July App of the Month
By Charles Bush
This month I’ll be covering moving images from your camera or memory card into your iPad and from your iPad into your computer. The iPad is primarily designed to view images, not to make adjustment to them, but there are times when you’ve shot some images that you would like to quickly view them on the iPad, make a few adjustments and move on, later moving them into the computer for further editing and archiving. One option of course is to process them in your computer and then import them into the iPad using iTunes. But there are times where you would really like to skip that step and move them directly into the iPad.
Apple sells an optional camera connection kit for that purpose. The kit includes two adapters, one with a SD card memory slot and the other with a USB connector. If your camera uses SD cards, the card simply plugs into the adapter and the adapter into the dock connector on the bottom of the iPad and you can simply download your images directly into the iPad. My camera uses Compact Flash cards and I attempted to connect my usb card reader to the usb adapter and unfortunately I got an error message saying that there wasn’t enough power to read the device. This makes sense, as there is limited power available on the iPad. This leaves two options, either directly attach the camera to the usb interface on the adapter, which does work fine, or use a powered usb card reader. I prefer not to use my camera as a card reader and I’ve found two devices that work. The first is the Griffin Technology Simplifi, which includes a wall plug power source. While it isn’t advertised to work with the iPad, using the combination of the usb adapter from the camera connection kit plugging into the usb port for the built in usb hub, and the card reader using wall power, you can transfer the files just fine.
The other solution that works well is the sanho hyperdrive. The hyperdrive I’m using includes an internal hard drive, a small lcd screen and a rechargeable battery. As you’re shooting simply download your images into the hyper drive and connect the hyperdrive to the iPad using the usb adapter and download the images into the iPad. When I do this I leave the images on the hyperdrive and later download them into my computer. While this is a more expensive solution, it doubles as a file repository for field use. They now also have a less expensive model without a screen where you use the iPad instead of the screen, which I have not tested, but I suspect it will work as well.
It is important to note that you must maintain the file structure in the camera for the device to work. Simply copying files into a folder on a compact flash card will not work; the iPad is looking for the standard digital camera file and naming structure. With some effort you may be able to duplicate this structure and make it work, but this is something I have not tested.
Currently there is only one Raw Converter available for the iPad, PiRawha. It’s a very inexpensive ($9.99) application available on the app store. It has all the basic controls and does a good job of converting images for viewing on the iPad. It also supports adding keywords, captions, and ratings. Do note however that raw conversion is a memory intensive operation and I had to shut down all other apps, plus I had to power off and power on my iPad to get the app to work without an error message saying it was very low on memory, it did work prior to the shutdown, but it was very slow. I suspect this is less of a problem with the app as a limitation of the iPad memory size; the newer iPad 2 probably will perform better with the application. I view this as more of a limitation of the iPad as a bug with the application. The application exports a full size jpg image even with my original iPad even though the notes say that it exports a half sized image. Future updates are to include the ability to export other file types. The app is fine for an initial inspection or occasional use, but it isn’t yet able to replace a computer-based workflow for serious work.
There are also several methods of moving files from the iPad to your computer. The standard method is via an usb connection from the iPad to the computer. I use Aperture as my file management software and when I connect the iPad to my computer, Aperture automatically opens and allows me to import the images. Iphoto works in the same way. Beyond that you need an app on the iPad and on your Mac or PC to allow downloads; I’ll be looking into those for a future article. The other option is to use the online service Dropbox. Dropbox does a lot more and is a very solid web based downloading service, which I use frequently as an online storage repository. It allows you to transfer jpg images between the iPad and other machines and it uses either 3g or wifi if it is available.
Using the IPad won’t yet replace your computer-based workflow or even be sufficient for most fieldwork, but for occasional use there are ways to move image files into and out of the iPad. For a quick peek at what you’ve shot, it works great.