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Darmok N Jalad

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Sep 26, 2017
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So there have been quite a few question threads lately on how capable the iPad is for photography as a standalone product. Well, a few years ago, I tried this with a 2017 12.9” iPad Pro, and I was fairly happy with the results, though iOS at the time had limitations on how photos could be imported, namely, straight into Photos. Fortunately, iOS and Photos handles RAW just fine, other than the inability to see what was RAW and what was JPG in Photos. Well, much has changed since then, with iPadOS offering better file system and external drive support, and now, adding mouse support.

I hadn’t been terribly happy with my editing options on Windows, and I was wanting something more mobile than my desktop, since I spend enough of my time at my office desk, working from home due to the pandemic. After trying several other options, I’ve come to find that I actually prefer the ease of the iPad+iCloud experience, so I thought it might be time to try again with my photography hobby on the iPad. My desktop was also overkill, so I sold off most of the components to help fund the purchase of a 2020 12.9 iPad Pro. Along with it, I got the Keyboard Folio, Mighty Mouse 2, and AV adapter. I’m typing this now from the keyboard, connected to a 27” display, and using the mouse for input. I don’t know how often I’ll use the 27” display, but I just got the adapter so I’m giving that a try. So far so good, right?

My plan from here is to import to Photos and try to do most of my edits from within Photos. For about the last 2 weeks, my POTD contributions have come from this approach. I won’t rely entirely on Photos, as at the end of every month, I will export my edits to an external HDD as a second backup. That drive contains all my old content, though everything is also loaded into iCloud. If Photos lets me down, I’ll jump over to Affinity Photo, but honestly, I’m to the point where if the photo requires a lot of work to save, I’ll likely cull it. To my surprise, even Photos has come a long way on iOS/iPadOS. I’m quite impressed with its capabilities for my amateur efforts.

So wish me luck! I wanted to post my experiment here to maybe help answer those who have been asking the question. Maybe others who are trying the same can share their experiences as well.
 

Abazigal

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Austin Mann wrote a blog post about it back when the iPad Pro was released.


Certainly feels doable.
 
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stillcrazyman

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Oct 10, 2014
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Sounds like a good plan.

If you use Lightroom, then you would have all the editing and management tools you need.

I don't use Lr. Photos is sufficient for my needs. My stumbling block is the apps I use. ON1 Photo Raw, Luminar, Exposure X5, etc. There aren't any iPad equivalents at the moment.

I have Raw Power, (great app), Darkroom and Polarr for use along with Photos on my iPP 12.9.
 
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kenoh

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Jul 18, 2008
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Sounds like a good plan.

If you use Lightroom, then you would have all the editing and management tools you need.

I don't use Lr. Photos is sufficient for my needs. My stumbling block is the apps I use. ON1 Photo Raw, Luminar, Exposure X5, etc. There aren't any iPad equivalents at the moment.

I have Raw Power, (great app), Darkroom and Polarr for use along with Photos on my iPP 12.9.

Affinity Photo is a good alternative to LR on the iPad.
 

Darmok N Jalad

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Yeah, my complaint is editing and saving a file. I’ve only been able to see that you export your edits, and not just save them. I find the develop module to be the best for quick work, but usually I only use AP for retouching.
 

Darmok N Jalad

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I wonder if Apple made some changes to the newest Keyboard Folio for the 2020 models. It has a newer cutout for the larger camera array, but it also feels like the keys are much better than the previous generation Folio that I’ve used on the 11” 2019 Pro.
 

seggy

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Feb 13, 2016
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It's a choice of either doing a lot more inefficient simple steps, or the Windows 2-i-1 way which is willing your fingers to be pointier.

I think most people who would take ease of all steps over productivity (or ability to fully use Windows gear) would be better suited going the iPad way.

