PetaPixel

iPad Offers Little for Photographers

Steve Jobs unveiled the Apple iPad today, igniting tech news with excitement, skepticism, and prolific ragging on its name.

Apple’s iPad marketing team insists that the iPad is a groundbreaking piece of technology, fusing laptop, smartphone, and e-reader capabilities.

It certainly appears to be innovative technology fit for the future. Brent Spiner, famous for his role as Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation, tweeted that the iPad looks like something from the Enterprise. Jason Kincaid of TechCrunch mused about all the possibilities the iPad opens for book publishers, interactive media, and most importantly, developers who can harness the power of the iPad app. Though old media (namely print) might continue to fall away, but if publications can tap into “hybridized content” – text, photos, video, interactive stories – they might even convince readers that their content is worth paying for.

However, before that conversation can even begin, is the iPad itself worth its weight in bills? TechCrunch also reports that the iPad appears to not run Flash and will only be offered through the 3G network of AT&T. Gizmodo has a running list of gripes against the iPad’s failings, including the fact that it does not have a built-in camera.

For photographers, the iPad might be a promising tool, but currently offers very little. Though Apple claims the iPad is “the best way to view and share your photos,” it appears to be a glorified interactive digital picture frame, or at best, a redesigned touch version of Apple’s Quick Look. All starting at $499.

The Apple website hails the iPad as being “the best way to experience the web, email, photos and video. Hands down,” but reveals that the only way to get photos onto the iPad is by syncing with a computer, downloading from email, or purchase the Apple Camera Connection Kit separately. Extra cost just to take advantage of the advertised feature? Sounds like a deal breaker.


 
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  • http://www.canon5dtips.com/ Alain

    humm.. seems like you are hunting for controversy here. You dont have to pay extra to view pictures on the iPad, just to download a SD card into it.

    And it does promise a lot for photographers! My iPhone is currently my best selling tool for portraits. The screen might be small and not 16bit colors, it is irrelevant! The fact that it is always with me brought me more business than any other tool I used, including my website!

    So now imagine the same pictures but on a much bigger screen! This thing will pay for itself in less than a week! I am sure the first that I use it on the bus, someone will ask me about it, I will show the picture, say I am a photographer and voila!

    Also, you dont need AT&T to have 3G, it comes unlocked. You can use the carrier you want, it is just that if you go with AT&T you get a very good data plan.

    People expected the iPad to have all the bells and gadgets. I wish it had a camera for live chat over skype but it does not. Maybe next version…

  • http://www.canon5dtips.com/ Alain

    humm.. seems like you are hunting for controversy here. You dont have to pay extra to view pictures on the iPad, just to download a SD card into it.

    And it does promise a lot for photographers! My iPhone is currently my best selling tool for portraits. The screen might be small and not 16bit colors, it is irrelevant! The fact that it is always with me brought me more business than any other tool I used, including my website!

    So now imagine the same pictures but on a much bigger screen! This thing will pay for itself in less than a week! I am sure the first that I use it on the bus, someone will ask me about it, I will show the picture, say I am a photographer and voila!

    Also, you dont need AT&T to have 3G, it comes unlocked. You can use the carrier you want, it is just that if you go with AT&T you get a very good data plan.

    People expected the iPad to have all the bells and gadgets. I wish it had a camera for live chat over skype but it does not. Maybe next version…

  • http://ranger9.net/ Ranger 9

    Like most tech-geek commentary (e.g. Gizmodo) Jessica Lum's critique misses the point by evaluating the iPad against her own expectations (never clearly defined) rather than by looking at what it actually is — a communication and presentation device.

    Apple's use of phrases such as “view and share your photos” and “experience your photos” should have made it clear that they were NOT aiming the iPad to be a photo-processing or -organizing machine. That job requires more processing horsepower, more internal storage, and more software flexibility than would be practical in a thin, light device with 10-hour battery life. To do well at those kinds of jobs, you still need an actual computer — such as one of the MacBook products that Apple will very happily sell you.

    What the tech geeks never seem to get is that Apple isn't really in the gadget business. Its success has been built on the concept of creating an elegant ecosystem in which its gadgets can coexist. It does that by focusing each device on a clear purpose, rather than trying to make each device fill every purpose.

