ILC I'd always be tempted to buy another lens - not an issue with the X100 :D
     
  11. sprocket87

    sprocket87 Mu-43 Veteran

    306
    Jun 29, 2011
    I have an Asus laptop with a truly awful screen. It's the least ideal thing for editing photos ever, honestly. The screen size isn't a problem, but the low resolution is (Lightroom's toolboxes and panels barely leave enough space to see the photo. I keep the panels hid as much as possible but it's aggravating).
     
  12. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    ah i see... if you have an apple store near you I suggest you check out both the iPad and the macbook air.

    the iPad will beat the air on resolution without a doubt, but despite being a long long time apple user, and a former employee i still don't have an iPad... maybe the new one will tempt me


    K
     
  13. sprocket87

    sprocket87 Mu-43 Veteran

    306
    Jun 29, 2011
    Thanks for your insights and perspective. I'm not rushing off to place my order, you have given me things to consider.
     
  14. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    i used a process like this last time I was in Europe. Downloading to the iPad using the camera connection kit was a breeze. It worked as promised and could not have been better. The big hitch was getting the images off of the iPad to make way for new ones. Decent WiFi in Spain and Portugal was not the easiest thing to come by and uploading to SmugMug was problematic as the files uploaded were not full resolution. I ended up losing 2 days worth of full resolution images form southern Portugal. I ended up using the iPad and several blank cards so I was okay for the remainder of the trip.

    That was with a first generation iPad and overall it went reasonably well. With my iPad 2 I can quite easily get the images off the camera, edit (and the introduction of the new iPhoto for iPad makes this a bit smoother as well) and upload full resolution images to my Zenfolio account (much better iPad app and IMHO service than Smugmug). If I have a fast connection it all goes pretty smoothly.
     
  15. sprocket87

    sprocket87 Mu-43 Veteran

    306
    Jun 29, 2011
    Thanks for sharing the personal experience!

    What camera were you shooting with? Are you typically a RAW or JPG shooter, and do the processing capabilities of the various iOS apps you have used seem to be satisfactory?

    Obviously if an image is poorly exposed and just blown it will be a reject in JPG terms. But for most of your output, would the iPad suffice?
     
  16. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    At that time I was shooting an Olympus E520 4/3 camera, now I use an Olympus E-PM1 (and Panasonic G2 will soon get added to the fold). I typically shoot JPEG and of the iOS apps I have used I like Snapseed the best. I am interested to try iPhoto for iOS but it would have to go a long way to beat Snapseed. I also have Snapseed on my desktop as well. I can't remember the last time I used Photoshop. I suspect the retina display on the new iPad will be spectacular making editing on the iPad even more useable. That said, I have never felt like the screen on the iPad 2 was a problem. I don't use the iPad as my sole editing tool but I do like it and the longer I have it I have found myself moving more and more of what I do to it (and that includes other tasks as well).

    Currently, I like to keep my images and give it a final look on my calibrated monitor at home. Those are my archives I suppose. I maintain Lightroom at home for storage of all my files and as a way to print to my wide format printer. COULD an iPad suffice for my needs?...probably. Because I am computer professional I am on the computer a lot for a variety of reasons and I don't know that I'm ready to cut the cord just yet. If I end up going back for my Ph.D (it would not be computer related) and spending more time in the field I could definitely see it happening.
     
  17. sprocket87

    sprocket87 Mu-43 Veteran

    306
    Jun 29, 2011
    Thanks for the details.

    The E-P3 is certainly looking more attractive due to the price and similar SOOC JPG performance. But it just looks like the ISO performance is not even significantly better than my GF1, let alone in GX1/X100 territory.

    The GX1 would be just dandy if it could be set to have such punchy JPG output...
     
  18. krugorg

    krugorg Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 18, 2011
    Minnesota USA
    I love the iPad, but I can't imagine using it as my only computing device and I don't really see how it would simplify my workflow. I mean, I get how you could process a handful of photos, as you take them, rather than processing a bunch when you got home, but I do not think your total processing time would go down (probably batch would be more efficient actually).

    If you want small and light, I would echo what some others said, you could consider a macbook air? You would at least get a full operating system (iOS is great, but there are limitations) and the size/weight isn't that much different. I think they both have there place, but if I were trying to get it down to one computing advice, I would feel a lot more comfortable with the air.
     
  19. Repp

    Repp Mu-43 Top Veteran

    509
    Jan 27, 2011
    Oak Harbor, WA
    I now travel with a GX1 + 3 prime kit (sometimes a fisheye) and an 11" MacBook Air. I looked into buying an ipad, but after having used one I couldn't get use to the on screen keyboard. It's nice to have a full fledged laptop if you need one. It also fit's perfectly in my Saddleback large satchel.
     
  20. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Gordon
    When I travel I take my iPad and a Hyperdrive (the iPad compatible one) and leave the laptop at home. I shoot raw plug jpeg fine and copy everything to the hyperdrive and the jpegs to the iPad. Last year I took a 6 week trip to Europe and this worked a treat. The iPad was also my television, library and web surfing device. I used the ipad to sort, rate, edit, cull and show off images. The advantage of the hyperdrive is that it allows huge storage for images and if I do get something I really want to work on later I have the raw file for when I get home. I took an M9 and a GH2 on my last trip but I'll take an EM5 next time. Best OOC jpegs in the world come from Olympus as far as I'm concerned and the web reports are all raving about the DR of the EM5.

    Gordon