How the iPad Pro Can Do Better for Photographers

A few months back, I bid adieu to my 2015 Macbook Pro. This was the last one to have an SD card port before Apple brought it back with the recent MacBook Pros. So I decided to see if the iPad Pro could do what I needed. I’ve got a powerful iMac from 2019 that I gladly use every day. I’m spoiled by the 27-inch display and all its ports. And by all means, as a journalist, I’m a content creator. So is the iPad Pro enough?

Specifically, I purchased the iPad Pro 12.9-inch variant from Adorama. I tried to see how it could become my laptop replacement. I bought a keyboard with it that has a touchpad, and that works pretty flawlessly. Though still, it’s in this weird place between a Macbook Pro and an iPad in this configuration. If I want to brighten the screen, I need to bind keys to this or use the touchscreen. The same goes for the volume. And then, when editing the site, I need to set Google Chrome or Safari to request the desktop website. Further, I need to go back and forth between a separate email client rather than have a bunch of tabs open in Chrome. 

As a photographer and journalist, that’s fine for my admin days. Some days I do nothing else but email clients, talk to advertisers, coordinate with our staff, etc. 

But a lot of the other times, I need to manage images and write. Writing for the site and editing articles isn’t awful on the iPad Pro. It works almost as well as a computer, but it’s not as robust, seamless, or intuitive. I’ve surely got to do some workarounds and rewire my brain.

Where it becomes annoying is image management. I discovered this while on a recent Canon press trip. During the pandemic, I didn’t mind if my laptop died because I wouldn’t travel again for a while. But if I have to, I’m still not 100% sure the iPad Pro can handle it unless I have a ton of dongles. Luckily, the latest iPad Pro 12.9 lets you hook up a USB device and then allows others to receive power from that. I tried to do this with an old LaCie Rugged Raid drive I don’t use anymore that also has an SD card port. This is where Apple has a problem with the iPad Pro. 

Did you know you can’t safely disconnect devices from it? I tried, and I did a lot of research into it. Using the Files app on the iPad Pro, I can see that my hard drive was connected and that my SD cards were recognized by the device. But it wouldn’t let me fully disconnect them. Instead, various forums recommend closing the Files app and pulling the plug on the drive. That’s risky, and my LaCie drive runs into issues now. Thankfully, I kept all the images on my SD cards.

So, in this case, I’d need to hook up a USB port hub, then an SSD, and also an SD card reader. I’d have to transfer the photos to the SSD from the SD card reader. Even if I still had my GNARBOX, I’m sure it would still be problematic.

Theoretically, one could put all the images on the iPad, sync them to Adobe’s Cloud, and then access the files on their desktop later. But that’s a waste. And you can easily have more than your Cloud storage limit. As it is, the staff and I use Capture One; Capture One for the iPad isn’t ready for us yet.

The big problem for photographers here is that the Apple iPad Pro doesn’t let devices eject safely. This can cause many issues from SD card corruption, hard drive issues, and more. Apple should address this problem with a future update, but I’m honestly not sure they will. 

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.