Since its introduction, I've analyzed how well the iPad might fulfill my needs as a business traveler, and travel photographer. While there is no doubt the iPad is built for travel, I’m not so sure it’s right for the travel photographer.
Over at Consumer Traveler, I’ve reviewed the iPad from the viewpoint of a business traveler, in my Monday column. I’ve reprinted that article here on the NSL Travel Photography Blog this morning, to make it easy for you to peruse it.
The article, “Is the iPad a road warrior's dream come true?” will give you a run-down on the iPad’s general specifications and attributes, so there’s no need to repeat that here. It delves into numerous issues I found with the introductory models of the iPad as a travel device.
It’s important to understand what the iPad is, and is not, to be able to decide whether it can meet your specific travel photography needs. The iPad is a small, lightweight, but high functioning combination electronic entertainment, communication, and computing.
The iPad, in my opinion, is aimed squarely at the “netbook” which hasn’t fulfilled my travel or travel photography needs.
I believe the iPad meets travel photographer’s needs as an entertainment device, but is deficient as a communication device. It also has major deficiencies as a computing device for travel photographers.
- Ergonomics — the iPad can rest on a tabletop, or be held in one’s hands, which isn’t very good for viewing photographic images for basic post processing, such as straightening, cropping or small color correction, prior to showing them off while traveling. An iPad case is required to put the iPad in a good working position. The case can double as a stand for typing or viewing.
- Dongles — other than its headphone adapter, the iPad has only one connector for everything else, the typical “i” device connector. If you want to connect your camera, or an SD card to the iPad, you’ll need some dongles and cables to connect them. The iPad camera kit can only hand camera SD memory cards. It’s unknown if any card reader manufacturers will produce readers for the iPad, so right now, if your camera uses a compact flash card, for example, you’ll have to connect your camera directly to the iPad via its USB dongle.
By the time you have the case, perhaps the iPad external keyboard, dongles, cables and docks, you’ll need another case, making the small thin iPad not travel so well anymore.
- File Formats — even after you bring your photos into the iPad, you may not be able to view them. The iPad displays .jpg, .tiff, and .gif file formats. JPG files are used by most Point and Shoot cameras. If you have a DSLR, and save your photos in the more flexible RAW format, right now, you won’t be able to be view them on the iPad.
If you have a digital video camera, or a Point and Shoot or DSLR camera which can shoot video, the iPad can display some video formats; .m4v, .mp4, and .mov. Other video formats, such as Microsoft Windows’ .wmv and the popular .avi format are not supported on the iPad at this time.
- Storage — for vacationers with Point and Shoot camera, the upper end models of the iPad with 64GB of storage might have enough storage. JPG files take up much less room than RAW files. A typical Point and Shoot JPG file might take up 5.5MBs of space. That would mean that 20GBs of the iPad’s space could hold about 3,600 photos, enough for most vacationers. On the other hand, my RAW photos use about 16MBs of space. That would mean those same 20GBs of storage would only hold 1,250 photos. On my France/Belgium two week trip last fall, I took about 112GBs of photographs. The iPad doesn’t have enough storage for me. I could have filled almost two iPads on that trip. I sincerely doubt that the iPad’s storage would be enough for amateur enthusiasts, or professional photographers, especially if they shoot in RAW format.
- Photo Software — I’ve looked at many of the iPhone’s software apps, the only photo apps available for the iPad at this time, to manipulate photos, including Photoshop Mobile. You can crop, straighten, rotate, and flip photos. You can frame them and do all kinds of fun manipulations and effects, but if you’re trying to correct typical problems of your travel photos prior to showing them off while traveling, the iPad’s software, and the iPad itself doesn’t cut it. Moreover, if you’re taking photos in RAW, the iPad offers no software for you.