Image Editing – Starting Out on the iPad Pro, an Overview

For a while now I have been looking for a truly mobile editing (and computing) solution, preferably in the form of a tablet. Mostly because I prefer the size and form factor of a tablet to a laptop as I’ve always been a fan of a smaller form factor when it comes to portable computing and technology. In the past, I’ve had a preference for smaller laptops in the 11”-13” category over their larger brethren, and, as laptops and notebooks have increased in size, my enthusiasm for owning them has decreased proportionately.

I’ve  previously tried a couple of different tablets running various Android and Windows systems, but there always seemed to be obstacles for my application that, while not insurmountable were, at least, annoying. Most of these issues involved getting images from the camera to the tablet. As far as other tasks, like word processing and email, well those were no problem. I just couldn’t get to where I needed to be with images.

Up until recently, I was running an old Toshiba notebook with a 15” screen as my primary computer. It was barely powerful enough to run Lightroom and Photoshop. When I bought it on clearance in 2014 it was already a little out of date, and I knew it, but I kept it for nearly five more years until the hard drive began to fail. Fortunately, I was able to save all of my documents and images before it went to the great blue screen in the sky.

I started thinking about portability and tablets again.

Which eventually led me down the Apple rabbit hole to the iPad. After a lot of research, and “tech specing” I settled on the iPad.  I found a decent deal (unfortunately I had to buy new because of my preferred specs) on a 10.5” 2017 256GB iPad Pro. I also bought an overpriced “camera connector” dongle and figured out that this set up would, indeed, make a pretty good mobile editing solution, and I was right.

As far as editing software. I already had an Adobe CC subscription and use Lightroom Classic CC on the desktop. In this case Lightroom Mobile seems to be the best solution for me, and seems to work well enough.

On the Bar
Sony A6000 Telesar 135mm MD mount lens, Neewer MD-Nex adapter. Shot at F/2.8 ,1/60, ISO 640. Processed in Lightroom Mobile on iPad

After a little practice learning a new OS, the first real test came back in January when my wife and I took a road trip to visit my daughter and son-in-law in Georgia. As they had asked if I would take some family shots while we were there, I took what camera gear I thought I would use and my iPad.

With very little effort, I was able to shoot in RAW, transfer the selected images to the iPad, process them in Lightroom Mobile, then upload them to a local website and order prints. The prints were decent enough quality and ready in less than an hour.

So, from a morning shoot to prints in about 3 hours – that smells a lot like success!

What are the drawbacks?

  • Lightroom Mobile doesn’t seem to have all of the features that Lightroom Classic does, but they’re mostly there.
  • You have to import to the iPad’s camera roll and then import to Lightroom. This little process step is silly but necessary.
  • There is no mouse connectivity – I have not tried the Apple Pencil, and probably won’t,  a basic stylus works well enough. That said, I still find myself reaching for a mouse that isn’t there from time to time.

What are the positives?

  • A completely mobile editing set up that works from start to finish.
  • Once imported to the iPad I can have full access on the iMac or iPhone—even directly into Lightroom Classic through synced files on any other computer running Lightroom Classic CC, or Lightroom CC.
  • Easily work with both RAW files and JPEGs

The positives far outweigh the drawbacks – at least for me.

2017 iPad Pro with Lightroom Mobile.
My kitchen table editing environment!

 This has provided me with a completely mobile solution that is very useable and I would not hesitate to rely on it completely if I had to.

By the way, this entire post was written, then uploaded, formatted, and edited on my iPad  Pro, as were the images.

I’ll go into more detail about the exact process in the near future – stay tuned!

Thanks for reading.

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“I don’t trust words. I trust pictures”

-Gilles Peress