    Within the Apple ecosystem, your computer is still the hub of media creation, management and storage. The iPad — like the iPod, iPhone, AppleTV, etc. — is a way to USE the media you've created.

    As a highly mobile device from which you can handle emails, check websites, post to your blog, AND present your portfolio, it seems almost ideal for many kinds of photographers. I'm certainly looking forward to getting my hands on one.

  • JessicaLum

    Alain, excellent points. Definitely, the in-person value of the iPad as a photo display can be immeasurably useful — you could load a portfolio, sample photos. It can certainly improve face-to-face presentation value of images.

    However, in terms of its value as an internet gadget and a tool for on-the-go photographers, I think the iPad needs a lot of work. As it is, it leaves quite a bit to be desired.

    I like the idea behind the iPad and the app market, and I think there's a lot of potential there, since the consumer can tailor the machine to suit his or her needs. However, I feel like it's missing its mark in terms of what most photographers would need, though Apple heavily markets it towards photo aficionados.

    Uploading photos sounds like a pain (or at least a bleeding wallet), which is my main complaint. There is no built-in SD slot. Just like the USB port, Apple requires a special adapter that must be purchased additionally: http://www.crunchgear.com/2010/01/27/apple-has-

    Maybe if Adobe makes a Photoshop/Lightroom app… I could see, somewhere down the road, some sort of streamlined workflow through which photographers could shoot, quickly upload onto the iPad, edit in an app, then post it to flickr, a website, email, or an FTP. That would definitely beat lugging around a laptop all day…

  • http://www.canon5dtips.com/ Alain

    I think you see, or hoped to see, the iPad as a laptop replacement, which it is not. Maybe in a few years once the CPU and battery have improved enough. But so far I dont even think that it is technologically possible to have a layer based high def pixel image editor on such form factor product.

    Actually, my biggest gripe with this is NO CF CARD READER! I can understand why they did not put one on the Macbook pro, but it should be available as an accessory! grr!

    It would have been great to unload 5D/7D footage for reviewing and backup (if shooting at 720p)

  • JessicaLum

    I'm with you on the lack of card reader, 100%. The ability to upload and playback video would be an excellent use of the iPad's video capabilities.

    I suppose one could always use a USB card reader and plug it in to the USB adapter. It's doable but would probably look ridiculous.

  • http://www.photoblog.com/bergur Bergur

    …woah… a big iPod touch..! I love what he says in 5:40, priceless, this must be the only product that does that!

    …by the way, I see endless possibilities with having a wire-less keyboard that goes works with the pad..

  • http://www.petapixel.com Michael Zhang

    Hey Ranger 9,

    I agree with much of what you're saying. However revolutionary the device is (and I do believe it's revolutionary), I feel like it was a let down compared to the amount of hype and speculation that surrounded it.

    I'm currently in a web entrepreneurship course here at UC Berkeley, and my professor (who previously worked with both Wozniak and Jobs) spent pretty much the entire 2 hours of class time yesterday discussing how revolutionary this device would be, and how it would literally do EVERYTHING, literally change the world, and become as much of a milestone in computing as the initial demo of the personal computer.

    I think that was a hope held by many prior to the announcement today, and something Apple could have done a better job meeting (IMHO). For example, providing flash-capability and the ability to run multiple apps at the same time seems like a minimum they should have met. If Android powered phones have it, why can't the revolutionary iPad?

    Anyhow, we're not trying to bash on Apple or create controversy (I use a MacBook myself). Jess is just pointing out that the device doesn't seem to currently offer very much specifically geared towards photographers, which is a fair thing to report on since nothing was known about the device before, right? :-)

  • http://www.canon5dtips.com/ Alain

    The problem that non programmer dont understand with the multitasking is that it requires memory. The iPhone 3G has 128megs or RAM, once everything is loaded, you are left with about 40-50 to do your app. Basically, you know, as a dev, that you have at least 35-40megs to do your app.

    Now imagine you can multi task, you dont know anymore how much ram you have which mean that sometime your app will stop working in the middle of a process or wouldnt just not run. And lets be honest, while we all understand why it would acts so, Average Joe user wouldnt and would blame the product.

    The other reason why multitasking isnt present is all the security flaw it creates and potential drain on the battery if the app is left open and forgotten.