For me, I do often travel with the 11" Pro but I inevitably end up turning to the Thinkpad / Surface for anything remotely involved. There are times I only want to travel with the Pro (or even the Mini - I've attempted to do a photo workflow on it) and it just becomes a necessary evil, especially given that the nearest Windows option to date for portability - the Surface Go - is woefully underpowered and struggles to eke over 4.5 hours.
 

cupcakes2000

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Apr 13, 2010
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Affinity Photo is a good alternative to LR on the iPad.
Not really, It’s a completely different app with a different purpose. They can both edit photos, but affinity has far more advanced features. Lightroom is an asset management app however, which affinity is not. It’s very very limited for file organisation in comparison.
Affinity photo is more comparable to Photoshop.
 

Clix Pix

macrumors Core
Much as I love my iPads there is just no way that I would be interested in trying to edit images that I’ve shot with my cameras on them as opposed to editing the same images on my computer. I just feel that overall the software on the computer offers more flexibility and, well, right now I am still learning my way around most of it, so that the last thing I need is to be trying to figure out a somewhat different challenge on an iOS device!

More power to anyone who can and does master doing this with an iPad!
 
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Darmok N Jalad

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Much as I love my iPads there is just no way that I would be interested in trying to edit images that I’ve shot with my cameras on them as opposed to editing the same images on my computer. I just feel that overall the software on the computer offers more flexibility and, well, right now I am still learning my way around most of it, so that the last thint I need is to be trying to figure out a somewhat different challenge on an iOS device!

More power to anyone who can and does master doing this with an iPad!
I see it as part challenge, part convenience, part really happy with past results. The mouse support really helps speed up workflow and reduce the repetitive motion. I’m also really happy with the editing tools in Photos. It has more adjustments than it initially appears.
 

Clix Pix

macrumors Core
I have not used Photos or its predecessor, iPhoto, because a long time ago I knew that I wanted something more than I thought that either of them could offer and now in 2020 still feel the same way. I loved Aperture and am still mourning its demise......

I have not yet tried using a mouse with my 12.9 iPad Pro generation 3 -- I know it's possible, but it's just not been something in which I've been interested in investigating and trying.... In a lot of ways I am still very much old-school in my approach to shooting images and then editing and presenting those images, which of course is different from how many (younger) photographers are moving forward today.
 

cupcakes2000

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Apr 13, 2010
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Much as I love my iPads there is just no way that I would be interested in trying to edit images that I’ve shot with my cameras on them as opposed to editing the same images on my computer. I just feel that overall the software on the computer offers more flexibility and, well, right now I am still learning my way around most of it, so that the last thing I need is to be trying to figure out a somewhat different challenge on an iOS device!

More power to anyone who can and does master doing this with an iPad!
Editing on a iPad with the pencil is so organic and incredible. You should try it. It’s feels much closer to the old ways and you really feel like you’re touching the image.

There are plenty of powerful editing apps available for the iPad that can rival desktop software, but at the very least try sidecar on your iPad with your editor of choice. That’s the best of both worlds.
 
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kenoh

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Not really, It’s a completely different app with a different purpose. They can both edit photos, but affinity has far more advanced features. Lightroom is an asset management app however, which affinity is not. It’s very very limited for file organisation in comparison.
Affinity photo is more comparable to Photoshop.

So still worth looking at if the user wants an alternative to LR for editing. :)
 

cupcakes2000

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So still worth looking at if the user wants an alternative to LR for editing. :)
Definitely worth looking into, it’s an excellent app. But it doesn’t replace any of the lightroom centric functions such as asset management or batch editing or tagging or anything like that, so it’s not a replacement for lightroom. Was just making that clear.
 

kenoh

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Jul 18, 2008
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Definitely worth looking into, it’s an excellent app. But it doesn’t replace any of the lightroom centric functions such as asset management or batch editing or tagging or anything like that, so it’s not a replacement for lightroom. Was just making that clear.

No worries. It is my fault for being illiterate.

When I say LR I meant LR mobile on the ipad. My bad....

Yes you are right, with caveats, it is an alternate non-subscription option for an editing solution on ipad (and desktop though I haven’t used it that way).
 

Darmok N Jalad

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If Affinity Photo definitely feels more like a PS rival. It sure seems like Affinity is missing something by not offering a program to rival LR. Maybe it’s in their roadmap? What I do like is how powerful their iPad products are, with feature parity with the desktop version. Designer looks interesting, but I don’t have much of a use for it.
 

cupcakes2000

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Apr 13, 2010
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If Affinity Photo definitely feels more like a PS rival. It sure seems like Affinity is missing something by not offering a program to rival LR. Maybe it’s in their roadmap? What I do like is how powerful their iPad products are, with feature parity with the desktop version. Designer looks interesting, but I don’t have much of a use for it.

Apparently it is on the roadmap, but I have heard that for the past few years and it’s not materialised yet. And designer is excellent!
 

robgendreau

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Jul 13, 2008
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Damned if you do, damned if you don't. People complain about bugs with a lack of updates, then people complain with too many.
Apparently it is on the roadmap, but I have heard that for the past few years and it’s not materialised yet. And designer is excellent!
Yeah, for a while there it seemed like the Lr killer was on every developer's roadmap...but it was mostly the marketing departments looking for folks that would jump from Lr. If tons did, maybe they'd take it up. But they didn't, so mostly you've got weak sauce like from Luminar. I expect that it's tough enough to do on macOS, let alone iOS. Hence don't hold your breath waiting for Affinity to bother; they'll have their hands full fending off Ps on iPadOS if Adobe starts improving it (it's DOA for photographers right now IMHO because of the lack of raw workflow options, more for graphic artists than say a wedding photographer).

I do love one-off adjusting on the iPad with Affinity Photo or Lr mobile. Or even SnapSeed, old as it is. But the workflow from my camera is just too clunky. What helped me a bit was using it on a trip with a WD My Passport Wifi Pro. It imports direct from SD, and then in its app I can preview selected raw files and only import very few select images into the iPad for editing. And it gives me a backup; before I had to import everything to the iPad and that was a mess.

And Sidecar is pretty awesome; having such a good second monitor, a P3 gamut super high res monitor, is terrific. A 4k P3 would cost quite a bit, and so having the iPad Pro is a great value. You can even color calibrate it, and it's nice to be able to move it around to avoid glare, zoom in, etc. It's spoiling me; I like it better than my real second monitor.
 

Abstract

macrumors Penryn
Dec 27, 2002
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Sorry for the potential thread hijack, but what workflow do you use for an iPad only workflow? Over the past 11 years, I have found little need for a computer at home (until COVID-19 and Work From Home...), so I’d like to figure out a potential solution for myself. Mind you, I’m very out of the photography loop, but used to know things. I have Lightroom Classic on my computer, but wish to ditch the computer because it’s old.

Equipment: I have an iPad Pro with 1 TB of storage, and an iPhone. I have a Sandisk 1TB SSD with USB-C connector that can connect straight to my iPP. I have no photo editing software on my iPP, but looked at Pixelmator. I have never used Photos other than to view photos, but once played with iPhoto in the early 2000s.
I do NOT want to subscribe to Adobe Lightroom, so for managing photos, Photos seems to be the only option.


Workflow?
Here’s how I imagine it: Import from camera into Photos. These are full-sized images —JPEGs and sometimes RAW. Once they’re within Photos, delete the ones I don’t like. In Photos, there doesn’t seem to be a way to tag/keyword photos, so I guess it’ll need to be organised chronologically or something (????).

I do not understand how iCloud fits into this, but I presume a full-sized copy is auto-uploaded to iCloud as well, meaning I now have a full-sized photo on my iPP, and a backup on iCloud???

As for the keepers, edit in Photos, but possibly in an external editor (I’m thinking Pixelmator, but am considering the new ON1 Mobile app). Edits in Photos will obviously be saved in Photos, but edits in ON1/Pixelmator will be saved...as a TIFF copy or something???? No idea. Once editing in Photos is completed, I presume the original in iCloud is updated with the newly edited photo (non-destructive?), and the copy in iCloud is always in sync with Photos. Same goes for iPhone edits. Are the uploads to iCloud just the edits, or is the entire image in iCloud updated?