  • marcusdiddle

    My first thought immediately went to onOne's dSLR Remote app, which I currently have on my iPod touch. I can control my dSLR with liveview straight from my touch, and show clients the resulting photos as I shoot them. Imagine all of that….on a 10″ screen. I think this could hold a lot of potential for photographers in the studio, as well as perhaps the sleekest digital portfolio available for showing off your work.

  • http://ranger9.net/ Ranger 9

    Fair enough, but think about this: Of photographers you know who own an iPhone or iPod Touch, how many use it at least occasionally for casual “portfolio showings”? Just about everyone, right? Well, those portfolios are going to look better on a large screen, aren't they?

    So in the real world of how photographers actually use communication appliances, the iPad DOES offer something for them: mobile email and web access, which many of us need, plus a bigger “frame” for our pictures, in one reasonable-sized, not-ridiculously-expensive device.

    PS — I'm sorry your professor exaggerated, but that's not Apple's fault. And in a way, I think the device IS revolutionary, in that it moves computing closer to what I was taught is the perfect paradigm for user interface design: the refrigerator. The technology behind a refrigerator is complicated, but nobody needs to be taught how to use one: you open the door and grab what you want. The iPad moves computing a bit closer to that ideal: you look at it and poke at what you want. It's almost as if Steve Jobs, having helped invent the personal computer, is trying to un-invent it again. I admit there's nothing in THAT specifically for photographers, but it's an interesting story arc.

  • http://www.petapixel.com Michael Zhang

    Ah. Such an app would be pretty interesting. =)

  • brooklynphoto

    I don't understand this post at all. Like Saying the iPhone is crappy for photographers and offers little. When does Apple ever develop all the software? with the ease of working with the iPhone OS and power of this machine, seems like the opportunities are endless. Tethering, editing, sharing, etc.

    The lack of a camera isn't an issue for photogs really because who is going to use it as a primary camera? It's too awkward to hold well to shoot anything. No camera is mainly an issue because it could be a cool video chat tool. But with third party apps, maybe someone will let it connect to the iPhone to share the iPhone's camera? Maybe even incorporate video chat like that or edit photos you quickly snap with your iphone?

    Stop and think for a second about all of the possibilities for developing apps for this thing. limitless.

    by the way, Gizmodo's gripes are mainly either software (which are fixable/upgradable) or just kind of nitpicking.

    Everyone seems to be so shortsighted about the iPad.

  • http://twitter.com/alexweltlinger Alex Weltlinger

    I have to completely agree with brooklynphoto, the comments I've seen here and in other places from photog's seem a little short sighted. The uses for photog's are really quite obvious, from a presentation tool, to tethering to a collaborative brainstorming device. So what that the software isn't there? It will be – the market is just to obvious for software developers not to take advantage of.

    This is a first generation product, and regardless of whether the first iPad is only a moderate success, a huge success or a game changer (I very much doubt it will be a dud), it has opened the floodgates for mobile computing and you can bet there will be 5 other tablets from competing manufacturers within the year. And that will force Apple to up its game and offer better features.

    I do think this is revolutionary – the whole idea of the fridge is dead on. Our methods of interacting with information so far have been dictated by the limitations of the original computer's interface systems – keyboard and mouse. Something that takes time and effort to learn. This kind of system makes a lot more sense as we already learnt how to touch and point when we were all toddlers. You open the fridge and take what you want. It should be that easy. And that's what tablets are all about. Apple is probably the only company that could open that floodgate and now the tablets are here to stay.

    And as photog's, we'll find a million uses for them.

  • Pingback: Digitally share your portfolio with clients, the Apple iPad | Perspectify | Australian Photography

  • Uofmtiger

    My Canon uses CF Cards and my laptop needs an adapter for it to work. I guess the laptop is a major fail for photographers? My point is that you can get photos on the iPad via your computer and that will be good enough for a lot of people.

    For photographers, they do offer a camera connector kit (which comes with an SD card reader ..no CF slot for my 20D) and it works great with my Sandisk card reader. I have also tested the SD card attachment with the card from my P&S and it works great, too.
    Not sure what the complaining is about? I bought a Creative Zen W for this purpose a while back, if I remember correctly, the 60GB version used to go for $399 and it did not have the numerous other uses that the iPad has…I couldn't even edit the pictures until I got them home.