Anyway, if edits are made in Pixelmator/ON1, does the edited photo (TIFF?) is upload to iCloud alongside the original?
 
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jettie1767

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Oct 29, 2003
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Just like what some posters have said, I've also found quick editing of photos using Affinity on the iPad very good. I don't care much for Snapseed as it's not as intuitive. Lightroom seems nice but I only do photo editing as a hobby and paying for a subscription monthly is a waste of money for my needs.
 

Darmok N Jalad

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I have taken a very simplistic approach lately. I shoot JPG and import straight to Photos, and edit almost entirely in Photos. Not that iPad can’t handle RAW, but I’m getting to a place in life where if I don’t capture the exposure well and don’t nail the focus, it gets culled. With that approach, Photos is a very capable editor where the sliders don’t “overdo it.” I’m trying to do more in-camera and less on-device. So far, everything in June’s POTD thread has been handled in this way, and I’ve also ordered some prints—something I should do more than I do.

The only thing Photos on iPad fails to really offer is healing tools, so if I do want to go further with something, like to clean up blemishes, then Affinity Photo is a great tool. This is one place where Apple needs to bring parity to iOS—the MacOS version of Photos has a healing tool. Maybe with iOS14?

I will confess that I did pick up an old 2012 Mac mini as well, but that’s largely to be another place where my library is downloaded and then backed up via Time Machine. I could do without it still, but it’s handy to have as a backup. I still do all my work on the iPad Pro. It’s become so versatile that I rarely can’t find a way to get things done.
 

cupcakes2000

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Apr 13, 2010
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The only thing Photos on iPad fails to really offer is healing tools, so if I do want to go further with something, like to clean up blemishes, then Affinity Photo is a great tool. This is one place where Apple needs to bring parity to iOS—the MacOS version of Photos has a healing tool. Maybe with iOS14?

Go on the App Store and look for ‘retouch’. It’s a small cost, but it can work as an extension to photos and can easily remove objects and blemishes.
 

Abstract

macrumors Penryn
Dec 27, 2002
24,840
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Location Location Location
I have taken a very simplistic approach lately. I shoot JPG and import straight to Photos, and edit almost entirely in Photos. Not that iPad can’t handle RAW, but I’m getting to a place in life where if I don’t capture the exposure well and don’t nail the focus, it gets culled. With that approach, Photos is a very capable editor where the sliders don’t “overdo it.” I’m trying to do more in-camera and less on-device. So far, everything in June’s POTD thread has been handled in this way, and I’ve also ordered some prints—something I should do more than I do.

The only thing Photos on iPad fails to really offer is healing tools, so if I do want to go further with something, like to clean up blemishes, then Affinity Photo is a great tool. This is one place where Apple needs to bring parity to iOS—the MacOS version of Photos has a healing tool. Maybe with iOS14?

I will confess that I did pick up an old 2012 Mac mini as well, but that’s largely to be another place where my library is downloaded and then backed up via Time Machine. I could do without it still, but it’s handy to have as a backup. I still do all my work on the iPad Pro. It’s become so versatile that I rarely can’t find a way to get things done.
Thanks. I think that’s the approach I’m going to take too I’ve been doing mostly that, but in LR. I just wanted to know if there was a specific workflow serious photographers were using with their iPads. I find it disconcerting that Photos tells you NOTHING about the photos, how they were shot, etc. I downloaded RAW Power last night, and it instantly makes the iPad experience tolerable, even for just viewing.

One last question for you or someone else. Is there an advantage to importing photos to a new folder that you create in Files, or do you let Photos import to the default destination, and just leave iOS to sort it out? Also, do/can you rename files? Tag? Do you just rely on folder/album names?
 
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